Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
The “heart” of the El Paso Scene is what’s known as the events database. The database contains all the events that we update from one month to the next, or one year to the next. In any given month we list about 600 events, but the database has over 8,000 events dating back to the first El Paso Scene in 1993.
So it was a bit sad when I discovered that the oldest event on file, which has been updated every year for the past quarter-century, would not be held this year. The first issue of El Paso Scene was the September 1993 issue, which included events beginning in late August. The first event listed in that first issue was the St. Nicholas Greek Food Festival, which has always been held on the weekend before Labor Day Weekend.
This year we got a note from one of the organizers that the event had been cancelled. No reason was given, but the note indicated that the church would try to get it back on the calendar next year. This year would have been the 32nd annual Greek Food Festival.
The Greek Food Festival had the distinction of being “File No. 1” in our database, which assigns a number with each new event entered. The newest event in our database is No. 18106 (which means that we’ve deleted about 10,000 events over the years for one reason or another).
El Paso Scene will celebrate its 25th anniversary next month, but there are fewer and fewer events that go back as long as we do. Some events have been flashes in the pan, never returning after their first attempt (which is why we refuse to label anything “first annual” — an event has to be held at least twice to be called “annual”).
Others have lasted for decades. This Labor Day Weekend, for example, marks the 47th annual Hatch Chile Festival and the 32nd annual Marfa Lights Festival. Closer to home, however, El Paso lost its long-time Labor Day Weekend tradition a few years ago when the Fiesta de las Flores finally died on the vine (after splitting up into two competing festivals for a few years).
The fact is, most events don’t outlive their founders. Usually it’s one person or one group of people who launch an event and keep it going. It takes a well-disciplined organization to keep passing the baton to the next generation. Examples that come to mind are the Junior League’s “Christmas Fair” and Doña Ana Arts Council’s “Renaissance ArtsFaire.”
Some of El Paso’s oldest events are tied to churches. In fact, the “granddaddy” of all events on the calendar comes up Aug. 10-12 with the Fiesta de San Lorenzo in Clint. This year is the 104th annual festival! By the way, since we did not run that event until our August 1994 issue, it ranks as File No. 219 on our database.
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Meanwhile, the progress of Downtown El Paso has been on a steady climb during the past 20 years, beginning with the El Paso Museum of Art, which opened in 1998. Then came the expansion of the Convention Center in 2002 and the Plaza Theatre reopening in 2006. Progress continued with Cleveland Square and the Museum of History, and the growth of downtown nightclubs. Most recently, the new baseball stadium and redesigned San Jacinto Plaza have drawn more and more visitors. Later this year the El Paso Streetcars will be back in business.
As this month’s feature points out, all this progress has also led to a downtown hotel renaissance that include historic building renovations, major upscale chains and “boutique” hotels. See Lisa Tate’s story that begins on Page 21.
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'
Copyright 2018 by Cristo Rey Communications.