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Ag Expo set to draw crowds, honor friend

Chester Harth dedicated himself to agriculture and the New Mexico Ag Expo, say his friends. For that reason, this year’s event is dedicated to his memory.

The Expo begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds with a brief dedication ceremony.

Harth died last year after chairing the Ag Expo for the second time. Organizers say he was involved with the 16-year-old event all but two years and actively worked to make it a success. His passion was organizing the antique tractor demonstrations and parade each year.

“Chester had been with the committee since its inception,” said Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County extension agent. “He was just a super good guy. He really believed in the Expo, and he was always there to do what ever needed to be done.”

“His whole life was dedicated to agriculture, so that’s why we decided it was fitting to dedicate this year’s event to him,” said Sharon King, Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce executive director.

The Expo was started as a way to bring an agricultural trade show to eastern New Mexico, and with 155 exhibitors registered for this year’s event and attendance expected in the thousands, its success is obvious.

“Last year we had over 4,000 people come through the gates to attend,” said Terry Ervin, Ag Expo chairman. “We’re hoping that will be even larger this year.”

Kircher said the variety of seminars alone makes the Expo valuable to ag producers, but there’s much more.

“I really believe the Expo is a multi-pronged approach,” Kircher said. “It’s an opportunity to bring vendors with the latest technology right to our doorstep. It’s a great opportunity for folks here in New Mexico to come in and talk to someone who might have a product or tool they can utilize.”

Kircher says that people could probably find the same products online or through a catalog, but many people still prefer to learn about new things face-to-face.

Another benefit of the Expo is the ability to bring together the growing dairy industry, said Kircher.

While dairy seminars aren’t a part of this year’s slate, there will be a good number of vendors related to that industry, say organizers. According Ervin, the dairy heifer sale is back at the Expo this year and will be an important part of the two-day event.

Ervin said this year Orin Barnes, who does working dog clinics, has agreed to take 10 local dog owners under his wing during his demonstrations and give them tips on training the dogs to work stock.

The chairman says another seminar that promises to be informative is Michael Richardson’s “Enlightened Horsemanship” workshop. Richardson, who is a parapelgic, trains horses from his wheelchair.

One notable change this year is that the women’s exhibits have been moved into the Merchant’s Building to better utilize the space.

Lunch will be available both days. On Tuesday the Rotary Club will be serving a smoked pork chop dinner for $12. On Wednesday, Bum Steer brisket barbecue by Randy Small will be served for $10.

There is no admission fee for the Expo. The gates are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.