A scene from the 2019 Rio Arriba County Fair. Photo Courtesy Pretty Tough Cattlewomen
BY SAGE FAULKNER
County fairs are scattered throughout northern New Mexico in late summer and just the thought of a fair tickles my smiling muscles as I can smell the aromas and hear the sounds in the corners of a lifelong collection of memories gathered there.
I grew up going to fairs. One of my earliest memories is watching a fair rodeo, while a softball game went on in another corner of the grounds and I excitedly got permission to go look at the chickens and bunnies in the fair building. There were stuffed sopapillas from a vendor, and music played from a local band that made my young toes wiggle.
I loved it.
The people, the food, the animals in such perfect condition. Music, dancing, livestock shows and pie contests. Beautiful quilts and friends you haven’t seen since this time last year. Fairs bring communities together. The celebration of young members completing their projects, local artists and farmers showcasing their goods, kids competing on horses and families working together to volunteer for their 4H clubs.
There are so many things about fairs that I love, but seeing a bead of sweat on the brow of a young livestock showing youth is easily my favorite. Why that, you ask? Because there were hours and days and weeks and months of work that went into that few minutes we see in the show ring. The perfectly spotless, well-muscled lamb that leads now with a hand under its chin, or that shiny, fast-moving hog stepping across the ring in front of its owner are symbols of a youth who has learned hard work and compassion. I love the excitement of a crowd cheering as they watch a judge declare this year’s winner with a pat on the rump of a fluffy-coated beautifully-finished steer.
If you haven’t been to fair….go. It may be hot and dusty, but you will see your community there. Ask a kid about their ribbon hanging at their livestock pen. Join in the crowd cheering for a champion. More often than not, you can visit with local artists and enjoy food that tastes delicious and has been made by the best food vendors around. You’ll giggle at the animal parade and swell with pride for strangers during the awards. Join us at local fairs and celebrate community!