Think the Southern NM State Fair & Rodeo is just for cowboys and farmers? Then you may be missing out on a whole lot of fun!
Written by: Jessica Muncrief
It’s been more than 50 years since a group of citizens got together and petitioned for Dona Ana County to take over an old air strip on the West Mesa in the hopes of creating new entertainment opportunities for Southern New Mexicans. One Sun-News clip from 1967 notes that, “there appears to be plenty of room for the planned fairgrounds, dragstrip and a number of other recreational facilities.”
The 52nd Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo takes place this year September 26-30 and regularly welcomes more than 22,000 people from all over the region. Fair Manager Travis Brown—whose father was part of the original fair board back in the 60s—hopes to start drawing in even more visitors.
“The board has been working to open ourselves up to more people,” he explains. “We recognize that we have a tremendous venue and a lot of people and organizations can benefit from being a part of the fair. Agriculture is an
important part of who we are as a city and a county and we are committed to ensuring it continues to be a vital part of the way of life in this area. The goal of the fair is to promote these types of activities, especially to our youth so we can see the next generation of farmers and ranchers. That’s where we believe we have a critical role in the longterm success of the Mesilla Valley.”
Fair Marketing Director Shelby Montano showed animals at the fair when she was younger and began volunteering as a board member when she was just a teenager. She’s now a full-time employee, but the event is largely organized and executed by dedicated volunteers who put in numerous hours of time, some working from 6am to 2am during the week of the fair. Shelby says she does it because she has a strong emotional attachment to the lifestyle and what the event stands for.
“There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for young people to show animals or get involved with farming and agriculture these days,” Shelby notes. “I personally enjoy canning food, but I feel like that art is slowly dying. I like watching kids do the things I grew up doing, and I want my own kids to be able to participate in those activities as well.”
To keep the spirit alive, the fair board has added new attractions that will hopefully entice folks who might not have otherwise come out. The 2018 schedule of events includes a number of live music performers and a Hispanic Heritage Day that will include mariachis and folklorico dancers. There will also be a brand new Fan Zone at the rodeo where kids can meet professional rodeo riders and try their own hand at roping. Travis says there will also be new food vendors this year (including one coming from as far as British Colombia) and daily demonstrations by Canines in the Clouds—“the ultimate sport, stunt, and trick dog show.”
This year, the fair is also partnering with NM Wine and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) for wine and food tasting events that will showcase wine produced in the region as well as food products from members of NMDA’s logo program.
“We’re never going to lose sight of our mission to promote agriculture, but at the same time, we are trying to expand and create a venue that offers something for everybody,” Travis says. “We want people that have never experienced the fair to come out and enjoy an activity that appeals to them, and hopefully, while they are here, they will discover a possible interest in farming, or making jams, or quilting. We want everybody in the community to feel like it is their fair. Ultimately, we hope people will come out and experience more than 50 years of tradition, and enjoy a wonderful, family-friendly event.”
Why They Do
What They Do
board from a Centennial High School Student
For additional information and sponsorship opportunities contact:
Travis Brown | firstname.lastname@example.org
575-636-7098 or 575-524-8602
Avoid the long lines at the ticket booths by pre-purchasing your tickets online at: snmstatefairgrounds.net