County fairs all over the United States are part of a remarkable tradition. They are celebrations of community, agriculture, and the arts. They highlight the local and regional specialties that are still going strong in an increasingly standardized age. They’re one of the few places where everyone is invited to share the things they make and do, from flower arranging to woodworking, and maybe win a ribbon for it. Some of the best parts of county fairs are organized by volunteers (many of them affiliated with 4-H).
But the San Juan County Fair is special. There is a good sized fair just to the north, in La Plata County, Colorado. Otherwise, most of the nearby fairs on both sides of the state line are very small and almost entirely focused on agriculture. So the fair in Farmington draws families and exhibitors from all over northwest New Mexico, including parts of the Navajo Nation. In an area that often feels divided along cultural lines, the fair brings people together in a way nothing else does.