Southern New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo rides again
By Zak Hansen
Las Cruces Bulletin
From its humble beginnings as a small livestock show and rodeo held on the New Mexico State University campus to its current status as one of the Land of Enchantment’s premier annual events, the Southern New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo has become an institution over its 49 years, bringing together people near and far for five days of fun. This year, the fair returns to the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 12125 Robert Larson Blvd. just west of town, Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 30-Oct. 4.
Every year more than 35,000 attendees representing the southernmost New Mexico counties – Doña Ana, Otero, Hidalgo, Luna, Catron, Sierra and Grant – El Paso and beyond flock to the city’s fairgrounds each with their own priorities, be they livestock fairs, shows and sales – arguably the “reason for the season,” dating back to the fair’s earliest days – rodeos and roping demonstrations, heart-pounding carnival rides and skill-testing midway games, tractor pulls, arts, crafts and home economics contests and displays, bake sales, live music and entertainment, high-speed stock car races at the Speedway and the deep-fried goodness of quintessential fair food.
This year’s roster of daily entertainment includes performances from lifelong professional magician Adrian D’Armarco, demonstrations of NSA (No Strings Attached) Natural Horsemanship by La Mesa resident and horse trainer Rudy Lara, the Pirates of the Columbian Carribean Aerial High-Wire Thrill Show by the Sensational Murcia family high-wire act, matches from Las Cruces’ own Xtreme Cruces Wrestling, Woody’s Educational Wildlife Show and Woody’s Magnificent Cat Display, featuring exotic animals from around the world, and more, all included with price of fair admission. For a schedule, visit the fair’s website.
The Turquoise Circuit Pro Rodeo, for many the SNMSF& R’s centerpiece, is part of a so-called circuit system developed by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 1975 as a reward system to those cowboys and cowgirls who regularly compete but aren’t able to give up all their time to pursue a rodeo career These “weekend warrior” circuit cowboys, instead give it their all at rodeos close to home, allowing them to balance it with their personal and professional lives. Nightly at 7 p.m., this year’s rodeo features competition between the top 12 riders in the TCPR, vying for a shot to compete at the Ram Nation Circuit Finals Rodeo. The rodeo will also feature specialty entertainment from “Backflip” Johnny Dudley.
Each year, the Southern New Mexico State Fair strives to shine the spotlight on local and regional musical talent as well as high-profile national acts. This year the fair follows suit with outings from Las Cruces’ own The Yarbrough Band playing classic country (9 p.m. Thursday) and Crooked Beaver Creek’s country-rock crossover (8:30 p.m. Friday) along with outlaw country from Austin, Texas’ Mike and the Moonpies (8:30 p.m. Saturday). This year’s headliners include Casey Donahew Band (10 p.m. Friday), who just released his fourth studio album, “Double Wide Dream,” on his own Almost Country Entertainment label, along with famed Red Dirt circuit regulars Turnpike Troubadours (10 p.m. Saturday). For more information on all these great acts, visit www.snmstatefairgrounds. net/musicalentertainment.
Southern New Mexico State Fair hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Advance tickets are $12 adults age 15 and older and $10 children 7 to 14, and are available online via www.holdmyticket. com. Children age 6 and younger are admitted free. Tickets are also available at the gate. Fair admission includes exhibits, entertainment, rodeo, speedway and carnival. Admission is half-off all day Wednesday and half-off until 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Carnival hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Wednedsay and Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. All-you-can-ride promotional wristbands will be available from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday ($20 or 3 bands for $45 will three canned goods), 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday ($20 or $17 with ad from newspaper and Internet) and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday ($20 or $17 with ad from newspaper and Internet).
For more information, visit www. snmstatefairgrounds.net, call 524-8602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zak Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.