Escondida farmers Linda, Mario Rosales 2013 grand marshals
True, a fair grand marshal has to be a fair booster, but it's much more than that. Grand marshals are pillars of the community, people others count on and look up to, whose presence makes the county prosper — not just economically, but socially.
The roster of past 64 years' grand marshals tells the story: Mary Fagan, Orville Moore, Wilma Kelly, Holm Bursum (and father, H.O. Bursum Jr.), Dave Pino, Pete Evans, to name just a few. This year, the Rosales husband and wife team joins this noteworthy list.
"The grand marshal is somebody who has made contributions to the county fair and the community throughout the years," said fair board president Mark Matthews. "The Rosales have always supported 4-H, FFA and rodeo, and have been active in the fair."
Linda has also served on the board of the local Farm Service Agency and the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce.
Reputation is a big factor in the fair board's choice of grand marshal.
"We always take into consideration their standing in the community," said fair board treasurer Deane Woodard.
Mario and Linda both have a reputation for generosity — with their time, money, equipment and material.
"Any time they've been asked to help with donations of any kind, they've always been willing to help with whatever we've needed," Woodard said.
The Rosales have provided trailers and tractors for the parade, hay for the rodeo rough stock, bags of chile as raffle prizes. They have donated money to buy buckles, bought 4-H and FFA project livestock at the auction, and paid for sale add-ons and Kelly Hall banners.
But most importantly, they have always willingly taken precious time away from their farm and produce stands to support the fair, even though Labor Day weekend is the peak of their chile harvesting and sales activity.
"When the fair board asked my parents to do something, they've always just jumped in there and done it. A lot of times, they didn't even have to ask; they just volunteered," said son Cecil. "People ask, and they don't have to ask twice."
The way Linda stepped in to help out youths whose animals didn't win a ribbon — and a chance to go to the sale — is just one example.
Youth exhibitors whose animals do not rank high enough at the shows cannot sell their animals at the Saturday afternoon livestock auction at the fair. But they still need to earn money to pay for expenses and put away some funds to buy the next year's project livestock. Linda often worked in the livestock barn, and she would always step in to help these young people find buyers.
"My mom would take people over to the kids to buy their animals," Cecil said.
The family also supports the San Miguel parish Catholic community.
"They're a very committed family," said Annie Anaya, San Miguel Church and Missions office manager. "Whatever comes up, they're always there. They never say no. They're always very generous helping out with the fiesta, donating chile, beans."
Linda organized a fundraiser benefiting the rebuilding of the collapsed Holy Family church in Lemitar, Anaya said.
"Linda put up a whole enchilada dinner fundraiser with all proceeds going towards the Lemitar church," she said. "She made the enchiladas and distributed them to people," Linda's passion is quality swine. Linda has raised show pigs for the past 20 years, selling several animals a year to Socorro youth for their livestock projects. She currently has 12 pigs at their modest farm headquarters south of Escondida.
"I try to breed Hamps, Durocs and spots," she said.
She was awarded a plaque for breeding the finest swine in the county at the 2011 fair.
This year, grandchildren Marinarae and Brice Rosales will show swine at the fair, but even if none of her 11 grandchildren were involved, Linda would attend the swine judging.