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Explore the Gila

Four-day festival highlights river


After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, the Gila Conservation Coalition and other groups invite the world to reconnect with the Gila River watershed through field trips, workshops and presentations.

To accomplish that, online registration is now available for the 17th annual Gila River Festival with its theme of reconnecting with the river. The festival will be held Sept. 16-19 in Silver City, the Gila National Forest and along the Gila River.

Floks can visit gilariverfestival.org to check out the full schedule and register for more than 20 field trips and workshops and free online presentations and panel discussions.

In-person, expert-led field trips will explore the Gila’s natural and cultural history, geology, birds and archaeology. Covid-safe practices will be followed.

Hands-on workshops explore journaling, photography, composting, and other topics showing the connection to the Gila River watershed. Registration is required for all parts of the festival.

Author, philosopher and environmental advocate Kathleen Dean Moore will give the Sonnie Sussillo Memorial Gila River Festival Keynote Address that honors the dedicated Gila River Festival volunteer Sonnie Sussillo who died in March 2021 while hiking in the Gila that she loved so much.  Dean Moore will talk about “The Work of Loving the World.” The online presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17 on Zoom.

University of Delaware entomologist and New York Times best-selling author Doug Tallamy will talk about “Nature’s Best Hope” and the grassroots call to action to regenerate biodiversity. The free online presentation will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19 on Zoom.

This year’s festival also features several exciting arts and entertainment events. In partnership with Western New Mexico University Cultural Affairs, the Gila River Festival kicks off with a free concert with Ivory Coast’s multi-talented, singer/songwriter Fely Tchaco at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16 at The Gardens at Light Hall on the WNMU campus.

The Borderlands Ballet, a pre-professional dance company located in Las Cruces, will perform on the banks of the Gila River as part of the Gathering at the River event from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Mogollon Box Day Use Area.

The Grant County Art Guild hosts the Creatures of the Gila Art Show throughout the four days of the festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grant County Art Guild Annex, 106 E. Market. These events are free and no registration is required.

For online registration, visit gilariverfestival.org. To volunteer, visit gilariverfestival.org/volunteer.

Established in 2005, the Gila River Festival is an annual event that celebrates New Mexico’s last free-flowing river and its important role as the centerpiece in the region’s natural and cultural heritage. The festival provides a diversity of opportunities for participants to experience and learn about the natural and cultural history of the area through the arts, humanities and natural sciences.  

Gila River Festival