For many New Mexicans, visiting the New Mexico State Fair at EXPO New Mexico, in the heart of Albuquerque, is a fall tradition. Cute and cuddly animals, distinctive fair food and thrilling rides all make for a fun day at the fair. I recently went to have some fun myself. Here’s a recap of everything I got to experience.


Mini Donuts at the 2022 New Mexico State FairI have been going to the State Fair with my family for as long as I can remember. No matter what other delicious food we ate throughout the day, we always started by making a beeline for some fresh mini donuts. While simple, nothing beats the delectable combination of freshly-fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar. This year, I found that the only thing better than the donuts were the green chile cheese curds. It’s hard to go wrong with deep-fried cheeseGreen Chile Cheese Curds at the 2022 New Mexico State Fair and green chile, but these were out of this world. It was hard for me to not inhale all of them at once. I also tried corn in a cup, which is exactly what it sounds like. The corn comes with elote-style toppings and crushed Hot Cheetos. I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing. The only specialty drink I indulged in was the New Mexico State Fair signature cocktail, strawberry lemonade spiked with New Mexico-made vodka. It tastes like summer and is the perfect choice to refresh you after a long day in the sun.


Petting Zoo at the 2022 New Mexico State FairAnother one of my family traditions is visiting the petting zoo. The petting farm on the Box Car Lawn has almost every type of farm animal you would want to pet. Buy an ice cream cone of feed to give the goats, sheep and llamas a little extra treat. The goats are eager to eat straight out of your hand, sometimes climbing on top of each other to reach the food. It’s a lot of fun – especially watching the young children marvel at how big pigs can grow and how soft a llama can be. Rattlesnake at the 2022 New Mexico State FairI also love to visit the Natural Resources building where you can meet the professionals who manage public land in New Mexico and learn about career paths to work in the great outdoors. My favorite part was seeing the rattlesnakes on loan from the American International Rattlesnake Museum. There are also lots of native fish to observe. I caught part of the Sea Lion Splash show, and was amazed by what these animals are trained to do. The highlight of the show was watching a sea lion paint a picture with the help of a young volunteer from the audience. Of course, the Fair also offers opportunities to view animals during the livestock shows, the 4-H and FFA auctions and the nightly PRCA rodeos.

Art and Culture

There is a lot of art to explore at the State Fair, and a good place to start is the Hispanic Arts Building. Walking in is an explosion of color. It is incredible to see the artists’ creativity. Performance at Villa Hispana at the 2022 New Mexico State FairMy personal favorites included a couple renditions of Zozobra and a beautifully crafted tin replica of the New Mexico State Fair ferris wheel. I also love to go to the Indian Village and Villa Hispana. The Indian Village was pretty quiet early in the day, but there were still quite a few people in line to buy a Pueblo Meat Pie, the winner of this year’s Unique Food competition. Over at Villa Hispana, papel picado decorate the walkways. It’s an extremely pleasant atmosphere to listen to some live music. I was able to enjoy part of Daniel Rivera’s performance, which was the perfect way to relax after spending a couple hours walking around in the sun.

Other Fun

View from the Skyride at the 2022 New Mexico State FairNo state fair would be complete without the spinning and soaring fun of the midway. The Ferris wheel soars high into the sky and can be spotted from across the grounds. There are multiple rollercoasters, swings and other fun and exciting rides. If you’re like me and not the most ride-inclined person, take a trip on the Skyride. This chair-lift soars above Main Street, giving riders an incredible view of the State Fair and Albuquerque. I had to indulge in at least one carnival game. Unfortunately my basketball skills were not up to snuff and I walked away empty-handed.Game at the 2022 New Mexico State Fair

A great place to buy a souvenir is the Manuel Lujan Jr. Building. Teeming with everything from food to clothes, jewelry to wine slushes, the variety is staggering. Take the time to stop at MindWorks! as well, an interactive exhibit featuring giant classic games like Operation and chess. The bubble arena is quite fun for kids and adults alike. Outside on Main Street, it was Smokey Bear and Firefighter Day. Fire trucks and engines lined the entire street, and people could stop and chat with members of the Forest Service and snap a picture with Smokey! The State Fair has a different theme on Main Street each day. Check out the schedule to see what’s next.

Catch all the fun at the 2023 New Mexico State Fair, Sept. 7-17.