SHIPROCK — Stripped electrical wires laid like an abstract painting on the cement floor of the Agriculture and Education exhibit hall at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds.

The floor was littered with broken fluorescent tubes and discarded fair tickets. Three dusty fire extinguishers -- which were last inspected in June 2007 -- sat in one corner. Another corner had exposed ceiling insulation.

The Northern Navajo Nation Fair, now in its 102nd year, is set to start Oct. 3, and fair director Robert Felson Jr. said organizers are aware of the problems plaguing the fairgrounds.

"It has been an ongoing issue," Felson said.

He said repairs and renovations are scheduled to start Monday. Organizers have delayed making repairs because of concerns that vandals would strike again when renovations were finished, Felson said. He said cleanup efforts will happen throughout the fairgrounds and damaged structures will be dismantled and discarded.

There's plenty of work that needs to be done.

When The Daily Times visited the fairgrounds last week, one of the structures in the small arena south of the exhibit hall had collapsed and showed signs of fire damage.

Meanwhile, discarded 40-ounce liquor bottles littered the corrals in the building that houses the 4-H Club competition. Garbage covered the corrals, and a makeshift bed was in the southwest corner. Like the exhibit hall, the corral was stripped of electrical wiring, and its light fixtures were emptied. A wooden sign that read "Shiprock Navajo Fair Junior Livestock Show and Sale" was discarded in the announcer's booth, along with trash.

A group of people hang out Tuesday at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Shiprock.
A group of people hang out Tuesday at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Shiprock. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

At the Jimmie K. King Sr. Memorial Powwow Arena, the announcer's booth door was ajar. A foul odor was inside.

In other areas of the fairgrounds, garbage was an issue, and graffiti tagged buildings.

At the Ye'ii Bi Chei grounds, four of the north side stands were completely demolished, and a fifth one was halfway standing.

Some booths on the south side were missing roofs, and one of the utility poles had been knocked to the ground.

As the wind blew, a piece of aluminum roofing flapped in the breeze.

When repairs and renovations are underway, there will be more fair personnel on the fairgrounds to monitor who enters and exits the area, Felson said.

Plastic casing for electrical wiring litters the ground on Tuesday at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Shiprock.
Plastic casing for electrical wiring litters the ground on Tuesday at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Shiprock. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

When asked about the cost of the repair work, Felson referred the question to the fair's financial manager Manuel Watchman. Telephone calls to the fair office were not returned by press time.

Despite the Ye'ii Bi Chei grounds being heavily damaged, the nine-day healing ceremony is still scheduled to take place. Patrick Tsosie, of Cornfields, Ariz., is this year's patient. The ceremony will start Sept. 27 and continue through the early morning hours of Oct. 6.

In addition to the Ye'ii Bi Chei, the fair will continue to offer the usual events, including the song and dance, parade, carnival, rodeo, arts market, elder day and youth day.

The powwow will extend from a two-day event to four days, adding a round dance and Sunday performance.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.