By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Two days of events across the community, representation of three families of “Rawhide” stars and more than 2,000 in attendance have the Rawhide Days Festival coordinators looking toward next year’s event.
Event founder Karen Alarcon said she was ecstatic and almost in tears as she rode in Saturday’s parade along Route 66 in Tucumcari.
“I said ‘we did it, we made it happen,’ as I waved to the residents lining the streets watching the parade,” Alarcon said.
Alarcon said the parade was the final milestone in a dream come true in a concept that began with a simple question one year ago.
“I had no idea that after asking ‘Why we didn’t have a local ‘Rawhide celebration’ that I’d be riding in a carriage in a Rawhide parade,” Alarcon said. “Everything was a highlight this weekend.”
Alarcon said the main goal she had in holding the Rawhide Days Festival was for the town to have a great time. “I think they did,” Alarcon added.
The inaugural Rawhide Days Festival was held Friday and Saturday with events at both the Tucumcari Convention Center and Tucumcari Historical Museum.
Residents and visitors enjoyed gunfighter shows, trick ropers, vendors, performances by state and Nashville artist all celebrating the TV series “Rawhide” and the heritage of the Old West.
Special guests Shirley Brinegar, widow of Paul Brinegar, Kimber Eastwood, daughter of Clint Eastwood and Chrystie Wooley, daughter of Sheb Wooley, took part in events as both event royalty and participants.
“It was such an honor to have Shirley Brinegar attend our event,” Alarcon said. “It touched my heart to have her here and see her smile.”
Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield honored Brinegar, Wooley and Eastwood keys to the city during Friday night’s concert attended by 440 people at the convention center.
Luke Reed of Santa Fe and Mike Moutoux of Silver City kicked off the concert that was highlighted by musical performances by the Next Generation Band: Sons and Daughters of Country Legends.
The performers including Wooley, Robyn Young, son of Faron Young and Jett Williams, daughter of Hank Williams.
“Meeting Chrystie, Jett, Robyn and Kimber was amazing,” Alarcon said. “I really wish I could of spent more time with everyone but duty called.”
Wooley said the audience was extremely attentive from the beginning to end of the concert. She said it was surprising considering how far back the tables were from the stage. “I was afraid that we might lose the audience, but we didn’t,” Wooley said.
Wooley said she felt the kind of music that was played during the concert jogged a lot of happy memories for members of the audience. She said traditional country has more of an emotional and sentimental feeling for the audience and performers alike.
“I feel the old school music takes the audience back to a a sweeter time in life,” Wooley said.
Alarcon and Russell Braziel, a co-coordinator for the event, said they spent most of their time rushing from event to event during the festival.
“The event was a tremendous success,” Braziel said. “Although, next year, I hope we have more volunteers and I will have more of a chance to enjoy the event.”
Braziel said Rawhide Days was well-received by residents and visitors. He said even though the dust is barely beginning to settle there has already been some brainstorming about next year’s event.
Braziel said Saturday’s parade went off without any major problems, due largely to parade coordinator Sherri Muncy. Muncy rode her horse back and forth through the parade ensuring everything ran smoothly, Braziel added.
Braziel said a lot of credit and thanks should go to the Tucumcari Police Department, New Mexico State Police and Quay County Sheriff’s Office.
“Those agencies did an outstanding job escorting the parade, controlling traffic and assisting with the driving of 30 Longhorns along Route 66,” Braziel said.
“This is such a great event,” said Kimber Eastwood as she sat atop the Longhorn “Vegas” before Saturday’s Parade.
Eastwood rode “Vegas” along Route 66 and Wooley rode in a carriage with her family during the parade.
“It has been such an amazing experience being a part of this Rawhide celebration,” Wooley said.
Braziel said the parade had more than 70 cowboys and cowgirls riding horseback; the parade also included eight carriages and wagons — and it was all led by 30 head of longhorn cattle.
Alarcon said this year’s event would not have been possible without the help of volunteers and sponsors. She added that she was motivated to create this event for the community’s benefit.
“Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible,” Alarcon said. “It would not have been a success without the support of the community.”
Braziel said there are no official details or plans in the works for next year’s event.
“Rest assured there will be a second annual Rawhide Days,” Braziel said.
Alarcon said even though she is still winding down and picking up the pieces from the weekend, she is already looking forward to next year’s event.
“Oh, we have to go bigger and better,” Alarcon said. “This is an event that can continue to grow and benefit Tucumcari for years to come.”