LOVINGTON, N.M. – Trey Kerby is convinced the cancelation of the 2020 Lea County Fair and Rodeo led to physical problems he’s experienced in the last year.
“That’s what caused my heart issue,” said Kerby, the vice chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “Last June, we had to make all these decisions so we could cancel contracts if needed. We had the county’s money in our hands, and I hated to take a chance to throw away that money and not have anything to show for it.
“(County commissioner) Dean Jackson called me toward the end of June and said there was no way we could do this. Our governor was not helping us be able to have that, but I hated to be one of the ones who had to cancel something that hadn’t been canceled in 50-some years.”
That’s when the pain of heartache became more than the pain of heartache.
“I was sitting on the porch in my shop, and I had my first weird heartbeat,” he said, noting that he has since had a heart ablation to hopefully correct the ailment. “That’s what started it. The stress had finally bubbled up. Nobody wanted to cancel. Everybody was looking for something to do and something to smile about, and we were going to have to cancel it.”
It may have taken a year, but it’s go-time for the 2021 edition of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for July 30-Aug. 7, at the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington.
While there were troubling times that were centered around the global pandemic, there were some positives that happened. With some New Mexico government relief, the county was able to have its junior livestock show and the Junior Livestock Sale.
“When we had to cancel, it was just pretty sad, and everybody was down about it,” said Larry Wheeler, the fair board’s chairman. “Under the circumstances that we all faced last year, it was really good that we were able to have that show and that Junior Livestock Sale. It all came down to the last minute. Less than a week before, the governor released us to have the shows at the fairgrounds.
“The people of Lea County, as a whole, missed having a fair a lot. It’s pretty neat to see what’s going on around here now. Everybody’s excited to have the fair and rodeo. It’s just fun to see the excitement level.”
Oh, what a difference a year makes. Last summer, the Lea County Fairgrounds resembled a ghost town. There were no carnival rides, and the few people creeping around were there to either work on the complex or set up for a livestock show in virtual isolation. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control have learned more about COVID-19 and the preventative care that’s necessary.
In just days, Lovington will blossom, and traffic will pack the town as the fair and rodeo returns to its rightful spot. The concert lineup has returned, and families are busy preparing their entries for the various exhibits. Hundreds of ProRodeo’s brightest stars are making their plans to be in southeastern New Mexico that first week of August.
“I know I, for one, am very excited to have this year’s fair and rodeo,” Kerby said. “Of course, there are so many people that this affects, and I know they’re as excited as ever to have it this year.”