LOVINGTON, N.M. – It takes a small army to handle even the tiniest of details that come with producing a large event.
“We’re blessed that we have a strong core group of volunteers who donate their time and energy to our fair and rodeo and also have the county staff that makes a lot happen,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the board that organizes the annual Lea County Fair and Rodeo, set for Friday, July 31-Saturday, Aug. 8, in Lovington.
“We have a countless number of people who help us every year,” Helton said. “This fair wouldn’t be able to function without the volunteers. That’s how important they are to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.”
Most of the work is done behind the scenes, and the average fairgoer will never comprehend the amount of labor that goes into each activity. That’s done for a reason, and it’s been that way for all 80 years of the local fair.
“For the livestock shows, each animal species has its own superintendent,” Helton said. “Each one is in charge of that species of animal at the fair, so it’s very important.
“I can’t even estimate how many man-hours are involved, especially when you add in the year leading up to the fair. We often forget about all the hours of volunteer work before the fair even gets here, much less during fair week.”
In Lovington, though, it goes well beyond those who donate all that time and their own talents. There are Lea County staff members that also handle a good portion of the heavy lifting. The fair is underwritten by the Lea County Commission, so staff members take care of numerous aspects of getting everything ready.
“The reality for our fair and rodeo is that we have some great people who do outstanding work to make it all happen,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We couldn’t do any of our work without Jim Kemp.”
Kemp works in the facilities department for the county. He oversees much of the work at Jake McClure Arena, among other aspects of his job. He also takes care of the arena dirt to make sure the ground conditions are in the best shape possible for the competition.
“Jim takes a lot of pride in our rodeo, and he has reason to,” Massey said. “He works tirelessly to make it as close to perfect as he can.”
That kind of community effort makes for an incredible experience for anyone attending the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.