New health order affects NM State Fair participants

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“Under a public health order issued Tuesday by the state of New Mexico, vaccinations are required for the 2021 New Mexico State Fair, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 9,” reads the first line of the press release from Governor Lujan-Grisham’s office dated August 17, 2021. A few days above three weeks, 24 days to be precise, separate the date of the press release and the date of the State Fair. 

The short notice between the new state order and the beginning of the fair gives little time for both fair attendants and participants to receive the vaccination. While the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is a single shot administration and would make it possible for individuals wishing to attend the fair to meet the vaccination requirement, the vaccine is in short supply in our rural area. The Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine both require three to four weeks, 21 and 28 days respectively, between the first shot and the second shot of the vaccine. Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech are readily available in Southeast New Mexico; however, the minimum number of days between the two shots of the Moderna is 28 days which rules out the possibility of meeting the requirement before the State Fair. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is just 21 days between the two, but that means the choice of which vaccine is available to fair goers is limited.

These limitations on vaccine choice and the short notice of the new health order has a number of Eddy County residents planning to attend the State Fair upset and frustrated. State Fair participants have worked tirelessly on their state projects pouring blood, sweat, and tears into preparation for the event. The monetary investment that the fair represents for the families numbers into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Those who are eligible, but not yet vaccinated feel that the latest health order limits their ability to participate if they cannot acquire either the Johnson & Johnson/Jassen vaccine or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in time. And with the clock ticking to get the vaccine, it looks like the fair may take a hit in the number of participants.     

4-H Leader and mother of three 4-Hers, Traci Folmar, writes, “Eddy County 4-H had 178 indoor entries that were eligible for state. That’s 178 projects that our talented youth spent hours planning, buying supplies for, completing and hoping for a chance at a state title. Between Eddy County 4-H and Eddy County FFA members we also had 20 families enter sheep and goats (so probably 30 kids), 6 families (15ish kids) with swine projects, 8 (12ish kids) families with steers and at least 4 (6ish kids) with dairy calves. Entry fees are between $15 and $30 dollars a piece, per animal. These fees were due August 1. We have been notified that we can apply to get a refund. My girls alone paid $340 just to enter the state fair. Keep in mind each family will have to stay in a motel for 3 days minimum (my room was close to $600), most rooms are non-refundable and we must also buy food for the duration of our time at the fair. That being said, the money we put into the state fair doesn’t even touch the amount of hours that the kids spend preparing. This is our livelihood, our passion, and our kids’ future!”

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