A Fair Life at McGee Park

8/31/2021

For the first time since 1884, New Mexico’s largest county fair didn’t occur because of the pandemic. This year, the San Juan County Fair was “Back in Saddle,” with a full carnival, lots of fun food; fattened pigs, chickens and kids. By Donna K. Hewett. Sponsored by Boons Family Thai Barbecue & Farmington Play Day Trampoline Park

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The largest county fair in New Mexico happens at McGee Park in Farmington every August. An annual event since 1884, San Juan County Fair closed for the first time ever during the pandemic. This year, fair board members didn't know whether the whole fair would occur until five weeks before the event. So it was a happy scramble to get back in the saddle. You are watching the local news network, brought to you by Boon's Family Thai BBQ and Farmington Play Day Trampoline Park. I'm Hannah Robertson. Because of the fair's quick thinking board, a separate carnival section with lots of rides and games and prizes was in full operation, with friendly workers to guide the kids.

I'm hanging out at the carnival, bringing joy and laughter to everybody that comes my way.

A stretch of walkway through the center was lined with local food trucks selling roasted corn on the cob, Navajo tacos, fry bread, and the ubiquitous funnel cakes, corn dogs, and turkey legs. People were happy to be back.

The fair is absolutely wonderful and there's great people down here.

San Juan County has the second-largest 4H youth enrollment in New Mexico. The fair provides them a showcase for the stock animals they raised and played with as part of the family all year. These days, 4H kids learn early that naming them, or even knowing an animal's name, is a bad habit that can lead to some bitterness, even while at the look and learn barn.

What's the baby's name?

I don't know.

Who knows? Hi.

But sometimes, it's impossible not to acknowledge that each animal has its own personality, more so than others. Even a cantankerous broad-breasted bronze turkey.

No, they don't have names.

One does.

After the fair, we're going to...

Which one?

Oh, well that's name is Mr. Show-off.

Senior 4H members have accepted that their animals will have a happy life before serving their purpose. 17-year-old Cooper bathes his cross-bred Trump Train Steer, who weighs just under 500 pounds. He eats 30 pounds of hay a day, and for dessert, 20 pounds of grain.

They're definitely show cattle. They're all fed for this. They stay underneath the fans all day. They get washed everyday, just like we do. Take a bath everyday and eat all the time, so.

Livestock judging in the United States dates to the 19th century. The competitive livestock shows are the essence of county fairs.

I think it's something we all look forward to every year. You know, we all raised all these animals, come out here, and look forward to showing them and putting them in the cell. You know, this is our sport, same as football, or baseball, or volleyball, or whatever else it is that everybody else does.

For a fair that almost didn't happen, it was a success for all the kids, who, after all their hard work, will go home with a little money in their pockets to invest in next year's project.

Well, last year we didn't have the fair so... Compared to two years ago, the numbers are down a bit. I know the exhibitors are down a little bit. So, hopefully, that'll be back next year.

New Mexico's State Fair in Albuquerque begins September 9th. For more info, go to the statefair.exponm.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local NEWS Network. I'm Hannah Robertson.

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