. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

School may be back in session, but that doesn’t mean the summer fun is over just yet.

Artesia MainStreet and the Artesia Arts and Cultural District are once again giving a salute to the oil patch Saturday, Aug. 25, in downtown Artesia with the Red Dirt Black Gold Festival, an all-day celebration of life in the Permian Basin.

The events kick off at 9 a.m. in Eagle Draw with the Oilfield Olympics, a competition that not only gives oilfield workers a chance to challenge one another but those not even employed in the industry an opportunity to test their mettle, as well.

For a $100 entry fee, teams of four will square off in events such as the drill bit toss, wheelbarrow races, and derrick and pumpjack assemblies to see who reigns supreme.
The Olympics will run from 9-11 a.m. Register online at www.artesiaacd.com or at 9 a.m. the day of the event.

New to the Festival this year will be the Red Dirt Black Gold Market, which opens at 10 a.m. in the First American Bank parking lot.

“There will be arts and crafts vendors, along with some smaller, locally-owned boutiques that don’t have a brick-and-mortar store,” says Elisabeth Jackson, executive director of Artesia MainStreet. “So there will be children’s clothing, hunting apparel for the men, handmade jewelry for the women, we’ll have a glass artist there – there will just be a plethora of things available.”

The Market will run from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in conjunction with sidewalk sales conducted by Artesia’s downtown merchants.

Businesses in the area will host special, one-day-only sales for the event, also from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Kicking off at noon in Heritage Walkway will be the Kids’ Zone, a collection of carnival-type games and activities for the younger set.

“All of them will have an oilfield theme or an oilfield spin, as well,” Jackson says.

Children will be able to race ducks through the Walkway’s fountains, create crafts, and play games for prizes and candy from noon – 3 p.m., come-and-go.

As oilfield workers know, it can often become a necessity for crews and companies located miles from the nearest restaurant to learn to fend for themselves in the food department. But some have elevated on-site cooking from a chore to a culinary coup.

Artesians wanting to taste a little oil patch cooking for themselves will have their chance from 3-5 p.m. in Heritage Plaza when the Oilfield Cook-Off commences.

Six different companies will be competing against one another for tastiest grub, all offering plates to the public for $10 each.

“That gives you whatever that company is serving,” Jackson says. “One is doing barbecue, one’s doing asado, another’s doing pulled pork – you choose where you want to eat, and then you’re given a ticket to vote for People’s Choice.

“So if you go with a group of people, you’ll probably want to get a sampling from a few different places before you cast your vote.”

Also at 3 p.m., the New Mexico Brewfest will begin serving suds in the parking lot of Western Bank.

Entry is $10 (must be 21 or older), and Jackson says the Festival is once again welcoming Tractor Brewing of Santa Fe, which will be serving their own brews as well as beer from The Wellhead Restaurant & Brewpub. For those who’d rather indulge in a little red or white instead, Noisy Water Winery of Ruidoso will also be on hand this year.

The Brewfest will be open from 3-10 p.m. during the bulk of the entertainment in Heritage Plaza.

The Red Dirt – a genre of Southern-rock-meets-country music named for the red color of the soil found in Oklahoma – portion of the Festival begins at 5 p.m. with music from JD and the Badlands Band, a country-and-classic-rock influenced group comprised of Artesia residents.

At 6:30 p.m., The Yarbrough Band of Las Cruces takes the stage with a setlist of classic country dance music, followed by headliners William Clark Green at 8 p.m. and Roger Creager at 10 p.m.

Green, a native of Flint, Texas, and a graduate of Texas Tech University, is a country singer whose latest release, “Hebert Island,” is following in the footsteps of his two previous, critically-esteemed albums.

Creager’s newest album, “Gulf Coast Time,” gives a clear nod to the country singer and Corpus Christi native’s “lust for life” style.

“(Green and Creager) put on really good shows, and we’re really excited to have them with us,” Jackson says.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and the whole family; pets and coolers, however, are prohibited. And while the Oilfield Cook-Off will be wrapping up just as the music begins, food vendors will be on hand during the entertainment portion of the evening, and soft drinks and water will be available for those not wishing to explore the Brewfest.

“The purpose of this event is to celebrate the oil and gas industry in Southeast New Mexico, specifically in Artesia, and to also celebrate everything else we have downtown,” says Jackson. “So we hope that people come out during the day to enjoy shopping downtown, enjoy our Market, come see the statues if you haven’t ever seen them or if it’s been a while, and then stay for good barbecue, stay for the Brewfest, and Stay for the free music.”

For more iformation on Red Dirt Black Gold, visit www.artesiaacd.com/reddirtblackgold or call 575-746-1117.