As we ease into fall—and those wonderfully cooler temps—there’s no better place to while away the weekend than at the Mesilla Valley Maze (MVM).
Written by JESSICA MUNCRIEF
Photography by RENEE BOUDREAU AND LISA MAYHEW-ORTIZ
“It’s been 18 years of family fun, and hopefully we’re only getting better at what we do,” says MVM owner Anna Lyles. “We are so happy to be part of the community and to be able to provide this place for our urban neighbors to come and visit, and get a taste of the farming lifestyle.”
MVM is only open for the month of October, so don’t miss out on the fun, food, and family memories. Here are our picks for the top three must-do attractions this year.
Naturally, you can’t leave without mak- ing your way through the Giant Corn Maze. This year’s design, “Walk On the Wild Side,” was inspired by wild animals living within a five-mile radius of MVM. “It’s really quite interesting,” Anna notes, “and we’ve designed our entire educational program around that theme, so we’re excited for the school tour groups to start showing up.”
Navigating the maze is a fun, team-building activity, but it’s by no means easy, and part of the fun is watching other maze-goers fumble, backtrack, and get lost in the labyrinth. The nine-acre, Giant Corn Maze is a right of passage and if you haven’t tried it out, you haven’t truly experienced MVM.
Rootin’ Tootin’ Ribs
Get out your bibs and prepare for a fin- ger lickin’ good time. The annual Roo- tin’ Tootin’ rib cook-off is back again. Last year, 25 teams competed, each preparing pork spare ribs, a side dish, and a dessert. A group of local judges did a blind evaluation, rating each en- try on presentation, aroma, and flavor.
Here’s what we learned last year: A good rib is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet—and it’s got to be tender. To get that tenderness, they have to be cooked for, at the very least, three hours. Nothing pairs better with ribs than mac and cheese, potato salad, or baked beans, but it’s always fun to give these classics an inventive twist—like rolling mac and cheese into balls and frying them up. And always, always infuse your ribs with a little bit of love and you can’t go wrong. See (and taste) for yourself on October 8. After the judging, all the dishes are served up to the public, with each booth taking donations that go towards scholarships for NMSU’s College of Agriculture.
After 25 teams competed last year, the annual rib cook-off promises to be a savory affair in 2016. Come taste all the offerings on October 8.
Each season, the MVM festivities wrap up with the annual New Mexico Pump- kin Festival held this year on October 29 and 30, just in time for Halloween. It’s a two-day celebration of America’s favorite gourd with games, contests, live music, and, of course, eating.
But you don’t have to wait until the festival to take home your perfect pumpkin. For their pick-your- own pumpkin patch, MVM grows between 50,000 and 100,000 pumpkins of all sizes every year. This year, they’ll be growing their pumpkins off site and transporting them—and for good reason. “We are following good agricultural practice, or GAP, and an important part of that is crop rotation” Anna explains. “One of our goals is to teach people about sustainability and having respect for our land and resources.”
In fact, a lot of what MVM does is about giving back to the commu- nity, by supporting local farmers, educational programs, and charities like La Casa. Knowing you’ll be contributing back to the people and organizations that make this city great, is another great reason to make sure you don’t miss all the fun going on at Mesilla Valley Maze this year.