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FARMINGTON — Crowds braved threatening skies this evening to watch the San Juan County Fair parade pass through downtown.

Marking the start of the largest single-county fair in the state, the procession was led by the marching band from Piedra Vista High School and featured numerous groups with riders on horseback. The theme for this year was "Blue Ribbon Selfies," and at least one float contained plywood cutouts of farm animals posing for cell phone photos. Commanding the most attention from the crowd, however, were the marchers passing out candy.

"It's better than Halloween for the kids," Farmington resident Jeannie Browne said. "They get a whole bucket full."

And while the human participants had plenty of gifts, the animals in tow left behind their own offerings on Main Street. As parade-goer Danny Zurface noted, the horses dropped several piles of "road apples."

"Luckily, I don't see any kids running out after those," he said.

The fair is a tradition in San Juan County, with versions of the event dating to the 1880s, according to The Daily Times archives. That strong heritage contributed to the turnout today, despite comments on the fair's Facebook page warning of forecasts predicting heavy rain.

Although Zurface and Browne brought umbrellas with them, the rain held off. But just as the two were packing up their collapsible lawn chairs near the conclusion of the event, members of the San Juan County Shrine Club zipped by on four-wheelers, spraying the crowd with water.

"We got wet anyway," Browne said. "But it's OK, we love the Shriners."

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606. 

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