LOVINGTON, N.M. – There aren’t many places one can go these days for just $8.
For folks near this community of about 10,000 people, that’s all it takes for a full day of entertainment at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place Friday, Aug. 1-Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Lea County Fairgrounds.
Just consider what that one ticket is worth: ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus, the Ham Bone Express Pig Races, the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour rodeo, livestock shows, the carnival, great food and some of the top concert acts in the country.
“We do this for the citizens of the county, and they show up every year,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “They are the ones who make this possible. Their tax dollars are what put this on.”
That’s important, and it also is why fair-goers are afforded such a bargain. Just the concerts alone would make the annual exposition a valuable piece of entertainment.
Saturday, Aug. 2: Night Ranger and 38 Special
Tuesday, Aug. 5: Casey Donahew Band
Wednesday, Aug. 6: MercyMe
Thursday, Aug. 7: Joe Nichols
Friday, Aug. 8: Dwight Yoakam
Saturday, Aug. 9: Eli Young Band
The key factor is that the Lea County Commission underwrites the 10-day affair. There are many reasons why county officials support the event, but it all comes back to supporting the community.
“Our fair and rodeo is a quality-of-life deal for the county,” said Dale Dunlap, now in his fifth year on the commission. “It brings in outside people and brings in a lot of contestants and vendors. It provides a lot of economic impact to Lea County.
“It’s something we’ve always done, and it’s always something that keeps getting bigger and better.”
That’s so true. More and more people are learning about the eastern New Mexico gem.
“We want to show the people that we’re interested in giving them entertainment,” said Dunlap, who previously had spent six years on the Lea County Fair Board. “We want to give back to the public and show them that we spend their tax dollars wisely.”
In fact, those involved in livestock showing realize they have something special in Lovington.
“With our livestock show and the sale, it teaches the young folks responsibility,” Dunlap said. “It could pay off in the long run. The sale is what I like to see because there are so many people who turn out to support these kids.”
That says a lot, but that’s what many have come to expect with the exposition.
“The flagship event for the county is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo,” Helton said. “It’s that one week a year that everybody comes together and catches up. Without the citizens here, I don’t think we could do it. The support from them is unbelievable. Whether it’s financial or other support we need, we seem to have it.”