TENNESSEE – The sun is setting on a glorious fall day in the desert.
The mountains are shining.
And in front of you, a new sightseeing attraction is about to begin.
For the next two weeks, visitors to the Teton National Park will be able to see an amazing array of animals, plants and wildlife at the first-ever New Mexico Summer Festival.
The event is part of a multi-year partnership between Teton’s Parks and Tourism Division and New Mexico Tourism, which has partnered with local restaurants and outdoor companies to help bring the summer festival to Teton, the nation’s third-largest state.
It also comes just weeks before the state celebrates its 100th birthday.
“It’s a really important event for Teton and this park,” said Park Superintendent Dan Rauch, who heads up the Tonto National Park.
“It’s really about bringing people together, and we’re really excited about it.”
While many other events across the state are centered around big events like the football season, the Tazewell Festival is focused on bringing the summertime to Tonto.
The event is held every year in the park, and it has become an annual tradition, Raup said.
“We think it’s the best opportunity for a local event,” he said.
“There’s no better place for it than here, and the park is just so beautiful and the weather is perfect.”
In the summer of 2019, about 500,000 visitors from across the country will flock to Tazawa, N.M., for the festival.
In addition to a massive array of live music, family-friendly activities and educational programs, the festival also features a children’s play area and a giant outdoor market.
The festival also has an emphasis on outdoor activities, as the park has built a $100 million pavilion with more than 50 pavilions across its grounds.
The park also is developing a “living history museum” to help preserve its history and culture, with plans to open the project in 2019.
Teton’s Festival has become such a hit that it was recently named the second-most visited tourist attraction in the United States by TripAdvisor, according to data provided by the website.
The park is also hoping to lure in more tourists to the area, as its summer season draws to a close.
For the first time in years, Teton is offering its visitors free camping in the Tontons National Park, Rauns said.
And the park hopes to host some big events during the event, including the Big Ten Championship Tournament, which is expected to be held at the end of July.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Raunse said.
While the festival has become a local draw for locals, it also has drawn a national spotlight.
“The Teton Festival has come a long way in a really short time,” Rauk said.