CNM Grad Selected as 2023 State Fair Queen

Tonantzín Candelaria, who will be the face of this year’s fair, graduated from CNM’s Nail Technician program and plans to return for her full Cosmetology degree
September 08, 2023

Tonantzín Candelaria is going to be a tad busy for the next two weeks. 

That’s because she was recently selected as the 2023 New Mexico State Fair Queen and has a packed schedule that includes appearances through the fair and a central role in the State Fair PRCA rodeo. New Mexico State Fair Queen shaking hands with young girl during NM State Fair

“Being the Queen is amazing because I love being around the agricultural and rodeo communities, and also because I get to inspire others,” she says. “Watching a kid come up to you and get excited to have a photo with the State Fair Queen is an amazing feeling.” 

When Tonantzín isn’t the center of the fair, she also has a growing career. She recently graduated from CNM’s Nail Technician program and is currently working at a local salon.

“I wanted to focus on nails because I love how something so small can boost your confidence so much,” she says. 

The daughter of a barber, Tonantzín says cosmetology was always going to be in her future. She wants to eventually return to CNM to complete the full Cosmetology degree because that will allow her to expand beyond nails. 

“My dad is definitely pushing me to get the Cosmetology degree because he knows the value of the broader cosmetology license,” she says.

In the meantime, she’s going to savor all that it is to be State Fair Queen. Especially because being selected Queen is no easy feat.

To win the title, Tonantzín went through a five-day process where she was on the fairgrounds the entire time and had to go through a series of tests that covered everything from horsemanship to speech. 

It was grueling, but Tonantzín says she just stayed calm and relied on the knowledge she already had.

“My advice to anyone thinking about applying to be the State Fair Queen is to be yourself. You are not going to win the judge’s favor by putting on a fake persona,” she says. “That, and have fun with it. If you’re stressed out, the judges are going to notice.”

And while State Fair Queen is a crowning achievement, Tonantzín has even bigger plans going forward. She wants to compete in the Miss Turquoise Circuit pageant, which is a regional competition, and also go for Miss Rodeo New Mexico. If she wins that competition she’ll get to compete in the Miss Rodeo America pageant, which is as big as it gets in the United States. 

“I have big plans and want to get to the top notch if I can,” she says.