A fiesta to showcase the Tarahumara culture is coming to Las Cruces on Saturday, August 27. Evento Tarahumara will feature a recital by renowned Tarahumara singer and dancer Irma Chavez-Cruz and a “Run with the Tarahumaras” road race.
The full-day fundraising event will be held on Harrelson Street between College and Conway in Mesilla Park.
The event will showcase Chavez-Cruces, who is a lawyer and human rights activist in addition to a singer and dancer. She has traveled the world to raise awareness of the Tarahumara culture and the difficulties its members face. She will hold an open conference from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on human rights issues as they relate to the Tarahumaras, and give insight into Tarahumara life. Entry is limited to the first 30-40 persons who register. At 4 p.m., Chavez Cruz will perform her song and dance recital.
Evento Tarahumara will kick off at 8 a.m. with a road race in which a group of the famed Tarahumara runners will run with entrants, who can choose a 5.7 or 12.3 kilometer course through the tree-lined streets of Mesilla Park. The most famous Tarahumara runner, Arnulfo Quimare (El Rey de Las Barrancas del Cobre), will run, as will fellow standout racer Juan Rico. It will be Rico’s first appearance outside Mexico.
Top finishers in the road race also will have the opportunity after the race to meet with Quimare in a private group to learn from the master runner, and to question him on running and Tarahumara life.
In addition, from 4 to 10 p.m., almost 20 different groups will provide music, folkloric dances, poetry and other entertainment. At 9 p.m., an attempt will be made to set a world record for most persons singing the State of Chihuahua’s famous tune, “El Corrido de Chihuahua,” outside of the country of Mexico. Cost is $2 or a donated jacket or quilt for the day’s entertainment. Food vendors will be on site all day.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Tarahumara people. The Tarahumaras are a long-oppressed indigenous people who live in the Sierra Madre in southwestern Chihuahua, said event organizer Saul Bustamante. Their running ability, honed for centuries in the mountains and canyons of the famous Copper Canyon area, is world renowned, he said. Running in sandals (huaraches), Tarahumara racers have beaten the world’s best ultra-marathoners, he said. They sometimes have 48-hour races, kicking a ball all the way, he added.
Music and dancing are also central to Tarahumara culture, Bustamante said. Most of the Tarahumaras live a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting primitive or natural shelters like caves, he noted. The majority of the people are impoverished, and the people have been denied basic human rights from the time the Spaniards arrived centuries ago through the present, Bustamante stressed.
The road race entry fee is $20 ($25 on race day), but only $5 for those who want to run for fun without a time. The first 100 registrants and the top finishers will receive certificates in the Tarahumara language.
Those interested in registering for the race and/or reserving a seat in the conference with Chavez Cruz can go to www.eventotarahumara.com or contact Bustamante at 575-805-1951.