Rio Arriba County Fair: Big Crowd At Awards and Auction, Closes Out Successful Fair

Chantry, a Junior 4-H member, on Comet, a horse who didn’t mind posing for a photo, Saturday afternoon after helping Chantry with a little demonstration. Valley Daily Post image

Rio Arriba County Fair: Big Crowd At Awards and Auction, Closes Out Successful Fair

By Robert A. Naranjo

ABIQUIU – The 2015 Rio Arriba County Fair was held last weekend at the County Fairgrounds near Abiquiu. From the highway leading to El Rito, about a mile after the turnoff at Las Crusadas {the Crossings} the Fairgrounds looked like an RV convention.

But it wasn’t an RV convention; it was the annual Rio Arriba County Fair that highlights a year of hard work by the County’s 4-H Club members that are divided into divisions for Novice, Junior and Senior. The County Fairgrounds had a feel of the annual State Fair in Albuquerque, but on a smaller scale. No Midway here, but instead, cars, trucks, RVs, horse trailers, etc. and impressive new rodeo grounds with indoor and outdoor arenas, meeting space, and parking galore greets the County Fair enthusiast. (See earlier story and images of this year’s County Fair HERE)

A decade ago county leaders opted to invest in what many called “the future of the county’s youth” by building an impressive new Fairground. Many of the participants at this year’s County Fair were saying it was worth every cent. From no Fairgrounds, {formerly in Arroyo Seco in Santa Fe County}, to one of the best facilities in the state, Rio Arriba County went from the bottom to the top where County Fairgrounds facilities are concerned.

The facilities are also used for many meetings and conventions that otherwise may have gone elsewhere and taken revenues with them. Meetings or small conventions at the County Fairgrounds, such as water {acequia}, land-use or agricultural type, have been hosted at the Rural Events Center. Additionally, NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service’s Ag agent, 4-H agent and other services are housed at the County Fairgrounds also known locally as the Rural Events Center.

Ultimately, it was the County’s youth who benefit the most. Now, 4-H Club members have new facilities in which to show their yearlong hard work in projects such animal husbandry and food exhibits. The auction of some of the animals gives some of the youth considerable money to use for college or an investment that they {and their parents} deem used in their best interests. The “Grand Champion” steer, hog, sheep, etc. oftentimes sell in the Fair Auction for thousands of dollars. Local business people and other County residents buy the animals at the unusually high price to help the young 4-H members get a financial jump-start on a likely expensive post-secondary education.

When Nico Lovato (center in photo above), son of Mr. & Mrs. Nico Lovato, of Ojo Caliente, a Senior level 4-H member was selected as the winner of the prestigious Max Martinez Memorial Buckle. After receiving the buckle he said “I feel it’s an honor because it’s a big competition among the children — the Senior 4-H members,”. Nico Lovato went on to thank everyone who supported the Fair, the 4-H clubs and the Buckle competition.

The Valley Daily Post asked some County residents why they attend the Fair. As Frieda Valdez and her two young daughters were leaving, she said, “They love the animals! She loves horses,” she said gesturing to Sonya, the eldest daughter. “And, she loves bunnies,” Valdez said about the younger one, Shanaya who quickly said, “I like honey bunnies!”

Some youth at the Fair were participants. Chantry, a 4-H Junior member, was enjoying the Fair by riding a horse at the outdoor Arena where barrels were still set up that were used in the Barrel Competition. Asked to demonstrate the Daily Valley Post, after she said she competed in the Barrel Competition but didn’t know who won yet. She was kind enough to show the Post a practice Barrel Competition run. She returned rather quickly after making riding a horse in Barrel Competition look easy.

As the Max Martinez Memorial Buckle Award, other 4-H Awards and winding down the Fair, some were still taking in the exhibits.

Fair friends, Brittany Gallegos, on left, and Deanna Velarde told the Valley Daily Post that they love the rabbit exhibit. Asked why, Deanna said, “Because they are so soft and adorable!”

Closing day at the Rio Arriba County Fair had a good-sized crowd on hand Saturday afternoon for the end of a successful event for County 4-H members, their families and people who attended it.