ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday is the first day of the New Mexico State Fair. This year, all visitors must show proof of vaccination before entering. The mandate handed down by the governor is impacting some of the exhibits.

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This year there are not many animals at the New Mexico State Fair because FFA students didn’t come out due to the vaccine requirement. Mariah Wilson is the owner and head trainer at Platinum Performance Horses and says she’s been coming to the fair since she was 12 and it won’t be the same without all the livestock. Wilson says the animals are a fan favorite at the fair and their absence is going to have a negative impact on turnout.

Thursday morning, attendants at the gates were busy checking vaccination cards before allowing entry into the fair. It was a light crowd but fair officials say it’s fairly normal on opening day. “Opening day is always a softer day for folks anyway. We still have folks in school and stuff like that but today has been about the same as what we’ve hoped for. We’ll see how the day progresses, but we have great expectations,” said Dan Mourning, general manager at EXPO New Mexico.

Mourning says they are accepting medical and religious exemptions but you must also provide proof of a negative COVID test taken in the past 48 hours. Attendees don’t have to bring their physical vaccination cards with them either. A picture of it on your phone will work.

The lighter crowds Thursday meant everyone entering the fairgrounds were checked to see if they have been vaccinated or had a negative test with their exemption. KRQE News 13 asked state fair officials if anyone was turned away Thursday because of the new rules, but were not given an answer.