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State Fair confirms livestock show cancellation

The New Mexico State Fair, which opened Thursday, has canceled its youth livestock shows and sale. This photo is from the July 2019 4-H and FFA Fair at the fairgrounds of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Local youth expo still scheduled

The New Mexico State Fair, which opened Thursday in Albuquerque, officially canceled the youth livestock show and sale for this year.

But the New Mexico Youth Livestock Expo in Roswell is still scheduled to start Tuesday.

State Fair Public Information Officer Wyndham Kemsley said exhibitors were notified last week, sometime about Sept. 1, about the fair’s decision.

He referred to a statement that has been posted to the fair’s website.

“This decision comes after thorough consultations with parents, exhibitors, 4-H and FFA leadership, medical experts and public health officials,” the statement reads. “While we will surely miss the activity and excitement the youth of 4-H and FFA bring to the north end of the grounds, we have concluded that canceling the shows is the right decision.”

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The website also indicated that all exhibitors would be refunded any fees that had been paid.

On Wednesday, state public health officials said that the spread of COVID statewide has slowed in the last few weeks, but that it is too early to determine if the case surge attributed to the delta variant has ended. As of Sept. 6, 30 counties, including Chaves County, were considered to have high COVID transmission rates. A high rate was defined as having test positivity rates equal or greater than 10% and and having 14.29 or more new cases per 100,000 population each day during the most recent two-week period.

The other three counties in the state were in the “substantial transmission” category. Youth between the ages of 5 and 17 have the second-highest infection rate, behind New Mexico residents who are 18 to 34 years old, according to state data.

On Aug. 17, the New Mexico Department of Health issued a public health order that required several groups of people in the state, including anyone who enters the state fairgrounds, to be fully vaccinated or to have an approved medical or religious exemption. Fully vaccinated is defined as having received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least 14 days previously. Those with accepted medical or religious exemptions will have to test negative for COVID 48 hours or less before entering the fairgrounds.

On Aug. 26, a group of people announced that an alternative event, the New Mexico Youth Livestock Expo, would occur in Roswell. That is scheduled for Tuesday through Friday, Sept. 17 on the grounds of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair at 2500 S.E. Main St.

“We are not involved with that event in any capacity,” Kemsley said. “While it goes without saying that we are sad about having to cancel this year’s event, we are pleased that the kids who have worked so hard all these months have somewhere that they can show.”

He said that the state fair is optimistic about being able to welcome the youth livestock exhibitors in 2022, with the dates expected to be about Sept. 8-18.

Local resident James Duffey, one of the organizers of the New Mexico Youth Livestock Expo, said Thursday that about 1,200 entries have been received for the event.

“And there will be some more entries,” he said. “I already have received some phone calls who missed the deadline yesterday and want to be included.”

He said that the event will follow COVID safety practices as outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Most of our activities are outdoors,” Duffey said. “They are not indoor activities. They might be under coverings, but they are outdoors.”

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.