February 10, 2021
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University will break ground later this month for a cultural park designed for events such as traditional Matanza pig roasts.
Matanzas have been a part of New Mexican culture and history since the first Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area in the 16th century. Highlands hosted a well-attended Matanza for the community Aug. 25, 2018.
“Our goal with this cultural park is to continue to host outdoor cultural events that showcase our diversity,” said Sylvia Baca, facilities and planning director at Highlands. “This diversity enriches our society and we want to celebrate that at the cultural park. It’s going to be a wonderful venue.”
Baca said the cultural park will be conveniently located near the university’s Residence Halls. It will be built between the Viles and Crimmins Residence Hall and the university’s Melody Park adjacent to Mora Avenue.
“This area is advantageous because Melody Park can be an expansion area for a number of activities such as a dining area, entertainment stage, and music and dancing that go hand-in-hand with a Matanza. The park’s trees will also offer much-needed shade for attendees while they socialize and eat, which was not available at the 2018 Matanza location in Sanchez Family Stadium,” Baca said.
Baca said the Highlands cultural park will include a Matanza pit, grilling areas, seating for learners and observers, six fire pits to cook side dishes and an horno – a traditional mud adobe outdoor oven that Native Americans and early Spanish settlers used to bake bread.
“I met with Highlands languages and culture professor language Dr. Eric Romero and the Matanza committee to introduce the cultural park design ideas and get their input,” Baca said.
Tomas Sanchez, an architect with Baker Architecture + Design, developed the design for the cultural park. Baca said the design’s seating area has a dual purpose.
“The cultural park can also be used as future instructional space should professors want to utilize the park to hold outdoor classes,” Baca said.
Baca said the goal is to complete the cultural park in April 2021.
“We will host a Matanza once COVID health restrictions are lifted,” Baca said.