County fairs fare well: State numbers drop; county fair attendance steady

County fairs across the nation remain viable family and fun family events at the end of the summer season. Recent reports in newspapers throughout the U.S. show that while state fairs are lacking in attendance, county fairs are seeing steady increases.

The San Juan County Fair has experienced the same trend, holding its own in Farmington even during the busy second week of August. “With the Connie Mack World Series running the same week, they may go to the County Fair one night and Connie Mack the next night,” Fair Vice President Billy Huish said.

Despite it being a week filled with baseball and agriculture, people still support the fair. “We hold our own. We’ve got a good group of people here. Our buyers support the junior livestock sale,” Huish said.

“We’ve got a lot of community support here.”

San Juan County continues to be a strong agricultural hub with thriving farms and commercial greenhouses. There even are those young people that continue to learn the trade of raising livestock. Huish said there has been an increase in goat and poultry production in the region, while rabbit, beef, swine and lamb have been down.

“The prices of feed definitely come into play –   the expense of raising an animal. Kids who used to have two or three animals might now only have one,” Huish said. When it comes to crops and canning –  well, that depends on the one thing –  “We kind of follow the weather.”

There have been heavy droughts throughout the nation this year, but San Juan County growers continue to produce a good number of crops. The area’s growers markets are crowded and the commercial farms have produce to sell. That part of the fair will once again have a strong showing, but San Juan County Fair organizers have other plans to raise fair attendance.

“I think it’s a nice family event and it’s not real expensive,” said Pee Wee Gonser chair of the entertainment committee. The other bonus is renowned entertainment that plays the fair each year.

This year the entertainment committee is bringing in George Strait’s Aces in the Hole Band and Lori Morgan. The committee also will be attempting to gather attendance numbers to increase entertainment options.

Performers often look at crowd numbers before choosing a venue, and if fair attendance continues to rise, better-known performers will come around.

“I think the fair grew because we have some good entertainment,” Gonser said. “A family of five can’t go to the movie for less than $50, and the fair is inexpensive. It’s just a good thing that families can come out to, with entertainment for the kids and for adults to enjoy stuff as well.”

The San Juan County Fair hopes to see increased crowds and the typical community support it always has had in the past.

“They can get out and see other things. This gives them a different perspective,” Gonser said.