BELEN — Get your cowboy boots and belt buckles ready because the Valencia County Fair will again allow in-person attendance with music, a parade, chile cook-off and eating contests.

“It’s a lot better; now people can come and see the fair,” Danny Goodson, president of the Valencia County Fair Board said since last year was whittled down to only livestock events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Last year we couldn’t have any public at all. Everyone has been itching to get out and do something.”

While the livestock show kicks off on Monday with several new livestock events on Aug. 2, many of the activities the fair is known for start on Thursday, Aug. 5, when the commercial booths and the exhibit hall opens to the public.

On Friday, Aug. 6, the fair will hold a recognition for veterans and on Sunday, Aug. 8, will be Senior Day, “with all kinds of things for the seniors that day,” Goodson said.

Instead of holding the junior livestock show on Sunday, this year the board decided to hold it on Saturday night in hopes to improve attendance and engagement. The sale takes place at 6:30 p.m.

“We’re trying it out to see how it goes,” Goodson said. “Some of the people on our fair board thought that we’d get more participation.”

The highlight of the county fair every year is the sale, where those youngsters who had shown animals earlier in the week have the opportunity to auction off their livestock.

“Everyone gets to see the kids and the animals and who placed where and all that good stuff,” Goodson said.

The annual Valencia County Fair parade will continue to sit as the centerpiece of the weekend, beginning at 10 a.m, Saturday, Aug. 7, down Main Street in Belen.

The them of this year’s parade is “Wild Wild West.” The parade is organized by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce, and its Executive Director Rhona Espinoza said the board encourages children to participate in the parade by riding their bikes, side-by-sides or go carts.

“They can even come that day and we wouldn’t change anything,” Espinoza said.

The last chance to register a float in the parade is the morning of Friday, Aug. 6. There is a $10 entry fee for floats and $20 for political floats.

The biggest change to the festivities the public will see this year is the absence of the carnival. Goodson said the business they typically contract with for the carnival went out of business during the pandemic and they weren’t able to secure another vendor.

“There just wasn’t one to be found,” he said.

Another activity that won’t be at the fair this year will be the hay stacking contest. According to Goodson, the Farm Bureau, which typically sponsors the contest, cited a lack of water which led to less alfalfa crop.

Although there will be no carnival, there are still activities for the whole family, such as carnival games put together by local youth groups, jumpers, the annual fruit race and the annual toad race with toads provided. Both the fruit race and the toad race will take place on Saturday, Aug. 7.  During the annual Chile Contest, where community members submit their favorite red chile and green chile dishes, as well as salsas, participants can enter into a new category — dessert. Goodson said the dessert category was suggested by several  participants last year, prompting its inclusion.

The chile contest will be on Saturday, Aug. 7, with check-in at 12 p.m. at the gazebo. Judging for the contest begins at 2 p.m.

“I’m just hoping for the best, I’m worried about the rain, of course, but you can’t do anything about the rain,” Goodson said with a chuckle.


2021 Valencia County Fair Schedule

2021 Valencia County Fair Schedule of Events

Sunday, Aug. 1, to Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Valencia County Fair Grounds.

Gates are open to the public at 8 a.m. every day, and closes at 10 p.m. There is no admission cost to enter the fair. Valencia County Fair dances cost is $5 per person, 3 years old and younger are free


Sunday, Aug. 1

1-3 p.m.: Tack set up

1-4 p.m.: Accept 4-H indoor exhibits

4-6 p.m.: Accept dairy heifers


Monday, Aug. 2

7-7:30 a.m.: Accept dairy and pygmy goats

8 a.m.: Gates open to public 8 a.m.: Dairy Goat Show

9 a.m.: Pygmy Goat Show

9:30 a.m.: Dairy Goat Showmanship (combined)

10 a.m.: Pee Wee Dairy Goat Show

12 p.m.: Dairy Heifer Show

1 p.m.: Dairy Heifer Showmanship

3 p.m.: Release dairy heifers (except those in grand drive)

4-6 p.m.: Accept rest of all livestock

6:30 p.m.: Livestock exhibitors meeting

7 p.m.: Weigh steers Tuesday, Aug. 3

8 a.m.: Rabbit Show (show ring)

12-7 p.m.: Accept indoor entries

1 p.m.: Production Steer Show

2 p.m.: Market Steer Show

3 p.m.: Steer Showmanship (market and production)

3 p.m.: Poultry Show

5 p.m.: Weigh goats

6 p.m.: Weigh and classify lambs


Wednesday, Aug. 4

8:30 a.m.: Market Goat show

11 a.m.: Breeding Doe Show

12-7 p.m.: Accept indoor entries

12 p.m.: Goat Showmanship (market and breeding)

1 p.m.: Pee Wee Goat Show

2 p.m.: Market Lamb Show

3:30 p.m.: Breeding Ewe Show

4:30 p.m.: Lamb Showmanship (market and breeding)

5 p.m.: Pee Wee Lamb Show

7 p.m.: Weigh and classify swine


Thursday, Aug. 5

8 a.m.: Swine Show

10:30 a.m.: Swine Showmanship

12 p.m.: Pee Wee Swine Show

1 p.m.: Production Heifer Show

2 p.m.: Market Heifer Show

3 p.m.: Beef Heifer Showmanship (production and market heifer)

6 p.m.: Volleyball and Tug-O-War games


Friday, Aug. 6

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

9 a.m.: Round Robin

12 p.m.: AG Olympics

2 p.m.: Pizza Party for exhibitors

3 p.m.: Fitting Contest

4-7 p.m.: Nathaniel Krantz Band

7-10 p.m.: Daniel Solis Band

8-11:30 p.m.: Valencia County Fair Dance


Saturday, Aug. 7 (Veterans Day)

7:30-8 a.m.: Accept bucket calves and mini moos

8 a.m.: Carcass judging production steers

8:30 a.m.: Bucket Calf Class Show

9 a.m.: Mini Moo Show

10 a.m.: Valencia County Fair Parade (Sponsored by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce)

10 a.m.-12 p.m.: Southwest Emporium Top Notch Band

12 p.m.: Toad Race

12-2 p.m.: Accepting chile contest entries at the gazebo

1 p.m.: History and demonstration of clowning by Therese Williams

2 p.m.: Fruit Race

3 p.m.: Chile Contest winners announced

4-7 p.m.: Mose McCormack Bank

4-5:30 p.m.: Buyers Dinner

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Buckle Ceremony

6:30 p.m.: Junior Livestock Sale

7 p.m.: Cornhole Tournament

8-11:30 p.m.: Valencia County Fair Dance


Sunday, Aug. 8 (Senior Day)

8 a.m.: Release sale animals

8-11 a.m.: Release of 4-H indoor exhibits

10 a.m.: Release non-sale animals

10 a.m.: Music by MC Express; sign up for horseshoe tournament

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Kevin Michael Band

11 a.m.: Horseshoe Tournament

11 a.m.: Senior Cornhole Tournament

12-3 p.m.: Release indoor entries and vendors

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.