Angel Martinez is thrown from a mechanical bull during the Party on the River at Cielo Grande, Saturday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
After a crisp morning, the day has warmed to a balmy 75 degrees, and people crowd the lawn at Cielo Grande Recreation Center, riding ponies, eating pizza and enjoying the live country music played by The Mixx in celebration of the annual Party on the River.
The day is filled with events, from skateboard competitions to volleyball games. Friends and family sit in bleachers to watch and cheer on a game of flag football. Kids scream and laugh as they go down a blowup water slide. And some, like mother Ansie Jacobson, take a moment to sit and relax in the sun. While her 6-year-old son and husband play on the rides, she takes some time for herself.
“It’s a day out with the family to listen to the music, and it’s a perfect day: not too hot, not too cold, not too windy,” Jacobson said. She adds that Roswell’s weather is much better than the freezing weather and snow she left in South Dakota.
Also enjoying the weather and festivities, 18-month-old Emma Lee Stuart bounces around, dancing and clapping to the music as her mom, Jamie Stuart, and 6-year-old brother, Ashton Marquez, cheer her on.
“(Best part about Party on the River is) probably the atmosphere and the people,” Jamie says. “You see everyone you haven’t seen in a long time and enjoy the band. I think it’s about family and just relaxation. And the weather is perfect!”
There is a lot of space for children to run around, and more games and activities for the kids than there have been in past years, according to Jerry and Lenore Metcalf who perform in the afternoon with their band, The Tom Blake Trio.
The stage continues to showcase talent from around New Mexico, but as it gets later a large crowd gathers on the grass in preparation for the big performance from Gloriana.
Founded in 2008, Gloriana is a country music group consisting now of three group members: Rachel Reinert leading with her voice and brothers Tom and Mike Gossin following along with vocals and guitars. Thanks to a connection with Majestic Communications LLC VP Director of Operations, John Sebastian, Gloriana makes an appearance in Roswell.
“I knew them from the beginning and they remembered me from having dinner in Madison, Wis., 2 1⁄2 years ago,” Sebastian said. “I was one of the first people to play their first hit.” This connection, and some musical politics, helps secure a performance from Gloriana.
Before the concert, excited winners of the KMOU country station VIP contest gather in a white tent to meet the band.
All three members cheerfully and genuinely greet every person, taking pictures with every fan. But as excited as some enthusiasts are to meet Gloriana, they are equally as excited to be in Roswell and see all the green aliens.
“We watch the UFO shows on the bus while on tour, and we’re big nerds,” Mike says enthusiastically. “So when we saw the green alien statues today, we’re like, we fit right in! We literally live for this stuff.”
The members of Gloriana are easily excited, from aliens, to pins they receive from the mayor, to simply performing in front of fans.
“It’s a great crowd,” Mike continues. “(There are) a lot of fans out here and they’ve been awesome to us all day. The hospitality has been great.”
As the air cools back down and night falls, Gloriana performs for a cheering group of lawn chair loungers and cowboy boot-wearing teenagers. The energy level is high, even after a long day in the sun.
The festivities continue today at Fiesta Del Rio with more live music from 1-7 p.m., including performances by Al Hurricane Sr. and Jr. at 3:30 p.m. and a finale from Ram Herrera at 5:30 p.m.