QCS Senior Writer
The third annual Rockabilly on the Route was a success, attracting 4,000 people to Tucumcari over the weekend, said Simon Cantlon, event co-organizer, adding that the estimated unofficial visitor total came from Tucumcari Mayor Robert Lumpkin.
“Each year the city of Tucumcari is so great to us and its always amazing to see the streets fill up with visitors,” Cantlon said.
Cantlon said he and fellow organizer Ungie Davila, publisher of La Loca magazine, an Albuquerque-based Rockabilly publication, worked on not only growing the event with more bands and events but crafted this years event to be family friendly.
This year’s event was amazing and I was not expecting it to be as large as it was,” Davila said. “I could not be happier about how it turned out.”
Davila said Friday’s event attendance was comparable to last year’s Saturday attendance. She said she and Cantlon have learned so much from the previous years and use that to continue to fine-tune and grow the event.
Cantlon said the goal was to give the people in town something to do every waking moment by holding multiple events overlapping at different venues while also offering events children could enjoy. He said kids get bored quickly looking at cars and listening to bands. Ungie and Cantlon said they wanted to hold events that would interest the kids and make them feel like it is their event too, not just something mom and dad wanted to attend.
The events focused around kids included a kids tattoo contest, S’mores by the fire and a dance class of kids instructed by local dance teacher, Hannah M. Dance, with a live performance on stage as an event of Rockabilly on the Route.
“Everything went off great and it was fun for the whole family,” Cantlon said.
Cantlon said he and Davila wanted to make sure there was a mixture of ticketed and free events at the convention center and at various local venues for the people to enjoy. He said there was a lot of positive feedback about the events and performances held at area businesses. “There was an overwhelming amount of positive reaction from locals and visitors alike for the events held at local restaurants and businesses.” he added.
Cantlon said there are already plans in the works for further expansion, including more family friendly events for next years Rockabilly on the Route.
“There is so much potential for Rockabilly on the Route to continue to grow and become an event for all ages to enjoy,” Cantlon said.
For many, the Rockabilly on the Route has become an annual event they return to Tucumcari each year to enjoy.
Though for some it is the first time attending the event and visiting Tucumcari and was reason enough to stay or plan a return visit to the city for next year’s Rockabilly on the Route.
Connie Manski, of Corpus Cristi, Texas, said she and her husband, Tim, stopped in Tucumcari on their way to a motorcycle rally in Santa Fe when they came across the Rockabilly on the Route event.
“This is such a great event with an amazing vibe,” Manski said. “We have met so many different people in just a single day and made new friends.”
Two of the Manskis’ new friends were Dave and Linda Metcalfe, from Cheltenhan, England, who were passing through Tucumcari on Thursday while touring Route 66.
“We had no idea something like this was going on in Tucumcari,” Linda Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe said they began to notice people gathering around town, following the crowd of classic cars and she and her found themselves at Mountain View Bowling for the “Rockin’ Bowl: Rockabilly on the Route Kick-off party.
“We would love to stay and attend more events, but we already have our vacation planned and schedule to keep,” Metcalfe said. “Though we will keep this event on our minds should we return to Route 66.”
Manski said she and her husband would definitely want to come back to the event and will keep Rockabilly on the Route on their minds.
Tucumcari native Tessa Throckmorton said she had been wanting to attend Rockabilly on the Route the two previous years but was unable to because of work. She said she had an interest of entering the Pinup contest but each year her schedule prevented that from happening.
However, this year, Throckmorton said a co-worker switched shifts with her which gave her the opportunity to finally attend Rockabilly on the Route and enter the event.
Throckmorton not only entered the contest, she won it and will be featured later on the cover and centerfold of an upcoming La Loca magazine.
“I didn’t join the contest to win, I did it just for the goofs and to have Tucumcari represented,” Throckmorton said.
Rockabilly on the Route provided a venue for 19 performs and bands to take the stage some returning from as far away as Japan (The Gretsch Brothers).
For one first-time band, Sugarwitch from Lubbock, Texas, it was not only their first time gig playing outside of their hometown, it was the first time they were among kindred spirits.
“It is so great that two people were able to come up with the idea to put an event like this together all centered around a genre of music we love,” said Jessica Robinson, lead singer for Sugarwitch.
Robinson said in Lubbock, Sugarwitch is sort of on its own, being a Rockabilly band playing at local venues and event they are booked to perform. She said this is the first time that she or the band has ever attended a Rockabilly event of this scope.
“This event was incredible and we would definitely want to come back,” Robinson said.