Schedule: Saturday, Sept 24

Festival Registration, information, sales: 

Global Resource Center, Western New Mexico University, 12th & Kentucky Streets, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

AND Festival Information: Silver City Visitors’ Center, Broadway & Hudson, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm  


Photo: Mark Watson

Photo: Mark Watson


Field trip with Brian Dolton.

7:30–11:30 a.m. Participant limit: 12. Fee: $16. Registration required. 

Difficulty level: moderate. Total hiking distance about 2.5 miles, mostly road/trail walking with minimal elevation gain.

On this field trip, be prepared to be surprised. Birding in September is somewhat challenging, with fall migration much less predictable than in spring.

Participants may see a range of species including warblers, flycatchers, finches, sparrows, woodpeckers and hawks. And though the birding may be unpredictable, this we can guarantee: you’ll enjoy this walk along the beautiful Gila River and have a lovely time.

Please bring hat, sunscreen, good walking shoes, water, and snacks. Field trip guide Brian Dolton will have extra binoculars and birding guides; if you have your own, please bring them.

Brian Dolton is an Englishman transplanted to New Mexico. He has led birding trips for the local Audubon chapter for six years and has seen almost 250 species of birds in Grant County.


Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.52.44 AMGILAvisions

Community Presentations and Performances

9:00 a.m.–noon. Global Resource Center, WNMU. FREE.

What does the Gila River mean to you? How do you relate to and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the Gila River, and envision it now and in the future?

Community members respond to these questions in many ways, and they’ll communicate their ideas to you, in the form of talks, performances, demonstrations, videos, photos, and more. These short presentations (5 to 15 minutes each) will move you in unexpected ways, as you share the GILAvisions of your fellow New Mexicans.

Presenters include photographer Jay Hemphill, author Sharman Russell, poet Bonnie Maldonado, Gila National Forest’s Diane Taliaferro, retired WNMU English professor Bill Toth, Rob Goldfarb & Friends from, musician Greg Renfro, Red Paint Pow Wow founder Joe Saenz, photographer Anthony Howell, Axel Canyon Preserve’s George Farmer, and moderated by Sonnie Sussillo.



Field trip with Marilyn Markel. 8:00 a.m.–noon. Participant limit: 20. Fee: $16. Registration required.

Archaeologist Marilyn Markel will begin this tour with a talk inside the newly renovated Mimbres Culture Heritage Site Visitors’ Center, and then lead you through the Matt ocks ruin. Located along the Mimbres River, the site was occupied from about A.D. 550 to the mid-1100s. Marilyn will talk about its inhabitants, what went wrong, and why they abandoned their homes. Did they experience an extended drought? Exceed the land’s carrying capacity?

The Mattocks site is an excellent example of a Mimbres Valley settlement. Past archaeological excavations allow interpretation of the site at a level of detail not possible at unexcavated sites, and this relatively undisturbed site may be one of the last major sites in the middle Mimbres drainage.

Marilyn Markel teaches archaeology at Aldo Leopold Charter School in Silver City and is the President of the Grant County Archaeological Society, the Southwest Chapter Coordinator of New Mexico SiteWatch, and the Education Coordinator at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site.



Field trip with Jason Amaro, Jeff Arterburn, Tom Hines, and Dutch Salmon.

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Children are welcome on this field trip, and must be registered and accompanied by an adult. Fee: $20 adults; $5 kids (12 and under). Registration required.

September 24 is FREE Fishing Day—no fishing license required. All other NM Dept. of Game & Fish rules and regulations apply.

Participant limit: 20 (this includes kids). 

Join experienced fly fishing guides Jason Amaro, Jeff Arterburn, Tom Hines and Dutch Salmon on an outing at Bill Evans Lake. Here you will learn the rudiments of fishing dry flies, wet flies, nymphs and streamers, the basic knots, and the first-step mechanics of casting a fl y, and hooking and “playing” a fish.

The where-to-go and how-to of other Gila area game fi sh (various trout, smallmouth bass, carp, etc.) will also be reviewed.

Please bring: Your fly fishing gear (but if you don’t have any we’ll rig you up), hat, sunscreen, wading shoes, snacks, lunch, and plenty of drinking water.

Jason Amaro, the Sportsman Conservation Coordinator for Trout Unlimited, is a New Mexico Wildlife Federation board member and a former fishing guide for Chama Land & Cattle.

Jeff Arterburn is President of the Gila–Rio Grande Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Tom Hines is a local Silver City area angler and he ties some of the prett iest flies you’ll ever see.

Dutch Salmon, writer and Gila Conservation Coalition co-founder and chairman, early on when Gila trout became legal, caught one near 20” and was “hooked.”



Kayak trip with Far Flung Adventures.

9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Participant limit: 15

Fee: $85 Registration required.

We will contact participants with information on where to meet. If there is not enough water to float the Gila River, registration fees will be refunded in full.

The Gila might be missing from an inventory of the world’s longest rivers, but it’s at the top of the list when it comes to rivers with heart—BIG heart. Steve Harris and Todd Schulke are two of the many river runners who drop everything to float the Gila when the water is up. To merge with the beating heart of a live river, in a region where most rivers are tamed and constrained—well, that’s what it’s all about.

Unlike many Southwestern rivers, the pastoral Cliff -Gila Valley still supports healthy riparian areas, and is an easy and lovely 1.5- to 2-mile float. Join Steve and Todd for a relaxing and informative trip down the Gila.

Participants should bring: hat; sunglasses with retainer strap; shorts; short-sleeved shirt; sneakers, booties or water shoes (with sandals a distant second choice); 1–2 liters of water; lunch and snacks; sunscreen; and a lightweight shelled jacket in case of inclement weather. Far Flung Adventures will provide one-person inflatable kayaks, paddles, helmets and life jackets.

NOTE: Although extensive river experience is not necessary, please be realistic about your physical condition and make sure you’re capable of performing several short carries. To prevent injuries, the Gila River Festival reserves the right to limit this excursion to individuals in good physical condition.

Steve Harris, the owner of Far Flung Adventures, has been kayaking for over 30 years. Harris is also the Executive Director of Rio Grande Restoration.

Todd Schulke is one of the founders of the Center for Biological Diversity. When these two aren’t at work protecting our forests and rivers, chances are they’re running a Southwestern river.



Field trip with Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument interpretive guides.

Noon–5:30 p.m. FREE but registration required.

National Public Lands Day celebrates all of our nation’s public lands and the many benefits they offer to each and every one of us. Come celebrate your public lands and national park places while discovering your national heritage at the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Walk one mile, and 700 years into the past to explore a homeplace for the Mogollon Culture. Enter caves and dwellings for an upclose glimpse into the lives of these people.

The one-mile trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is at roughly 6000’ elevation and includes a 180-foot gain in elevation to get to the dwellings. Th e natural trail is unpaved, uneven and can be steep in some places. Th ere are several areas with uneven, stone stairs that vary in height. Sturdy shoes, sunscreen, water and hats are needed to protect yourself during your visit. Th e guided site exploration will last about one and one half hours and will be led by a NPS interpretive guide trained by Rita Garcia, Chief of Interpretation at the Monument.



Presentation by Jeff Haozous, Tribal Chairman, and Michael Darrow, Tribal Historian.

1:00–2:00 p.m. Global Resource Center. FREE.

Fort Sill Apache tribal leaders will discuss the tribe’s history to its aboriginal homelands encompassing the Gila River watershed, its forced removal and incarceration as prisoners of war, and the progress of its return to New Mexico.

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the successor to the Chiricahua & Warm Springs Apache Tribes. In 1886, they were taken as prisoners of war by the U.S. Army and removed from their homelands of southwestern New Mexico to Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, where they were released.

They organized as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe aft er a federal court affirmed their claim for the loss of over 14.8 million acres of their homeland. The Tribe has always maintained its independence as Chiricahua–Warm Springs Apaches and its desire to return to its rightful home. In 2011 its land in Akela, NM received reservation status.

Jeff Haozous has served as Chairman of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe since October 2002.

Michael Darrow has served as the Tribal Historian since 1986. Both have long been committed to returning the Tribe to its homelands.



Field trip with William Norris and Richard Felger.

1:15–5:00 p.m. Participant limit: 25. Fee: $16. Registration required.

This field trip will be led by two expert botanists who know all the plants you’re likely to encounter, and then some. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll learn something new on this plant hike. Fall is peak time for observing the trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses of the Gila River riparian zone. The trip leaders will introduce participants to this fl ora, with emphasis on the ecology and cultural uses of these fascinating plants. They’ll also discuss the importance of public lands as refugia of threatened and endangered plants.

Please wear sturdy shoes, hat and sunscreen, and bring snacks and water. A 10X hand-lens is recommended.

Difficulty level: Moderate to Easy. Participants should expect to encounter uneven terrain, with little elevational gain. You may get your feet wet while walking along the river’s edge, but you will not be crossing the river.

William Norris is Professor of Biology at Western New Mexico University, where he teaches numerous botany courses to support the only university botany degree available in New Mexico. He is currently collaborating with other botanists on floras of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and City of Rocks State Park.

Richard Felger, a researcher with the University of Arizona Herbarium, has conducted research in deserts worldwide. He has written or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, in addition to books on botany, ethnobiology, and new food crops.



Featuring Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers with the Gooday Family; Spoken Word Poetry with Hakim Bellamy, Colin Diles & Friends; Video Projections by Peter Bill; Monsoon Puppet Theater parade; Music by The Road Runners, Bayou Seco, and The Average Cadaver.

3:00–10:00 p.m. FREE.

— Face Painting & Mask Making—3 p.m. at Bikeworks, corner of College/Bullard

— Monsoon Puppet Theater Parade with Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers—4 p.m.

— Extravaganza at Yankie and Texas Streets with music, food, kids’ activities, spoken word poetry, video projections, and Fort Sill Apache Dancers—4:30–10 p.m.

Kick off the Gila River Extravaganza with a special Monsoon Puppet Theater parade featuring the Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers and Monsoon Puppets.

To help you get in the spirit, we’ll do face painting, and mask and puppet making with all materials provided at 3:00 at Bikeworks on the corner of College and Bullard.

At 4:00, we’ll line up at Bikeworks for the parade down Bullard Street. Show off your painted faces, puppets, and masks!

When the parade ends at Yankie and Texas, the party continues with more kid- and family-centered fun in the street from 4:30–10:00. Food vendors and light refreshments provided by the Silver City Food Co-op and Gila Conservation Coalition will be available.

Dance to live music by Silver City’s own great musicians: The Average Cadaver, Bayou Seco, and the Roadrunners. We’ll teach simple folk dances for Bayou Seco’s music, and you’re on your own for the other bands!

Wait until dark for a visual and aural feast for the senses.

Beginning about 8:00, listen to spoken word performances by Hakim Bellamy, Albuquerque’s inaugural poet laureate, accompanied by Albuquerque musician and producer Colin Diles. Local poets will add their voices to the mix.

Complementing the performances, projected on the Murray Hotel will be the striking images and videos of Peter Bill, filmmaker, artist, and photographer.





Fort Sill Apache Fire Dancers with the Gooday Family.

9:00 p.m. Yankie & Texas Streets. FREE.

For many generations, the Chiricahua Apaches, now known as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, have performed the Dance of the Mountain Spirits yearly and during sacred occasions to drive away sickness and evil and bring good health and good fortune. The Fire Dancers are a traditional group and rarely perform for the public.