Saturday event held annually in celebration of harvest

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FARMINGTON — Robert Nargo was giving instructions for setting up an 80-foot-by-120-foot tent Thursday near a warehouse at the Region 2 complex at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry headquarters.

NAPI employees this week have been preparing for Customer Appreciation Day, an event designed to celebrate the company's customers and recognize harvest season at the 72,000-acre farm located south of Farmington.

Nargo, an equipment operator at the farm, said the event provides an opportunity for him to interact with customers.

"It's always good to be part of the appreciation event," Nargo said.

NAPI crop manager Ryan Garcia said approximately 400 employees help with every aspect of Customer Appreciation Day — from cooking and serving baked potatoes to loading products in customer vehicles.

Vincent Cowboy, chief operations officer at NAPI, said the event has been taking place for more than 15 years, and its main purpose is to express appreciation to customers.

"They've been with us from the beginning, and they continue to be with us," Cowboy said.

Garcia said the event also serves as an outlet for those interested in agriculture to learn about the farm by interacting with NAPI managers and board members, as well as representatives of New Mexico State University.

NMSU operates an agricultural science center on 254 acres of land leased from the Navajo Nation and surrounded by NAPI.

The event will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Region 2 Complex, located 6 miles west of N.M. Highway 371 on Navajo Route 3003/7010.

During the event, NAPI reduces prices for its Navajo Pride products, and for its forage and feed.

The Navajo Pride line includes all-purpose flour, pinto beans, potatoes and onions while the Navajo Pride native foods line includes blue corn pancake mix, chiichin, cedar ash, red chile powder, and blue, white and yellow cornmeals.

Garcia said a new feature of this year's event is NAPI's ability to accept payment by debit and credit cards through card readers attached to handheld devices.

More: NAPI celebrates its harvest, thanks customers

"We think it's going to increase the rate of getting people in and out," he said, explaining that up to 6,000 people visit the farm during the event.

Approximately 5,000 organic NAPI potatoes will be baked for the complimentary potato bar, which will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors can top those potatoes with items ranging from bacon, sour cream, butter and chives to chili and pinto beans.

The event will include activities for children and live music by the Stillwater Band. DJ Who Me? will play music from all genres. A live remote broadcast by local radio station KNDN-AM will take place during the event.

There will be raffle drawings for alfalfa hay, four sheep and a steer. Participants must be present to win, Garcia said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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