LOVINGTON, N.M. – A $5 bill doesn’t go nearly as far as it did even a decade ago.
The organizers of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo are trying to give its patrons a taste of the past with a $5 admission fee. That’s packing a whale of a wallop into the entertainment punch for folks eager to celebrate their community in the eight-day affair from Aug. 5-13.
“Our gate admission is just $5, and that’s for everything … the rodeo, concerts, exhibits,” said Dean Jackson, the fair board chairman. “You get to enjoy our small stage acts, which are the Hambone Express Pig Races, hypnotist Susan Rosen and Aaron Stone, a magician. If people want to see diversity, we’ll definitely have it.”
This is the 76th year for the Lea County festivities, and it’s a major deal, whether it’s the exciting shows in Jake McClure Arena or on the main stage or the great 4H and FFA activities.
“Our junior livestock sale runs second or third in the state as far as revenue,” Jackson said. “At one time, we were bigger than the state fair, but the state fair upped the ante. We’ve got 300 kids involved, including the inside exhibits and everything.
“Every year Farm Bureau does a lunch feed for the exhibitors on Tuesdays. This year we’re having the awards assembly on Friday before the rodeo. It’s sponsored by Hi-Pro Feed and Hungry Critters Feeders.”
In fact, it takes many great sponsors to help make an event like this happen. The reality is, a $5 admission fee wouldn’t be possible without sponsors or the Lea County Commission’s commitment to the annual festivities.
“We’ve got a fantastic partnership with Tate Branch Dodge, who have really gone above and beyond in helping us every year,” Jackson said. “They’re our biggest sponsors, by far. They give us vehicles to drive during the week of the fair, and they contribute to us financially, which helps us put on the best show we can possibly put on.”
“For every vehicle they sale in the months of June and July, they are donating $100 to our junior livestock kids. That’s pretty special.”
Chesapeake Energy provides a hefty partnership with its Livestock Pavilion sponsorship, and there are several other businesses that put their identity behind the county fair. Of course, they get plenty of high quality exposure in that sponsorship, with about 70,000 people rushing through the turnstiles over the course of the fair each year.
“This is the biggest event in Lea County every year,” Jackson said. “The commissioners underwrite this thing, and they do it for the people of Lea County.
“We’ve brought in Wright Amusements, which has probably one of the best carnivals I’ve seen. They run a good show, and everyone is very professional. They bring new rides every year. In fact, I know they’re bringing us a new ride this year; they’re not telling us what it is, but they said that it’ll knock your socks off.”
For $5, those who go surely can get some new socks.