Opening night tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera

Opening night tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera takes parking lot dining to a new level. You’ll see anything from dinner a deux in the bed of a pickup truck to elaborate meals that would rival a formal dinner at Downton Abby. Dress runs the gamut from black tie and gowns or cocktail dresses, to jeans and sometimes elaborate costumes. There’s no shortage of imagination in this crowd.

We walked around with a camera, shooting set-ups that struck us as interesting. Here’s some of what we found.

Paella party for 10

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

Santa Fe artist Doug Coffin in a hand-painted jacket at the elaborate table set for 10 photo/Steve Collins

The most elaborate group, a table of 10 (including a few folks we know), dined on a five-course menu featuring a paella entrée cooked onsite. It was topped with gorgeous-looking lobster tails. Their formal dinner party took parking lot dining to a new level.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

Putting the finishing touches on the paella, photo/Steve Collins

They were set up directly across from a group that celebrated France (the setting for the opening opera Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment) with a continental five-course menu and a mini-croquet game for guests to play. They also had a few costumed guests.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

A French soldier on the croquet court, photo/Steve Collins

One group used the lift gate from their SUV to suspend one side of a festively printed canopy. They had a table set up with two folks sitting on the vehicle’s tail and two on chairs.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

Tailgating under a colorful canopy, photo/Steve Collins

We saw author Anne Hillerman who now pens the popular Joe Chee/Jim Leaphorn mystery series made famous by her father, the late Tony Hillerman. She was presiding over a buffet table while friends sat in bag chairs and feasted.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

Taking tailgating to a new level photo/Steve Collins

One couple, a former furniture maker and and his wife sat at an elaborate hand-carved wood table that he’d made. It was set up in the back of their pickup truck. They were drinking martinis; the shaker was ready to go if more were needed.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

Lamb chops fresh off the grill, photo/Steve Collins

The best aromas of the night came from lamb chops cooking on a tableside grill. They made our mouths water.

Santa Fe Opera opening night taigating Steve Collins

A champagne toast:  left to right Kristaan Villela, Jennifer Padilla de Villela, Victor Sherman, Lisa Neal, Stacey Bussy. Carolyn Fairman. Greg Hiner and Kim Kurian  photo Steve Collins

Two large groups were celebrating under tents, one from an assisted-living facility and the other from a gated community where there was a white-coated chef at work. Nearby at a catered cocktail party held by a local vacation house rental company guests standing at bistro tables engaged in animated conversation.

opening night tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera Steve Collins

Opening night, an annual family get together photo/Steve Collins

Seeing everyone eating delicious-looking food, sipping on their drink of choice and engaged in conversation made us wish we’d brought a feast as well. Perhaps next year! Will you be there?

Our Photo of the Week festures another Santa Fe Opera opening night tailgating photo.

18 Responses to “Opening night tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera”

  1. Catherine Sweeney
    July 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    Take me to the paella party! I’ve never been to a symphony tailgate party, but it looks like I’ve been missing out on something — at least in Santa Fe. Very cool to see Anne Hillerman. A friend got me to read a few of Tony’s books several years ago — I loved them.

    • Billie Frank
      July 5, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

      I’d love to go to the paella party, too! Anne Hillerman’s first book in the series was Spiderwoman’s Daughter. She did a good job. There’s a second on out but I haven’t read it yet.

  2. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    July 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    I think clambering into a flatbed in a dress and heels would be so hard that I’d deserve a fancy spread like the ones you’ve chosen to feature! What fun, tailgating is no longer just for sporting events.

    • Billie Frank
      July 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      Her shoes look pretty flat but she did get up there in a dress which takes a lot of courage!

  3. Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields
    July 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    What fun!

  4. Paula McInerney
    July 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    I only heard of tail gate parties recently, and it is such a new concept for me, however, it is on my must try when we visit the States list.

    • Billie Frank
      July 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      Most of them are at sporting events. People eat picnics at music events but usually on the grass. This is pretty unique.

  5. Irene S Levine
    July 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    How elegant—a far cry from the tailgating parties at Giants Stadium in NJ:-)

  6. Peter Parker
    July 7, 2015 at 12:03 am #

    Interesting. I liked the style of having lunch under the canopy and sitting in the SUV back.

    • Billie Frank
      July 29, 2015 at 7:13 am #

      It’s pre-opera dinner, but yes, a great way to tailgate.

  7. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    July 7, 2015 at 12:26 am #

    This tops any tailgate party we ever attended in Montana or Idaho which always seemed to feature a keg somewhere plus the cold weather precluded any fancy dress. I like your version much better!

    • Billie Frank
      July 7, 2015 at 9:33 am #

      It’s definitely an occassion and while there might have been craft beer among the wine and cocktails there was nary a keg in sight.

  8. John Daniel
    July 7, 2015 at 12:37 am #

    Great party….

  9. Marilyn Jones
    July 11, 2015 at 12:43 am #

    I love this! What a creative way to celebrate opening night at the Santa Fe Opera!!

    • Billie Frank
      July 11, 2015 at 10:19 am #

      Santa Fe is a very creative town. I love it, too.

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