First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - A little Latino flavor spiced up Sunday night at the Robeson County fair, and the laid-back, no-schedule Hispanic attitude seemed to roll over to the fair officials.
The first Hispanic Family Day at the county fair kicked off with mariachi bands, bull-riding, authentic Mexican tacos and - of course - dancing. The last of the events - the rodeo - didn't end until 9 p.m. when the fair was supposed to close. But after leaving the bull ring, many Latinos lined up for the rides.
“I hate to tell them to go when they are enjoying the rides,” said Coble Wilson Jr., president of the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair board. “ … We just have a big time with this.”
The day cost a few extra dollars for those wanting to attend the special music at the back of the fair or the rodeo. But most said the prices weren't too steep for a little slice of home.
Yosenia Hernandez leaned against the bull ring with her two sons and husband. She said she had seen bull-riding many times before in Mexico.
“This is really nice because it is from our country,” Hernandez said. “But it's nerve-wracking because of the danger of the bulls running.”
The band Bravo Norteno was the last band to hit the stage. With its members decked out in white suit jackets and black pants, the group performed not only by playing the bass guitar, accordion and drums - but also by dancing choreographed steps common to the Latino culture.
The night reminded Gloria Capote of her hometown.
“It makes me really happy …,” said Capote as she watched her 4-year-old daughter, who had been moving her feet since the mariachi band took the stage.
Claudio Medina, one of the fair workers who organized the event, looked pleased with the turnout.
“Basically we are just trying to get the Latino community out here and have fun with them,” Medina said. “This is to try to merge everything together, not just the Mexican, but the Latino community.”
Medina said that nearly 700 Hispanics came Sunday night to see the Cumbia and Mexican bands play and eat tacos, corn-on-the-cob, fruit cocktail and a grilled meat dish called carne azada.
On Saturday, the Agriculture and Livestock building was packed with youngsters parading goats around a gated, semi-circular corral. The children were participants in the 4-H Meat Goat Show, one of the stops on the Sandhills 4-H Showmanship Circuit.
Judge Randal White watched as the owners walked their goats., then he questioned each one on different aspects of goat raising, such as feeding and care.
Maxine McInnis, 17, one of the top finishers in her age group, has been showing goats for about three years. McInnis said she got into it through her grandfather, one of the top goat producers in North Carolina.
“I like everything about the animals,” she said. “I named mine Gorgeous George because it was my grandma’s favorite wrestler.”
Virgil Nichols, advisor the FFA club at Purnell Swett High School, said that the students put months of work into their animals to prepare for the competition.
“These kids have to be dedicated to do this,” he said. “The show has grown and that makes it very competitive when you get to this level.”
Nichols said that raising goats teaches the students valuable skills.
“These kids have to be responsible and manage their time and their animals well,” he said. “They’ve got to have love for the animals and love for what they do.”
Anyone could benefit from the experience, Nichols said, pointing out that nearly half the participants in what is generally considered a male-dominated industry were female.
“This is not a man thing - it’s unisex,” he said.
Angela Shaver, a local 4-H agent, said that about 58 people entered goats in the four age categories. Shaver said the weekend’s show was considerably larger than last year’s. She said that the show was valuable preparation for the circuit final at the state fair in Raleigh.
“Get good showmanship experience,” she said. “But I tell the kids to have fun, it’s not about winning or losing.”