Every year Mountainair hosts the Sunflower Festival, an art festival showcasing the local love of sunflowers that invites artist of all ages to participate in various activities.

This year’s festival includes live music by The WesternHers, Chris Dracup Trio and De Luz. There will be arts and crafts, food vendors, an art raffle, a treasure sale, the sunflower hat contest and other children’s activities. The event will kick off on Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with happenings around town.

This year’s event will not be in the Saul Community Center as in past years, in an attempt to make it a more Covid-safe activity. Outdoor activities will be in several different locations in Mountainair, all in close proximity to each other.

The first location will be off of Main Street in front of the Shaffer Hotel and Ripley Avenue, between Main Street and Broadway. The second location will be in Monte Alto Park on Main Street, across from the Shaffer Hotel. Food vendors and arts and crafts vendors will be in Mustang Square at Broadway and Summit.

In conjunction with this year’s festival, the Manzano Mountain Art Council has showcased two local artists in their front windows featuring sunflower art, in addition to the sunflower themed show inside the gallery.

These are the second and third student-artists to be featured in the window space at the art center, according to Donna Deiner, Gift Shop Manager. She said they started the program in June with an artist named Kazyen Greene, a high school graduate of Mountainair schools.

The students being featured for August are Christoper Monk and Andora Overholser; one student is homeschooled and the other attends Mountainair Public Schools. The art students are all part of the MMAC’s Young Arts Club.

Monk is 14 years old, in the 10th grade and is homeschooled. “I have always been interested in art but more into writing. The Young Arts Club seemed like a fun place to be, hang out with other artists and learn new skills,” he wrote. “As far as my career interest, I would prefer to be a professional writer.”

Overholser is also 14, and is a sophomore at Mountainair High School. “I was drawn to the Young Arts Club because I love to make art,” she wrote. “I get inspired by books, challenges and prompts. I would love to become a professional animator.”

Manzano Mountain Art Council is a nonprofit and has been involved in Mountainair and the surrounding Estancia Valley communities since 1995. The building was purchased in 2015 from Dianne Bradshaw, previously housing the Abó Trading Post.

The MMAC provide programs for youth and adults that aim to foster creativity and celebrate historical cultural diversity, Deiner said.

She said in addition to the programs, MMAC has “dedicated volunteers who write grants so that we can provide many of our programs.”

Artwork on display at the Manzano Mountain Art Council’s space in Mountainair. Photo by Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi.

They also rent out artist studio spaces and offer space inside the building for many activities including a variety of lectures, dances, talent shows, and practice space. Most of the programs offered in Mountainair schools are free.

The Young Arts Club is one such program offered to students aged 10-14 and 15-24. The club provides students with art supplies for a “variety of artistic mediums,” which include silk screen, tie-dye, leather book binding, mosaics, tin work, kiln-fired and quick dry clay ceramics, pottery wheel techniques, drawing, painting, haiku poetry with watercolor, shadow boxes, silhouettes, wooden birdhouses, wood ornaments, Sumi-e watercolors, paint pouring, papier-mâché, resist painting and storm clouds.