By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Expanded events and a fiery competition are a few of things in store for the third annual Fired Up! event Sept. 28 at the Tucumcari Train Depot.
This year’s Fired Up! will add a blacksmithing competition headed up by Tucumcari’s Jim Keith, a world-renowned and award winning farrier.
Keith is a 1993 inductee to the Farrier Hall of Fame located in Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., and has won international honors. He most recently led a team with his uncle, Melvin Keith of Logan, and Chris Madrid of Stanley to world honors in July at the Calgary Stampede, where they competed against more than 100 competitors.
Since his childhood Keith has honed his skills as a blacksmith to become a master of farrier arts, which includes construction of horseshoe sculptures, and the manufacturing and selling of blacksmithing tools around the world.
“This event is going to be a showcase for the people attending Fired Up!,” Keith said.
Keith said he has put on a demonstration during the past two years and had spoken before about adding a blacksmithing competition as one of the attractions.
“This year it just seemed to have developed into a reality,” Keith said.
Keith said this year’s event would showcase up to 12 two-man teams of professional blacksmiths who will be tasked with making a front and back horseshoe for a light draft horse. He said that to make the competition a showcase, the competition was invitation only, to professional blacksmiths.
“We wanted to give the audience a show,” Keith said. “We will look into expanding the competition to amateur entries in the future.”
Keith said some of the nation’s best farriers have been invited to this competition, some from as far away as California. He said the high level of skill combined with the fiery upkeep of the forge and striking will make for a wonderfully visual event for the spectators.
Visual arts have always been a key attraction to the Fired Up event that has included the Odd-Lab fire dancers, who will be expanding their show this year, said Connie Loveland, chair of the promotion committee.
Loveland said there would be additional dancers joining the performance and a fire cannon will also be used during the show.
“Each year they put on a wonderful show and we are excited to see how the additions will go,” Loveland said.
Loveland said Fired Up! is a Tucumcari MainStreet event that is funded by local organizations, businesses and individuals to promote Tucumcari and raise community involvement.
Fired Up! was originally started as a local event to coincide with the New Mexico Statehood Centennial launch, which brought a Union Pacific steam locomotive to Tucumcari, said Mark Lake, director of Tucumcari MainStreet.
Lake said when Fired Up! began, MainStreet had just finished a renovation at the Tucumcari Train depot and wanted to showcase the restoration. He said as renovations have continued each year, Fired Up! has provided MainStreet an event to show the community the progress of depot renovation while attracting residents and tourist to the downtown area.
“There is a huge following for the dancers and blacksmithing,” Lake said. “We are hopeful that by having these attractions and adding more in the years to come we can bring more people to Tucumcari to see what we offer.”
Third annual Fired Up! event
at the Tucumcari Train Depot
Schedule of events
• 4 p.m. — Food and merchandise vendors, information booths, static displays, art and poetry show, and railroad documentary open
Tucumcari Two Man Blacksmithing Competition
• 5 p.m. — Presentation of colors/welcome, National Anthem: Olana Romero
• 6 p.m.-7 p.m. — Strolling mariachis
• 7 p.m.-7:20 p.m. — Odd-Lab fire performance
• 7:20 p.m.-8 p.m. — Coyote Blue Band
• 8 p.m.-8:20 p.m. — Odd-Lab fire performance
• 8:20 p.m.-9 p.m. — Coyote Blue Band
• 9 p.m. — Fireworks display