Hispano Chamber of Valencia County delays annual event due to COVID-19

BELEN — In a difficult decision by the Hispano Chamber of Valencia County, the board announced the postponement of the World’s Largest Matanza scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 29.

The event was not held last year either due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Chadborn, HCVC president, said while COVID is again the reason the board decided to postpone the event, they weren’t worried the event itself would be a super-spreader.

“We aren’t concerned because it’s an outdoor event and we would have safety measures in place,” he said. “It seems to be causing a lot of issues in gathering volunteers and making sure teams will be able to produce, because, at the end of the day, the teams and our volunteers are our backbone. Without them, we don’t have food — we really don’t have a matanza.”

He also mentioned the board took  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent request seriously for events with large gatherings of people be postponed due to the recent COVID-19 surge of the omicron variant.

“We’ve had to do it once; we had to do it last year and we’re doing it again this year, until we know we can safely provide what we are expected to provide,” Chadborn said.

As to when or if the 2022 Matanza will happen remains up in the air.

“We know we can’t host the Matanza in the summertime because we need nature’s refrigerator. It’s traditionally done in the cold, the early mornings, so we know everything is refrigerated just by the weather” Chadborn said. “We’re limited to the cold, however the exact date is to be decided.”

The World’s Largest Matanza is a fundraiser for local scholarships. In  2020 — the last time the event was held — it raised enough funding for 82, $500 scholarships through the chamber.

“In Valencia County, (the Matanza) is a tradition that a lot of folks aren’t familiar with,” he said. “It’s something that is very specific to the Hispanic culture and the culture here in New Mexico, and it’s something we can share with the greater population.”

Chadborn became involved with the chamber after volunteering for the Matanza more than a decade ago while attending The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus. He also received two of the scholarships funded by the event from the chamber.

“I was very impressed at the amount of work and what the Matanza can do for our community despite the board being so small,” Chadborn said. “I thought the best way for me to give back to my community, being fairly new to it at the time, was to join their efforts.”

Anticipating the cancellation of the Matanza in 2021, the chamber board withheld $20,000 for scholarships, which helped to fund the more than 50, $500 scholarships awarded to county students. The remaining funds were donated by community members as well as the community partners who typically sponsored the event.

“It’s our goal to do so again,” Chadborn said about the 2022 scholarships. “We’ll continue to fundraise … We’re meeting on Thursday to start brainstorming, in addition to our scholarship drive, if there is anything else we could do. As of right now, we already have some ideas.”

Chadborn said the chamber is considering a possible golf tournament to fund the scholarships this year.

“I hope we’ll be able to continue (the Matanza),” Chadborn said. “I really think once we can get it under control when we have a better idea of our volunteers and what we’re doing. We’re going to do our best to keep it going.”

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.