Katelyn Peer and Kris Swedin
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Santa Fe on June 15 to celebrate the opening of the newly redesigned DeVargas Park and Skate Park. The FANTASE Festival was a community event organized by Creative Santa Fe, along with nonprofit, business and governmental partners. DeVargas Park is located at the corner of Guadalupe and West DeVargas streets, halfway between the Railyard and the historic plaza.
The festival marked the completion of the first phase of the larger Parque del Río, envisioned as an urban linear park running along the length of the Santa Fe River. The completed phase features new sidewalks, grassy areas, additional trees, permanent seating, a ramada and a newly reconfigured skate park and urban plaza.
Food, music, dancing in the grass, skating, disco, biking, face painting, rodeo princesses, the Rodeo Parade, break dancers, yoga classes, fire fighters, a flash mob of local chefs, and families with strollers and dogs were all part of the celebration. Kids on bikes and skateboards ruled the day, starting at 6 am and jamming on past midnight. Interactive light installations by four local artists, supported by a generous contribution from New Mexico Arts, lit up the night sky.
After spending much of the day at the park, Santa Fe artist Larry Fodor said, “Downtown Santa Fe is not just for tourists. It is also for the people that live in this incredible city. The FANTASE Festival is absolutely proof positive events can be organized that cater to our entire population—so that everyone can enjoy the underused and re-structured parts of downtown.”
The cultural diversity that embodied the festival was unmistakable. “The full event had moments of true humor, whimsy and delight… surrounded by the widest range of Santa Feans I have seen together in over 20 years,” said Suby Bowden, principal of Suby Bowden Associates. Young Fathers of Santa Fe wrote to Creative Santa Fe, “Youth culture in Santa Fe, NM got a big hug yesterday and it was beautiful.”
Central to Creative Santa Fe’s mission is to bring our community together to engage on projects that reflect a shared vision. The FANTASE Festival was truly a collaborative day of fun with more than 75 participating community partners including: the city of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Arts Commission, Surroundings, Rodeo de Santa Fe, Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Skate School, the National Dance Institute, Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Hutton Broadcasting, SITE Santa Fe, the CommunityProject, Global Water Dances, Sage Inn, and local bands The Sticky, Thieves and Gypsys, As In We, and more.
The key reason Creative Santa Fe hosted the festival was to highlight downtown walkability and connectivity. When residents and tourists are on foot they spend more money locally—which keeps dollars at work in our city. A walkable city is a healthier, more vibrant city.
The FANTASE Festival was the first completed project that is part of the ConnectSantaFe program developed by Creative Santa Fe. Imagine what a connected walkable downtown would mean to our city:
- Bolstering Santa Fe’s businesses, home values and tourism
- Convening cross-sectors of the community to develop a shared vision for connectivity
- Engaging marginalized and overlooked members of the community to participate in dialog and planning
- Increasing public safety
- Creating paths and signage so that everyone can simply and comfortably navigate Santa Fe
- Designing innovation in buildings, parks, streets and infrastructure
- Incorporating arts and creative designs throughout the connected areas
- Becoming a more environmentally sustainable city
The next project in ConnectSantaFe is an evening with Jeff Speck, a city planner and architectural designer who, through writing, lectures and built work, advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. He is the author of the book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. Speck will present his ideas on walkable cities on August 13 at the Armory for the Arts Theater. Watch Creative Santa Fe’s website for details and ticket information.
To learn more about Creative Santa Fe and ConnectSantaFe, visit www.creativesantafe.org