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Movie Night

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Locals enjoy free flicks at Ilfeld

By Don Pace

Erma Sena and Bonnie Grace were among the movie goers walking to  Ilfeld Auditorium to watch a film at a venue one doesn’t often think of as a movie theater.

“I like to enjoy a good movie, but the thing that really adds to my enjoyment, is coming to this most beautiful and historic auditorium to see a film,” Sena said.

Grace said while the movies are free, she and others like to leave a little donation.

“It’s nice to get out, and these movie nights are a wonderful thing for families because parents can bring in all their kids without spending a fortune. Another plus is you are greeted with a smile.

Under the direction of Donna Martinez, Ilfeld Auditorium has come alive with events for just about every taste. Some of the great rock and roll bands like “War” and “Blue Oyster Cult” have performed on stage. Symphony orchestras, off Broadway theater productions, university stage plays and many local events are available throughout the year.

Martinez is now providing free movies with a dollar concession stand.

“Where else can you go to a movie where the concessions are a dollar? It’s just about bringing people in to see good events,” Martinez said. “We’re not about making millions of dollars.”     

She said her job is all about giving students something to do on campus, but not just once or twice a month.

“They know there’s a movie every Wednesday and Friday, plus many productions and tour groups during the year,” Martinez said.

She said booking events at Ilfeld and managing the university radio station KDEP-FM keep her busy. The hours are long, she said, but seeing kids and the community enjoying the fruits of her labor makes it all worthwhile.  

Martinez said it’s hard to watch a movie without treats to snack on, so the strict rule that no food or drink was allowed beyond the lobby doors was lifted. She said the amazing thing is movie goers have been very respectful of the historic venue.

“Kids actually come up to the lobby and throw their trash. Yes there’s an occasional mishap, but our staff makes sure the auditorium is always spotless,” Martinez said.

“We have a great facility that belongs to everybody, and we need to take care of it.”  

One of the venue’s signature events — Fiesta de la hispanidad — is taking place this Saturday.

The annual event, a popular community celebration of Hispanic Culture, always sells out.  

Sara Harris started the event, which features local talent. She said the 17th Annual Fiesta de la Hispanidad brings music and dance center stage at Ilfeld this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The cost for the event is $4, and there will be free refreshments and door prizes.

She said again this year there are many well-known local names, such as living legend Antonia Apodaca, 11-year-old Gabriella Andrea Tafoya, winner of the Children’s song of the year at the 20th New Mexico Hispano Music Awards, and local comedian Jose Maestas.

Harris said Jimmy Leger’s Highlands Mariachi Vaqueros de la Sierra will warm up the crowd.

Martinez said advance tickets are available at her office at KDEP studios, across from Ilfeld Auditorium. Proceeds from Fiesta de la Hispanidad will benefit the scholarship program at the school of social work.