VC Community Expo

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The Valencia County Community Expo got off to a slow start during the day, but turn out picked up in the afternoons and evenings.

The two large tents provided relief from the relentless sun, housing the livestock shows, 4-H projects and vendors selling trinkets, jewelry, books and other offerings.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: This registered Longhorn calf was donated to the Valencia County Community Expo by Ron and Jan Gentry of the Bar G Bar Longhorn Ranch in Belen. He was auctioned off Saturday evening on the last day of the Expo. Proceeds from the sale of the calf are slated for next year’s event.

“The temperature’s great,” said Bosque Farms resident Cyndy McCrossen, owner of Fresh-Squeezed, a lemonade and specialty drinks mobile business. “When it’s 100 degrees, we sell a lot of lemonade.”

Each year, the expo gets bigger and better, said Mariah King, a Los Lunas High School graduate, who has shown hogs each year since the expo began four years ago. She won the reserve championship this year.

“More people have gotten involved each year, instead of the same people coming back over and over again,” she said.

More than 70 Future Farmers of America and 4-H students showcased their livestock and skills in scheduled performances and exhibits during the week long event.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Breelii Hollaway, 2, checks out the bulletin board of livestock show winners on the final day of the Valencia County Community Expo on Saturday.

Friday and Saturday night were the busiest with live music and dancing, carnival rides, a round-robin mud volley ball tournament and a car smashing FFA fundraiser, where people could buy a chance to take a sledgehammer to a car.

The youth were happy to showcase their livestock, digital photography, canned products, quilts, pottery, artwork, baked goods and other projects that they’ve worked on all year.

“The kids had a great time,” said Chris Martinez, the Valencia High School agriculture teacher, “I think it was a bigger draw than it was last year. The kids get the opportunity to exhibit their animals that they’ve been raising all year long, not only to the judge, but to the community members who come in to the expo.”

“It’s been better than the past years,” said FFA member Kaitlyn Othart, a senior at Valencia High School.

Othart’s family are in the dairy business, and she showed dairy cows and a couple of lambs.

Her mother, Jennifer Guggino-Othart, volunteered to help at the expo this year.

“This year’s a lot better than last year’s,” said Guggino-Othart. “We worked hard. It was rewarding.”

Taylor Moya, also a senior in FFA, didn’t show this year at the expo, but she came to help anyway.

Along with several different VCC Expo committee volunteers, FFA and 4-H students set up all the pens and build the fencing as well as take care of operations during the event.

New to the venue was an adult showmanship class. FFA and 4-H youth selected livestock for their parents or advisors to show and be judged.

“I think we had a successful show,” said James Hartline, who had children showing in the livestock shows. “It has grown since the first year.”

On Saturday, a special barbecue dinner was held for the livestock buyers, with the auction following.

Ron and Jan Gentry of the Bar G Bar Longhorn Ranch in Belen donated a registered Longhorn calf to be auctioned with proceeds going to support next year’s expo.

Some of the vendors said there weren’t enough signs leading in to the expo and to the parking.

“There are simple little things that could have been done that would have made it better,” said Deborah Smith, an interior designer from Albuquerque.

She said she felt sad for the 4-H kids who had exhibits in the vendor tent, but very few came in to see them.

Smith said setting up the vendor tent at an angle in front of the fair entrance might encourage people to come in, and putting a large 4-H exhibit banner across the top of the tent would have brought more people in too.

“Our biggest problem is that we need to find a permanent facility,” said Dr. Jerry Cosper, a livestock committee member. “So, that being an issue every year, we’ve got to rebuild this facility, which makes it financially difficult … That hurts us every year.”

Cosper has two children in the Valencia FFA chapter, who show steers.

“I do believe this venue will be a greater success as it is allowed to build,” Cosper said. “I do think it is getting better.”

He said the livestock show was excellent.

About 2,500 people visited the VCC Expo this year, said Kathy Mechenbier, an expo volunteer.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.