Press Release: 14th annual Gila River Festival Featured Events

The Gila Conservation Coalition presents the 14th Annual Gila River Festival “Celebrating 50 Years of Wild and Scenic Rivers” September 20-23, 2018 in Silver City, NM, the Gila National Forest and along the Gila River.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that established the National Wild and Scenic River System, protecting more than 12,000 miles of rivers in 40 states and Puerto Rico for recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, scenery, water quality, and cultural heritage.

At the 14th Annual Gila River Festival, we will celebrate this momentous legislation and explore long-term protection of the Gila River through Wild and Scenic River designation. The festival offers a variety of field trips, presentations, and activities for the whole family.

Featured events at this year’s Gila River Festival include the following:

Thursday, September 20, 7:00 PM at the Global Resources Center. Suggested donation $10.

Phil Connors, A Song for the River

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Philip Connors will reflect on the Gila River’s place in the history of American conservation, and its suitability for designation as a Wild and Scenic river. In the words of the act that created the system, it applies to rivers that “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.” Informed by his time spent with biologists, archaeologists, ranchers, river runners, and fishermen and women, Connors will articulate what makes the Gila River unique among Western watersheds, and how we might honor its superlative values—in the words of the act that created the Wild and Scenic Rivers System—“for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” Phil Connors will have his newly released book, A Song for the River, for sale after the presentation and will be on hand to sign them. Thank you to sponsor Western Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Friday September 21, 7:00 PM at the Global Resources Center. Suggested donation $10. Keynote Address with Tim Palmer: Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy   

Writer and photographer Tim Palmer will present a spectacular slide show about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, its history, importance, successes, and future. Palmer will show stunning photos of the rivers safeguarded under the Act and talk about the significance of this landmark legislation and its potential to protect additional rivers. Tim’s program is based on his 2017 book, Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy. President Jimmy Carter, a lover of wild rivers, said of Palmer’s book, “With his book about our Wild and Scenic Rivers, Tim Palmer has made a great contribution to America. Having been directly involved in this program, I’m grateful that the legacy of all who have worked to protect these rivers will be known and appreciated.” Palmer’s book will be for sale after his presentation, and he will be available to sign them.

Saturday September 22, 11:30-4:30 at Big Ditch Park, downtown Silver City. FREE

The Gila River Extravaganza

Gather for puppet making at Bikeworks (corner of Bullard and College) and march with the Monsoon Puppet Theater Parade to Big Ditch Park where the festivities continue with kid- and family-centered fun, including West African drumming with Andrew Dahl-Bredine and Friends, dynamic spoken word poetry with Poetry Bread, San Carlos and Mescalero Apache singers and dancers. Participate in a community-wide art project, FishWish, led by local artist Zoe Wolfe and architect Steven Shelendich. Also, try your hand at being a scientist. Examine and test the waters of your local creek with The Silver City Watershed Keepers.

Saturday September 22, 7:00-10:00 PM at the Murray Hotel Ballroom, $10 donation to benefit Gila Conservation Coalition’s efforts to protect the Gila River.

Gala for the Gila

Conservation champion New Mexico Senator Jeff Steinborn kicks off the celebration of the Gila that includes Silver City’s Illusion Band and their brand of super danceable Tejano, rock & roll, and oldies, as well as a cash bar provided by La Esperanza Winery. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018, 10:30 am at The Commons (The Volunteer Center), 501 E. 13th Street. $50 per person. This event is a fundraiser for the Gila Conservation Coalition.

Local Food Brunch: Mythical River, Real Food: Registration is now open for this year’s Local Food Brunch featuring Melissa Sevigny, author of Mythical River: Chasing the Mirage of New Water in the American Southwest. The brunch provides a wonderful opportunity to taste local foods that you never thought to eat, engage in imaginative and thoughtful exploration of what rivers mean to us, and support the conservation of the Gila River. The Wild Resilience Collective, a newly formed Grant County group dedicated to “re-wilding agriculture as a cooperative business,” will prepare a delicious, locally produced meal, which will include, among other delights,  mesquite pancakes with prickly pear syrup and local sweet-potato crusted quiche. Author Sevigny will discuss the historic quest for navigable rivers in the American West, early explorers’ obstinate, optimistic belief in nonexistent rivers, and the unending search for “new” waters. At the annual Gila River Festival brunch, you’ll enjoy camaraderie, a beautiful garden, an excellent meal, a fascinating presentation, and a chance to help the Gila Conservation Coalition protect the free-flowing Gila River. Thank you to Brunch sponsor Cissy McAndrew, United Country Mimbres Realty.

Thank you to our major sponsors: New Mexico Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, McCune Charitable Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL), Fort Sill Apache, Defenders of Wildlife, WNMU, Chiricahua Apache Nation, AMALAYA, New Mexico Wild, and funding from the Town of Silver City Lodger’s Tax.

For more details and registration, visit our website at: www.gilariverfestival.org or call us at 575-538-8078.

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GilaRiverFestival/, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @gilariverfest

To learn more about the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act visit: https://www.rivers.gov/wsr50/

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Allyson Siwik