County fairs picture perfect

Ryn Gargulinski: Local Columnist

A county fair means one
thing. Crouching down
into an immobile ball
for several hours beside the pigpens.
No, I was not hiding from the
cops. Nor was I attempting to
steal a corncob from an unsuspecting
sow.

I was armed with a camera to
get the ultimate photo of a smiling
pig. After several attempts
that included a sleeping sow, a
just-waking sow and part of a
sow’s butt after he turned around
at the wrong moment, I finally
got him.

He was grinning like a banshee
and the wire fence wasn’t
even blocking his nostrils, like in
the other 697 shots I took in
those several crouching hours.

Animals are hard to capture on
film as, unlike humans, they
don’t stare stupidly into the lens
with a fake smile by merely
hearing the word “cheese.”
I’ll not recall the sow’s name
but I do know he was my highlight
of last year’s Quay County
Fair. Not to say, of course, that
other county fairs don’t have
their own highlights.

But I’ll bet even New
Mexico’s Curry County or
Roosevelt County fairs may be
all about the pigs.

Unless one is a goat owner,
then it’s all about the goats. Or it
could also be all about the sheep,
the steer, the horses or even the
rabbits. Heck, someone might
even argue it’s all about the
guinea pigs.

Then there are the paintings,
the leatherwork, the woven ponchos
or bright-pink handmade
pants that make up the arts and
crafts bulk of any respectable
fair. If I thought crouching down
for several hours for a pig photo
merits a ribbon, that’s only
because I didn’t yet take a
gander at the hundreds of gorgeous
entries that sometimes
even include a kid’s rendition of
a bumble bee.

And photos. A longtime fair
manager told me photos are the
new hot entry in the fairs. That is
both exciting and sad.

Exciting because it means I
might get to see another shot of a
smiling pig, but sad because it
also means the more traditional
entries — such as canning,
sewing or growing the biggest
tomato — are dying out.

Not everyone lives on or near
a farm anymore, the manager
lamented. And kids are more apt
to be taken by projects that are
less costly and time consuming
than spending months growing
goats or raising tomatoes.
Regardless of what entries are
most popular at today’s fairs, a
couple of attractions that will
never die are the junk food and
the carnival.

For some strange reason, children
of every age will never tire
of stuffing their cheeks with cotton
candy and then spinning
around on a high-pitched ride
until they get the cotton candy
back.

The carnival’s lure also
includes those games where one
spends $52 to win a stuffed animal
worth $3. It often includes
hitting balloons with darts and I
often avoid them altogether.
I never had very good aim
anyway — unless it’s with a
camera by a pig pen.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for
Freedom Newspapers of New
Mexico. She can be reached at:
ryngargulinski@hotmail.com