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Annual event kicks off four-day run on Oct. 6 in Shiprock

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SHIPROCK — Employees of the City of Fun Carnival Inc. placed the finishing touches on midway rides for the 108th Northern Navajo Nation Fair on Oct. 1.

Frank Morales, the carnival's manager, paused while examining their work. He explained that the company has been part of the fair for more than 20 years.

"People love all the rides. … They'll wait an hour in line to ride that Ferris wheel," Morales said.

Throughout the fairgrounds, volunteers were preparing the area for opening day on Oct. 3.

Fair director Reddawn George said the fair has been receiving sponsorship money to cover its operating costs. The fair has been soliciting sponsors after current fair board members reported $100,000 in missing funds, outstanding bills and unpaid contractor services from last year's fair.

Board members authorized the fair office to seek sponsors, George said.

"That was probably one of the only ways that coordinators would be able to have the events they have," she said.

Another step the fair board took was hiring Building Nations LLC to oversee the fair's finances and to produce a close-out report. That step helped with securing sponsorship from various tribal government departments.

On Sept. 27, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, and the Division of Natural Resources contributed a total of $80,000 to the fair, according to the President's Office Facebook page.

According to George, other sponsors include the Northern Edge Casino, the Flowing Water Casino, the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, Noel's Inc., Aaron's Inc., Rent A Wheel and Four Corners Pro Steel.

"At no time was it ever discussed that there wasn't going to be a fair," George said.

Inside the exhibit hall, Karrie Sells and Shannon Shorthair were helping to set up a booth for the Family and Child Education program at Atsá Biyáázh Community Grant School in Shiprock. The early-childhood program incorporates parental involvement and is operated in 49 schools under the Bureau of Indian Education.

Sells said parents worked on the large poster that covered the back wall of the program's booth, and the small posters that surrounded the image were made by students. The booth includes miniature hogans that were built by student at Atsá Biyáázh.

Lucinda Leuppe, a FACE program teacher, said the school participates in the fair each year.

"We like coming here and putting up the display and showing off the kids' art," Leuppe said.

The fair will start at 8 a.m. on Oct. 3 with youth and elder day.

Other staples of the fair are the Yei'Bi'Chei' ceremony, which concludes during the early morning on Oct. 6, and the parade, which starts at 8 a.m. on Oct. 5.

Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for children ages 6 to 12 and adults 55 and older. Kids ages 5 and younger are free, as well as veterans with valid identification.

For more information, visit the Facebook page for the 108th Northern Navajo Nation Fair.

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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