Taos Lilac Festival puts a spring in your step

Event to feature gardening tips, a taco cook-off, pet parade and more

By Laura Bulkin
Posted 5/18/18

Every year about this time, our little corner of the Land of Enchantment is made even more enchanting by the soft, heavenly scent of lilac blossoms wafting on the breeze.The Taos Lilac …

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Taos Lilac Festival puts a spring in your step

Event to feature gardening tips, a taco cook-off, pet parade and more


Every year about this time, our little corner of the Land of Enchantment is made even more enchanting by the soft, heavenly scent of lilac blossoms wafting on the breeze.

The Taos Lilac Festival has been celebrating the joys of lilac season since 2013. This year's festival runs Friday-Sunday (May 18-20), from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily in Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Other festival events are within walking distance nearby.

This year marks a transition in the lilac festival as production responsibilities transfer over from longtime organizers John Hamilton and Thom Wheeler to the Taos County Chamber of Commerce.

"We're grateful to be mentored in this transition year by John Hamilton and by Kathy Fortner of Los Jardineros Garden Club," said the Chamber's Executive Director Susan Cady. "Of course we want to honor the original founders and their group for starting a very wonderful event that we can take into the future."

"We're excited to be producing the Lilac Festival," said TCCC Membership and Events Director Lindsey Pfaff. "At the chamber, we look for community events that also engage the visitor and enhance the visitor experience. One of our chamber members brought this to us, and we brought it to our board."

Pfaff said that this year's festival will feature many creative collaborations with local groups and businesses. "It's wonderful that there is so much cooperation. We have about 40 local shops that are doing window displays as well as participation from the Lions' Club, the Jardineros, Taos Art Museum and so many sponsors and vendors with amazing local beer, wine and food choices. We're looking forward to showcasing so much of what Taos is known for -- art, culture, food, nature and community -- all in one festival."

Throughout the three-day festival, Kit Carson Park will host an ongoing arts and crafts fair; an open-air business expo featuring a wide variety of home, garden and outdoor products and services; food and beverage vendors; and gardening-themed educational activities with a focus on lilac care and cultivation. Maps will be available for self-guided tours of festival-related sites around the downtown historic district. A kids' zone will offer free rides, games, a bouncy house, a Velcro wall, gardening adventures for young people, and Taos' beloved Tio Vivo carousel.

The beer and wine garden in the park will open at noon Saturday and Sunday.

Los Jardineros Garden Club will host a large tent and outdoor display where 15 different varieties of live lilacs will be available for purchase.

"We're excited to continue to support the Lilac Festival," Jardineros board member Kathy Fortner said. "This year we will provide two booths at the festival. First we will host the welcome tent, which will have information on festival events and information booklets on how to plant and care for your lilacs. Members of the garden club will be available to answer lilac questions too. This tent will also have the Lilac Walk maps, so visitors can stroll the downtown and view the lilacs and the window decorations.

"Our other booth will be great fun. This year we are concentrating on gardening and craft activities for children. We will continue the 'Plant a Flower Pot' for kids. We will also have a "living craft garden" where kids and crafty adults can help make garden crafts that will be displayed in our garden next to the tent. As participants complete various projects, the garden will change and grow over the festival weekend. This garden should be a nice fusion of art and gardening."

Friday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., the Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, will offer a concert by the Trifecta Trio, a cutting-edge take on virtuoso chamber music (see Page 24). Tickets are $25, or $20 for museum members.

Saturday at 9:30 a.m., animal people can bring their costumed pets to Our Lady of Guadalupe church for the annual Pet Parade to Kit Carson Park, followed by a blessing of the pets and prizes for best pet costumes.

Live music begins at noon Saturday with Good Grief, followed by the Billy Stewart Pot Creek Band.

Sunday's music in the park will be provided by Taos' own homegrown fan favorite, The Noseeums.

At noon Sunday, the Great Chefs of Taos group kicks off its annual Lilac Festival Taco Cook-Off. The idea for the cook-off was dreamed up by Laurie Dunn and husband Craig Dunn in answer to Hamilton's wish to add a special food event to the festival. This year's taco creations will be made by student chefs from Taos High School Culinary Arts, Sagebrush Inn, The Gorge Restaurant, El Monte Sagrado, Cid's Food Market, Martyrs Steakhouse, Salt + Wine, Aceq, Donabe Asian Kitchen and The Bavarian. All proceeds will benefit Taos High School's ProStart Culinary Arts program.

"We are looking forward to a record number of chefs preparing tacos this year, including two separate offerings from the Taos High School Culinary Arts students," said Great Chefs' Board President John Rush. "So we'll have a terrific selection of tacos for everyone to sample. Come hungry!"

"For $20 per person, guests can sample tacos from every participating restaurant," Laurie Dunn said. "In past years, the offerings have ranged from classic street tacos to imaginative and unique variations (including dessert tacos). Guests can vote for their favorites, which will determine the People's Choice Award. A panel of community representatives will also taste each taco and choose the Judge's Award winners."

Said Cady, "We're looking forward to having so many members of the community represented in the park and sharing a glorious weekend with one another!"

For a map and additional information, see the advertisement on Pages 20-21 in Tempo or visit taoslilacfestival.com.


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