Culture

Feel the warmth of the season at Bonfires on Bent Street

Annual community event draws locals and visitors to historic district for food, shopping, music and cheer

By Dena Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/11/19

The monthlong Yuletide in Taos celebration, which kicked off last weekend, continues Saturday (Dec. 14) when the John Dunn House Shops and the merchants on Bent Street join forces once again on a day packed with good tidings and family fun.

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Culture

Feel the warmth of the season at Bonfires on Bent Street

Annual community event draws locals and visitors to historic district for food, shopping, music and cheer

Posted

The monthlong Yuletide in Taos celebration, which kicked off last weekend, continues Saturday (Dec. 14) when the John Dunn House Shops and the merchants on Bent Street join forces once again on a day packed with good tidings and family fun. That day, of course, is "Bonfires on Bent Street," and this year it's bigger than ever, full of specials and treats and a heap of camaraderie.

Polly Raye, who has owned the John Dunn House shops since 1982, always had a vision for this sweet spot nestled between the historic Taos Plaza and Bent Street. In realizing that vision, a brick walkway was built connecting the two and has become the epicenter of community.

"We've been doing the holiday bonfires for 31 years," Raye said, "and, of course, over that time it has gotten much bigger and more festive. We began with the 20 shops here, and about 10 years ago included the 20 or so shops lining Bent. Now it's the cheeriest day of the holiday season, with merchants pulling out all the stops for the enjoyment of locals and visitors."

Tastes of the Southwest

Beginning at 4 p.m., the corner of Bent Street and John Dunn Way will be buzzing when the Bent Street Café and Deli begins serving posole, chile, tamales, holiday cookies, hot cider and hot chocolate. It's the perfect way to warm your belly and your heart before you set off to explore the many shops that will offer extended hours until 7 p.m.

And you'll find plenty awaiting you as you move through the promenade. Amid the bonfires and festive decorations, you'll be serenaded by carolers, thanks to both Billy Archuleta and the Guadalupe Choir and the Taos Community Choir Troubadours. Taos Youth Ballet and the Aztec Dancers will be on hand to entertain you with their skills. Distinctive items, deals, raffles, prizes and, yes, more treats to sample are tucked inside and outside the many welcoming doorways.

Steppin' Out, one of the jazziest fashion stops in town, has a fabulous sale rack at the ready and a raffle for a $50 gift certificate. During the festivities there will also be a spread of light refreshments, according to owner Julie Jennerjahn.

Next door, Mooncat Fiber is featuring regionally handmade felted Christmas ornaments for sale, in addition to its myriad hand-dyed and -spun wools and rovings. Hand-crafted garments are offered for sale as are handmade shawl pins and other jewelry items featuring exotic stones.

Taos hospitality

La Tierra Mineral Gallery is known for its spectacular "art created by nature" and on Saturday the gallery's hospitality will shine just as brightly. "We'll have posole and chips and salsa outside, and inside a spread of savory and sweet treats alongside our perfect holiday gift ideas," said Lauren Hershiser.

And don't forget to stop in Las Comadres which, now in its 22nd year, has 10 member artists offering you high-quality fine art and crafts. Watercolorist Karen McCurtain Blair said, "We'll have a great variety of refreshments, because the artists here all try to outdo each other with cookies, Crock-Pots or whatever we think will win the public's heart. And, we pride ourselves in having the most inclusive gift selection in town."

Not to be outdone by their neighbors, the merchants of Bent Street have plenty of surprises on hand. Christopher Pieper, along with his wife, Elena Lombard, invite you to come by Mudd N Flood and spin their wheel of fortune while noshing on posole, sweets and cheeses from their goat farm. "You could win a purchase discount and free stuff," he said.

And at Taos Cookery a purchase of $25 or more gets you a free gift, so be sure to check out their array of housewares after you roast some marshmallows at their bonfire and sip some cider. At the top of the road, Taos Blue is offering s'mores for your sweet tooth. Enjoy them while you browse among the works of over 60 established artists.

Special entertainment is planned for 5:30 p.m. when Julia Fernandez de Maez of The Body Shop, LLC, will be performing sword, belly and light dances, and yes, it will be special indeed. A fifth-generation Taosena, she's fluent in fitness training and many dance styles and has built a national reputation in flamenco. Don't miss this opportunity to see her perform.

With these and the many other welcoming participants in the evening, it's sure to be the most fun you'll have making that holiday gift list a little bit shorter. Don't forget to ask about a local's discount, which many shops offer.

To make your Saturday even better -- if that's possible -- Polly Raye pointed to a couple of notable activities preceding the main event.

Santa Paws

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Santa Paws will be in front of Op. Cit. Books, ready to take pictures with your furry friends and hear their wishes for a favorite chew toy. "It's a fun thing to do with your pet while also supporting Stray Hearts Animal Shelter, which is the beneficiary of your $15 photo fee," she said.

Op. Cit. books will continue prebonfire activities with a book signing from 2-3:30 p.m. featuring renowned historical author Hampton Sides, whose latest book, "On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War's Greatest Battle," is now available in softcover.

"As narrative history, the book is a masterpiece of thorough research, deft pacing and arresting detail. As an allegory for America's current leadership predicament, it is nothing less than terrifying," said the publisher Doubleday.

It seems like your best bet is to just clear your calendar for Saturday and make it a full day of indulgence. "The participating merchants all offer a wide variety of unique, quality gifts in all price ranges, and many are locally made," Raye said. "It's an excellent opportunity to start - or finish - your holiday shopping while sharing a festive day and evening with family and friends."

Not to mention the food.

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