Shop steps back celebration

By Leslie Radford

The owner of Joe’s Boot Shop said after 24 years the western wear store is hanging its hat on the entertainment side of its annual July Fourth festivities.
Joe Rhodes said the Mabry Street business will continue with its tent and warehouse sale, but there will not be the usual entertainment lineup patrons are used to — the work that went into setting it all up was just too much for Rhodes and his wife, Darla.
“My health just won’t allow it,” said Rhodes, who has suffered from the effects West Nile disease for about six months. “We’re disappointed that we’re having to put an end to our (July Fourth activities) after doing it for so many years. Let me tell you, it’s hard to quit.”
Joe’s Boot Shop, which relocated from Muleshoe to Clovis in 2001, is famous for bringing marquee entertainment to the area such as The Dixie Chicks and T. Graham Brown, according to Scot Stinnett, who aids in promoting the boot shop.
“We just outgrew ourselves,” Rhodes said. Joe’s would hire up to 80 extra employees every year to make the event operate smoothly, he added.
The news hit one area musician hard.
“I hate to hear that (Joe’s) is not going to (have entertainment) over July Fourth anymore,” said Clovis’ Johnny Mulhair, who played at the event for about seven years with the former Home Cookin’ Band. “We always looked forward to Joe getting us tickets for free fajitas every year and sitting there listening to good music.”
Mulhair said he would also miss taking his family to hear The Texas Playboys, who often took stage at the western wear store during the July Fourth celebration.
Rhodes did say other projects were in the works that did not require as much man-power as the July Fourth festivities. Rhodes recently organized a calf roping event featuring some of the top ropers in the world.
“The bottom line is that there is a lot of work involved in putting something like that together. I just don’t think Joe and Darla had enough gas in their tanks to continue to do the job,” Stinnett said. “We’re just trying something different for now that doesn’t involve as much labor, time and effort.”
Joe’s Boot Shop started in West Texas in the 1960s, according to their Web site, www.joesbootshop.com.