The fair’s many pictures

By Ryn Gargulinski: FNNM Columnist

A county fair means one thing. Crouching down into an immobile ball for several hours beside the pig pens.

No, I was not hiding from the cops. Nor was I attempting to steal a corncob from an unsuspecting sow.

I was armed with 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 – like 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. Contact her at