The PRCA begins its two-day run on Friday with local and professional cowboys.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

This is the week of the Socorro County Fair, with folks from all over the county converging on the county 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, 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.

The theme of this year’s Socorro County Fair and PRCA Rodeo is “Barn in the USA.”

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 primary 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 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 gets underway today, including lambs, goats,  heifers (breeding and dairy),  and steers, followed by county-bred steers. Generally, a steer entered at the fair will weigh 1,000-3,000 pounds on the hoof.

Friday will see the judging of swine, 4H-FFA small stock,  followed by open rabbits and chickens, and the Round Robin championship in Greenwood Barn.

The crowning of Socorro County Fair Queen is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the City of Socorro’s rodeo arena. The purpose of the Queen and Princess Pageant is to select young ladies as official representatives of the Socorro County Fair and Rodeo Association. The Queens, along with their courts, serve as ambassadors of the SCFRA to the general public, exhibiting excelled sportsmanship and high moral and ethical standards. Contestants should be able to speak intelligently, with authority, and with knowledge of the fair and the county.

The winning contestants must score well in horsemanship, speech, impromptu questions, an interview, a written test, and modeling. Both the Fair and Rodeo Queens will go on to represent Socorro County at the New Mexico State Fair in September.

Following the crowning will be the 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 James and Cathy Martin, longtime supporters of the fair and the county’s agricultural industry.

“We are honored to give back and support future generations participating in the county fair,” the couple said. “We applaud not only the kids but the parents that have guided them. Crescit eundo!”

Prize categories for floats include Political, Service Organization or Business, Horse, Auto, and General.

Following the parade, the chips will fly during the Chain Saw Contest, which begins at 11:30 a.m. at the northwest corner of the fairgrounds—Those entering need to sign up at 10 a.m. The first prize is a new chainsaw from Acosta Equipment Co.

Next up at 3 p.m. is the 4-H/FFA Livestock Auction in 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 by 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.

Looking back, the Socorro County Fair has undergone numerous changes over the last seven decades. 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 decidedly 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.

The 2023 schedule for today through Sunday:

Thursday, Aug. 31

7–9 a.m. Enter Open Division Arts and Crafts, Baked Goods and candy, Fancy Work, Agriculture, Preserved Foods, School Art, Sewing and quilting, Salsa, King Arthur Flour, and Fancy Work

7 a.m. Market Lamb Show, followed by County-Bred Lambs

7:30-9 a.m. Enter Flowers

10 a.m. Zimmerman Hall and Admin buildings open

10 a.m. Judge Open Division

10 a.m. Judge Flowers

10 a.m. Market Goat Show, followed by County-Bred Goats

Pig, Lamb and Goat Check In

5 p.m. Breeding & Dairy Heifer Show

6 p.m. Market Steer Show, followed by County-Bred Steers

Friday, Sept. 1

7 a.m. Swine Show, followed by County-Bred Swine

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

11 a.m. Judging of 4H-FFA Small Stock, followed by Open Rabbits & Chickens

1 p.m. Round Robin Showmanship

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

7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo (Sports Complex)

Saturday, Sept. 2

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

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. PRCA Rodeo (Sports Complex)

Sunday, Sept. 3

8-10 a.m. Release of Open Division Exhibits

9 a.m. Pet Parade

9 a.m. Kelly Hall opens

10 a.m. Pee Wee Rodeo

Noon Kelly Hall closes