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Northern Navajo Nation Fair starts Thursday
Carnival rides and rodeo events are among the attractions
SHIPROCK — Inside the exhibit hall at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairground here, Michelle Nakai-Gale was filling out applications for the horticulture competition.
Nakai-Gale grew sweet corn, solar fire tomatoes and Roma tomatoes this summer at her residence in Upper Fruitland and is following her father's footsteps in participating in the contest.
"We grew up on a farm and ate what we grew. He was the one who used to bring a lot of his fruits and vegetables here," she said.
The competition is one event taking place during the 107th annual Northern Navajo Nation Fair, which starts when the fairground opens at 7 a.m. on Thursday.
There are 10 classes for the horticultural competition and entries will be accepted until Wednesday afternoon with judging taking place that evening.
Garry Jay, the horticulture and exhibits coordinator, said the competition showcases the area's farming tradition and demonstrates the farming methods contestants learned from their parents and grandparents.
Martin Loretto entered three chile strings he made at home in the Pueblo of Jemez.
A chile string, or ristra, is a string of dried chiles that usually hang as a decoration.
Loretto learned how to tie chiles from his grandparents and an uncle taught him how to create the string.
"We would sit in the evening and tie chiles. Slowly, I advanced to making the string set," he said adding he learned about the horticulture competition from friends and decided to compete because he wanted to share a part of the Jemez culture.
In other areas of the fairground, crews were unloading carnival rides and work continued to upgrade the rodeo arena.
Floyd Benally, the rodeo coordinator, said work started a month ago to build a ticket booth and concession stand and to improve the spectator stand.
The open rodeo starts with bull riding at 6 p.m. Thursday and continues to Sunday with various performances, including the junior, women and senior rodeos, children's dummy roping and slack rodeo.
"Rodeo is pretty popular on the reservation. Some of the best cowboys around come from the Navajo reservation," Benally said.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and senior citizens. Kids ages 4 and under are free.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.