By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Fire dancers, car show, blacksmith competition and a chance to dunk the city’s manager, commissioner and chief of police were just a few of the things people enjoyed Saturday at the fifth annual Fired Up! in Tucumcari.
“I walked around the event and there were numerous activities for the people to enjoy,” said Mayor Robert Lumpkin, who added that he was unable to attend the event in 2014. He said he is confident this year’s attendance was greater than last year’s estimated size of 2,000 visitors.
Lumpkin said anywhere you went there was some sort of family-oriented activity taking place at the Tucumcari Train Depot. He said having so many events not only drew in more people to the event, it gave people a choice of events for them to enjoy throughout the day.
One of the more well-attended events was the Prince Tocom and Princess Cari contest.
This event featured 4- and 5-year-olds dressed in Native American costumes for the contest that honors the legend of Tucumcari, a tale of star-crossed love involving Apache tribal royalty. The cries of “Tocom” and “Cari” at the end of the story, the legend goes, is how the town got its name.
This year’s winners were: Prince Tocom, Frankie Joe Montano, son of Gary and Debbie Montano; and Princess Cari, Karina Banuelos, daughter of Sandy L. Banuelos and Mondo Banuelos.
The event had a great response from the community and the attendance was high to support the children who entered the contest, said Christine Montano, contest coordinator.
Montano said this was the second year the contest was held during Fired Up!, and it is a revival of an event held in the past during Pinata Days .
“It is so great to bring back a contest like this for the children that also celebrates our town’s history,” Montano said.
Montano said there were a total of 13 entries for this year’s event and she believes that number will continue to grow in the coming years.
For those wanting to enjoy the performing arts, there was a Civil War historical reenactment that featured cannon fire.
The New Mexico Gunfighters Association, based in Albuquerque, performed several times during the event.
In their performance, the sheriff — Royd McCargish — was tricked out of his badge, gun and hat by his deputy, James Blackburn.
The crowd laughed as Blackburn celebrated his new promotion but that was short-lived as a group of outlaws came into town to kill the sheriff. Blackburn pleaded with McCargish to be the sheriff again. Some negotiations included Blackburn’s agreement to “bring up the rear” with the shotgun.
McCargish dawned the sheriff’s star one more time to save the day. Although Blackburn misunderstood the sheriff’s request and shot him in the rear end with the shotgun.
There was a car and motorcycle show that attracted more than 30 entries from classic cars, street rods and motorcycles.
This year there was a Fired Up! Quilt Show that featured quilts on display made just for this event held by the Easter New Mexico Art & Cultural Center.
“The quilt show was an art exhibit in itself,” Lumpkin said. “It is truly amazing what those quilters can do with small pieces of material.”
Returning this year was the two-man black smithing contest where teams of two competed in timed events to create various metal pieces.
The main event of the Fired Up! was the returning fire dancers of the Las Cruces and El Paso Texas, base Odd-Lab.
The plaza stage of Tucumcari Train Depot was surrounded as the performers took the stage twice with two unique shows.
“This is one of our favorite events to return to each year,” said performer Gina Armendariz.
Armendariz said the performers look forward to returning to Tucumcari each year and plan two unique shows for residents to enjoy.
“Seeing the enthusiasm and excitement in the faces of the adults and children is what makes performing in Tucumcari so amazing,” said Sarah Harke, another performer. “Seeing the audience have such a positive reaction to the show is why we do what we do.”