Officials: Drought may affect fair entries

Freedom New Mexico: Tony Bullocks Jacque Wuest of Clovis displays one of the potted plants she plans on entering in the Curry County Fair this year.

Alisa Boswell

The drought could change the competition in plant and livestock entries this year at the Curry and Roosevelt county fairs.

According to county agriculture officials and local residents who will compete in the annual events, the eastern New Mexico dry weather has definitely had an impact on their plant and animal life.

Roosevelt County 4-H agent Melanie Gutierrez said she feels the quality of livestock for this year’s fair will not be lower. But the number of submissions could be a different story.

“I think people have cut back on the amount of animals they’re showing because of grain prices and cost of animals,” Gutierrez said. “As a whole, people with show lambs are raising a lot better lambs and it’s just costing more.”

Gutierrez said along with sheep prices rising this spring, grain prices have been steadily rising for the last few years, making it more difficult to afford to feed animals.

“The weather has made livestock challenging from a feeding standpoint,” said Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County agriculture agent. “Like with people, the hot weather makes animals not feel good. More people than usual have had health issues with their animals this year and I think that’s largely due to the hot weather.”

Kircher, whose 9- and 11-year-old daughters show sheep and steers at the county fair each year, said his family has faced challenges with keeping their animals cool and comfortable, which has led to difficulty getting them to eat.

“I envision the heat and lack of water has affected things and we won’t see the same quality of submissions as previous years because the heat has not allowed things to grow the way they should,” Kircher said. “But someone may surprise me.”

Helen Martinez, president of the Encanto Garden Club in Clovis, said she has seen a very distinct difference in the quality of flowers this summer compared to last.

“What I’ve noticed is even with watering, some of the plants aren’t thriving,” Martinez said. “They’re not dying but they’re just not healthy. I think a lot of them have been sun beaten so they are just not as hardy as last year.”

Kircher and Martinez both said only time will tell if agriculture submissions are lower for the two county fairs this year. Both said they anticipate numbers to be lower for certain types of plants and animals, but will not know for sure until closer to the fair competition deadlines around the second week of August.

Martinez, who helps run the booth for the flower competition, said she has encouraged local residents to submit more succulent plants, such as cactus, this year.

“The shrubs and vines are pretty hardy but some of these more delicate flowers may have lower numbers,” Martinez said. “But some people have more of a green thumb than others. It’s going to be a matter of waiting and seeing really.”