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Celebrating El Paso’s favorite flower at the 2024 Poppies Festival

Blooming+poppies+during+the+Poppies+Fest%2C+Mar.+23+at+the+El+Paso+Museum+of+Archeology.
SalmaPaola Baca
Blooming poppies during the Poppies Fest, Mar. 23 at the El Paso Museum of Archeology.

El Paso’s beloved flower is blooming in all its glory. The 15th annual Poppies Festival, hosted by the El Paso Archaeology Museum at 4301 Transmountain Road, welcomed visitors to celebrate this cherished event. 

“The Poppies Festival began in 2007 and it started as a support festival to protect the Castner Range and make it into a national monument like it is now,” El Paso Archeology Museum Director, Sebastian Ribas-Normand said. “We stopped doing the festival during the pandemic, but then brought it back in 2023 with more sustainable changes.” 

Since 2007 in March, the museum celebrates the small yellow and orange flower that brightens the foothills of the Franklin Mountains. Each weekend, the museum hosts different performances and activities that fit with the theme. The celebrations start at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.  

This year’s Poppies Festival is special because it is the first one to be celebrated in the Castner Range National Monument. The 6,672 acres became a national monument on March 21, 2023. It is home to the Mexican Gold Poppie which is unique to the El paso region.  

“It’s super cute seeing all of the small poppies popping out and it’s super cool learning about all of the cultural stuff here at the festival,” said Poppies Festival attendee Kajaya.  

The themed weekends included Fiesta Day, Folklorico Day, Native American Day, and Health and Fitness Day. Local artist Austin Jimmy Murphy performed March 9, along with snake charmers and belly dancers. Samba Alma de Fogo and Capoeira ended off the day.  

On Folklorico Day, the performers included Ballet Folklorico Luz del Mundo, Camino Real Ballet Folklorico, Grupo Folklorico Valle del Sol, Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas and Kahlo Ballet Folklorico.  

Native American day started off with the Tigua Youth dancers, then the Matachines of Saint Mark’s The Native Sky Hoop Dancers of Pinedale, New Mexico finished off the day. The last day of the Poppies Fest. featured a yoga class and a sound bath session, a full-body meditative experience where people lie down and listen to resonant sounds.  

Visitors also got to participate in basket weaving, archery, face painting, art workshops, Native American storytelling, poppie flower hands on activities, and the second annual Poppie walk.  

“This year we have more poppies than we did last year,” Ribas-Normand said. “It’s not a super bloom but it is almost that. The poppie is a very picky flower, they like a particular amount of rain in the fall and wintertime. If that happens and mother nature helps us, then you will get a super bloom.” 

According to Ribas-Normand, over 3,000 people visited the museum this year for the Poppie Fest. 

Besides walking on the trails and admiring the poppies and performances, visitors also got the chance to look at the many booths stationed in the parking lot. Many vendors were selling  art and handcrafted objects.  

“This is a good occasion to know the landscape, nature and biodiversity of Castner Range,” Ribas-Normand said. “Visitors can also learn about the archeology museum and our neighbors the border patrol museum.”  

To learn more about Poppies Fest and the archeology museum visit their website at epmarch.org and follow them on Instagram @elpasomuseumofarcheology.  

Alyson Rodriguez is a contributor may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on X.

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About the Contributors
Alyson Rodriguez
Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor/Writer

Alyson Rodriguez is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, currently majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in leadership studies. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She joined The Prospector in the Fall of 2020 as a contributor for the Arts and Culture section and has now written articles for the sports and news section and has done podcast segments as well. After discovering her passion for journalism through The Prospector, Alyson has gone to intern at El Paso Matters, NPR Next Generation Texas Newsroom and the Texas Standard. 

SalmaPaola Baca
SalmaPaola Baca, Photographer
SalmaPaola Baca is a senior at UTEP majoring in engineering innovation and leadership with a concentration and minor in civil engineering and an emphasis in computer science. Her passion for photography enables her to be photographer at The Prospector. While a full-time student, she freelances while planning to grow her platform through travel photography. After graduating, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in architecture while working on her photography simultaneously.
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