Las Cruces Overview
Las Cruces is a city in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 74,267. The population was estimated at 91,865 as of July 1, 2008, making it the second largest city in the state. Las Cruces is the center of an agricultural region irrigated by the Rio Grande, which flows just west of the city. The city of Las Cruces bisects the fertile Mesilla Valley, the flood plain of the Rio Grande which extends from Hatch, New Mexico to the west side of El Paso, Texas. Las Cruces is also the home of New Mexico State University. NMSU is New Mexico's only land grant university, citing more than 16,000 graduate and undergraduate students on the main campus. As well as the Organ Mountains that are to the east of the city, the Las Cruces area is also in close proximity to the Dona Ana mountains, the Robledo mountains, and Picacho peak. Las Cruces has a council-manager form of government. It is the county seat of Doña Ana County.
Most of Las Cruces's cultural events occur late in the year, a period known locally as FTFS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Season).
The Border Book Festival occurs the last weekend in April. It features a trade show, readings, workshops, panels, lucha libre, and family storytelling. The festival was founded in 1994 by authors Denise Chávez and Susan Tweit, and Chávez is the Executive Director of the festival. The non-profit Border Book Festival, Inc. runs the festival and puts on other cultural events throughout the year. Raft The Rio, is a yearly program sponsored by the Las Cruces, Southwest Environmental Center.  The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, held the last weekend in September, is southern New Mexico's most popular festival, with about 50,000 people attending each year. The centerpiece is the making of a large flat enchilada. The fiesta started in 1980 with a 6-foot (1.8 m) diameter enchilada, and it has grown over the years. In 2000 the fiesta's 10-1/2 foot diameter enchilada was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's largest. After the enchilada is assembled it is cut into many pieces and served to the fiesta attendees. The enchilada is the brainchild of local restaurant owner Roberto V. Estrada, who directs its preparation each year. The celebration also features a parade, live music, art and crafts, athletic events, a carnival, and a car and motorcycle show.
The Southern New Mexico State Fair is usually held only a few days after the end of the Whole Enchilada Fiesta. The Fair, held west of Las Cruces, is an annual affair that promotes traditional agriculture. Boasting one of the largest Junior Livestock Shows in the state, the fair invites youth from six counties in New Mexico and Texas to participate. The event is generally held the first week in October. However, the New Mexico State Fair dates will sometimes affect the dates, causing them to be moved forward or backward one week. In 2004 the Junior Livestock Auction set a State Fair record with $450,000 raised.
The local Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a celebration, originating in Mexico, of the lives of those now dead. It is presented each November 1–2 by the Calavera Coalition. Most of the activity is in the Plaza in Mesilla, but there is an altar constructed each year at the Branigan Cultural Center in downtown Las Cruces. The Mesilla celebration is the largest in southern New Mexico.
The local Renaissance fair, the Renaissance ArtsFaire, founded in 1971, includes a juried art show and is put on the by the Doña Ana Arts Council each year in November.
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