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SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO STATE FAIR

The fair: Returning to a familiar tradition

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For more than a year and a half now, we’ve all wanted things to get back to normal.

This week, right here in Doña Ana County, you can experience one of the most normal, traditional, American, New Mexican events of all: the Southern New Mexico State Fair.

The fair has so much going on for so many people, it’s easy to forget what got it all started.

TAKING PRIDE: Think of young people growing up in a rural setting, taking care of animals. They take pride in their work and pride in the animals, learning so much along the way. At its heart, this is what the fair is all about. By the time the fair finishes Sunday, young people will have exhibited poultry, goats, rabbits, swine, beef and steer, and will have made some money at the livestock sale. Bittersweet money, as they have to part with animals they’ve come to know as one of the family.

HANGING ON: Another popular event with animals is, of course, rodeo. If you’re reading this on Thursday, Sept. 30, you may still have time to catch the 7 p.m. Ranch Rodeo at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds Pete Domenici Arena. Friday and Saturday nights, also at 7, you can catch the PRCA Rodeo, and at 1 p.m. Sunday, barrel racing.

SPECIAL EXHIBITS: From model railroading, sewing, baking, photography and more there are always dozens of exhibits for all kinds of special interests.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT: Musicians, singers, dancers of all kinds, magic acts, puppet shows and even flying aerial acts. It’s all here at the fair. Many of the performers are based locally, and are names you’ll recognize, such as the Yarbrough Band. Part circus, part concert, part carnival - everything blends together for an adventure for the senses.

ROUND AND ROUND, UP AND DOWN: The most visible icon of the fair is always the midway, featuring the brightly lit and colorful rides. Personally, too much spinning is not good for my digestive system, but for many folks, it’s the height of delight.

WIN A PRIZE!: Whether your bag is tossing darts at balloons, tossing rings on things or one of the many other games, try your hand to win a giant stuffed animal, or a small plastic toy.

TASTY TREATS: Speaking of senses, what would the fair be without fair food. Is it the cotton candy that gets you going? Corn dogs? Deep fried cookies? Or are you like me, and you have to have the green chile quesadillas from the Acosta Farms trailer? Hey, the fair comes but once a year (or once every two years if a pandemic gets in the way), so try it all! Just don’t go ride the Zipper right after.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN: There are so many ways to experience the fair. You may want to have a different experience each day, and you can. Maybe one day is with your friends, one day with the kids, one day with your sweetheart and at night, go with everybody to the rodeo and a concert after.

Of course, things won’t be exactly 100 percent as normal. State Covid protocols are still in place, meaning masks worn indoors, but much of the fair is outdoors. Still, be smart and be safe, and enjoy this step to the return of something familiar.