FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation is lending the Northern Navajo Nation Fair board $100,000, just in case?

In the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding last week, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly made the funding available to the fair board in what appeared to be a temporary bailout.

"Why (the board) lets things evolve this far is beyond me," said Erny Zah, spokesman for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation.

Zah said the board has acted as though it will not need the funding, but he is almost certain that is not the case.

How much of the funding the board will use is yet to be determined, though the fair last year needed even more funding, about $150,000.

The board repaid all of the money, Zah said, though the repeated requests for financial assistance do not reflect well upon the board.

"It's indicative that the fair board needs help," Zah said, noting too that the Navajo Nation Museum now is in charge of the fair's finances - which long have been unstable.

The board two weeks before the memorandum's signing declared that it only had $4,000 to spend, Zah said, which likely was not enough given the more than $130,000 that the fair has cost the board in years past.

The board, however, was not as distressed as it may have come across, Begaye said, asserting that the board had $32,000 on Sept. 15. The request for funds, instead, was more of a Plan B.


Begaye called the request an "it's there if we need it type-of-thing," and he hopes not to need it much.

"If everything goes the way it's going, we should be OK," said Begaye.

The board this year expects to spend about $130,000 total, 20 percent less than it intended to spend prior to the memorandum.

The last-minute slash in the budget, which will decrease the amount that almost all of the coordinators receive for their events, will enable the fair board to repay any borrowed money from the Navajo Nation, Begaye said.

Currently the fair board has spent about $40,000 on preparation for the fair, which begins Thursday and lasts through Sunday. Most of the money that has been spent thus far is from big industry donors, Begaye said.

While the Navajo Nation will be inspecting financial records following the fair, its foremost priority now is making sure the fair happens at all.

"We want the fair to run smooth. This is the oldest fair on the Navajo Nation and is a very traditional fair. We need to make sure everything runs smoothly so our people can enjoy this time when we transition into fall," Shelly said.The majority of the just-in-case money will go toward operational costs, according to Zah, as well as the payment of this year's vendors and coordinators of the fair - some of whom say they have not been paid in the past.

This year is hoped to be different, though, with fewer parade entries and fewer paying artist entries, only time will tell how different it ends up being.