66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair set to Double Window Rock’s Population

66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair set to Double Window Rock’s Population

Lee Allen

Sometime in the next few days the population of the Navajo Nation is expected to just about double.

Between 100,000 and 150,000 visitors are anticipated between September 2-9 at the 66th annual Navajo Nation Fair --- advertised as the largest American Indian fair in North America.

“The Fair has become a world-renowned event that showcases several aspects of Navajo life with the intent of promoting and preserving our heritage by offering cultural entertainment,” says Norma Bowman, now in her fourth season as fair manager.

This year’s weeklong event honors Navajo elders as priceless treasures.  Incorporating the theme of “Appreciating Tradition,” 90-year-old Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez—the only living member remaining from the World War II Marine Corps platoon that developed an unbreakable secret code—will be Grand Marshall.

“The overall population of the Navajo Nation is young, so we’re always honored to have elders participate in our events. Our elders are precious and full of wisdom, providing us both a glimpse of the past and the key to the future,” adds Bowman. “We can be grateful to our ancestors who paved the way for our way of life today.”

This grand daddy of all tribal fairs was established in 1938 as a means to stimulate livestock management through exhibits by Navajo peoples and has now blossomed into almost a ‘something-for-everyone’ event.

Says the Fair Manager: “This is a time to feature and honor our people and we’re happy to showcase the many talents of the Navajo people, acknowledging our hard work and accomplishments and sharing our cultural pride and beauty with other tribes and nationalities."

“There is so much to be seem throughout a week filled with traditional song, dance, cuisine, arts and crafts, an inter-tribal pow wow, our traditional livestock show, a carnival and farmers market, a fund-raising golf tournament, a half marathon, a fry bread contest, and free barbeque.”  Also on tap is a hot air balloon event, a carnival, an energy expo, Native American comedians and country/western sounds provided by Pueblo Country and artist Gary Allen as well as a Christian rock concert by Canadian Hawk Nelson.

Both the U.S. and Canada will be well represented at the Contest pow wow, open to anyone and everyone with Jason Goodstriker of Calgary, Alberta, Canada acting as Master of Ceremonies and fellow Canadian, Levi Neposse of Hobbema as Arena Director.  “In addition to visitors from across the U.S. and Canada competing for prize money, one of the Pow Wow highlights is the crowning of the new Navajo Nation Fair Pow Wow Princess,” says Bowman.

Also on tap is a junior rodeo and an Open Indian Rodeo, “one of the most highlighted events of our week,” according to Bowman. “The Indian Rodeo doesn’t disappoint because of its high caliber competition.  The final performance showcases the top cowboys and cowgirls in each event and includes a Final Four competition with additional prize money.”

Adds tribal publicist Roberta John: “It’s been said that Indian rodeo is the most popular sport on the Navajo Nation and rodeo fans can look forward to a razor sharp showdown of Native American competitors. It just doesn’t get any more rustic and original than Indian rodeo on Indian lands --- it’s a chance to see relics of the Old West come alive.”

If living life in eight seconds is not your forte…there are other equestrian activities for spectators like 24 Native American teams made up of wild bronc riders all hoping to be first to the finish line.  Some 30 senior break-away ropers will be spotlighted at the Dean Jackson Rodeo Arena on September 5, competing in a one go-round event to earn a wild card qualification to the International Indian Rodeo Finals.

For the shutterbugs in the crowd, a chance to capture picture-perfect Navajo elders dressed to the nines.  “The traditional Navajo song and dance competition is a combination of unique beauty and celebrated examples of traditional culture,” says Johns.  “Tribal members from throughout the reservation will follow the drum beat while wearing their finest minutely-detailed traditional Navajo attire.”

For further information, contact the Navajo Nation Special Events Office, (928) 871 7941, or log on to www.navajonationfair.com.

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