Belen — Come to the Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival for the cars, food and music but stay for the prizes and friendly faces.

Since the festival shrunk from the three-day, Rio Abajo Days event, it was renamed the Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival, when it became a single-day event in 2009. Since then, it has kept growing.

“I’ve been promoting this and working on it for 14 years and it just gets bigger every year,” said Rhona Espinoza, the executive director of the Greater Valencia County Chamber of Commerce. “We had T-Mobile last year track it for us and we had close to 8,000 people during the course of the day.”

The festival is a chance for people to celebrate the music, culture and art of the Rio Abajo Valley. Nothing celebrates the art and culture of the area like a car show.

Car enthusiasts will get to check out some of the best cars around. Kicking off around 10 a.m., the classic/custom car show is expecting 75-80 entries coming from as far as Colorado Springs and Roswell. said Espinoza.

At 1:30 p.m., the awards for the car show will be handed out, followed by a parade with all the participants, escorted by the chief of police. They will travel up Becker Avenue and head down Main Street so everyone in town will be able to check out the cars.

The Moose Riders of the Belen and Rio Communities lodges will be hosting a poker run that will have prizes for the best and worst poker hands.

Registration will be from 10 a.m. to noon in front of the Greater Valencia County Chamber of Commerce office, 712 Dalies Ave.

The food trucks will be parked in front of city hall and they will include the Blue Line Grill, Game Changers Grill, Parker’s Pizza and Double Cup Coffee will be serving up the java. Leave room for all the delicious festival treats such as snow cones and ice cream, too.

If people need an adult beverage, head to the beer and wine garden. The Hub City Brewing Company will be dishing out the brewski. The vino will be supplied by Black’s Smuggler Winery and the Chavez Brothers Vineyard and Winery.

Bring your four-legged friends as well. There is plenty of fun lined up for all the furry friends this year.

Smokal Dispensary is partnering with Tractor Supply and Valencia Animal Clinic to put on a pet adoption event.

Get some fun pet costumes or clothes because there will also be a pet parade that will go to the car show. Take your pets to get pampered with a massage to relax before entering the pet contests. The most beautiful and the ugliest pets will be crowned at the contests.

“I hope people who have pets and think their pets are gorgeous don’t get the ugliest pet contest because that could happen,” joked Espinoza.

Like always, the music will be in full swing all day at the gazebo. There will be a deejay playing dance music until 2 p.m., then singer Bianca Baca will be on from 2-4 p.m.. Black Pearl Band will be headlining the show from 4-7 p.m., and The Daniel Solis Band will be closing out the night.

The Greater Valencia County Chamber of Commerce tries to promote the youth groups in the community and this year is no different.

Some of the youth groups that will be doing presentations will include Dance In Motion Academy, Boardwalk Gymnastics and there will also be jazzercise and karate youth performances.

At the end of the festival at 9 p.m., there are several raffles that offer prizes.

Get your ticket anytime during the festival and try your luck at the free raffle to win a 40-inch smart television donated by the Bar-Y Pet Hotel.

Raffle tickets will cost 1 for $5 or 5 for $20. The first prize will be a new electric bike, the Valencia County News-Bulletin donated two tickets to the “Lion King,” and Enchanted Smiles donated an in-office tooth whitening.

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Jesse Jones lives in Albuquerque with his wife and son. Jesse graduated from of the University of New Mexico twice. This spring, he graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and, in 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree in university studies with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a current fellow of the New Mexico Local News Fund.