The fair must go on, even it must be in a reduced capacity.
That was the determination of the Chaves County Fair Board to give area 4-H and FFA members some payoff for work they put into their projects the past year, Fair Board President Larry Hobson said Tuesday.
“We’re just trying to reward these kids the best we can because they’ve got quite a bit of expense tied up in this,” he said.
“These young people, they are not able to go to movies, swimming, school, any of their normal activities. So what we’re trying to do here is provide an environment for people that are in 4-H and FFA to have an opportunity to come exhibit their animals,” he said.
The fair got underway Friday with home economics and general exhibits judging and the horse show. Through the week, animals are shown and judged, with the exception of rabbits. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease canceled that show earlier in the year.
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The livestock shows, for the first time ever Hobson said, are conducted as “go and show.” Families who would normally be camping out in recreational vehicles the whole week instead bring the animals, show them and then go home.
The rodeo was scheduled to go on Tuesday evening. Hobson said as a ranching and agriculture activity, the board feels it falls under essential services. Only competitors and their families were to take part, with no spectators.
The livestock shows will continue through Thursday.
Most of the fairground’s activity Tuesday afternoon was centered around the show ring, where meat goats and dairy goats were being shown. The swine show had finished earlier in the day, and only a few families were still in the hog barn.
Almost everyone wore a mask and the kids in the arena did their best to stay six feet apart with their animals. Only families and fair volunteers were in the stands and around the show ring.
It was important to the board to follow the governor’s health orders but still offer the youth as good an experience as they could, Hobson said. So far, they’d not experienced any negative issues, he said.
“We’re not making anyone do anything they don’t want to,” Hobson said. “It’s up to parents to be parents and govern their children.”
While it wasn’t the ideal situation, one young winner said he still had fun.
“It makes me happy and I’m kind of proud of my girl,” Adrian Trammell, a member of Denim and Dust 4-H Club, said after his little black goat, Abigail, won first place in her class of the dairy goat show Tuesday afternoon.
His dad, Jodi Trammell, said Adrian had worked with and cared for his goat four hours every day. The family will also show dairy heifers Wednesday.
“Normally we would have rabbits and a bunch of other stuff out here, too, but with everything going on we just kind of abbreviated everything this year,” he said.
Jodi Trammell, who was a 4-H member himself when he was younger, said he was glad the fair was able to offer the youth at least some of the typical fair experience.
“All these kids out here are putting in a lot of effort. To be able to come out and show even with the abbreviated things going on and the modifications we’ve had to do, it it gives them an opportunity to earn that revenue,” he said.
Hobson is hopeful the community will be supportive of that revenue. Rather than the traditional junior livestock sale, which has been conducted since 1989, this year’s fair will have a premium show supported by donations.
“What we’re doing is asking the public for donations for our premium show to support these young people for their effort,” he said.
Eligibility for the premium sale will be the same as the livestock sale, he said.
“We’re going to take the monies we can gather and distribute it equally among all the kids that are eligible,” Hobson said.
The kids will retain ownership of their animals. That will allow them to show the animals in other fairs and possibly sell them there, or they can sell the animal through a private sale, Hobson said.
To make a donation, people can contact Hobson at 575-626-5861.
Hobson, who has been fair board president for 36 years, said this year will be his last on the board for the county fair as well as the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, where he is also board president.
Regarding the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, he said it’s unlikely there will be a carnival. Further decisions regarding the fair will be made by Aug. 15, he said.
“I’m hoping that nobody is discouraged and they continue to follow through with this fair. I hope this is a one-year deal that we go through and we get a handle on it or get a vaccine and go back to business as normal,” he said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.