Recently, Denise Hudson said, San Antonio’s NPR affiliate asked its listeners a trivia question. “The DJ’s question was, he was going to give you three words and you were going to tell him which one was a real Texas city,” Hudson said.
One of the answers — the correct one, of course — was Early.
“So when they finally got the answer, the caller says Early and the DJ goes, ‘You’re right! Early, Texas: Visit Early, Visit Often.’ And he plays the jingle that we have out.”
It may be a small recognition to be the answer to a San Antonio trivia question about whether or not you exist. But for Hudson, director of the Early Convention and Visitors Bureau, it’s proof that the city’s new slogan, tourism website and outreach efforts are making a difference. “It’s been less than a year that we’ve really focused on branding Early,” she said. “I think this region as a whole has a lot to offer.”
This week will see the culmination of Hudson’s yearly efforts as the fifth Early Pioneer Days begin on Thursday. While Hudson has been a part of Pioneer Days from the beginning, helping with marketing and its various contests, this is her first year to oversee the entire event.
“I have a great team,” Hudson said. “I have a great city staff, we’ve contracted with nonprofits and we have a lot of volunteers that have made my job easy.” Still, she said, Pioneer Days is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year.
“I’ve learned that it’s probably never going to go as planned,” she said. “You just have to stay calm, make adjustments and put out the little fires that come along.”
Hudson was born and raised in Albany, Texas, a small Shackelford County town she said is a lot like Early. “I sense a lot of the same community pride,” she said. Hudson managed a doctor’s office, worked for Blue Cross and was even an municipal court judge in Albany before she moved to Brown County in 2003.
In 2011 Hudson began part-time work for the Early Chamber of Commerce, which turned into a full-time job before long. When the CVB migrated from the Chamber to the city last October, Hudson went with it. She now offices in the Early Business Complex just across the hall from Early Chamber director Shelly Taff.
In her free time, Hudson enjoys chasing grandkids, spending time outdoors and watching the Cowboys, Rangers and college softball. She hopes one day to attend the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Hudson has two daughters and three grandchildren, with another on the way.
She said her goal is to promote the virtues of Early and Brown County throughout the state. “My job and my mission is to put Early on the map,” she said. “If you live in the big city like Dallas-Fort Worth, they want to come to places like this and relax and kick back where it takes you five minutes to get to the restaurant, or 10 minutes to the winery. I think we have a lot to offer.
“I don’t feel like this is a job. I get to get up every morning and do what I love,” she said.
Pioneer Days begins Thursday, Sept. 14 and runs through Sept. 17. On Saturday, country music star Wade Bowen will headline a concert featuring local bands 10 Mile Crossing and Boone Cook & The Remains. Tickets and information are available at www.VisitEarlyTexas.com.