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A Top Spring Event in the Mountains of New Mexico

Ski Apache’s stunning natural vistas, proximity to outdoor activities, and top tier accommodations make it one of the top destinations in Southern New Mexico. The resort features the only passenger gondola in New Mexico that takes passengers to the summit of Sierra Blanca Peak providing unforgettable views of the Sacramento Mountains. From world-class festivals to nighttime zip line rides, Ski Apache has something for everyone.


The Wind Rider Mountain Festival has become one of the top spring events in Southern New Mexico in only three years, and will take place May 26-28, at Ski Apache. The festival is the ultimate event for lovers of the outdoors combining music and great BBQ. Live music acts will perform each day of the event, with headlining acts like The Werks, Fruition, Spafford, and more. The event is also a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition, and BBQ teams will compete in a variety of cooking challenges with a total purse of $9,000. Ski Apache is one of Southern New Mexico’s top locations for outdoor activities, and attendees will have exclusive access to the gondola, zip lines, and trails. We got the chance to interview Laura Van Antwerp, a representative of the event, to learn more about this unique celebration of music.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

LVA: The festival revolves around music, camping, barbecue, and outdoor recreation. Bluegrass, jam, funk, rock and folk are all featured among the live music lineup. There will be a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition and a beer gelande quaffing competition, as well as an assortment of other exciting activities including downhill mountain biking, zip lining, craft beer sampling, and more.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

LVA: This is the third year the Wind Rider Mountain Festival has returned to Ski Apache.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

LVA: We are expecting more than 3,000 attendees over the three-day span.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract?

LVA: Our festival attracts people of all ages. Aside from the aspects of the event that incorporate adult beverages (such as the beer gelande quaffing competition), anyone can partake in music, camping, barbecue, and many of the other fun activities we offer.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

LVA: The Wind Rider Mountain Festival provides a unique experience unlike any other festival. The KCBS competition is the most elite of barbecue competitions, meaning the best of the best in savory barbecue will be available for attendees to sample. The beer gelande quaffing competition is essentially the most athletic beer-drinking competition in the US. This is where two teammates stand at each end of a roughly 10-foot long bar top, and one teammate slides a full glass of beer across the bar till it slides off. The other teammate then attempts to catch the beer before it falls and then drink it. Between each catch, tricks are added to increase the difficulty. There will be a great lineup of music, from recognized names to up-and- coming artists worth checking out. It’s a unique vibe you won’t find anywhere else!


RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.

LVA: Gates open at 9:00am for guests, vendors, and contestants. We suggest starting the day by taking advantage of the mountain amenities provided by Ski Apache, such as mountain biking, zip lining, frisbee golf, hiking, sightseeing or taking in the stunning panoramic vista from the gondola. The barbecue contest and judging kick off around noon on Saturday, and the beer gelande quaffing competition begins at 11:00 am on Sunday. Music starts at noon on all three days, featuring 30 bands on two stages, and wraps up around midnight.


RAL: What will the environment be like?

LVA: The Wind Rider Mountain Festival is set at 9,600 feet at the base of Ski Apache, nestled in the lush, mountainous region of the Sierra Blanca. Ski Apache is known for its refreshing summer weather and natural beauty. Add in music, great food and lots of smiling faces, and you have a good idea of what to expect.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

LVA: Tent and RV camping are a huge part of the festival experience, so we strongly encourage our guests to camp at Ski Apache. However, we do have a few recommendations for lodging. Upper Canyon Lodging Co., Ruidoso River Resort and Inn, Noisy Water Lodge, Whispering Pine Cabins and Shadow Mountain Lodge and Cabins all offer unique, boutique-style lodging experiences.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

LVA: This event is an opportunity to bring in a new demographic of people and show them that we are a resort destination, a mountain oasis in the middle of the desert.


RAL: Does the event drive business to your local economy?

LVA: The influx of festival-goers helps drive business to local stores. We have received widespread support from the community, which always jumps at the opportunity to bring in a new crowd through new events.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

LVA: The Wind Rider Mountain Festival creates a memorable experience by giving guests an exciting way to explore the outdoor beauty of New Mexico while enjoying its unique music and food culture. The event provides attendees with enough options to make it as adventurous or as relaxing as they please, whatever style weekend they desire. Between great music, food, craft beer and a continuous spectrum of activities, we have no doubt our guests will leave with satisfied ears, hearts, and bellies!

For more information about the Wind Rider Mountain Festival, please visit the event website.