Welcome to the Socorro County Fair

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It’s fair time in Socorro County, so come on up to the fairgrounds south of town this weekend. There’s plenty to eat, see and do. Get to know what this rural county is all about and have some down-home fun while you’re at it!

Let’s start with fair food — the ultimate excuse to indulge in outrageous sweet and greasy treats. Here in Socorro County, Navajo tacos reign supreme — deep-fat fried rounds of puffy wheat dough topped with green or red chile, ground meat, salsa, cheese and onions. You can also have them as a sweet treat: Just order them with honey or powdered sugar instead. Other local faves are nachos, roasted corn on the cob, curly fries, green chile cheeseburgers, barbecued turkey legs, fried funnel cakes, giant dill pickles, snow cones and cotton candy. Don’t forget the breakfast on Saturday morning from 6:30 to 10 a.m. in the covered Fitch Pavilion! Have a huge breakfast burrito or a plate piled high with tender buttermilk pancakes and sausages. Both choices come with orange juice and coffee.

The action starts today. The chickens and rabbits and many of the larger livestock will be checked in this morning. Commercial and nonprofit vendors and exhibitors will be at Kelly Hall when it opens at 1 this afternoon. Check out the baked goods, candy, vegetables, quilts and crafts exhibits in Zimmerman Hall and the flower arrangements and school art in Knoblock Hall from 3 to 8 p.m. By 5 p.m., all the fancy chickens and rabbits will be in place at the small stock barn. Starting at 6 p.m., the 4-H kids will be showing their prize goats and pigs at the covered Greenwood Barn. (I hear there are plenty of pretty goats showing this year!)

Friday, the fair is open all day, starting with lamb judging at 8:30 a.m. The exhibit halls open at 10 a.m. The carnival kicks off at 3 p.m. Try out a scary or tame carnival ride, take a chance on winning a funky prize at one of the concession games, or see if you stay on the mechanical bull for eight seconds.

At 2 p.m., get a seat in the shady Greenwood Barn to look at beautifully groomed cattle strut their stuff at the Market Steer Show. Then buy a Navajo taco and head for the rodeo queen crowning at 6 p.m. The 2012 and 2013 queens, princesses and sweethearts will all ride around the rodeo arena at full speed while saluting the crowd, a thrilling spectacle.

Don’t forget the rodeo at 7 p.m. Admission is only $10 for adults, $8 for students. At intermission, root for the fastest (or most hilarious) child jockey at the Tiny Tot Stick Horse Race. Do the two-step or the cotton-eyed Joe to the music of the Yarbrough Band starting at 8:30 p.m. at the Fitch Pavilion; admission is only $10 for adults and $8 for students, or $15 for both the rodeo and dance.

Saturday, come early and beat the heat. After a hearty breakfast at Fitch Hall, check out the team roping at the rodeo arena starting at 8 a.m. By 10 a.m., the exhibit halls and the fine arts show will open, as well as the carnival.

If your alarm didn’t go off early enough, head out to California Street by 10 a.m. to see the parade, and then scoot over to the fairgrounds for lunch and a seat at the Greenwood Barn for the livestock auction at 3 p.m. Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth will be selling their prize steers, heifers, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, rabbits and cakes to the highest bidders. It’s an exciting event for both the audience and the kids.

There’s an opportunity for audience participation — you don’t have to buy an animal, but if you want to support an exhibitor, donate a few “add-on” dollars to the sale price. You’ll get a tax deduction, and the young person will have more assets to start next year’s livestock project.

If you have a freezer and a hankering for locally produced meat, check with one of the fair officials at the auction to arrange for the purchase of a lamb, pig, goat or steer that didn’t get sold. You don’t have to do anything except write a check; the exhibitor will call you when it’s time to pick up the packages of frozen meat at the processor.

Be at the rodeo arena (maybe with a barbecued turkey leg in hand?) by 6 p.m. for the Parade of the Champions, when all the winning livestock and their owners get their moment in the spotlight. Then settle back and watch the rodeo clowns, cowboys and cowgirls do their stuff. At 8:30 p.m., work off some calories at the rodeo dance.

There are too many exciting Sunday morning events at the fair to waste time sitting around the house reading the paper and drinking coffee.

Starting at 9 a.m. under the Greenwood Barn roof, see children show off their cutest, best-dressed and best (or worst) behaved cats, dogs, mice and perhaps a hedgehog at the pet show. Children have a chance to be rodeo competitors at the Pee-Wee Rodeo scheduled for 10 a.m. The most fun event has to be the stick bull riding contest.

If you have a hankering for something really different, don’t miss the first County Fair Mud Bog competition starting at 10 a.m. down the hill behind the livestock barn. Check out the four-wheel drive vehicles struggling to negotiate their way across a 150-foot-long trench filled with ooze.

Monday? How about a morning hike on Water Canyon Mesa Trail in the Magdalena Mountains to work off all that fair food? I’ll see you there!