LOVINGTON, N.M. – About 10,000 live in Lovington. Thousands more call it home, and they find their way back every August for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
This year’s festivities will take place Aug. 5-13, and the community will blossom despite the southeastern New Mexico heat. In fact, the folks who flood to Lovington will turn up the heat during the eight-day affair simply because of all the activities awaiting them.
“A lot of people take their vacations and come back to Lovington during the fair,” said Dean Jackson, the fair board’s chairman. “It’s definitely a special time.”
When an extra 50,000 to 60,000 people come to town, it means all of Lea County benefits. That’s why there are plenty of people who share their time, talent and passion by volunteering for the annual celebration.
“There are a lot of stories about people who just give back to the community by volunteering,” Jackson said. “To them, it’s just something they do, but we greatly appreciate it.”
Crowds flock to Lovington, primarily because the $5 entry fee provides them with a bucket load of entertainment opportunities. Performers like hypnotist Susan Rosen, magician Aaron Stone and the Hambone Express Pig Races intertwine with the 4H and FFA activities, the PRCA rodeo and the great concerts – Jars of Clay on Wednesday, Aug. 10; Chris Cagle on Thursday, Aug. 11; Smash Mouth on Friday, Aug. 12; and the Eli Young Band on Saturday, Aug. 13.
Yes, the Lea County Commission underwrites the fair because of the event’s impact on the community, but also as a means of giving back to the folks who call this area home. That’s why the admission price is so inexpensive.
Still, an event of this magnitude is assisted by people who donate of themselves.
“Without volunteers, this thing couldn’t happen,” Jackson said. “We do have about 20 county employees who do things throughout the year, but there are over 100 volunteers. It’s important to them.
“This is our 76th year. It’s tradition. For many years, everybody went to the fair. We’re looking forward to having them come back.”