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Fair arts and crafts superintendent to step down

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Judy Hobson, arts and crafts superintendent for the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, stands with the best of show sculpture and other featured items. (Alison Penn Photo)

The 97th Eastern New Mexico State Fair will be Judy Hobson’s last year as the arts and crafts superintendent.

Hobson, who is married to ENMSF board president Larry Hobson, got her start with the fair by assisting Candy Spence Ezzell, who was the superintendent at the time.

Since taking over from Ezzell, Hobson has been the arts and crafts superintendent for about 14 years. She explained that the arts and crafts show is put together with her team of 10 directors and about five volunteers for entries alone.

Though she is stepping down, Hobson said she’ll still be involved with the fair and will help with arts and crafts next year.

“I can’t imagine not coming out and helping,” Hobson said. “I would be lost — absolutely lost. I love the people, I love my directors and all the volunteers. It’s just a very special world.”

Hobson’s intention is to bring “young blood” into the fair’s leadership and Michelle Hembree, who is this year’s parade judging superintendent and has volunteered in arts and crafts for six years, will take Hobson’s place next year. Hobson described Hembree as having “such a heart” for philanthropy and said she will do a “fabulous job.”

“I’ve learned so much about Roswell’s art and community,” Hembree wrote in a statement. “My goals as the new arts and crafts superintendent for 2020 are to continue to welcome and present to the public the esteemed collection of arts, crafts and food creations individuals bring in with continued help of our excellent team of section directors and volunteers. …”

Another goal for Hembree is to add a new technology section in the arts. She said technology project ideas are in this year’s fairbook, and next year’s fairbook will have a new section dedicated to them.

Hobson said arts and crafts usually highlights a group, and this year it is the Quilt Squad, a club from the New Mexico State University-Chaves County Extension Office. Next year, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell’s iCenter, where art can be made with new technology, will be recognized.

The arts and crafts superintendent’s job begins as early as March or April, and Hobson explained this is when the fairbook, which lists rules for entries, is changed and reviewed. She also gets her team ready for the fair at the end of September and the beginning of October.

For about three weeks before the fair, Hobson and her team work together to get the entries in, organize pieces into categories to be judged and then display all of the arts and crafts. She said volunteer hours have been tracked in the past to show about 1,500 hours in preparation for a fair.

Developing friendships has been Hobson’s favorite part of her role and she said the arts and crafts part of the fair brings the community together. She shared numerous stories about the artworks and the hands that made them.

“Mondays are my favorite,” Hobson said of the fair week. “Mondays are when we open the doors for the first time and they see the ribbons — and the squeals of excitement — and much of the time they’re in a panic because they can’t find their item and it’s because their item is a larger award and so, they don’t know where to look. And once they see it, it’s just like magic. You just feel like it’s Christmas on Mondays.”

In her own life, Hobson used to do stained glass and does other crafts, such as card making and scrapbooking. She said her husband jokes they will need to add onto their home just for her crafts.

Born in Oklahoma, raised in Portales, Hobson has made Roswell home since 1976. She and Larry have been married for 36 years. She has two daughters and Larry has one son. The Hobsons also have eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Some of her work experience includes working for the state and as director of personnel and payroll for Tinnie Mercantile, and she had the opportunity to finish her degree when her daughters were in high school. With this degree, she taught language arts and communications at Hagerman and Dexter and later retired.

Hobson is involved in the Assistance League, her church, the Hondo River Barn Quilt Trail and is the vice president of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. In the past, she and Larry also had a 4-H club when their kids were involved.

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.