LOVINGTON, N.M. – Brad Weber is an empty-nester, having raised five children at his home on the outskirts of Hobbs, N.M.
His children were involved in 4-H and were always involved in the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. For Weber, that meant handling the little details that came with raising livestock and getting things ready for the shows and exhibits. His life was dedicated to it, primarily because he saw it as a great way to teach his kids responsibility.
“All my kids are 10 years apart, so we’ve been showing animals for a long time and participating for a long time,” he said, noting that his wife is a 4H leader in Lea County. “We believe in it. We believe it builds integrity in the kids, that it keeps their minds and their bodies busy and keeps them in a better environment.”
No, Weber continues his involvement in the annual exposition, now serving on the Lea County Fair Board. In fact, he’s the chairman for this year’s event, which this year takes place Friday, Aug. 2-Saturday, Aug. 10, in Lovington.
“The community is very supportive of our fair and rodeo, but I think what makes it successful is the volunteers who make it work,” he said. “Because of our county commission, we’ve been able to keep the prices cheap so everybody can go. It’s not an expensive night out. Even folks on a pretty tight budget can go, and that shows that we’re able to give back to the people of the community, too.
“It’s a unique event. We’ve got the incredible support from our commissioners. They give us the freedom and support to stretch it further and further each time. They believe wholeheartedly that this is the county’s money, and this is an opportunity for the county to give back to the people.”
Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Yes, it’s great that the county underwrites the fair and rodeo, but there’s no way an event of this caliber is possible without the core group of people who donate their time, talent and financial resources.
“We have tremendous volunteers, people who are really dedicated to it,” said Weber, who is right there with them as a volunteer. “It just blows your mind to see people that are so involved, and a lot of them don’t have children involved in it anymore. That’s what really makes it nice.
“It’s all about the dedication of these volunteers. When you look at someone like Greg Massey, his dedication shows in the fact that we’ve got one of the top rodeos in the nation, and we keep trying to make it better. I know pretty much it’s Greg Massey pushing for that, and we all benefit from that.”
When he’s not doing the fair’s work, Weber owns Lea County Roadside in Hobbs; only the latter pays the bills, because he donates his time year-round to the fair and rodeo.
“I’ve been self-employed all my adult life,” said Weber, who moved to Lea County about 30 years ago. “I recently bought a towing business, and it’s the first time I’ve owned a business of value. Before that I was in construction.”
All that experience comes into play with the annual expo.
“Brad’s knowledge is very helpful,” said Dean Jackson, a longtime member of the Lea County Fair Board. “He’s a good leader. Brad knows a little bit about everything, and there aren’t too many volunteers that are going to do what he does.
“That’s what you get with a lot of people on the board, that they are just going to give and give and give. It’s a love. It’s a lot of work, too, so it takes a lot of love for the event to continue to volunteer.”
Weber is from White Face, Texas, just northeast of Lea County. Upon graduating from College, he found his way to southeastern New Mexico, and he’s been there ever since.
“I didn’t even know where Hobbs was,” he said. “I got out college so broke that I packed everything I owned on a little motorcycle and came on down to work. I found a job and just muddled my way through. I haven’t gotten more than 100 miles from where I started.”
He also found a home and finds his passions in his volunteerism and his faith.
“I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and the good Lord has tended me the whole way; that’s always amazed me,” Weber said. “I love seeing how much this teaches our kids. They learn better responsibilities. I love seeing that, and you can tell the kids that have worked really hard.
“That’s one of the most satisfying things about this for me.”