Las Cruces gears up for four days of rodeos, livestock shows and plenty of dance music

A large midway attracts youth of all ages for the rides and games at the Southern New Mexico State Fair Rodeo. (Courtesy of the Southern New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo)

While a vaccine controversy swirls around the upcoming New Mexico State Fair, and the animals have fled two by two for Roswell for the second consecutive year, Las Cruces is just waiting for its Southern New Mexico State Fair to be a robust affair.

In its 54th year, the fair that is set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3 will be jam-packed with everything fairgoers want, said Travis Brown, fair manager.

The Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association will have a full rodeo Oct. 1-2, while Sept. 30 will feature an unusual type of event.

Oct. 1 and Oct 2, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will conduct full rodeos at the Southern New Mexico State Fair Rodeo.

“Thursday night we’re having a ranch rodeo, which is different event,” Brown said. “It’s a group of cowboys that generally come from the same ranch and rather than compete as individuals, they perform as a team. They have some wild cow milking, and some of the types of things that are intended to emulate tasks that they have to do on the ranch like a real cowboy. That’s a really fun event to watch.”

A few other, folksy types of events will leave people grinning, as well, he said.

The youth livestock show and auction is a popular part of the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo. (Courtesy of the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo)

“We have a couple of special events that for us have become traditions,” he said. “We have a stick horse race that’s in its third year. The previous two years it was for kids only, but this year, we’re actually adding adults and couples competitions. It should be pretty fun to watch.”

And rhythm music fans will enjoy the Sunday special.

(Courtesy of the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo)

“It’s our second annual high school drum line challenge,” he said. “The four local high schools’ drum lines do a head to head. That’s a tremendous event. We got lots of support from the community. Everybody’s cheering on their favorite high school. Anytime you get drum lines together battling head- to-head it’s a quite a sight.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a fair without a midway and Frazier Shows delivers the goods with rides and games aplenty, including a giant gondola wheel.

One ride that won’t be on the midway but one that Brown expects to be an overwhelming favorite in its debut, the NASCAR car trainer will attract people of all ages.

“We are really excited about it,” he said of the computer speed simulator. “The NASCAR car trainer is available for people to get the feel of what it’s like to get in and do 150 MPH. We think it’s going to be a really neat feature and people are really going to enjoy it.”

With no fair last year and the struggles of local entertainers, Brown said it was decided that the bands from the area would be enlisted for the post-rodeo dances. Additionally, music will be ongoing throughout the course of the day, which also is a departure from the past.

“Typically, we have a more regional to national acts on Friday night and then again Saturday,” Brown said. “Because COVID hit us as a fair so hard last year and we know it was devastating to the events and fair industry, what we decided to do this year, instead of spending a larger amount of money on Friday night for a more regional act, we stuck with a local band and they are going to be playing a traditional concert live band dance after the rodeo.”

Take time to cruise the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo in a youth-sized train.

That means local icons like Kimmy Kelly Band, Keith Anderson and the Yarbroughs will fill the evening with enough dance music to keep people bouncing and jouncing throughout the night.

“We had a tremendous response from our local solo and group artists,” Brown said. “We have some genres of music that probably we might not have previously played at the fair. Some hip-hop and jazz and blues, We’re looking to really expand the variety of music that’s going to be available. We believe the community is going to come out and support us now that we’re back and we want to return that support to some of our local musicians.”

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