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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Old Timer's Reunion Features Chuck Wagon Cook-off

LAS CRUCES -- No beans about it, chuck wagon cooks will find out who makes the best trail-drive meal and who has the top rig at the annual Magdalena Old Timer's Reunion July 10-12.

The festival will begin with a stick-horse decorating contest and a rodeo for kids, said Joel Bernstein, president of the Magdalena Old Timer's Association. In the evening, prizes will be awarded at the chuck wagon cook-off for the best bread, beans and meat. A grand prize will be given for the best wagon. Night activities will include a fiddler's jam and dance.

"This is truly a community effort supported by volunteers," Bernstein said. "There's a wide variety of events spread all over town. The reunion is informal and it's not commercial. People will really enjoy it."

A grant from New Mexico State University s Rural Economic Development Through Tourism (REDTT) project helped organizers add the chuck wagon cook-off to the event this year. REDTT, a program of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, promotes agriculture through tourism.

"We're really proud to be a part of this great event, said Mike Cook of REDTT. "The festival is a true celebration of the American West."

Magdalena was founded in the 1880s when lead and zinc were discovered in the area, he said. The town became one of the largest cattle-shipping centers in the Southwest. Today, more than 800 people live in Magdalena.

Other activities during the festival will include a parade, rodeo, barbecue, play, dance, pancake breakfast, fiddler's contest, horseshoe pitching, tours of nearby Waldo Mine and the crowning of the Old Timer's queen.

The Indian Village, which features native dancers and singers, and the Box Car Museum also will be open during the festival.

For more information about the Magdalena Old Timer's Reunion, call Bernstein at (505) 854-2139.