Torrance County gathered to show off its agricultural chops at the county fair this week, wrapping up August 12, with a Pet Parade and other festivities.

Beside the gate to the Torrance County Fairgrounds is a new Community Garden. Torrance County Fair Manager Chellie Wallace said this is a collaboration between the fairgrounds, the East Torrance Soil and Water Conservation district, and the local 4H kids, who put in the work to build the raised beds.

The community garden, a project by the 4H club, is a collaboration between the fairgrounds and East Torrance Soil and Water Conservation District. Community members can donate time and labor in return for vegetables. Photos by Bridget Randles.

Kale, cucumbers, peppers, basil and other herbs and vegetables are grown here, where locals can harvest food for the low price of pulling a few weeds. “I just took home veggies myself yesterday,” Wallace said.

No parking or admission is charged to enter the Torrance County Fair, where food trucks, fry bread stands, and artists are lined up as guests walk to the livestock and exhibit barns.

The Lutrick family of Estancia has been participating in the Torrance County Fair for three generations.

The youngest iteration, a trio of siblings who showed their yellow squash and various peppers this year, will be showing animals in a couple more years, says their rancher dad Shane Lutrick.

Lincoln, 6, Taos, 4, and Levyn, 2, proudly display the ribbons they won with their produce this year before dashing off to play in the sandbox beside the show arena.

In the Exhibit Building, ribbons adorn paintings, photos, crocheting, quilts, baked goods, canned goods, and even Lego creations by local kids.

When asked if she enjoys what she does here at the fair, superintendent of indoor exhibits Susan Samuels cracked, “It must be a lot of fun, because I’m going on 11 years here now!” She and Bonnie Sue Thomas have donated handcrafted work for the silent auction, “to try to bring in a little money for the Fair,” Samuels said. “I like to help people out when I can. We appreciate each other out here. I got pulled into this when a friend of mine asked for help, and I’ve been doing this ever since. We have a lot of people helping, some come in new,” she explained, and her friend Bonnie Sue Thomas, wisecracks, “We break ’em in!”

“We had a limited amount of entries this year,” Samuels said. “We had more last year because we didn’t have it in 2020, so we allowed people to enter two years’ worth of work last year. We got more entries from that, but fewer this year.”

Estancia Elementary School teachers submit artwork from their students, but Samuels would love to receive entries from other local schools as well. “We need all the publicity we can get,” Thomas said.

The Fair, off of Highway 55 and Tenth Street in Estancia, wraps up Friday, Aug 12, with a Pet Show and Homemade Cookie Contest, open to the public. “The Fair is shorter this year, we used to have two parades, but they’ve been merged into one,” Samuels explained.

In the poultry and rabbit barn, siblings Addisyn and Ryan Barnes, ages 12 and 10, eagerly introduce their chickens by name, age and breed. Their mother, Shannon Barnes, who homeschools the pair in Estancia, says they’ve been showing at the Torrance County Fair for seven years now, and know most of “the chicken kids.” This year, Addisyn won Best of Show with her tiny Dutch Bantam hen, named Long Tail, because, Ryan explains, “Her tail used to be as long as her whole body!”

Show animals are auctioned at the end of the Fair, if their owners choose to sell them. This brings the 4H projects full circle and gives the kids a tangible reward for their hard work. Hailee Labrum, 17, says she thinks she will be taking her prize-winning steer, Sunflower, to the New Mexico state competition instead of selling him here.

The State Fair is the next stop for a lot of these competitors, and will be held in Albuquerque starting Sept. 9. For more information on the State Fair, visit exponm.com.