Steve Kopelman, Sharon Stover, Frank Blackwell, Bill Lee, Chuck Brown and Dan Mourning gather together Sept. 17 at the annual Gathering of Counties Day at the New Mexico State Fair. Courtesy photo
NMAC President Sharon Stover, left, with Los Alamos artist Janice Parker Muir hold the water color painting by Parker Muir that she donated to the State Fair Commission and it will be displayed permanently at the State Fair. Photo by Adriana Ortiz
- A New Mexico State Fair and NMAC joint celebration
For the past 12 years, the New Mexico State Fair has partnered with the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC) to host the Gathering of Counties Day, celebrating New Mexico’s 33 counties’ rich history and culture with agriculture and farming, county fairs, rodeo queens, 4H clubs and county extension offices.
This year, the Gathering of Counties was held Thursday, Sept. 17 in conjunction with New Mexico True Day, a collaboration between the New Mexico Department of Tourism and NMAC. Los Alamos, along with many other counties used this opportunity to set up booths along Main Street and provide information to fairgoers on county services, local attractions, and the history of their community.
A formal program honoring the unique heritage of New Mexico’s counties was presided over by New Mexico State Fair Commission Chair Larry Kennedy, NMAC President and Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover, and State Fair Manager Dan Mourning. As part of the presentation, the President of NMAC is requested to select a piece of art from their county that is given as a gift to the State Fair Commission and will displayed permanently at the State Fair.
“We are extremely fortunate in Los Alamos to have so many talented artists and through the efforts of Ken Nebel, director of the Fuller Lodge Art Center, we were fortunate to have Janice Parker Muir donate a piece of art,” Stover said. “I was thrilled that Los Alamos would be represented by Janice as there is a significant connection as Janice’s husband, Lewis Muir, served on the NMAC Board while he was an elected official in Los Alamos. Janice was extremely gracious in allowing us to select any piece of art in her collection, but hearing her love of our beautiful sky, made the selection of the ‘Anniversary Trail’ painting easy.”
Parker Muir was born and raised in Albuquerque and graduated from Sandia High School and the University of New Mexico with a major in Elementary Education and minors in Art and Recreation. While growing up, her family took many camping trips around northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. She inherited a love of clouds while spending time with her father watching their movement and developed a reverence for nature and especially a love of New Mexico’s southwestern skies.
“I feel such a sense of liberation and endless possibilities. Our New Mexico skies give me the space to expand, to breathe. There is a feeling of calming energy,” Parker Muir said. “I hope my paintings help the viewer resonate with the places I have loved.”
Parker Muir has been recognized by her peers with signature status in Women Artists of the West, Pastel Society of New Mexico, Pastel Society of the West Coast, and the Pastel Society of Colorado. She is an associate member of the Oil Painters of America and her paintings hang in governmental, corporate and personal collections nationwide.
State Fair Commissioner Chuck Brown expressed his gratitude for the artwork on behalf of the State Fair. “This beautiful piece of art will serve as a wonderful remembrance of our 2015 NM State Fair will be enjoyed for many years, by all who love and attend the Greatest Show in New Mexico Brown said. “We are grateful to the New Mexico Association of Counties, the people of Los Alamos County for this incredible gift.”
As part of the festivities, Stover also had the honor of recognizing the outstanding leadership provided by the 2014-2015 State Fair Queen Janna Mills. Mills is a fourth generation resident of Colfax County who is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education and Special Education at the University of New Mexico. She hopes to be able to channel her love for horses into a mechanism to help kids learn and in particular those with special needs.
Stover also recognized a special addition to the program, Wilma Fulgham from Curry County. Fulgham was selected as the very first New Mexico State Queen in 1950 and has only missed the event twice in the past 65 years.
The program concluded with the reading of the Gathering of Counties proclamation signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. The proclamation highlighted the extensive services that counties provide on behalf of their citizenry.
The NMAC is a non-profit, nonpartisan association representing and serving New Mexico’s county elected officials and employees and additional information can be found at www.nmac.org.
NMAC President Sharon Stover, left, with the very first State Fair Queen Wilma Fulgham elected in 1950 and this year’s Queen Janna Mills. Courtesy photo