LOS LUNAS — The Valencia County Community Expo has fallen victim to a problem plaguing all too many non-profit organizations lately — a shortage of volunteers.
The Expo board notified supporters and sponsors in February that the 2019 edition of the event, which would have been the 11th annual, has been canceled. The Expo, begun in 2009 as an alternative to the Valencia County Fair, among other things served as a venue for about 100 youngsters in the northern part of the county to show their animals in a competitive setting.
“It’s strictly about not enough volunteers,” VCCE board president Theresa Montoya said Monday. “Everything else is in place; we have a lot of support from businesses, the village of Los Lunas has been great about helping out. But with the number of people we have to run it, it’s just not feasible. It’s nothing more than that.”
And although the 2019 event has been called off, she said, that doesn’t mean the Expo is dead.
“We’re not ready to say that we won’t do it again in the future,” Montoya said, “just not this year. We will keep our 501(c)3 status and look at it in the future if we can get enough people to help out. Right now it’s just a real hardship for those who are left. We need some new blood.”
She used her own situation as an example of why volunteers have drifted away,
“I started doing this when my kids were showing,” she said. “Now my kids are grown and gone, and my grandkids are too young.”
She said that’s why volunteer numbers dwindle, their kids outgrow the program. The problem is that as new kids come in, their parents are not refilling those volunteer roles.
“We need parental support,” she said.
In the meantime, the organization is looking at what it can still do.
“We may try scholarships to help kids buy their animals,” she said. “And we’re going to ask our sponsors to support the kids wherever they go to show their animals.”
One place they might go is the Valencia County Fair, which in recent years has shared the stage with the Expo for youth livestock exhibitions.
“I expect it will mean an increase in participation,” said Valencia County Fair Board vice president Dan Goodson. “We had a little increase last year and we were expecting an increase even with the Expo.”
Goodson said the fair can handle even a significant increase in participants.
“Yes, we’ve got the room. We handled a lot before the Expo started, so I expect we’ll probably get back to a more normal situation.”