Ten-day fair begins this weekend

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LOVINGTON, N.M. – The reputation of the entertainment value of the Lea County Fair and Rodeo is powerful, and it’s one reason why tens of thousands of people make their way to Lovington each summer.

It’s the concerts. It’s the carnival. It’s the livestock shows and other exhibits. It’s the world-class ProRodeo.

Those are just a few of the superlatives that are mixed with many other aspects of the southeastern New Mexico exposition that make it so attractive to fairgoers. If that weren’t enough, admission is just $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-12; kids 5 and younger are admitted for free during the 10-day fair, set for July 30-Aug. 7 at the Lea County Fairgrounds.

“One of the things we’ve always discussed as a board is how to keep our fair and rodeo affordable for everyone in Lea County and beyond,” said Larry Wheeler, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “We are very fortunate to have the entire thing underwritten by the Lea County Commission. They see the fair as a way to give back to the citizens of this county.

“Because of that, we’re able to have a pretty darn good fair.”

That’s been the case for many years. The fair returns this year after being canceled a year ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Live events have returned, and that’s a good thing for the folks that make the fair and rodeo a part of their annual schedules.

The festivities will open Friday with the Hispanic Heritage Celebration with Bronco and Erick Massore on stage. The concerts continue next Tuesday with Mike Ryan; Zach Williams will be the artist for Faith and Family Night on Wednesday; Clay Walker hits the stage Thursday; Confederate Railroad and Exile will play Friday; and Gary Allan will close down the expo on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Those and the PRCA rodeo are the big-ticket items, but there are plenty of other pieces of the fair puzzle that makes the event more than just a gathering of friends. With all those little things added in, the overall ticket price makes for a great evening out for the entire family.

“There are a lot of rodeos that cost more than $10 just to get a seat in the arena,” said Trey Kerby, the rodeo committee chairman and vice chairman of the fair board. “With our fair, you get the entire complex for just $10. When you come to the rodeo, there’s not a bad seat, and you can enjoy the entire experience without any extra cost.”

There is an additional fee for the carnival, the food and the trinkets, but they just add to the overall fair experience in Lea County. The fair’s main purpose, of course, is to benefit the children, and a big part of that involves the 4-H experience.

“Our junior livestock sale consistently runs second or third in the state as far as revenue for the kids,” said Dean Jackson, a Lea County commissioner and former fair board chairman. “We have some of the best facilities in all of New Mexico, if not all the Southwest.

“Lea County is a great place to live, a great place to work. We’re hard workers, and God has blessed us.”


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