BELEN — The Valencia County Fair is kicking off its 89th year with all the beloved traditions — toad and fruit races, the junior livestock sale, lots of vendors and crafters and, of course, the mullet shaking contest.

You read that right. All of you out there sporting the questionably popular business in the front, party in the back hairstyle can come out to the fair Friday evening and shake what your stylist gave you.

When asked for details, fair board president Danny Goodson just shakes his non-mulleted head about the new and sure-to-be-popular competition and chuckles.

“It’s a mullet competition,” Goodson says with a shrug.

If coifs aren’t your speed, there’s plenty of other fun at the fair, held at the Valencia County Fairgrounds on the I-25 Bypass in Belen. Everything from livestock to inflatable jumpers to corn hole and horse shoe tournaments to cutting a rug at the dances will be featured at the fair.

This year’s fair, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 28, is later in the year than usual, Goodson said, moving back to its more traditional time.

“We had moved it to early in the month to work around the beginning of school, but they keep starting earlier,” he said. “Having it later in the month, things are a little cooler and it’s not too far from the beginning of the state fair.”

The New Mexico State Fair runs Sept. 8-18, and is the next step for winning exhibitors at the county fair.

While there won’t be a carnival this year, Goodson said there is plenty for kids to enjoy in the Adventure Zone.

“We have several inflatable jump houses. There’s the toad races, too,” he said.

The toads race at 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, followed by the turtles at 2 p.m. and the always popular fruit race at 3 p.m. All races will be in the pavilion.

There will also be numerous vendors for fair-goers to explore, as well as the traditional indoor exhibits of fruits and vegetables, photography, quilts, baked and canned goods and much more.

There’s no entry fee for the fair itself, but the dances Friday and Saturday evenings are $5 per person and vendors will charge for their items.

The highlight many work for all year is the junior livestock sale, which will be at 7 p.m. Saturday in the show ring, and is one of Goodson’s favorite parts of the fair.

“The livestock sale is what we’ve really been gearing up for,” he said. “This year is pretty much what people expect of the fair). Things will be back to ‘normal.’”

While Saturday is designated Veterans Day at the fair, Jeffery David Woods, adjutant at the Chavez-Curran VFW Post 2387 and DAV representative, will be at the fair grounds Aug. 26-28 to talk with veterans and help them with any assistance they may need. He will be able to answer questions, take down information, and set up appointments for veterans seeking answers on the Burn Pit bill and how it effects them.

As it traditionally does, the fair board will have a float in the parade, sponsored by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce, Goodson said.

Since time out of mind, the chamber has stepped up and sponsored the parade, he said, something the board always appreciates.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, at 715 South Main St., in Belen, and go north, ending at Aragon Road. For more information and to register for the parade visit or call 505-864-8091.

“We just want everyone to have a good time,” Goodson said. “This is fun for the people of Valencia County and anybody else really.

“We’re happy to have lots of things for people to enjoy. We hope they come out and have fun.”


Valencia County Fair Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 25

9 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Commercial booths and exhibit hall open

4 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Adventure Zone open

6 p.m.: Volleyball and tug-of-war games

10 p.m.: Fair gates close


Friday, Aug. 26

8 a.m. to 12 a.m.: Fair gates open to the public

9 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Commercial booths and exhibit hall open

3 p.m.: Ag Olympics (Hay stacking competition and more)

4 p.m. to 12 a.m.: Adventure Zone open

4-7 p.m.: Sarah Rowe Band

6 p.m.: Sign up for corn hole tournament

7 p.m.: Corn hole tournament starts

7 p.m.: Mullet shaking contest

7-10 p.m.: Sim Balkey Band

7:15 p.m.: Parade of Champions (Sheriff’s Posse Arena)

8-11:30 p.m.: Valencia County Fair dance featuring DJ Hot Shot Express ($5 per person; 3 and younger free)


Saturday, Aug. 27 (Veterans Day)

8 a.m. to 12 a.m.: Fair gates open to the public

9 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Commercial booths and exhibit hall open

10 a.m.: Valencia County Fair parade, starting at 715 South Main St., Belen, and ending at Aragon Street (sponsored by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce)

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Nathaniel Krantz Band

10 a.m. to 12 a.m.: Adventure Zone open

12-2 p.m.: Chile contest entries accepted at the gazebo

1 p.m.: Toad race at the pavilion

2 p.m.: Turtle race at the pavilion

3 p.m.: Fruit race at the pavilion

3 p.m.: Chile contest winners announced

4-7 p.m.: No Chaser Band

6-6:30 p.m.: Buckle ceremony in the show ring

7 p.m.: Junior livestock sale in the show ring

8-11:30 p.m.: Valencia County Fair dance featuring DJ Hot Shot Express ($5 per person; 3 and younger free)


Sunday, Aug. 28 (Senior Day)

8 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Fair gates open to the public

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Commercial booths and exhibit hall open

10 a.m.: Music by MC Express

10 a.m.: Sign up for horse shoe tournament

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Adventure Zone open

11 a.m.: Horse shoe tournament starts

11 a.m.: Valencia County Senior Olympic Steppin’ Line Dancers

11 a.m.: Senior corn hole tournament

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Ralph Miramontes Band

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.