By Miyawni Curtis
The Gathering of Nations is the largest pow-wow in the country and brings thousands of visitors to Albuquerque during the fourth weekend of April. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center at 12th Street and Menaul Boulevard often schedules special dances and events around the festivities and this year even the Center’s gas station got in on the action.
Four Winds Travel Center sits just to the south of the Cultural Center and is a popular stop for gas but the large convenience store also sells Pueblo pies, fancy cigars from the walk-in humidor and eight kinds of craft beer that can be filled from taps into custom Four Winds growler bottles.
On April 28 the Travel Center capitalized on a rush of visitors to the Cultural Center by throwing a party in the parking lot.
Customer Sun Nguyen said he enjoyed all the free stuff. “I think it’s good for their business,” he said.
Every gas pump was busy with one car after another during the afternoon and almost every parking spot was filled. Customers who popped in for a fill-up left with free popcorn, t-shirts, candy, hotdogs and more.
Companies used the opportunity to market new products, including Pepsi’s new Starry lemon-lime soda. Pepsi representative Tony Cahill stood at a booth outside the store, giving out cases of soda to anyone who wanted one.
“Four Winds travel center is an important customer for Pepsi and we’re here to support their event,” Cahill said. “We are here to give it out, offer samples, and enjoy the day.”
Even people waiting at the bus stop could be seen carrying cases of Starry home.
Nearby, radio station Coyote 101.5 played music through a large speaker, while station staffers chatted with customers and passed out candy.
Representatives for Bang, the energy drink, brought a spinning wheel patrons could spin to win prizes including stickers, Bang drinks and phone accessories.
Center employees served including hot dogs, popcorn and Bueno salsa with chips. After finishing a mouthful of snacks and food adults over 21 could wash it down with samples of 805 Brewing Company beer, Malibu vodka and Jameson whiskey.
Kids huddled by the Roadrunner Tea booth where they could get slugs of tea, apple juice, soda and water.
Four Winds staffer Matthew Leyba said the event was good for public relations.
“Without the customers we won’t have a company to run,” Leyba said.
People were traveling back and forth between the Customer Appreciation Day at Four Winds and the weekend dances happening at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
In a post on Instagram the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center welcomed guests to enjoy the Kallestewa Dance Group from Zuni Pueblo and then stop by the appreciation day for the many giveaways.