2018 Top Hat Finalists – Product Development

Outstanding Event

Fiestas de Las Vegas

City of Las Vegas

Overview: Fiestas de Las Vegas is one of the largest events held in Northern New Mexico and celebrated its 130th year. The event focuses around the music of Northern New Mexico and family oriented attractions. Food vendors sell everything from burritos, enchiladas to roasted corn. The event is held in the Plaza Park which is the center of downtown Las Vegas. This year the event was held June 29, 2018 through July 4, 2018. Fiestas de Las Vegas had 48 entertainers in a 6 day period which include a new feature, a laser light show surrounding the park and nightly entertainment. Also added to this years festivities was La Reinita, a pet parade, a magician for the kids and new vendors bringing the total of vendors to 57 in total.

Light among the Ruins

Village of Jemez Springs

Overview: The Light Among the Ruins was initiated more than 20 years ago as small, local event at the Jemez Historic Site in Jemez Springs. Light Among the Ruins blends traditional Jemez Pueblo customs with beloved holiday activities, creating a spiritual and memorable holiday event. At the Site, more than 1,400 farolitos (paper bags filled with sand and lit by candles) light both the perimeter of the 500 year old ruins of the San Diego Mission Church and the Site’s 1.5 mile trail. Traditional Jemez Pueblo flutists and drummers perform around several bonfires where visitors converge and Pueblo dancers provide a glimpse into the Pueblo’s ancient traditions. Light Among the Ruins has become a family tradition for thousands of visitors, and serves as an introduction to the Village of Jemez Springs for those who have never before visited.

Monuments to Main Street

Visit Las Cruces

Overview: Monuments to Main Street is a month-long celebration of nature and history tours, concerts and film festivals, local flavors and local agriculture, and the great Southern New Mexico outdoors. The month of September is full of special events and activities offered by the community to showcase the region’s vibrant culture. The entire month of interesting tours specific to Las Cruces consolidates the very best of the area and provides tourists a timeframe where coming to Las Cruces is an absolute must. Now in its third year running, Monuments to Main Street continues to bolster tourism by highlighting Las Cruces’ greatest shows, exhibits, and events to promote the city as an accessible, history-rich destination. The emphasis of the attraction is to consolidate and heavily market outdoor recreation, local historic tours, and arts & entertainment to provide a concentrated taste of all that Las Cruces has to offer.

National Governors Association Summer Meeting


Overview: Each year, the National Governors Association holds an annual Summer Meeting, one of the most important gatherings in American leadership today, providing an opportunity for the nation’s governors to focus on bipartisan solutions to improve government and to discuss state issues with assembled distinguished leaders from around the world. New Mexico recognized the value in serving as a host for the Summer Meeting. With its attendance of 1,000 people representing government, industry and thought-leaders from the US and abroad, it provided an outstanding opportunity to highlight New Mexico as a world-class destination, highlighting our history, culture and cuisine, showcase New Mexico to national and international companies as a good place to conduct and bring business, and generate revenue for the city of Santa Fe and surrounding communities through lodgers and gross receipts tax.

Santa Fe Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration


Overview: In 2016, the Governing Body of the City of Santa Fe passed an historic resolution to establish the second Monday of October annually as Indigenous Peoples Day. On Santa Fe’s Indigenous Peoples Day, we reserve the day to remember, honor and uphold our valued Native American neighbors from the 23 Tribes, Nations and Pueblos in New Mexico. We celebrate all the wonderful Native American arts, culture and educational institutions that give Santa Fe such a strong sense of place and make it one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. In 2017, TOURISM Santa Fe created a free, day-long event on the Santa Fe Plaza, commemorating and celebrating our Native American community members, friends and neighbors. The Indigenous Peoples Day event schedule was created with input and recommendations of local Tribal Leaders and the event programming included award-winning dancing, drumming and singing throughout the day.

Outstanding Attraction

Comfort Suites Military Museum

Comfort Suites Gallup

Overview: For the past 9 years the Comfort Suites in Gallup has been the go to hotel for our military and veterans staying in the Gallup, NM area. The lobby of the hotel has been converted into a “one of a kind” military/veteran museum honoring those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and also to honor the families who have supported us at home. This past year a very dear friend and frequent guest of the hotel donated his personal collection of over 100 Medal of Honor Recipients Challenge Coins that he personally received from each of these recipients. Everyone in Gallup knows that the Comfort Suites is the place where all veterans, military and families are honored each and every day. We don’t need a special day or event to honor those who have given so much to our community and to our country.

CORE (Center of Recreational Excellence)

City of Hobbs

Overview: The CORE (Center of Recreational Excellence) is a $63.5 million, 158,00 square feet, multi-generational recreation center in Hobbs, New Mexico which had its Grand Opening on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Some of the amenities included in the CORE are turf fields, a swimming pool, indoor water park, basketball courts, a fitness center, child care, and two banquet rooms. The CORE is has greatly enhanced the quality of life for the residents of Hobbs, Lea County, southeast New Mexico and west Texas. It was expected that the CORE would be a “regional” attraction and it has certainly proved that it is. Prior to the CORE’s opening, there was no recreation center of any kind in Hobbs.

Los Alamos Nature Center

Pajarito Environmental Education Center

Overview: The Los Alamos Nature Center and planetarium was constructed by Los Alamos County at the passionate request of hundreds of Los Alamos residents. Since its opening on Earth Day 2015, the nature center has become known around the US and beyond as a must-see attraction for visitors to Northern New Mexico. The nature center serves over 40,000 people annually with interactive and engaging exhibits, fun and beautiful gardens and outdoor play areas, events (both ongoing and special) and school field trips and lessons. Much of our in-state tourism is a result of field trips from schools, camps, and other types of groups visiting from around New Mexico. Los Alamos strives to show visitors from out of town that it is more than just a day trip. The nature center, along with exciting planetarium films like National Parks Adventure, gives people another reason to spend more time in Los Alamos.

New Mexico Chile Bike Tour

Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals, Inc

Overview: The New Mexico Chile Bike Tour was created to educate and entertain visitors (and locals alike) on the spicy – and sometimes sweet – history, traditions, and methods to experience our State Vegetable (and fruit)!
The immersive gastronomic adventure features six innovative and local culinary partners offering multiple variations of how New Mexican’s enjoy our Chile. The tour aims to showcase our veggie/fruit through a taste adventure of “something savory, something sweet – something traditional and something unique.” Routes’ professional tour guides facilitate the experience at every turn with our signature concierge-level service and impart a unique understanding, background, and context for Chile in New Mexico. The New Mexico Chile Bike Tour is approximately 3-1/2 hours in length and includes ample food tastings and a guided bicycle tour through some of Albuquerque’s most scenic locations.

The Algodones Gallery

Sandoval County

Overview: The Algodones Gallery currently promotes and sponsors artists and continues to grow. The artists are masters in several media including: stone, oil painting, metal art and garden features. The Gallery continues to develop by adding garden sculptures, fountains, gazebos, petroglyph art and much more. The gallery is a working studio. The Algodones Gallery sponsors professional artists who are regionally, nationally and internationally recognized. The key to understanding the Algodones Gallery is perceiving its connection to local community member: the gallery owner captures fascinating local stories in Sandoval County’s arts community. The presence of the Algodones Gallery enriches the local community in rural Sandoval County by bringing the art of New Mexico and beyond close to home. It makes fine art accessible to local residents, while providing a market for local artists. Exhibits highlight not just artistic skill, but ideas. Most importantly, perhaps, is that the Algodones Gallery provides a workshop for working artists, thus further encouraging reflection and creativity in a small community of just over 800 inhabitants.

Best New Experience

Best in Show Night – Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Emerald Tanner | Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial | gallupARTS/Art123 Gallery

Overview: Best in Show Night was created to tie the annual Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial into the heart of downtown Gallup. The event was built with the intention of inspiring more passion and interest in the Best in Show, Best in Class, and Best in Category artists and art pieces. Free to the public, the event married both old and new; contemporary and traditional Native American arts all in one space. As the Ceremonial nears its 100th Anniversary in 2021, the 95th Annual Ceremonial’s Best in Show event also aimed at showing historic pieces that had won over the years.

Manhattan on the Mesa: Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Bradbury Science Museum

Overview: Manhattan on the Mesa tells the story of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos and how it transformed northern New Mexico and the people who lived here, as well as the immeasurable impact the project had on the world. Manhattan on the Mesa includes a video, Racing Toward Dawn, that examines the Los Alamos Laboratory role in the Manhattan Project as Project Y. It also includes a photographic and biographical exhibit that created a new and interactive experience, a 360-degree immersive experience of the Pajarito Site Park properties at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and large displays that gave detailed information about the significance of laboratory properties. It draws visitors from around the world to better know not only the history, science, engineering, and technology of the race to perfect an atomic bomb, but to reach through time and identify with the men and women whose contributions covered everything from scientific discovery to construction and beyond.

Santa Fe 2926

New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society

Overview: New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Rail Road Historical Society is a non-profit organization staffed solely by dedicated volunteers whose mission is to fully restore the Baldwin 4-8-4 Steam Locomotive, AT&SF No. 2926, to operational status while promoting and educating the public about the ties of State economic development with rail transportation. This is a working restoration operation, since 2002, staffed with skilled volunteer welders, pipe-fitters, mechanics and many other trades. Free tours are available where visitors are issued a hard hat and a personal tour guide who will present a hands-on introduction to this very large and impressive locomotive. Monday, August 20, 2018, New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society fired up the boiler of the AT&SF No. 2926 for the first time since 1953.

Santa Fe Artists in Residence


Overview: Santa Fe Artists in Residence is a new art experience that launched in November 1, 2017 and ran through February 28, 2018. The experience was created to build off-season business by offering an engaging and collaborative program available in Santa Fe hotels on an annual basis. During the program, hotel guests could experience the city’s diverse art scene right in their hotels. This new art experience created the opportunity to highlight Santa Fe’s position as a leading art market and art destination to a wider group of visitors. Guests could meet, interact and observe the artists as they created masterpieces and then purchase directly from the artist. By leveraging partnerships and creating new opportunities in our community, Santa Fe Artists in Residence increases the visibility of our diverse art scene, our artistic community, and Santa Fe as a world-class destination for the arts.

Taos Vortex

Meow Wolf / Town of Taos

Overview: Meow Wolf’s convergence of art and music experiences led to the idea to create an immersive experience that was more than just a few hours, but a few days, that highlighted both art and music. This idea led to Meow Wolf’s first ever music festival, Taos Vortex officially took place on August 3 – 4 at Kit Carson Park in Taos. The festival featured performance artists, as well as unique installations throughout the park and offered camping, food and drink, and luxurious add-ons. Taos Vortex was designed to showcase the best in music of different genres – from rock to electronic dance – and immerse visitors in out-of-the-ordinary art. Taos Vortex, while still a Meow Wolf entity, was not an expansion on the House of Eternal Return installation, but rather an expansion on the Meow Wolf brand itself. Taos Vortex kept the central values of a Meow Wolf adventure, which are immersiveness, fun, exploration and inclusivity, but unfolded a new story that had not yet been told yet.

The Rio Grande Theater

Visit Las Cruces

Overview: New is relative when you’re 92 years old. The historic Rio Grande Theatre is the oldest new attraction that Las Cruces has seen in the past year. The building is itself the only operational two-story adobe theatre in the country. In July of 2017, the City of Las Cruces assumed the management of the theatre. Under the new management the entire venue has shifted function to a lively, accessible, community- focused theatre and has done so within the span of just one year under. The experiences offered by this new venue has created a culture centered within the heart of Las Cruces, with the theatre being the cornerstone of the downtown district.

Stay tuned as we announce the remaining 2018 Top HAT Awards!

Marketing Awards – Wednesday, Sept. 26
Personnel Awards – Thursday, Sept. 27
Premier Awards – Friday, Sept. 28