CLEVELAND — It may not be the biggest summer festival in northern New Mexico, but it holds its own — with its own unique feature.
The Cleveland Millfest celebrated its 20th year this Labor Day weekend, with plenty of music and dance, food, arts and crafts, and a turnout estimated in the thousands.
The mill itself — which is put into operation once a year for the Cleveland Millfest — gives this particular festival its own unique identity.
The historic mill is owned by the Cassidy family. Dan Cassidy says it’s now a good example of “adaptive reuse.”
“It’s a flour mill that’s now set up for demonstrations, while the food, music and arts make this (festival) a unique event,” Cassidy said. “That’s adaptive reuse.”
He said about 60 artists were represented at this year’s Millfest. About 40 vendors selling everything from paintings to homemade candy covered about an acre of ground centered on a couple of makeshift stages for about a dozen entertainers.
Cassidy said about 3,000 people attended the two-day event last year — the largest ever, he noted. By Sunday afternoon this year, he was saying it looked as if the turnout would be just as strong this year, too.
An added feature to the Millfest is a guide tour through the mill itself.
The two-story adobe merchant mill was built by Joseph Fuss, a Pennsylvanian who move into northern New Mexico in the 1870s. In 1913, he sold the flour mill to Daniel Cassidy, an Irish immigrant, who later turned it over to his eldest son Daniel, who operated the mill until 1947. His son has restored the mill and earned its place on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Cassidy would like to see it become more of a destination for classroom field trips — as an educational experience.
Lucas Motsinger of Taos was working the sound system for the event. He said Sunday the weather had been generally cooperative for the festival.