Dennis Hopper Day was first proclaimed by the 30th Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson on May 17th in 2010.
Then-Gov. Richardson, a movie aficionado, proclaimed the day (Hopper’s birthday), as Dennis Lee Hopper Day. Hopper died just 12 days after Richardson’s proclamation, at age 74.
“It is fitting and an honor that the State of New Mexico extends appropriate recognition and deep appreciation to Dennis Hopper, a cultural icon and friend to many, for his artistic and cultural contributions to our State and to the entire world.” Bill Richardson noted at the time.
In 2014 Taos Pueblo recognized May 17th as Dennis Hopper Day annually. A proclamation of the people of Taos County and of the Town of Taos followed, proclaiming May 17th “to be hereto annually known as, Dennis Hopper Day” and the Town promised to designate a street after the counter-culture icon.
Taos began celebrating Dennis Hopper Day in 2014. Organizers since have added an “s” to the end of the title because the event was extended by three additional days.
“Taos has a rich history of attracting accomplished artisans of all talents, and Dennis Hopper is one of the most exceptional. Our Town is proud to host this important and timely recognition of such a distinguished award-winning artist, actor, director, writer, philanthropist, and art collector who called Taos home.” Says Taos Mayor, Dan Barrone.
Last year due to other pressing matters that kept Eagle Thunder’s Robby Romero from producing a full on Hopper Fest, he decided to cancel the event instead, to focus on this year’s festivities.
This year, the event kicks off at the Sagebrush Inn, a most apropos venue for a celebration of Hopper’s life and work. The Sagebrush has a long and storied history, and has hosted more than a few interesting guests in its time on the Paseo, including Hopper and a few of his friends!
This year also happens to be the 50th Anniversary of Hopper’s Cult Classic; Easy Rider.
Imagine them on their choppers. Billy and Wyatt, two easy riders rolling through Taos with their long hair blowing in the wind and their eyes shaded by their Ray Bans. They were as cool as cool gets as they rode across the high desert, a century after a couple of other outlaws with the same names came through on their (albeit slightly slower steeds). Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp.
Billy, played by Dennis Hopper, and Wyatt, portrayed by Peter Fonda, were the lead characters in the 1969 movie Easy Rider. In many ways the film reinvented and rebooted the Western genre, and Hopper found himself returning to Taos where he lived on and off for most of his life, and is buried.
To celebrate his life, hundreds of bikers and fans will converge on the Sagebrush Inn for the annual event, starting on Friday, May 17th at 5pm in the Sagebrush Cantina, with an aptly named, Hopper Happy Hour, featuring Hopper’s old friend Ron Cooper’s Del Maguey Mezcal, cuisine the late actor favored, along with the hand-rolled cigars he (and his friend, Dean Stockwell), were seldom without, and much more!
At 7pm, the Rebel Film Festival will screen Easy Rider (at the TCA), with a special introduction by Hopper’s brother, David, a longtime Taos resident. At 9pm the Hopper Birthday (he would have been 83 this year) bash, is happening back at the Cantina, with Live Music, Hopper signature drinks and of course, more mezcal, cigars, and a good time is sure to be had by all.
The weekend festivities start at 10am on Saturday with the Village Market & Fair that is open until 7pm featuring artisans, galleries, and wildcrafters, from Taos Pueblo and surrounding communities.There will be special performances throughout the day that include the famed Aztec dance group, IZCALLI EN NANANTZIN, at the Sagebrush Convention Center
At 11am the EASY RIDER RALLY kicks into gear with a hearty Pre-Rally Breakfast / Brunch also at the Sagebrush Convention Center. Then at 1pm the EASY RIDER RIDE gets the motors running and KICKSTANDS UP! As the bikers cruise along the Easy Rider Route through Northern New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle across The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, before returning to the hotel for the annual Buffalo BBQ catered by Tiwa Kitchen of Taos Pueblo.
And there’s even more. Parties, balloon rides, river rafting with Los Rios River Runners, music and Dennis’ fait accompli; The Last Movie will close out this weekend extravaganza in the manner in which he would have approved of!
Schedule and more information:
Official Dennis Hopper Day Website
More on Dennis Hopper Day from Taos.org
Written by Lynne Robinson
Photo thanks to Eagle Thunder Presents