The wood chips fly as spectators gather just north of Kelly Hall at the last chainsaw competition in 2019.
John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain


This is the week of the Socorro County Fair, with folks from all over the county converging on the fairgrounds with their entries, from livestock and poultry to flower arranging and sewing and everything imaginable in-between.

The fair features FFA/4-H’s Junior Livestock Auction, the sanctioned PRCA rodeos, arts and crafts exhibitions, a big parade down California Street, and dozens of activities over the Labor Day weekend. It all got underway Wednesday with the judging of 4-H exhibits and entry of indoor exhibits and livestock, and runs five days, wrapping up on Sunday, Sept. 5.

This theme of this year’s Socorro County Fair and PRCA Rodeo is “Save Our Western Way of Life.”

According to the Fair Board, the main reason for having the fair is to highlight the many accomplishments of area 4-H and FFA youth with the livestock show and indoor projects in Zimmerman Hall.

The talents of residents are also showcased in the open division.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated event is the Junior Livestock Auction, which gives 4-H/FFA members the chance to gain knowledge and experience in livestock production and management practices.

The auction’s main goal is to provide an opportunity for these members to train and produce a marketable animal that meets quality meat grading standards to sell to members of the community and/or local businesses. Buyers’ purchases in the auction not only recognize these members for their time, expense, and effort put into raising their animals, but also recognize local businesses for their help with the fair.

All proceeds from the sale benefit 4-H/FFA youth exhibitors selling their animals.

Livestock judging, including poultry, rabbits, goats and swine, take up Thursday’s schedule.

Friday will see the judging of market steers and other livestock in Greenwood Barn. Generally, a steer entered at the fair will weigh 1,000-3,000 pounds.

The crowning of Socorro County Fair Queen is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the City of Socorro’s rodeo arena.

Following the crowning will be the always popular Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeo, beginning at 7 p.m. The caliber of the contestants and stock make this event a must-see.

Saturday begins with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at the Finch Pavilion, sponsored by Tumbleweeds 4H Club.

For those in town, the Socorro County Fair Parade begins at 10 a.m. at the corner of Francisco de Avondo and California. Grand Marshal honors for the 2019 Socorro County Fair go to Dale and Gail Armstrong, longtime supporters of the fair and the ranching industry.

Following the parade, the Chain Saw Contest returns at 11:30 a.m. at the northwest corner of the fairgrounds.

Following that, one of the most popular events is the 4-H/FFA Livestock Auction which begins at 3 p.m. in the newly improved Greenwood Barn.

The Saturday evening rodeo is also PRCA sanctioned.

For the younger set, on Sunday is the Pet Parade (any animal except horses, ponies or snakes (for children 3-10 years old) at 9 a.m. in Greenwood Barn. Categories are Cutest/Most Handsome, Best Behaved, Worst Behaved, Best Trick, Best Costume, Most Unusual, Queen’s Court Favorite, Princess’s Favorite, and Sweetheart Favorite.

The Pet Parade is followed b the Pee Wee Rodeo at 10 a.m. also in the Greenwood Barn when kids 3-8 years old on stick horses show off their skills at Barrel Racing, Flag Race, Bucking Horse, and Goat Ribbon Pull. Some stick horses will be provided but feel free to bring your own, especially if it is a fast one. First place ribbons will be awarded in each category. All participants will receive a ribbon.

Thursday, Sept. 2

7–9 a.m. Enter Open Division Arts and Crafts, Baked Goods and Candy, Fancy Work, Horticulture, Preserved Foods, School Art, Sewing and Quilting

7:30-9 a.m. Enter Flowers

8 a.m. Market Pig, Lamb and Goat Check In

8 a.m.-noon Enter 4-H/FFA Small stock. Enter Open Small Stock

9 a.m.-noon Kelly Hall Vendor set up

9 a.m. Judge Fine Arts and Photography

10 a.m. Zimmerman Hall and Admin buildings open

10 a.m. Judge Open Division

10 a.m. Judge Flowers

10 a.m. Homemade Salsa Contest Judging

1 p.m. Kelly Hall opens

3 p.m. Zimmerman Hall and Admin buildings open

3 p.m. Market Goat Show, followed by the County bred Goats

4 p.m. Market Lamb Show, followed by County Bred Lambs

7 p.m. Kelly Hall, Zimmerman Hall and Admin close

7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo (Sports Complex)

Friday, Sept. 3

7 a.m. Market Hog Show, followed by County Bred Swine

10 a.m. Kelly Hall, Zimmerman Hall and Administration open

11 a.m. Judging of Small Stock. Booster Rabbits, followed by Fancy Rabbits, Meat Pen Rabbits, Booster Chickens, Fancy Chickens, and Meat Pen Chickens, followed by Open Rabbits and Chickens

7 p.m. Kelly Hall, Zimmerman Hall and Admin Close

7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo (Sports Complex)

Saturday, Sept. 4

7-9:30 a.m. Tumbleweed 4-H Pancake Breakfast

9 a.m. Parade Line-Up (Sedillo Park)

10 a.m. Parade Begins

10 a.m. Zimmerman Hall and Admin Buildings open

10 a.m. Chainsaw Contest registration

11:30 a.m. Chainsaw Contest begins

3 p.m. 4-H/FFA Livestock Auction

7 p.m. Kelly Hall, Zimmerman Hall and Admin Close

7 p.m. Release of Kelly Hall vendors

7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo (Sports Complex)

Sunday, Sept. 5

9 a.m. Pet Parade

10 a.m. Pee Wee Rodeo

In retrospect:

The Socorro County Fair has gone through numerous changes in the last 71 years. On Thursday, Sept. 7, 1950, the Chieftain announced the “First Socorro County Fair to Be This Week.”

To put that day and age in perspective, the front page photograph was of 14 men in uniform posing on a military vehicle under the heading “Socorro National Guardsmen Ready For Action.”

Farther down the page, near the left-hand corner, was a photograph of Marvin R. Stevens, “the first son of Socorro to be killed in action in Korea.”

Amid those trying times, Socorro County proclaimed “a new era in agricultural and livestock development” that would “establish a new level of pride in this county’s economic progress.”

Queen Lila Turner of Magdalena reigned over the two-day event and presided at the fair’s closing square dance. The exhibit hall was the National Guard Armory, livestock was shown on the adjoining open land, and a roping contest was held at an arena north of town near the Casa Blanca nightclub.

One popular event from the early days was a 15-mile mule race, but an even more popular event was “Kiss the Pig,” a fundraiser where people could cast unlimited votes at $1 each for the victim of their choice. The winner had to kiss a cute little piglet right on the snout. All money raised went to Literacy.