Steve Hansen: Fired Up! lives up to namesake

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By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

Saturday’s Fired Up! event marked the fifth anniversary of an extraordinary family oriented grass-roots effort conceived, organized and implemented within Tucumcari.

I serve on Tucumcari MainStreet’s promotions committee, which organizes the event, but other committee members have done way more than I have to make this event draw hundreds of visitors downtown, and every year the results of their work and ingenuity astonish me more.

I will mention a few names.

Connie Loveland has ably chaired the committee for all five years. Christy Dominguez has proven her fund-raising prowess again and again.  Carole Keith has found and lined up entertainment and, lately, working with husband Jim Keith, a world-renowned farrier, has organized blacksmithing competitions.

Gail Houser, executive director of Tucumcari MainStreet, has carried out much of the committee’s plans and goals, filling the shoes of his predecessor the Rev. Mark Lake, who helped conceive and launch Fired Up!  Lake and his wife Beverly continue to contribute more than their share of talent and effort to the festival’s success.

Rick Haymaker served as emcee and donated sound equipment and recorded music.

I apologize for not naming many others.

Fired Up!’s first year was part of a convergence as rare as Sunday night’s super-full moon and eclipse.

The idea reached fruition just in time for New Mexico’s statehood centennial celebrations, and Tucumcari was first stop on a commemorative steam locomotive-propelled rail excursion across the state. The train drew rail enthusiasts from all over the country, but Fired Up!’s displays of creatively employed flame proved popular.

Fired Up! worked so well the committee decided to repeat it. My own doubts were proven wrong. In years 3 and 4, the festival only grew in popularity and fun. This year, success continued to grow like, well, wildfire.

Odd Lab, a troupe of fire dancers from Las Cruces, for the fifth time thrilled spectators, and the evening ended, as usual, with fireworks.

There was live music for dancing, and local 4- and 5-year-olds competed for the titles of Prince Tokom and Princess Kari, the principle characters in the Legend of Tucumcari.

This year’s Fired Up! car show drew nearly 40 entrants and a steady stream of admirers. Competing two-man farrier teams again worked red-hot iron as forges blazed behind them.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans returned with cannon and Civil War re-enactments.

New this year were the Desert Rose’s quilt show, the pistol-popping Gunfighters of New Mexico, and Taiko Sol Drum, a Santa Fe trio of Japanese taiko drummers. Another new participant, Las Cruces chalk artist Bob Diven, demonstrated and taught his street art technique.

To summarize: Fired Up! just keeps getting better. Wait til next year.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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