Swickard: Racing ducks, how about Llamas?

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “A peasant has to stand on a hillside for a very long time before a roast duck flies into his mouth.” Chinese proverb quoted by Paul Theroux in Riding the Iron Rooster
            New Mexico has the challenge of a falling economy. Many New Mexicans are standing around waiting for something good to happen. It might or might not. Other people have looked at tourists as a way to perk up the New Mexico economy.
            It’s a place to get new money. Especially if New Mexico appeals to tourists with lots of money to spend. Problem: some New Mexicans don’t want more people in our state.
            There is a conflict between bringing people into the state and people who don’t want New Mexico to grow at all. These people like the lonesome feeling and don’t want any more people coming here.
            My grandfather wanted to live far enough away from his neighbors so as to not hear their dogs bark. And he did.
            First there was Lincoln, the little town that developed a great Billy-the-Kid festival. Then Albuquerque adopted the balloons. Roswell got the aliens celebration going. I asked someone from Roswell about the aliens. He smirked, “The tourists come bringing hundred dollar bills.”
            Years ago, some people in Deming were looking for something to increase the money in their town. Using alliteration, it turned into the Deming Duck Races. If they were in Lordsburg, I wonder if it would have been the Lordsburg Llama Races?
            Perhaps next the Raton Rat Races, the Taos Tuttle Races, the Alamogordo Alpaca Races, the Carlsbad Camel Races, the Artesia Ant Races… well, I could go.
            Again, part of the problem involves the people already in New Mexico who don’t want the state to grow in size. Many people in New Mexico like what Oregon Governor Tom McCall said back in the 1970s. Eric Cain in OPB.org wrote about this in 2013:
            His (Governor Tom McCall) focus was quality of life and so in a 1971 speech said to the people who come to Oregon, “Come visit, don’t stay.” He added, “I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”
            While some people might think that rude, I understood. Tourism is a nice relatively clean industry. But come, look, take pictures, eat Green Chile, go home. How pleasant.
            And truth be known, I really don’t mind more people coming here. I would just like them to take a pledge:
            “I (state your name) promise never to tell anyone in New Mexico how we did things back home and that it was so much better back home.” Amen.
            Maybe we can think of some more festivals: Dust Days in March comes to mind. A celebration of people baking on their car dash would be interesting. There are plenty of possible celebrations. Consider a Snake Racing in Springer celebration. Then we have lunch. Tastes like Chicken, eh?



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