By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
Behind the scenes of the 14th Annual Cowboy Poetry and Song Gathering at Nara Visa was a big secret.
It was one the Hopson family wasnï¿½t sure they could keep from Harry Hastings Hopson.
In June Hopsonï¿½s family was notified that heï¿½d had been selected to receive the Buck Ramsey Heritage award. And from then on a four-month secret plan began.
ï¿½The entire family wanted to be present when he received the award but we knew he would suspect something was going on when they all showed up,ï¿½ said Lindith Hopson, his wife.
The presentation of the Ramsey award is a highlight of the gathering which was held this year on Sept. 21-23. Each year the award is presented to an individual from Northeastern New Mexico or the Texas Panhandle who has a strong commitment to agricultural, preservation of land and passes along values and heritage, said Nara Visa Cowboy Gathering Director Reneeï¿½ Rinestine.
Hopson of the Triangle ranch near Mosquero was presented the award.
But keeping it a secret from him before the presentation took a family effort, said Linditï¿½ Hopson.
ï¿½I was so worried that someone was going to say something the day of the award and give away the surprise,ï¿½ said Linditï¿½ Hopson. ï¿½When his brother showed up from Silver City he was a bit suspicious but I know he started to suspect something when his son flew in from Pittsburgh and walked across the gym to hug his dad.ï¿½
Hopson was nominated by his daughter Jill Chatfield, of Mosquero. Chatfield said she nominated her father because of his work to preserving the western cowboy heritage.
Hopson learned his cowboy ways at his fatherï¿½s knee.
Hopsonï¿½s father, Harry James Hopson, came to the Clayton area from Texas and worked for John Zurick, according to the awards presentation. Hopsonï¿½s parents moved to Miller Place, south of Clayton, where he has memories of tending to animals with his sister and keeping wet cloths over their faces to breath during the Dust Bowl Days, according to the presentation.
Then In 1914, his father ï¿½Daddy Jim,ï¿½ was a cowboy on the Bell Ranch. He was a man who had reputation for spinning a yarn out of cottonwood fluff and entertaining his listeners for hours. This trait was undoubtedly passed on to ï¿½Daddy Hopï¿½ who has also gained a reputation as a raconteur, according to the presentation.
Many a branding corral has seen a crowd of cowboys gathered around ï¿½Daddy Hopï¿½ or ï¿½Hopï¿½ to hear a tale or two about bull riding, horse breaking or his experiences on trail rides as a kid and how he learned to cook by helping out the cook, according to the presenters.
At a Fourth of July Rodeo in Clayton, Hopson met Linditï¿½ Lambert, whose mother, Linda Mitchell Lambert, owned the Triangle Ranch west of Rosebud. Hopson married Linditï¿½ Lambert in 1950 in a romantic outdoor wedding in the vega on the Triangle Ranch, according to the presentation. The couple later had four children, Jeff, Jill, Jay and Joy.
ï¿½One only has to look at ï¿½Hopï¿½ to see that he is still a cowboy: He not only dresses and acts like a true cowboy, but he never forgets a ï¿½Yes, maï¿½mamï¿½ and is always ready to open a door or help carry a load. As many traditional cowboys, Hopson views his neighbors as extended families, from helping with branding to fighting fires,ï¿½ the presenters said.
ï¿½Harry Hopson is an all around cowboy and a true gentleman,ï¿½ said gathering coordinator Tom Cole of Nara Visa. ï¿½Mr. Hopson was one of the people that helped to organize the inter-collegiate rodeo at the New Mexico State University at Las Cruces in 1950. He has been involved in conservation work and is a true testament to the spirit of the cowboy.ï¿½
Hopson has attended the cowboy gathering in Nara Visa nearly every year since its beginning, said Hopsonï¿½s wife. For the past couple of years he worked on the nomination of his close friends Vince Crisp and Clyde Shepherd for the Buck Ramsey Heritage award which they both won, said Lindit Hopson.
ï¿½I had no idea Iï¿½d been nominated,ï¿½ said Harry Hopson.
ï¿½We are so thrilled that he won this award,ï¿½ said Chatfield. ï¿½It is a great honor and the honor went to a truly deserving person.ï¿½
Over 175 people attended the three-day event that included music and cowboy poetry performances, chuck wagon cooking, vendors and the presentation of the Buck Ramsey Heritage award.
Harry Hopson’s conributions to cowboy ways:
l Clayton High School graduate
l New Mexico A&M (NMSU) in 1951, Animal Husbandry degree
l While at NMAM helped found the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association
l All Around Champion at the 1949 NMAM rodeo.
l Helped found the Aggie Rodeo Association
l Voted “Greatest Aggie” for 1950
l Won All Around Cowboy saddle trophy at the first National Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals in 1950 held at the Cow Palace at San Francisco.
l Trophy saddle displayed at the NMSU Aggie Museum
l Bareback rigging on display at Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Okla.
l Founding member of the Harding County County Fair Board and helped establish Harding County Fairgrounds.
l Co-wrote, with his wife, Lindit’ Hopson “Harding County Histories”
l In 2002, first landowner in Harding County to treat the salt cedar infestation along the La Cejita Creek
l Was honored in 2006 with the state’s Most Distinguished Pioneer Award