For decades, the annual three-day event has drawn thousands of agricultural producers, suppliers and other curious residents from the Four Corners area to Montezuma County Fairgrounds. The 35th expo, scheduled for March 16-18, will offer educational sessions for producers on hot topics in the industry, as well as several new events for kids and entertainment for all ages.
Organizers said their goal is that everyone who visits the expo learns something new, regardless of their age or experience.
Although the event is mainly geared toward farmers, ranchers and others in the agriculture industry, the expo’s executive director, Radiance Beals, said everyone is welcome.
“We want to reach everybody, in order to continue our agricultural heritage,” she said. “Without agriculture, everybody’s way of life would change.”
The expo always includes several education sessions and hands-on clinics for producers. In past years, the focus has been on water and irrigation problems, but Gus Westerman, the Colorado State University extension agent who schedules the sessions, said those issues aren’t at the forefront of most producers’ minds.
“This year, we’re actually looking pretty good,” he said. “Commodity prices are actually the No. 1 issue, since they’re very low right now. But the expo is too late in the year to really make a difference there, so we’ve been having workshops earlier in the year about those topics.”
Instead, the expo will expand its summit education sessions, which count as educational credits for various crop-related certifications. This year’s sessions include a pesticide applicators workshop and an invasive weed symposium, the latter of which will count for continuing education credits in both Colorado and New Mexico.
Another new event at the expo this year is the “ag-ceptional kids’ rodeo,” a series of events for kids with disabilities or other special needs that keep them from competing in the regular youth contests. Scheduled for Thursday morning, it will include sack races, a gentle “bucking horse” ride and other competitions, supervised by several volunteers.
As always, the expo will also feature hands-on education for all ages. Brandi Lyons, Carl Wood, Glenn Ryan and Mia Stovall will teach clinics on horse and dog training. Stovall will supervise the stock dog trials and pretrials, new events this year that allow aspiring trainers to test their dogs’ skill in various herding scenarios. And as always, 4-H and FFA students will be able to show off their animals during the livestock judging.
Even the children’s games that will go on throughout the expo have educational purposes, like the mock auctions, kids’ roping and mutton-busting events. But Beals said there will be plenty of live entertainment as well.
“The focus is on education, but ... we want to throw some fun in there too,” she said.
A few local bands will perform over the three days, and there will be several family events without an educational twist, like an ice cream-eating contest.
Beals said the details of the expo’s schedule aren’t all set in stone yet, but she expects a full order of events to be available on the event website within the next week or two.