ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Crews are setting up for this year’s state fair, the state’s largest event to be held since before the pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions have put a damper on some popular events, but what about others? Organizers said despite some of the challenges they’re facing with the pandemic, they still believe this will be one of the best fairs to date, with more entertainment than ever before.    

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It’s been more than a year since New Mexicans were able to flood Expo New Mexico for some food, fun and rides, at the fair. However, the time has finally come. The 11-day event is set to open this Thursday with hundreds of acts and other local entertainers itching to get back.

“The local bands and folks that come out here and entertain are just knocking our door down, we have a waiting list of people to come out here,” said Dan Mourning, the general manager of Expo New Mexico. “All of our stages are full.”

Mourning also said they’ve more than doubled the number of things to see, including a sea lion spectacle and parakeet show, among other entertainment. Mourning said despite some concerns that COVID could have an impact on which popular events will be at this year’s fair, he said people don’t need to worry because there will still be plenty of rides, dancers, art exhibits and of course plenty of food.

“With food concessionaires alone we have just about 60 to 70 different concessionaires alone,” said Mourning. “That doesn’t include the midway which has its own 15 to 20 different food vendors.” 

Of course, there will be some changes to the fair because of the pandemic. Including following the state mandate, where the fair will be requiring proof of vaccination for guests to enter and masks being worn indoors which is enough reason for some, not to go. 

“I know for the pandemic and all this stuff, we want to be concerned about it,” said Troy Campo. “But to the extremes of what most of the states are going in, they’re following one another, I don’t agree with it and I can spend my money elsewhere.” 

Organizers understand why some won’t come but hope they will in the future. 

“We understand these are some unprecedented times,” said Mourning. “We’re going to miss you this year, but I guarantee we’ll see you next year.” 

Although vaccinations are required, there are specific religious or medical exemptions allowed but those also must be accompanied by a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours. Organizers said the fair is always looking for volunteers and workers.