13 Reasons to Love the New Mexico State Fair

Deep Fried Oreos
© Aileen O'Catherine

For 10 days in September, the New Mexico State Fair provides visitors with  fun, food and entertainment, all in one sprawling place. 

1. The Parade. The Saturday morning parade starts the first weekend of the fair off. The old fashioned event takes place on Central and ends at the fairgrounds. You'll see horses, clowns, Shriner clowns, beauty queens and more in this annual favorite. 

2.  The Food. Now it is possible that some fair visitors may not make food a priority, but for most, the question isn't when to have food, but what kind.

Every year there is a new food to try out, and some standards to go back to, like curly fries, kettle corn, and Tom Thumb donuts. To share or not to share that turkey drumstick, that is the question.

3. The Beer. Yes, the fair has its own beer, and 2016 is the second year you can have some while there. La Cumbre Brewery cooked up some State Fair Beer that comes in a turquoise can with the fair logo, quite apropos. It's a cream ale, perfect for pairing with a corn dog or piece of pie. Can't make it to the fair? Don't fret, you can find it out there and take a four pack home.

4. The Spectaculars. The fair packs in spectacular acts and shows that are unique and well, spectacular. You'll find European circus acts, Aussie Kingdom featuring animals of the Australian outback, magicians, and the ever popular Dock Dogs competing for world records in canine aquatics competitions, a stunt team dedicated to thrills and chills.

For 2016, Albuquerque gets to be like Deming and have duck races. Another new spectacular is the Cowboy Boot Camp featuring cowboy themed activities for the kids. The Pee Wee Stamede is back, with kids saddling up their stick horses, and the Rio Grande canine barrel racers, rescue dogs that race around the cones for a doggy treat.

The ever popular slingshot thrill ride and zip line are back as well. The street drum corp, petting zoo and everybody's favorite, the pig races are part of the festivities as well. 

5. The Chile. Did somebody say chile? Find it at the fair on hot dogs, hamburgers, and most importantly, on the green chile cheeseburgers. The annual green chile cheeseburger contest has restaurants vie for the title of Best. The green chile cheeseburger challenge may get a run for its money this year, as there will be a chicharron challenge this year for the first time. The cheeseburger challenge will be on Monday, September 12.

6. The Main Street Theme Days. Main Street at the fair has a theme for every day, where you can learn about and meet Smokey Bear, see classic Model T's, watch the green chile cheeseburger challenge, learn about New Mexico and all it has to offer, and more. 

7. The Rodeo. Get to Tingley Coliseum to see the horses parade in their dress finest, sheep riding, and the State Fair Queen.

8. The Concerts. Once the rodeos are over, the music begins. You'll hear country musicians like Tracy Lawrence and Chase Bryant, and local favorites hONEyhoUSe, Latin music, and this year, a karaoke competition that fairgoers can join.

 

9. The Competitions. Kids love competing in the Lego model contest, where they can build a Lego set right out of the box, or create their own diorama. Bakers can enter the cake contest, or try for a prize for best cookie or best candy or jelly. Quilters can enter their art, and if you're an armchair admirer, its fun to wander the fair and see who won, or check out the future farmers in the big barn, where they're showing off their prize calf or sheep. 

10. The Art. Some of the best art at the fair is in the Youth exhibit, where future artists are testing their talents. There are also 

11. The Animals. Watch the horses go through their paces as they compete for best in show, or watch a sheep as it is sheared, or a cow as it is milked. The animals are the heart of the fair, and kids can't pass by the Red Barn without checking out a puppy or baby goat.

12. The Rides. Most kids can't wait for the fair because they love the rides. For the young ones, there are kiddie rides, but for the older kids, there's the ferris wheel and high drop, each good for a thrill.

13. The Villages. Watch a pow wow and have some fry bread at Indian Village, or head over to the Spanish square to see folklorico dancers.

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