FARMINGTON — Admission to the San Juan County Fair on Wednesday was free for seniors and those with disabilities, and people took advantage of the waived ticket prices to enjoy the events and exhibits.
Free entry was enough of a reason for Vietnam War veteran Jim White to come out to the fair.
White and his friends took in the art displays in the McGee Park Convention Center on Wednesday. White, 70, a former radioman in the U.S. Navy, was interested in the wide array of handmade items in the showroom.
"That's right. I came out on old coot day," joked White, a native of Birmingham, Ala. "I like a lot of what I'm seeing here. There's nice things, a lot to take in, but I'm enjoying it."
Cleo Montoya and Sally Straney were among 20 seniors from the Aztec Senior Center who carpooled in a van to enjoy the fair.
"I like to see the flower displays and the photographs," Montoya said. "I've got to go see the rabbits, too. A rabbit named Harley took over my garage, and I adopted him, and now I got a soft spot for the little guys."
Straney and Montoya were first going to Memorial Coliseum to see the special-needs rodeo. Called The Mane Event, the rodeo is organized by Aztec Senior Center Director Cindy Iacovetto's Rein Dance Association, a nonprofit that brings together individuals of varying disabilities with horses.
Ellie Rivera visited the fair for the first time on Wednesday with her friend, Felipe Velasquez. The two met at Bonnie Dallas Senior Center and said they go everywhere together. They came out on Wednesday to see the animals and take in the displayed art.
"I wanted to see the babies — the baby animals. Well, big or small, I just love the animals," said Rivera, 68, who moved to Farmington from Wheeling, W.Va., two years ago. "I had my picture taken with a pretty cow, and I cried tears all over the place."
Velasquez, 69, who was born in Aztec, said he liked seeing the quilts in the exhibit hall. The couple were arm-in-arm in matching animal shirts — hers a cat with big blue eyes and his a black bear wearing sunglasses, a gift from Rivera.
"We just have a ball, and we enjoy life," Rivera said. "The fair is really nice. There's so much to see, and it's so beautiful. And the free admission for us teenagers is nice, too."
One of the fair's enduring charms is the returning families, said fair board member Kim Martinez said. She has been coming to the fair since childhood when she was a member of 4-H and showed the sheep she raised.
"I love this," Martinez said of the fair. "It's a real family thing. All the families here help each other."