Everyone is ready for the fair

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LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo is more than a community gathering; it’s a true spectacle in every form of the word.

With admission at just $10 per person, the entertainment value is tremendous. From the carnival rides to the rodeo to the nightly concerts, the Lea County Fairgrounds in Lovington is hopping from opening night on Friday, Aug. 4, until the final ride closes down Saturday, Aug. 12.

“I love seeing all those families coming together to be part of our fair,” said Kris Allen, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the rodeo or a concert, you can see the families enjoying their time at the fair together. Watching those exhibitors showing their livestock or putting their exhibits on display, seeing the fiddle contest, watching the kids running around with their grandparents … it a big deal to me.

“Being able to see the success of it all coming together is the best part for me.”

There are many working pieces into each step of producing an exposition of this magnitude. The fair board has its hands in it all, and they rely heavily on hundreds of hours of volunteer help to make sure everything comes off without a hitch. Whether they’re setting up for the concerts, organizing the livestock sales or bringing in the right clown and acts for the rodeo, there are many considerable tasks.

“This is my third year on the fair board,” said Kyle Johnston, who owns a welding business and also farms in Lea County. “I showed livestock, and my brother and sister showed. My dad was on the fair board for 25 years. We’ve been a big part of it, and it’s been a big part of our lives also.”

Johnston serves as chairman of the rodeo committee and also serves on the livestock and sales committees. He has the opportunity to work with many people each year by being part o the process. Like a lot of folks in this New Mexico county, rodeo is a part of who he is and what he’s done. He began competing as a youth and continued through college. That experience comes in handy.

“It’s a good deal, and I’m just trying to help out,” he said. “Being new to the chairman role on the rodeo committee, I’m learning about it as I go. I’ve got some good people who are part of the committee that make it work.”

The people involved are a key reason the fair and rodeo is so successful every year. The PRCA portion of the rodeo will feature many of the top hands in the sport, world champions like Stetson Wright, who is the defending saddle bronc riding champion in Lovington. Volunteers work closely with sponsors to make sure top stars will want to compete for Lea County cash.

That combination is why the concert series continues to be a valuable piece of the puzzle. This year’s concerts will feature:

  • Friday, Aug. 4: Los Rieleros Del Norte and Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon for the Hispanic Heritage Celebration
  • Tuesday, Aug. 8: Wade Bowen
  • Wednesday, Aug. 9: For King + Country
  • Thursday, Aug. 10: The Frontmen featuring Larry Stewart of Restless Heart; Tim Rushlow, formerly of Little Texas; and Richie McDonald, formerly of Lonestar
  • Friday: Aug. 11: Tracy Lawrence
  • Saturday, Aug. 12: ALABAMA

With the opportunity to showcase such stars, it’s no wonder so many thousands of people make sure to experience the Lea County Fair and Rodeo each year. It’s become a masterpiece that nobody wants to miss.

“I never saw myself as chairman of the fair board,” Allen said. “Things changed, and when I was voted in, I was honored and humbled by it. I really like serving and giving back to Lea County and the communities. To be able to work with all the people gives me a chance to learn something all the time. The fair board is amazing. The fairgrounds staff are amazing.

“They support me and have my back, and I’ve got them back.”

All the work pays off during the nine-day exposition, when smiles are spread across thousands of faces a day and people are heard laughing around the fairgrounds. Families and friends reunite, and people gather together to honor their lives and their history.


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