Hestand Stadium, fair leaders like their roles

Working at Pine Bluff’s Hestand Stadium during the annual Southeast Arkansas District Livestock Show and Rodeo is a fast-paced experience, but Bernie Freeman, Katherine Moyers and Brett Pierce are happy in their roles.

Pierce — also a lieutenant with the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department — manages the stadium, which serves as the center of the fairgrounds complex. Moyers, a Harvest Foods store retiree, serves as his secretary. And the two look to the volunteer Freeman, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Camden, as being a walking source of knowledge on fairs.

“If we have a question, Bernie usually has an answer,” said Moyers, who has been in her job four years. “And if we have a problem, Bernie usually takes care of it. Plus, he’s fun to just be around, because he’s always coming up with some kind of bull.”

Freeman, whose specialty area is livestock, laughed at Moyers’ remark and said if he’s smart on any subject, it’s only because of wisdom acquired through advanced age.

“I’m on my third retirement,” Freeman said as he recalled his family’s long tradition of fair competitions and related his background of 20 years as a fair leader. “I wish more kids were involved in 4-H and fairs today. I think 4-H and other youth programs help to keep our kids out of trouble.”

Pierce has been Hestand’s manager about seven years. He admitted that when he first learned of the post’s availability, he hadn’t been seeking such a spot but was instead merely scouting for a part-time job. He’s glad he’s in the job because it’s educational.

“I learn something new every day here,” said Pierce, who added the calendar on his managerial duties usually runs from March through November.

Moyers said she gained her secretary job totally by chance.

“I didn’t ever plan on working here,” she said, noting that she was surprised by circumstances that led her to her hiring.

Moyers generally begins making preparations for an upcoming fair a couple of months prior. In addition to her regular clerical duties, she’s active in organizational chores and handling booth rentals.

“She’s my backbone,” Pierce said. “She keeps this office running when I can’t be here. She takes care of everything.”

Moyers acknowledged the compliment with a smile and nod.

“I wasn’t for sure what all I would be doing,” she said, “but you learn as you go in this business.”

Although their workload can become hectic during fair week, they both appreciate the opportunities each fair offers.

“I always enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new friends,” Moyers said. “I like people.”

Pierce said that whenever he grows tired with his fair duties, his spirits are lifted when he meets appreciative children.

“I like it whenever they come up to me and ask me if I work here,” he said, “and when I tell them that I do, they tell me they’re having so much fun.”

The children’s smiles more than make up for the busy cleaning and maintenance schedule before and after each fair.

“Everything is so old here,” said Moyers, noting the stadium dates back to 1940.

“But nothing breaks until it’s time for the fair,” Pierce said with a chuckle.