Get roped into the county fair

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Annual event plays an important role in the Los Alamos community

By Kirsten Laskey

There is a calmness and quiet at Brewer Arena on North Mesa. The stands are empty and there is no activity at the arena. This weekend, however, it will be an entirely different scene.

Los Alamos County Fair and Rodeo will have the stands packed and the arena bustling.

The annual event will get rolling with check-in for fair exhibits from 3-7 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library.

Paula Roybal-Sanchez, Los Alamos Cooperative Extension home economist, said about 100 people have pre-registered so far. Usually, she said, between 400-600 exhibits are showcased during the fair.

There are 11 categories, Roybal-Sanchez said. They include baked products, preserved foods, clothing, knitting, crocheting, needlework, quilts, fine arts, hobbies, crafts and horticulture. There is also a 4-H division.  

The fair plays an important role in community, Roybal-Sanchez said.

“I think county fairs have been a tradition,” she said.

“It’s been a community-wide event where people have the opportunity to show their talents and it is deeply rooted in our culture. The whole county fair is an experience where people bring in their various food or crafts and arts and show them to their neighbors.”

The public can check out the exhibits from 5-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Mesa Public Library.

There may be some unique entries. Roybal-Sanchez-said a few life-sized Legos creations have been entered. Last year, a woman crocheted an entire farm complete with anatomically correct animals.

Besides the traditional ribbons, the “best of the best” award will be handed out to four entries in fiber arts, culinary arts, creative arts and horticulture. They will given a plate created by local artist Barbara Yarnell.

A pool tournament is set for 8 a.m. Friday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center and the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at Ashley Pond.

Saturday, a second pool tournament will be at 9 a.m. at the senior center. Meanwhile the Fuller Lodge Art Center will host an arts and crafts show from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Ashley Pond.

The parade will kick off at 10 a.m. at the Canyon School.

Suzette Fox, MainStreet events coordinator, said about 30 entrants are signed up to march in the streets. The Grand Marshals, the queen’s court, the Red Hat Society, Los Alamos Fire Department, Little Forest Playschool, the local Republican and Democratic parties have all signed up to participate along with the Bandelier Drill Team, Del Norte Credit Union, the Hill-Stompers, the Shriners, Zia Credit Union and others.

 The parade “will be tons of fun,” she said. “Besides the usual cast of characters like the Shriners, we will have the Taos Pueblo, beautiful horses and shiny fire engines, to mention a few,” Fox said.

After the parade, the rodeo will begin at 2 p.m. at Brewer Arena. The admission is $8 per person or $25 for a family of four.

Before the bronc riding or barrel racing begins, there will be a special tribute to Jim West, a former county councilor who died last year. Dianne Marquez, recreation programs manager, said a plaque will be placed on the arena grounds.

This recognition is because “Jim was a part of the stables, the fair and rodeo, the county … Jim West was just an integral part of all of this,” she said.

Marquez said West helped out at the rodeo grounds every day during the event. “He is sorely missed,” she said.

To complete the festivities Saturday, a cowboy dinner and dance will be held at the Sheriff’s Posse Lodge.

The dinner, which features a menu of prime rib, salmon, brats and all the fixings, is at 5 p.m. The cost of the dinner will be $15 for adults, $8 for children age 6-10 and $4 for children 4 and younger.

After dinner, the Orange Blossom Express will host a concert and dance from 7-10 p.m. The rodeo will continue at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The rodeo, Marquez said, will feature a range of events – from bronc riding and barrel racing to mutton busting and  calf scrabbling. Marquez said on average about 4,000 people take part in the fair and rodeo.

“I think it’s because it’s one of those ongoing community things that people really take ownership in,” Marquez said.  

This year’s Rodeo Queen is Ashley Cordell and the Rodeo Princess is Katelyn Littleton. For the past few months the rodeo royals have been doing community outreach. They passed out cards at rodeos in Santa Fe and Rio Arriba to promote the Los Alamos County Fair and Rodeo.

This year’s Grand Marshals are the Y’s Y Earth Services Corps (YES Corps,) and the Youth Conservation Corps and their leaders: Open Space Specialist Craig Martin and the Y’s Adventure Program Director Sylvan Sierra Argo. Marquez said they reflect the theme for this year’s Grand Marshall, which is celebrating 10 years of regrowth after the Cerro Grande Fire. “It is exciting to see the community recognize the valuable contributions our young people have made to environmental stewardship over the past 10 years,” Martin said.