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Love for Lavender: Fragrant purple haze descends on Los Ranchos

July 9, 2018 GMT

It was hard to spot anyone leaving the 12th annual Lavender in the Village Festival in Los Ranchos on Saturday empty-handed.

Beth Arnold, second from right, watches as her husband Kemper Barkhurst restocks hanging bundles of lavender inside the Bluefly Farms tent at the Lavender in the Village Festival in Los Ranchos on Saturday.(Marla Brose/Journal)

Around 100 vendors, most of them local, sold everything from lavender creme brulee to full bouquets of the fragrant purple plant.

Sandy Pino of Sandia Park made out with biscochitos, essential oils, jams and jellies and even dog biscuits infused with the festival’s namesake.

“We’ve been before and I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got to come again,’ ” she said.

Pino wasn’t alone.

Around 12,000 people descended on the one-day festival, traveling to a freshly-cut alfalfa field in Los Ranchos just in time for the annual lavender harvest that usually takes place in July.

For girlfriends Devin Clem, Ashley Button and Marissa Freed, the 90-degree temperatures called for some cool, refreshing drinks: Palmer Brewery was serving up Cosmopolitans, lemonade and other cocktails made with lavender-infused vodka and gin.

Lavender in the Village Festival chair David Hudson said around 12,000 people were expected to attend the 12th annual event. (Marla Brose/Journal)

“It’s fun; it’s just a little hot,” Clem said.

The festival, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the farmers, most of whom grow lavender right here in New Mexico.

It’s an ideal climate for the fragrant herb.

“Not only is it lovely and has so many uses, but it loves the desert climate, it hardly takes any water at all and it doesn’t have any insect problems,” said Wes Brittonham, farm and landscape manager at Los Poblanos Organic Farm, which has around 8,000 lavender plants. “It’s a healthy plant.”

But even though it doesn’t require much water, it still requires some.

That’s causing problems for Debbie Stover and her husband Frank Roth, who own Lola Jeanne Lavender Farm in Villanueva on the Pecos River.

Stover said the river has been bone-dry where they draw water from since June, forcing them to haul in water from Albuquerque.

“Right now, we are counting on the monsoon,” she said. “Honestly, we’re really afraid that we might lose our plants this year.”

Bundles of fresh lavender were available for purchase inside the Bluefly Farms tent during the 12th annual Lavender in the Village Festival in Los Ranchos on Saturday.(Marla Brose/Journal)