Ride ‘Em Cowboy!

It’s State Fair time, again.  Jim and I went twice this past weekend.  I don’t know how state fairs are elsewhere but, in New Mexico, the fair is a showcase for the crazy diversity that is what makes this state such an interesting place to live.



“Diversity” may be the operative word.  Or maybe it’s “crazy.”  In any case, one of the things we enjoy the most about our Fair visits is watching the milling array of humanity.  For this reason, even though we’d been enjoying the rain this week, we were glad that, when the time came for us to go the fairgrounds, the clouds had decided to relent for a few hours.

(Rain?  Oh, yes…  Tuesday through Saturday, we had rain every night, accumulating to a total of five and a half inches – this in an area where the average rainfall is seven and a half inches in a year!  Very exciting!)

One of our favorites was two gentlemen who decided to take the term “cowboy” to new levels.  They eliminated the horse entirely and were mounted instead on two very nice longhorns.  Their stylish turnout was quite impressive. I was also amused that they were accompanied by a lady in a coordinated costume whose job it was to make sure that, if the long horns left behind any presents, these were promptly cleaned up.

(If you look, you can see her in the background of the photo.)

Then there was the ensemble of six young people who decided to come to the Fair in full superhero garb.  There was Spiderman, Superman, Supergirl, Wolverine, and Storm…  I was at a loss to identify the nattily dressed gentleman in tweed jacket and spectacles who was with them, and Jim didn’t get a picture.  Still, maybe someone can offer a guess.  I really enjoyed this spontaneous outpouring of fun – and the little kids were thrilled.

Of course, there was the more “normal” out of the ordinary attire – Indians in ribbon shirts or elaborate dance costumes; ranchers in their best broad-brimmed Stetsons; competitors in the various riding competitions, often with their numbers still pinned to their shirts, picking their way along carefully in their riding boots.  Performers from the various shows, off to see the prize vegetables or baby lambs until their next event.

Every third child seemed to be sporting more or less elaborate face paint, from a few cat’s whiskers up to full masks.  I admit, I wished I’d thought to have Jim take a picture of the young man in the menacing skull make-up, happily licking a red, white, and blue bomb pop.

And one can’t forget all the people simply using the Fair as an excuse to get dressed up to be seen.   I was amused by the irony of the young lady all in pink, with opalescent hair, slouching along behind her parents.  With all that color, she should have had more confidence.  There were a group of young men strutting around in high fashion, complete with hats and flashy bow ties.  Glitter, sequins, and gemstones were the order of the day, even on portly moms and grandmoms – enough to populate a glam rocker’s daydreams.

In addition to people-watching, Jim and I really enjoy the art shows.  As part of the celebration of New Mexico’s diverse heritage, there are three buildings dedicated to arts: Indian, Hispanic, and “Fine.”   Of course, it’s all pretty “fine,” but the former two have ethnic roots, while the other embraces the remaining traditions and invents a couple more.  Even though we don’t have any kids, we always go to the school art, just because it’s fun.

This year we had a special reason for making a beeline to the “hobby building.”  Jim had helped our friend Sue Estell with her contribution to the Lego display.  (Sue was one of the judges.)   For her piece, she had designed an original Hansel and Gretel witch’s cottage, complete with Hansel in the cage, holding out a bone for the witch to check instead of his finger.  Jim had built most of the tall pink and white “cotton candy” tree that overhung the scene.  It stood out among the predominantly darker models, drawing people from all over the building.

It was really fun to hear the comments of: “How cool!”  “That’s really neat!”  “Mom!  Come see this one!”

The State Fair has had cameos in several of my books, including Changer and Child of a Rainless Year.  It’s a place where the best of the state shines, in art, dance, glitter, and just plain joy in being out and about.  It continues through next weekend.  Maybe I’ll make my way back…  Where did I put my tee-shirt with the gemstone tiger face?  I wonder if someone could do coordinated face paint?


8 Responses to “Ride ‘Em Cowboy!”

  1. Nicholas Wells Says:

    It’s interesting how local fairs always leave their mark no matter how long we go. Here in the Coachella valley, we have the “Riverside County Fair and Nation Date Festival”. It had another name once, but I don’t remember it. Anyway, it really is a celebration of dates, which our valley produces tons of (95% of America’s crop in fact).

    Funny thing is, I’ve never acquired a taste for dates, but I never miss it. Something about the home town fairs just won’t let us go. Don’t get me wrong, there are things in it I go for too (our own art building, some small shows of varying quality, other displays of interest, and shops that sell things I don’t see anywhere else). Yet, I think it’s as much the fair itself. I grew up with it, and I haven’t missed a year yet.

    Sometimes I wonder if I ever will, even if I move out of the valley.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I like dates… Jim and I have Date Night every Friday.

      Oh, wait, you mean the fruit! I like those, too, but I prefer them as an element in a savory rather than sweetened further. I had an excellent smoked bacon wrapped date nibble at the St. James Tea Room earlier this month.

      I had no idea that 95%of the American crop came from one place. Very neat!

  2. Paul Says:

    Neat picture! I didn’t even know longhorns would willingly allow themselves to be ridden. (You don’t have any photos of that pink-and-white “cotton candy” tree, by any chance?)

  3. Heteromeles Says:

    Looks like fun. Those are some well-trained longhorns, too.

  4. Fred Bartholomaeus Says:

    My guess for the “superhero” would be Alan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider HAggard – he got a guernsey in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, played, if my memory doesn’t fail me, by Sean Connery.Unless of course it was supposed to be Indiana Jones….

    • janelindskold Says:

      No hat, no whip, so definitely not Indiana Jones. These looked link a younger crowd than would be into Alan Quartermain…. Although with the recent movie, maybe.

      Wish I had thought to get a picture!

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        I think Fred may be right about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, at least. That’s what popped into my head when I read the description.

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