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Navajo Nation Fair, Rodeo and Miss Navajo Pageant return to Window Rock after 2 years of Covid-19 cancellations

Leonard Francisco Jr. .jpg
Sakya Calsoyas
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Leonard Francisco Jr. is the Navajo Nation Fair Manager. He gave KNAU a tour of the new facilities at the rodeo arena at the fairgrounds in Window Rock, AZ. The 74th Navajo Nation Fair runs now through Sunday September 11th, with the Parade on Saturday Morning at 8am.

The Navajo Nation Fair is underway this week after a 2-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now in its 74th year, it’s become the largest Native American fair and rodeo in the United States. The week-long celebration includes traditional songs and dances, food vendors, carnival rides, a pro-rodeo and the famed Miss Navajo Nation Pageant. KNAU’s Sakya Calsoyas visited the fairgrounds as crews set-up the event. He spoke with Navajo Nation Fair manager Leonard Francisco Jr. about the fair’s return.

Hey, Leonard, can you tell me when it was decided that the fair is back on? And how was this decision reached?

That decision was based on our division director. He worked closely with my boss and they got together and said, okay, let's start planning. And the planning started like in March. We said, we can't wait, we got to get moving. My staff have been working diligently on safety plan. So we have a safety plan that first time ever that the fair has put together. That's all I ask is wear your mask and be cognizant about each other and support one another. And I think that that's the way we can work together to make this a very enjoyable fair for everyone.

How, did everyone in your office feel about the fair return?

They were excited. They were finally like, oh, then finally we get the plan. So, we decided we had to stay out of the buildings, number one, And I said, Okay, now what can we do to improve the areas? Therefore, we had to get these tents and we had to get the sizes and everything. So, we gradually looked through all of that and put the whole crew together.

And how many visitors are you expecting this year?

You're probably looking at more than maybe about, what, 25,000 a day? That's what you're going to do. And in in I think that we are the largest fair throughout America.

What are some things that are different about this year's fair than previous years?

I hate to say this, but I had to cancel the baby contests. I also had to cancel the elderly fest. I also scratched out the Cultural Night. And, you know, it was a hard decision, but I had to do what I had to do. This year is the first time ever we're having a night show. And then we're also going to be looking at the beautiful contestants that are ready for the Miss Navajo. And she will be crowned during the intermission here at the rodeo. This is the main event. So I wanted to have the new Miss Navajo be crowned here at the rodeo. And, you know, and it is exciting because I'm glad the Miss Navajo is here. So it's really an exciting fair that we're putting on for the public and we just want them to have a good time and, you know, everything is outdoors, so we just need to work with all of what we can do. And then I'll, you know, I invite everybody to the tour this year, 74th Annual Navajo Nation Fair and looking forward to our silver anniversary in the 75th next year.

Thank you, Leonard. Thank you for speaking with me.

Thank you.