Beloved employee celebrating 40 years on the job at the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A beloved employee of the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo is marking 40 years on the job, but for Randy Levy, it’s a job and a passion that runs in his family, even decades before the Central Texas native came on the scene.
Since 1983, Levy has done just about every job at the fairgrounds, from horseback security, to gates, ticketing, taking care of horses and the arena, and everything in between.
In fact, when asked what his official title currently is, Levy had to stop and think.
“That’s a good question, exactly what they call me,” he laughed. “Supervisor over gates and security, I suppose.”
Levy’s job leaves him staffing and overseeing 120 positions every year, which takes up to 170 employees.
It’s a big role, but if you ask Levy, he’ll tell you he learned from the best.
Levy’s late father-in-law, Freddy Griffin, worked at the fair and rodeo for 45 years before retiring in 2008.
Freddy was the trail ride boss in 1960 and would lead the pack back when the fair kicked off with a horseback trail ride from Meridian to the fairgrounds.
Freddy passed away in 2013, but left a lasting impact on his son-in-law who followed in his footsteps at the fair.
Levy says he only dreams of living up to Griffin’s legacy.
“Freddy did just like I did and worked from the bottom up,” Levy said. “Freddy taught me just about everything I know about the fair and scheduling people and positions needed to help it run as smooth as possible but truly above that I believe he helped me understand how to treat my employees to where they actually want to continue to come each year to work the fair for me.”
“I’ve worked every position out there just like Fred did, so I never ask anyone to do anything I haven’t done myself.”
Levy is not the only one in the family leaving their mark in and outside the coliseum.
“It’s has always been in the family, just the love of the rodeo,” Levy said.
Levy’s brother-in-law, Ray Griffin, worked many years at the complex before a work accident, tragically, cut his life short in 1990 at the age of 29.
Levy’s sister-in-law, Vicki Hobbs, recently retired from the HOT staff after 32 years. Suzanne, Levy’s wife, started out selling tickets, and now works alongside Randy in the office.
Randy said having the fair and rodeo as a part of his family’s life for decades has been a blessing.
He and Suzanne raised their three daughters on the grounds and are now getting to experience the week of fun with grandkids.
“From watching my kids grow up here, climbing around on tractors and all the exhibits and Mutton Bustin’ and everything they’ve done, I’ve brought them up here,” he said. “I’ve raised three daughters out here, so they’ve known this fairground their entire lives, and we’ve kept it in the family.”
Heart O’ Texas President and CEO Wes Allison says Randy Levy epitomizes the spirit of the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo and the popular event that has attracted thousands since 1953 wouldn’t be the same without him and his family.
“Randy represents the fair family,” Allison said.
“His dedication to carrying on the tradition of service to the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo is what makes this work. We can’t put on this great event without all the dedicated staff that Randy represents.”
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