Longstanding traditions were passed on to new generations at this year’s Eddy County Fair, which ended Saturday with a flower show and livestock auction.
Livestock shows, trade shows and food wagons were offered to local visitors from July 26 to July 30 during the 77e annual fair held at the Eddy County Fairgrounds in Artesia.
This year’s fair was the last for Loving native Tye Martinez. The 18-year-old Loving High School graduate took a cow from the Market Cattle Division into the show ring Saturday night at the Junior Cattle Auction.
Martinez was inspired by an older brother and showed his first animal almost 12 years ago.
“It means a lot. I put all my time and money into it. That’s what I like. I love seeing everyone smile,” he said.
In high school, Martinez was active in 4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA).
He said showing animals is essential to keeping rural fairs like the one in Eddy County alive for future generations.
“I love showing all the young people how to take care of animals the right way and how we treat them,” Martinez said.
He said the Eddy County Fair could be seen as a key educational tool for people to understand where food and nutrition begins before it lands in a supermarket.
“It’s kind of amazing how few people know where their food comes from,” Martinez said.
He and his family arrived July 25 at the Eddy County Fairgrounds as livestock inspectors checked the animals ahead of the start of shows the next day.
Martinez said work normally begins around 5 a.m., getting the animals ready for shows, and ends around 11 p.m.
Interest in flower shows is gaining ground?
“When I retired, I had time to do that,” said Bunny Mason, a retired Artesia Public Schools teacher and president of the Artesia Garden Club.
She said attending the Eddy County Fair Flower Show allowed her to focus on other pursuits after retiring from the class nearly five years ago.
Mason and Artesia Garden Club member Julie Foster said attention to this year’s Flower Show has picked up again from 2021.
Foster, who is also the Southeast New Mexico district director for the New Mexico Garden Clubs, said attendance has grown from about 200 in 2021 to 284 this year.
“It’s the biggest turnout we’ve had since 2007,” she said.
Foster said her interest in gardening began at age 5 when a neighbor invited her to plant seeds while growing up in Illinois.
Over time, Foster became a gardener and judged flower and garden shows across the United States.
She has been involved with the Artesia Garden Club for nearly 20 years.
“We have to pass the knowledge (of gardening) on to the children, otherwise it will cease to exist,” Foster said of the future of the flower show.
Mason said a big sunflower contest this year has some interest. She said she anticipates new interest in 2023.
“It seems to have attracted more people,” she said.