LOVINGTON, N.M. â€“ There arenâ€™t many places one can go these days for just $8.
For folks near this community of about 10,000 people, thatâ€™s all it takes for a full day of entertainment at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place Friday, Aug. 1-Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Lea County Fairgrounds.
Just consider what that one ticket is worth: ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, the Equilibrium Circus, the Ham Bone Express Pig Races, the Lea County Xtreme Bulls, a Wrangler Million Dollar Tour rodeo, livestock shows, the carnival, great food and some of the top concert acts in the country.
â€śWe do this for the citizens of the county, and they show up every year,â€ť said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. â€śThey are the ones who make this possible. Their tax dollars are what put this on.â€ť
Thatâ€™s important, and it also is why fair-goers are afforded such a bargain. Just the concerts alone would make the annual exposition a valuable piece of entertainment.
Saturday, Aug. 2: Night Ranger and 38 Special
Tuesday, Aug. 5: Casey Donahew Band
Wednesday, Aug. 6: MercyMe
Thursday, Aug. 7: Joe Nichols
Friday, Aug. 8: Dwight Yoakam
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Saturday, Aug. 9: Eli Young Band
The key factor is that the Lea County Commission underwrites the 10-day affair. There are many reasons why county officials support the event, but it all comes back to supporting the community.
â€śOur fair and rodeo is a quality-of-life deal for the county,â€ť said Dale Dunlap, now in his fifth year on the commission. â€śIt brings in outside people and brings in a lot of contestants and vendors. It provides a lot of economic impact to Lea County.
â€śItâ€™s something weâ€™ve always done, and itâ€™s always something that keeps getting bigger and better.â€ť
Thatâ€™s so true. More and more people are learning about the eastern New Mexico gem.
â€śWe want to show the people that weâ€™re interested in giving them entertainment,â€ť said Dunlap, who previously had spent six years on the Lea County Fair Board. â€śWe want to give back to the public and show them that we spend their tax dollars wisely.â€ť
In fact, those involved in livestock showing realize they have something special in Lovington.
â€śWith our livestock show and the sale, it teaches the young folks responsibility,â€ť Dunlap said. â€śIt could pay off in the long run. The sale is what I like to see because there are so many people who turn out to support these kids.â€ť
That says a lot, but thatâ€™s what many have come to expect with the exposition.
â€śThe flagship event for the county is the Lea County Fair and Rodeo,â€ť Helton said. â€śItâ€™s that one week a year that everybody comes together and catches up. Without the citizens here, I donâ€™t think we could do it. The support from them is unbelievable. Whether itâ€™s financial or other support we need, we seem to have it.â€ť