Annual fair kicks off Monday

Jared Tucker

Expect to pay more to get into the Roosevelt County Fair this year, but less on amusement ride tickets if you go on the right day, according to fair personnel.

Roosevelt County Fair Board Treasurer Darla Reed said the board was forced to increase gate admission by $1 this year, because fair attendance fell sharply last year compared to 2008.

The fair officially opens at noon Tuesday, with the carnival rides starting at 6 p.m.

Reed said the total collected at the gate in 2009 was $37,650, a far cry from 2008 when the fair collected $45,132.

“Were not expecting it to be better this year, but we can sure hope so,” Reed said.

This year’s admission rates are $5 for adults and $3 for children, she added.

The economy is also forcing amusement ride owners to offer discounts on certain days.

Steve Mattfeldt, owner of Sun Valley Rides, Inc., said when he brings in his 15 amusement rides for the fair on Monday, he’ll be offering discounts and armband specials so more people can enjoy the fair.

“Last year was real good,” said Mattfeldt, “But the economy this year has people choosing to come out on the discount days.”

Mattfeldt said Thursday and Sunday will be armband days, where fairgoers can ride all night for $17. On Friday and Saturday night, he said, a family pack of 60 tickets will be on special for $35, which normally costs $45. Regular prices of tickets are $1 each, or 22 tickets for $20, he added.

Mattfeldt said at other venues he brings several food trailers, but not when he comes to Roosevelt County. That’s because there’s a large number of local and area vendors who have been selling fair-favorite foods for a long time, and all that competition only leaves room for two of his trailers, he said.

Of the 14 food vendors total, three are owned by Portales residents. Glen Johnson’s J-4 BBQ, Barbara George’s Tasty Taters and Mexican Food by Maribel round out the local menu, according to Don Sanders of Eastern Equipment, who coordinates the food vendors for the fair. The other nine vendors come from west Texas, Roswell and Carlsbad, Sanders said.

Katelynne Summers, a business major at Eastern New Mexico University, said she is looking forward to eating funnel cakes, watching moto-cross races and enjoying live bands perform on-stage.