The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Midway lights and corn dogs fairly fun

 

August 14, 2019



County fairs have been around as long as counties in New Mexico.

In Clovis’ case, the county fair began before Curry County was even formed.

On Oct. 2, 1914, The Clovis Journal reported the “Seventh Annual Curry County Fair” was about to take place — unlikely since Curry County was formed just five years before that.

But the Clovis area had a “county fair” in 1907 and 1908, well before the territorial Legislature carved Curry County out of Quay and Roosevelt counties.

Those early county fairs were similar to today’s county fairs — which kicked off this week in eastern New Mexico — in that they championed farmers and ranchers and their way of life.

Records show the 1914 Curry County Fair held competitive events for cattle, chickens, carrots, corn, quilt making, bread making, and even “best pound of home-made butter.”

Prizes for the 1914 winners ranged from $10 for the best farm wagon full of agricultural products to 25 cents for the second-best handmade handkerchief.

Clovis’ earliest fairgrounds were located on the west side of Pile Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, until about 1920, according to the late historian Don McAlavy.

From then until 1931, the fairgrounds were between Pile and Gidding streets, from 11th to 13th streets, about where First Presbyterian Church is today.

Another longtime fair site was between Ash and Sycamore streets, where baseball is played today at Bell Park.

The Curry County Fairgrounds today, in southeast Clovis, south of the railroad tracks, began to evolve in 1948.

Taxpayers spend more than $150,000 annually today on the fair, but the original plan was for it to be funded by private interests.

In July 1919, The Clovis News reported the county fair was “a sure thing” for generations to come.

A committee had been formed that summer to “figure out and submit ways and means for holding a fair,” the newspaper reported.

That committee recommended buying a location near Clovis “that will not be expensive.” The plan was to have the property fenced and include buildings for stock and farm products.

It also planned to grow the fair annually “with modern conveniences, such as auto and horse race tracks, baseball park and such like.”

The committee planned to raise money for its fair by selling $25,000 in stock at $10 per share.

“We have the livestock, the farm products and the finest bunch of fellows in the world, and with such conditions we can’t fail,” according to C.E. Dennis a member of the fair committee.

That can’t-miss plan failed to find enough private investors and horse racing, car racing and baseball never became a highlight of the festivities.

But the fair has had a fairly good run. The “Starry Nights and Midway Lights” of the 2019 Curry County Fair run through Saturday.

If you can’t get enough corn dogs, pig shows and carnival rides this week, the Roosevelt County Fair is scheduled Aug. 27-31. It wraps up just before September begins with The Delk Band on the Slab.

Who needs horse races?

David Stevens writes about regional history for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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