Santa Fe is a free-wheeling place but we do have our rituals and Fiesta is all about ritual. Fiesta began in 1712 to celebrate an expedition by Don Diego de Vargas who conquered New Mexico. The week is punctuated by several masses but there is considerable drinking and eating and partying.
Of the several events planned for this celebration, the burning of a giant effigy named "Zozobra" is the most racous event. 30,000 people crowd into Fort Marcy park to participate in the burning of this 5-story "marionette." Conceived of in 1926 by Will Schuster, Zozobra was taken over by the Kiwanis Club in 1963. The party starts around noon and by the time the old guy burns around 9:00 p.m., a considerable amount of debauchery is enjoyed in the park. Zozobra is filled with police reports, divorce papers or anything else you would like to burn. I contributed a letter lamenting the crummy real estate market and economy in general so let's hope they go up in smoke when he burned. Kiwanis raises about $300,000 for scholarships and other good works so it's not completely gratuitous.
Of the other events which includes fairs and parades, the pet parade is a crowd-pleaser. Picture a 75-lb. pit bull, being pushed along in a baby carriage that has been modified to look like an airplane. Snoopy, the Red-Baron, eat your heart out.
Fiesta culminates with the Wine and Chili Festival which has grown significantly over the years. It started out in a parking lot behind Sanbusco Center but now the whole town participates with many out-of-towners planning their yearly trek to Santa Fe around this one event.
I hear some grumbling from local merchants about Fiesta because of the closed streets and other inconveniences but it's better to embrace the merriment of the season and go with the flow.