Annual Bonfires on Bent Street

Gather 'round the glow


The merchants of Bent Street and the John Dunn Shops will host bonfires, farolitos (sand-filled paper bags holding a candle), music and refreshments at the annual Bonfires on Bent Street holiday-themed event Saturday (Dec. 9), from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Throughout the day, merchants will offer special sales and discounts. Some host raffles, drawings and prize give-aways, as well as cookies and treats.

That evening, though, is when the event turns into a festive open-air celebration. From 4-7 p.m., the big reception gets underway as dusk draws near. Bent Street will be closed to traffic and merchants will begin lighting farolitos and bonfires. The atmosphere is that of a fun street party. Weather-permitting, there is music and other entertainment.

The John Dunn Shops is a pedestrian mall of stores, galleries and boutiques just one block north (along Juan Largo) of the Historic Taos Plaza. Its shops include Seconds Eco Store, La Tierra Mineral Gallery and Las Comadres Gallery, just to name a few of the 20 unique, independent, and locally owned shops. The charming architecture includes the John Dunn House, which is on the National Historic Register. Incidentally, John Dunn (1857-1953) was a well-known gunfighter, gambler, stagecoach driver – and outlaw.

Polly Raye, owner of the John Dunn Shops, said “We are very excited that 40 merchants in the John Dunn Shops and on Bent Street work together. There is a such a sense of unity we have among the shops.” She pointed out that the John Dunn Shops will have snacks and specials all day and will be festively decorated for the holidays.

At the reception from 4-7 p.m., merchants will light 400 farolitos and 10 bonfires along the John Dunn Shops. Bent Street will have an equal number. There will be a big offering of s’mores to cook over the bonfires.

“We started this event 29 years ago as a ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting us all-year-long,” Raye said.

Performances at the John Dunn shops will include Danza Azteca de Anahuac, Amber Vásquez’s Youth Ballet group, Billy Archuleta and the Guadalupe Church choir, and the Taos Community Chorus. “All choral groups are invited to sing and have the community sing with them,” Raye said.

Bent Street is adjacent to the John Dunn Shops and also has a great deal of history attached to it. Named after Charles Bent (1799-1847), the first territorial governor of New Mexico, the street still has his home which is now a museum. The other historic buildings on the street include unique, independent, and locally owned shops ranging from fine jewelers to fine arts to Lambert’s Restaurant at 123 Bent St., which was voted “Best in Taos” in the 2017 annual People’s Choice survey published by The Taos News.

Yvonne Swartz, owner of Artemisia Artwear, at 117 Bent St., said, “I love ‘Bonfires,’ it’s a great community event. It’s festive and beautiful and cheerful and a great opportunity to browse and shop and get your Christmas list going.” Her store will offer a 10 percent locals’ discount.

Kathleen Fowler, owner of Sam’s Shop, 109 Bent St., said, “I am here for 33 years. Sam, the original owner, had it for nine. I love ‘Bonfires’ because it’s a great coming together of the community. On that night, we will have some specials. Sam’s Shop is known for style, comfort and panache.”

“We are the anchor of Bent Street,” said Sue Westbrook, owner of Taos Blue at 101 Bent St., which recently expanded its store into the former Stephen Kilborn gallery space. Taos Blue offers fine arts and crafts with a new twist on lighting. “‘Bonfires’ is a family event and it is locally driven. Bent Street is all about businesses providing for our locals,” Westbrook said. Taos Blue will have special pricing that night, as well as give-aways, store drawings and s’mores in the garden.

Dwellings Revisited at 107 Bent St. will cover the sales tax of items purchased from 4-7 p.m. “The tax will not be rolled into the price,” owner Cam Martin said. “We will cover the tax. And if you purchase $50 or more, you will be eligible to select an item from a grab bag.”

Dwellings Revisited offers folk art from around the world, as well as ornaments and stocking stuffers. Martin has owned her store for 32 years and said, “What’s fun about ‘Bonfires’ is that people are outside and in. It’s free-flowing.”

For more information about the event, call (505) 259-6554.