Eddy County Fair kicks off the fair season with Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair to follow
By Christina Stock
Say the words “county fair” and you’ll get smiles from the older folks and big grins from the kids. The annual county fairs are as American as the record-breaking pumpkin, the blue ribbon for the best pie and the most beautifully grown iris from your neighbor down the street.
Nothing is cuter than watching a 5-year-old kid holding its fluffy prized rabbit, hoping to win against the other kids. There is pride in the eyes of the parents, seeing a tradition continued that is the heart of rural communities.
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Where did it all start? Farming and ranching was and is a tough business, but it is also an appreciated way of life. The first fairs were started to find the best new bull, swap recipes and soon enough to compete against each other. Who wouldn’t want to be the best, know how to grow the best crop or raise the best lambs?
Today, the county and state fairs offer much more. There are concerts, carnival, fair food and new categories to compete in like digital photography. The foundation, however, remains the same: keeping the historic agricultural traditions alive and a chance for the next generation, the kids in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs, to present their animals, craftsmanship and skills they learned from their families.
Traditionally the Eddy County Fair in Artesia is the first fair of the year, July 22 to 27, with the kick-off being Monday. Highlight is the parade at 4 p.m., beginning at Main Street and Bulldog Boulevard and proceeding east to Second and Main streets. Lineup will begin at 3:15 p.m. in front of the Bulldog Bowl on Bulldog Boulevard.
At 5 p.m., the fair officially opens for the public at the Eddy County Fairgrounds, 3402 S. 13th St.
The following days, the public can see the different livestock shows from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The carnival opens from July 24 to 27 daily at 5 p.m.
On July 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m., NMSU Eddy County 4-H presents the Eddy County Pecan Auction.
If you are interested in helping the youth of Eddy County, but do not want to purchase an animal, the annual Eddy County Pecan Auction is a great way to support the youth. Make your favorite dessert or baked goods that include pecans in the recipe and submit it to the Eddy County Fair on July 25 between noon and 1:30 p.m.
Items need to be delivered to the Blue Community at the fairgrounds. All entries will be judged and prizes will be awarded to the top three best items with the winning item receiving $500. All entries are then auctioned off at 7 p.m. with all the proceeds from the auction being split between the FFA chapters within Eddy County and the Eddy County 4-H youth. These proceeds are then used for the youth of those organizations to attend leadership camps, local, state and national contests. For more information, contact the Eddy County Extension Office at 575-887-6595.
In the evening of Thursday, the public is invited to a dance.
Highlights on Friday are at 2 p.m. “Jack Rauch” anvil toss and at 4 p.m., a chili cook-off. At 6 p.m., the 4-H and FFA Awards presentation will be held at the livestock barn show ring, followed at 7:30 p.m. by bull-riding in the Horse Council Open Arena.
Friday night, award-winning country music performer Mike Ryan invites the public to dance to his tunes from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Ryan’s musical story began in Texas, his first exposure to music was from his grandfather, who directed the Texas National Guard Band for more than 30 years. He became one of Ryan’s biggest musical influences, first learning the clarinet from him – among other instruments.
Ryan’s resumé also includes winning New Male Vocalist of the Year at the Texas Regional Radio Awards in 2015. The list of sold-out venues he’s played around the country continues to grow. He’s also headlined several times at Billy Bob’s Texas, an iconic nightclub in Fort Worth, Texas.
On Saturday, the fair opens to the public at 9 a.m. with the popular 4-H and FFA Junior Livestock Auction at the livestock barn show ring and the audience is invited in the evening for another bull-riding event.
Last year, Alexis Benton won the Fair Queen contest. Who will be the winner this year?
For more information, visit eddycountyfair.com.
Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair
When the Eddy County Fair closes, the Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair begins. This year, the Chaves County 4-H and Future Farmers of America Fair takes place from July 28 to Aug. 3 at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 2500 SE Main St. It is dedicated to Charlene Richardson who retired from being “the voice of the fair” from 1990 to 2017. This fair is the real thing, where young farmers can show off their leadership skills, sportsmanship and to test knowledge and skills learned in 4-H and FFA projects. The children range from age 5 to 18.
The fair opens daily at 8 a.m. with the highlight being the junior livestock sale on Friday at 7 p.m. Many private persons and business owners bid here on the animals that were raised and groomed by the children, however, the youngest ones get to keep their animals.
For more information, visit chavesextension.nmsu.edu.
84th annual Lea County Fair
The 84th Lea County Fair and Rodeo offers a lot of entertainment from Aug. 2 to 10. This year’s theme is “Sew It, Grow It, Show It!” Free admissions are Sunday, Monday and Wednesday all day.
There will be musical entertainment daily:
Aug. 2 is Hispanic Heritage Day at the fair with Los Huracanes Del Norte performing; on Aug. 6, Flatland Cavalry performs; on Aug. 7, legendary singer and songwriter Amy Grant entertains the fairgoers; on Aug. 8, Cody Johnson performs; Aug. 9, Fiddler Jam Session invites the public to listen in, followed by a concert by Ronnie Milsap and on Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. will be the 59th annual Fiddler’s Contest followed in the evening with a concert by Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy.
The Lea County Fair Parade takes place Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. The parade route heads north on 11th street, turning right on Avenue D, traveling east and turning left on Main Street and north to Jefferson Street where the parade ends.
New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque
The New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque takes place Sept. 5 to 15. Updates are available at statefair.exponm.com.
Eastern New Mexico State Fair in Roswell
The Eastern New Mexico State Fair in Roswell is one of the last ones taking place Sept. 30 to Oct. 5. More information will be available at a later time.