BERNALILLO — With the Sandoval County Fair Board facing a dearth of funds to run the fair in August, the county may step in with $65,000 in ARPA money and $25,000 from the regular budget.

Sandoval County Commissioners discussed the situation at their meeting Wednesday night in the county administration building.

“The fair board has not been able to raise any money based on COVID, and Sandoval County has one of the best fairs in the state,” said Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald.

Fair board President Timothy Johnson said the fair would cost about $90,000, including parking, security and more.

Deputy County Manager Mayling Armijo said the fair qualifies for funding under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and she believed the county could provide enough money from its allocation. She expects to bring the matter before the commission for a vote in May.

The county earmarks $25,000 for the fair in its budget each year, she said, so the fair board can start with that amount, even before the vote to allocate the remaining $65,000 in ARPA money.

Johnson said the May vote would make it tight to get contracts signed in time, but the contractors wanted to come back to Sandoval County and so were willing to work with the schedule. He said the fair’s rodeo would be televised this year if it can go forward.

He and Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Agent Steve Lucero pointed to local youth who have participated in the county fair and gone on to win at the New Mexico State Fair and national competitions.

“We have a lot of blue-ribbon kids in this county,” Lucero said.

The fair is a cultural and, more importantly, social event, he said.

Commissioner Michael Meek said ARPA was meant to replace money diverted to address the pandemic, and the funding the fair was the definition of that. Commissioner Jay Block said the cancellation of the fair in 2020 and the reduced, 4-H-only version of it in 2021 must have had negative impacts on the town of Cuba’s economy, as well as 4-H experiences.

The fair is scheduled for Aug. 3-7.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Heard fire and rescue department Deputy Chief of Fire Operations Sean Kissane report that the Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez Mountains is still 0 percent contained, with evacuation orders holding at least through Friday because of expected high winds that day into early Saturday morning. NM 4 is closed from NM 126 almost to NM 501 at the Los Alamos “back gate.” Kissane said the county fire department was supporting fire mitigation efforts and helping provide food and resources to evacuated people while a specialized team managed firefighting.
  • Heard a summary of the county assessor’s annual report and property valuation plan, with Assessor Linda Gallegos reporting the number and value of residential properties had increased in the last year. She also said she needed two more staff members.
  • Heard May proclaimed Motorcycle Awareness Month.
  • Heard May 1-7 proclaimed Small Business Week.
  • Awarded a two-year, $65,000-a-year contract for audit services to Hinkle & Landers PC.
  • Reappointed Geoffrey Stamp, James Maduena and Jerry Duarte to the county Planning and Zoning Commission for two-year terms.

    Cabañeros MC member James “Rowdy” Garcia, second from left, accepts a Motorcycle Awareness Month proclamation from Sandoval County Commissioners, from left, Michael Meek, Jay Block, Katherine Bruch, Dave Heil and Kenneth Eichwald at the commission meeting Wednesday night. (Argen Marie Duncan / Observer)