LOVINGTON, N.M. – If Jake McClure Arena had a trophy case, it would be full of awards for this year’s Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
The annual event, now in its 80th year, is a two-time nominee for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year, having received those bids each of the past two years.
“To be mentioned in the same breath as Cheyenne (Wyo.) and Pendleton (Ore.) is an honor,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee that is part of the Lea County Fair Board. “For me, I realize how blessed I am to be part of a great event and to get to work with such a wonderful, hard-working group of volunteers.”
Nominations are based on voting by PRCA members, and only five events in each category are among the finalists. Since the award was created in 1993, only six rodeos have earned the title; of those, Cheyenne has won the award 16 times. Other finalists in 2014 were Ogden, Utah, and Salinas, Calif.
“To be nominated is an honor itself,” said Corey Helton, the fair board chairman. “When you look at the list of rodeos in our category, it says a lot about the work our rodeo committee has been doing.”
The volunteer committee is just one piece of an award-winning puzzle for the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 8. It takes amazing talent to make an event like this click off so well:
- Andy Stewart, a six-time finalist for PRCA Announcer of the Year. Stewart is a fixture as the voice of Lovington’s rodeo.
- Cody Sosebee, a four-time nominee for PRCA Clown of the Year and a two-time finalist for PRCA Comedy Act of the Year.
- Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a two-time nominee for PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year and winner of the 2014 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Stock Contractor of the Year. Four of his horses – Real Deal, Big Tex, MGM Deuces Night and Dirty Jacket – have been named the PRCA Bareback Horse of the Year.
“We are fortunate to work with the best professionals in rodeo,” Massey said. “I’m surprised Andy hasn’t won Announcer of the Year yet. He does everything that we ask for and is excellent at it.”
It takes that kind of trust to produce such a top-flight event, but it also takes a dedicated group of volunteers to make it happen in Lea County. The committee works together all year to showcase the rodeo to a region that knows the sport well.
“We’ve all shared in the vision of what our rodeo in Lovington could be,” Massey said. “For our committee to do what we’ve done is because we’ve had great support. Stephanie Rice and the office personnel over the last several years have done such a wonderful job of taking care of the behind-the-scenes things that no one ever knew about to make it easy for us to focus on what we needed to do and not be concerned about all the other details.”
It’s an award-winning combination.