Western Navajo Nation Fair brings art, culture and entertainment to Tuba City

The White River Apache Crown Dancers perform during the Western Navajo Nation Fair in Tuba City. Photo/Loretta Yerian

The White River Apache Crown Dancers perform during the Western Navajo Nation Fair in Tuba City. Photo/Loretta Yerian

Fun, food, and festivities for the entire family, that's what this year's 45th annual Western Navajo Nation Fair was able to achieve. The fair began Oct. 17, at 8 a.m. when the gates opened for the rodeo and carnival rides. The Runavajo 5k and 2k took place that evening along with the 49 Laughs Comedy Show and a country dance.

Friday and Saturday's events included the A.I.R.C.A. (All Indian Rodeo Cowboy Association) rodeo, Gourd Dances, pow-wow, native performances, concerts, and country dancing. For many, a highlight of the weekend was the parade, at 9 a.m. Oct. 19 on Main Street.

"We had a really good turnout," said Parade Coordinator Aaron Benally. "It was a big parade, we ended up having 95 floats this year."

The fair is always a big part of the rodeo. Garry, from Keems Canyon, Ariz. helped out with security. He explained that all the contestants work hard and deserve the recognition that they get at the rodeo.

"These young kids are on the ball," Garry said. "They're all winners and they're carrying on the traditions, because this is part of us, the Navajo. It's good to watch them come and go. I love everything about the rodeo. It's like what all the young kids are saying these days, 'It's all good.' We have a phrase for that too...'Jo Yateeh,' which means 'it's still good.'"

Callie Edgewater, a 12-year-old barrel racer from Greasewood Springs, Ariz. agreed.

"I have been riding since I was about 5-years-old and what I enjoy most about it is being with my horse, Houdini, and getting to go to the rodeos," she said.

One of the last categories for the rodeo was the bull riding event. Brian Bitsui, a 21-year-old cowboy out of Steamboat Canyon, Ariz. was this year's winner for the open bull riding event.

"I started riding when I was 16," Bitsui said, "I do it because its fun and I really do love it."

Other fair attendees were drawn to the native performances. The dances provided friends and families with the chance to watch traditional dancing from various tribes around the state. Sunday's festivities included performances from the Havasu Nation in the Grand Canyon, The Jones Benally family from Black Mesa, Ariz. and the Crown Dancers of the White River Apaches.

Those attending the fair could be found throughout the day watching the native performances, the rodeo and riding the carnival rides. Tasheena Willie drove from Flagstaff to take her family to the fair. She and her family enjoyed the festivities offered Oct. 20, taking a ride on the carousel.

"We got here on Wednesday and have been spending the weekend with my family," Willie said. "The kid's favorite part of the fair is definitely the rides."

The Western Navajo Nation Fair provides opportunities for both young and old to come together and enjoy themselves. Christopher McCabe an artisan from Coyote Canyon, N.M. spent the week with his family, selling their wares along with the other vendors.

"We really like to go to events like this," McCabe said. "This is the last fair we will go to this year, but we will definitely be back to Tuba City next year."

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