Shiprock fair is on, organizers say

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Welder Benji Lee works the corners of the rodeo arena corral into place Sept. 13 in Shiprock. Lee volunteered his time to help complete the new rodeo arena that will be utilized during the 106th annual Northern Navajo Nation Fair Oct. 5 to 8 in Shiprock.


The show must go on.

After rumors have been swirling that the 106th Northern Navajo Fair would not be happening due to lack of funds, the fair board has insisted that not only will there be a fair but there will be major changes.

In February, Dan Smith inherited the fair’s $40,000-plus debt when he assumed his position as president of the fair board. Not only that, but he also inherited aging, dilapidated infrastructure.

Rather than canceling the oldest fair from happening, the board decided they would renovate and change the layout. “When I walked in they were in heavy debt,” said Smith.

“We didn’t have money to pay for anything. We had health and safety issues. NOSHA issues. It was a nightmare and they just handed it over.”

According to the financial closeout report, 2016 expenses were $191,064 more than the 2015 fair with most of the cost increase coming from unbudgeted purchases.

Total revenue brought in for 2016 was $434,670 – or $47,233 less than what was brought in for the 2015 fair.

“All these years I’ve noticed they made all this money but they didn’t have anything new,” said Smith.

“Last year was ten bucks to get in. No place to sit down, it was all dilapidated. That’s why we had to replace our rodeo grounds, it rusted out on us.”

Not only did the rodeo arena need to be completely moved and reconstructed, but also electric, water and sewer lines were old and needed to be replaced, said Smith. He said this rebuilding year was happened because volunteers have shown up to lend their skills.

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Categories: News

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at