AZTEC — A celebration of diversity, literacy, food and fun will be in Aztec today.

The second annual Aztec Cultural and Arts Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Aztec Community-Senior Center, 101 S. Park Ave. The event is free.

In collaboration with the Aztec Public Library's Dig into Reading program, the event offers young people the chance to meet literary luminaries, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Geronimo Stilton, and get their pictures taken with them. Books will also be for sale.

Entertainment from Durango, Colo., includes the Old West piano stylings of Hoyle Osborne, a fixture at the piano at the Diamond Belle Saloon, and guitarist Terry Rickard, who will play rock and country music.

"Last year started it all, and it brought a lot of people together to learn about the diverse cultural resources and traditions in the area," said Angela Watkins, program director for the Aztec Public Library.

Aztec's resident Taekwondo specialists, the Bates Family, will demonstrate their black-belt skills. Daughter Jessie Bates won a coveted spot on the junior Olympics team in 2010. Her younger brother, Page, a junior black-belt, won first place at the 2009 junior Olympics in the sparring division.

All the food will be Navajo cuisine, including fry bread and tacos.

"We want to build a stronger community to bring people together and celebrate the diversity in the area," Watkins said. "This is a fun, fascinating and delicious way to do it."

For more information, call 505-334-7658 or go to

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.