The New Mexico Department of Tourism held its annual Tourism Day at the Glenrio Visitors Welcome Center Friday. Tourists from across the globe stopped by to sample donated food and some were lucky enough to win door prizes.
Items from area businesses were donated for the occasion. By 11:30 a.m. nearly 400 tourists had signed in and picked up brochures and maps. At noon, the Tourism Department employees brought out vegetable trays donated by the Tucumcari Holiday Inn and K-Bob’s Steakhouse. Tourists quickly filled their plates. Garyl Henderson of Tuttle, Okla. sampled some vegetables and dip and said he was pleasantly surprised. “My wife and I have stopped here many times,” said Henderson. “We weren’t expecting all this.”
Kathi Sherwood, of the Tourism Department, said that several foreigners had stopped in. “We had a couple from Spain and a couple from Germany,” said Sherwood. She also said people from as far away as New Jersey and North Carolina visited A large inflatable dinosaur from the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum could be seen from Interstate-40. Also a 1929 Ford Model “A” coupe was parked nearby. The owners of the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa brought the antique car to display at the event.
Leonard Mills, of Oklahoma City, was on his way to Santa Fe to pick up his son from college. Mills said that he is planning to retire in New Mexico. “I really like the people here in New Mexico,” said Mills. They are so down to earth.”
Alice Arguello, an employee of the Tourism Department, gave Mills some booklets and brochures to help him decide where in New Mexico he might like to retire.
Arguello said tourists were a little dazed by all the free items available at the visitors center. ”I’ve had a lot of people ask me what was going on,” said Arguello. “Everybody is enjoying themselves, and we’ve got great weather today.”
Many people were drawn to information handed out by representatives of the Fort Sumner State Monument and other state parks. Representatives from Santa Rosa were also present to let people know about that city’s upcoming festivities later this month. Robert Rust, and his wife Connie, were heading back to California from a trip to Arkansas. Rust said he and his wife could not pass up the visitors center. “I was wondering what was going on. I saw the antique car and that big dinosaur,” said Rust. “It’s really neat. We were able to get ourselves a free cup of coffee while we were here.”
Door prizes were being given away every thirty minutes, including a mug from Sundowner Gallery, free meals at Cracker Barrel restaurants, and free value meals from McDonalds. Many area businesses donated gifts especially for the occasion.