Going the extra mile is in the culture of our community and our state. The diversity of events we are able to support is a source of community pride. Think about it, we have the Whole Enchilada Fiesta, Cowboys for Cancer, Pink, Dancing with the Stars, Wounded Warrior, the KRWG Public Radio and TV fundraising, the Southern NM State Fair and the La Vina Wine Festival, plus high school and college sporting events. Then there are the conferences of national stature like the Pecan Growers Conference, the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight and the Domenici Conference. All these events take place within approximately two months. Hundreds of us give our time and our treasure to support and or enjoy these events. What do we get out of all of this as a community?
As a resident and an organizer of one of these events, and a supporter of many others, I see something quite valuable that may go unnoticed. The diversity of events allows newcomers a way to get involved in our community quickly. Some events make it a priority for volunteers to play critical roles. The value of having a university here is also a cultural and intellectual draw. The intersection of events and the university provides the ability for our region to support well executed, unique experiences for travelers, new and long time residents. We come together to compete, to show, and yes, to eat.
Even though the United States is going through a difficult time with the Sequester, and the government shutdown, which may come right back in three months, for now, we continue to eat, drink and be merry. It is harvest time in New Mexico. This is the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. For those of us who labor, it is our time to harvest. Soon, it will be time to prepare for our next season. What we do now and how we steward the fruits of our labor, will sew the seeds for our future harvests.
The importance of listening to the feedback from people who are viewing us with new eyes is a subtle art. For the people who are invested heavily in the design and execution of events, the balance between keeping beloved elements like building largest enchilada or showcasing our pecans up against our competitors, the voice for change can get drowned out in the celebration.
I realize this is part of my harvest, so I ask the killer question, how did we do? We make phone calls, hand out evaluations, hold de-brief meetings with all our vendors, speakers and sponsors. Six years ago, attendees wanted to stay a day extra to see Spaceport America. We offer a tour every year now. Three years ago, the ISPCS exhibitors and attendees suggested as the booths come down and everyone says good bye, they want to just stop and have a beer. That turned into a local beer tasting. It gave our local breweries a chance to showcase their beer, and also gave some of our great restaurants a chance to invite people to dinner at their places.
To enable the community to learn about the space business without attending the conference, we created a luncheon. This year I invited a Virgin Galactic customer, future astronaut Michael Blum to speak at the luncheon. Michael gave us a sort of community punch list. If you are buying a house, it is the final walk through before you sign on the dotted line. You catch all the things that still are not quite done yet, or not to your liking. That way when you move in, you have what you need from the beginning. That’s what Michael was trying to do in a sense. Help us do a walkthrough in preparation for a new industry coming to town. He is planning now for what he will do when he goes to space and he is letting us in on his thinking. He has been to the spaceport many times. He knows what to expect. Yet, his friends have never been here and he wants them to have a wonderful experience. Over the years we have graduated thousands of students, married thousands of couples, we can throw a party or two. We know how to entertain. Yet, his one voice has merit, and I for one will listen. Going the extra mile for any guest is rewarding. We do it all the time here in Las Cruces and southern New Mexico.