Eastern New Mexico State Fair

2500 South East Main Street
Roswell, NM 88203

575-623-9411

History:

The Eastern New Mexico State Fair has a long and proud history. Although we count 88 years from the first Chaves County Cotton Carnival in 1922, the roots of the fair began many years before that with the Southeastern New Mexico and Pecos Valley Fair Association. The purpose of the fair was to exhibit agricultural and orchard products. The fairs of 1892 and 1893 were an opportunity for local residents to show how productive the Pecos Valley could be. Even local farmers were surprised at the array of crops represented at the fair. The highlight of the event however was the Alfalfa Palace. This architectural phenomenon was constructed of bales of sweet-smelling alfalfa and resembled a castle complete with battlements. The Alfalfa Palace was more than an amazing structure as it also housed the local exhibits. Covered pens were adjacent to the palace and housed the livestock. It is noted that as the wind began to blow, the Palace had to be evacuated and one lady reluctant to leave was carried out by a concerned gentleman. It was later discovered that the “lady” was actually a dummy of Martha Washington from one of the displays. The gentleman in question was considered no less heroic upon this revelation. 

Those early days of community gathering would slowly evolve into the Eastern New Mexico State Fair that we enjoy today. The first parade to open a fair was held in 1900. This first parade created a new name for the fair. There was such a wondrous display of floral decorations that the fair became known as the “Flower Fair”. Today’s parade boasts over a hundred floats and entries representing businesses, schools, teams, clubs, and more. In the early fair days children from local schools were given three days off so that they and their families may enjoy the fair. Today, the opening day of the fair is knows as “Fair Day” and many children and their families attend to celebrate the commencement of fair week. 

The tradition of gathering every year to show off crops and wares has continued since the 1890’s with few exceptions. Although there was a lapse during World War I the fair continued in 1922 when the Cotton Carnival came into being. A noted addition to the fair began this year when a Cotton King was crowned in grand style on the Courthouse lawn. In 1923 a poll of fair visitors indicated that along with local residents, 25 states were represented amongst the fairgoers. Top on the entertainment roster was a community sing-along in which 2,000 school children participated, the crowning of Miss Alfalfa and Miss Apple, and of course the mock battle between the New Mexico National Guard and cadets of NMMI. 

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