Eric Southfield and son Daniel, 5, watch a presentation on wild animals during the fair’s Special Needs Day, Tuesday. (Vanessa Kahin Photo)
The Eastern New Mexico State Fair served a special purpose for special children, Tuesday.
Fair staff estimated about 500 area children attended the 2011 ENMSF Special Needs Day.
Children were invited to the fair and took turns at several stations. Each station provided an opportunity to learn about agriculture, livestock and tractors; watch a cow getting milked; and get a close look at wild animals.
The children also got to enjoy their share of fair rides.
“They love the rides,” said Dexter Preschool Instructional Assistant Monica Ulibarri. She said the preschool serves 30 students — half attend in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. All were present on the fairgrounds for Special Needs Day.
As she turned to look at a captivated group of tots watching a presentation on animals such as skunks, porcupines, armadillos and monkeys, Ulibarri said the children enjoyed the presentations just as much as the fair rides.
“They’re actually sitting still and watching,” she said.
Ulibarri said Special Needs Day was also a chance for children to interact with the outside world.
“This is an opportunity for them to see what’s out in the community,” she said.
Veronica Campos agreed that Special Needs Day helps fulfill a child’s need to develop social skills through interaction.
Campos is completing a practicum for a degree in early childhood development at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. She said Special Needs Day is a chance for small children to build the social skills that will be crucial once they begin to attend school full time.
She said she’s been helping to teach 4-year-olds about what one would expect to see at the fair.
“Our theme is based on farm animals,” Campos said. What the children have learned in a classroom is now more easily relatable, she said, thanks to being able to see animals in real life and even watch a cow get milked.
“This is a wonderful experience for them,” Campos said of the visual of farm life the fair provides. “I like this hands-on experience for (the children).”