The new Reina de las Fiestas de Taos was announced at the Royal Pageant held at the TCA on Saturday (June 10) – la Señorita Savannah Renee Rose Mary Romero.
During the pageant, all the contestants showed their skills in dances, presentations and an impromptu question session. They all did so well that Taos Fiestas Council President Anna Herrera said to them, "You all are queens in our eyes."
Entertainment was provided by Lucita Trujillo y los Niños Bailadores de Taos, who performed La Danza de los Paños, Jesusita en Chihuahua and La Raspa, an original Taos dance.
Violinist Audrey Davis and Johnny Archuleta on guitar delighted the audience with a number of songs such as Muñequita Linda, La Varsoviana and Las Mañanitas.
"This is a lot of work but also a special opportunity for all the girls to shine and come together to be part of the Fiestas," said Kathleen Branchal, 2017 immediate past president of the Taos Fiesta Council and a 1982 Princesa.
La Reina Savannah Romero is 18-years-old and a 2017 graduate from Taos Cyber Magnet School. She has been part of the Fiestas since 2004 when she was queen attendant for her aunt Stephanie Romero, who was crowned that year.
"La Fiesta has been one of our family traditions for as long as I can remember," Savannah Romero said.
Romero was a member of the Taos Tigers Classics Drill Team, where she took part in state competitions for several years and received a scholarship to the University of the Southwest.
"I love to dance all sorts of styles, but my favorite is flamenco," she said.
She has been dancing flamenco since she was three-years-old. She remembered fondly her first flamenco instructor, Catalina Rio Fernandez of Ranchos de Taos.
Not surprisingly, she danced sevillanas for her talent demonstration.
Romero said that her favorite part of the Fiestas has always been to see the queens from the different towns.
"Since I was a little girl, I loved watching all the Royal Courts," she said. "Even now, it brings up my inner child!"
She traveled recently to the Dominican Republic to provide humanitarian services through the Rustic Pathways Service Work. She currently attends University of New Mexico-Taos and will be transferring to the main campus in Albuquerque to pursue a career in medicine and health sciences with a minor in dance.
"I want to thank my family, my friends, my sponsors and all the community," Romero said. "I will do my best to represent all Taoseños and be a role model for our youth. Muchas gracias a todos."
In the coming year, Romero in her role as La Reina will be helped by the members of the Royal Court.
Princesa Ariana Janelle Celina Veronica Baca is 17-years-old. An honors student, she takes dual-credit courses at UNM-Taos. She recently won the Emperor Science Award and gained a mentorship with an oncologist. She is also a member of the Outlaw 4-H Club and serves as Taos County President for the 4-H council.
"La Fiesta de Taos is a beautiful tradition that everybody can and should join," Baca said. "My favorite part is the marchas, special songs that are played at weddings and other celebrations. I love dancing with my grandma, Clorinda Monndragon. And I hope to be taking part in many marchas now!"
Her Catholic faith is very important for her, so the Fiesta theme of "God, Family, Friends & Community: La Fiesta de Taos", was particularly meaningful to her.
"I am part of the St. Michaels Youth Core Groups and the Retreat Team at Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a member of the Guadalupanas Pilgrimage Group," Baca said.
Baca plans to attend the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces to become an anesthesiologist.
Princesa Gabriella Aaliyah Bridget Marie Perez is 16-years-old. She has been a member of the Taos High School Varsity Cheerleading for the last four years and participates in Mariachi El Tigre, where she plays the violin and performs traditional New Mexico Spanish colonial dances.
"I want to send a message to other girls – step out of your comfort zone, as I did when I entered the pageant," she said. "I want to thank my teacher Amy Deherrera Martinez, who encouraged me to do it."
Perez has been a member of the student nutrition program at Taos High for the last three years. She is also an aide at the high school's day care and has taken classes to help special-needs students. She is also involved in Taos Extreme Cheer with young children.
She plans to attend Arizona State University.
"I love children," she said. "I'd like to be a pediatric nurse someday."
Princesa Mariana Fatima Sebastian Jimenez-Gonzales is 17-years-old. She is engaged in advanced placement classes and a member of the Honor Society. She is also an active member in HOSA– Health Occupation Students of America.
A project "very close to her heart" is to prevent teen suicides and raise awareness about the issue. Jimenez-Gonzales has been a member of the Teens for Awareness Club since December 2016.
She was also member of the Lady Tigers volleyball team and the Outlaws 4H Club, and a violinist with Mariachi El Tigre.
"I want to thank my nina (godmother) Antonia Abeyta for being an extraordinary role model for me," she said. "She went into the medical field, which is something I'd like to do myself."
The Fiesta Mass and crowning of the queen will take place on Friday (July 21) at 5:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos.
¡Que vivan las fiestas!