It was nice to once again experience the sounds, smells, and activity at the New Mexico State Fair – where “every day is a holiday.” Accompanied by some of my USDA staff, rode on the 4-H float in the NM State Fair Parade. Along the three mile parade route down Central Ave, we greeted spectators and heard compliments on 4-H. As we passed in front of the grand stand and heard the commentator’s description of each entry in English and Spanish, I was reminded of the uniqueness of the multi-cultural emphasis in the “Land of Enchantment.”
After the parade, we toured the NM Country store “New Mexico – Taste the Tradition” which showcased a tremendous assortment of NM food products including over 45 different salsas! Then we worked our way over to the dairy barn where we were joined by the State FFA Officers who gave us a tour of the livestock facilities, county exhibits, the Red Barn and the Creative Arts Building. It really made me proud to see and experience the enthusiasm and commitment of these young men and women.
Around mid-day, I met with the State Fair Commissioners as well as the NM State FFA and 4-H Officers. I started with recognition of Sept 11 as the National Day of Service in commemoration of the tragic event which Americans will never forget.
I also thanked the young leaders and applauded their commitment and efforts to promote and carry on their tradition, their way of life. I emphasized to them that under the direction of Secretary Vilsack, I and the many hard working people at USDA are focused and committed to revitalizing and stimulating Rural America through creating and maintaining economic opportunities. These young people are the future of rural America who will carry on a tradition, a way of life that is so unique in this Country.
Our day concluded with a tour of Indian Village and visits to Spanish Village and the African American Pavilion. As we left the Fair, I saw kids grooming their animals for show, vendors selling their tremendous array of foods and goods, and people having a great time. And I remembered – everyday would not be a holiday at the State Fair if it wasn’t for the rural communities and the many farmers and ranchers across NM and throughout our Country.