Not one to rest on her laurels, this Hometown Hero will admittedly never slow down. She will always find some way to help make things better in our community. That unique brand of optimism, ingenuity and tenacity is exactly what Main Street Board member Claudette Hatfield has dedicated to Rockwall for nearly 45 years—and it’s precisely why Mayor Jim Pruitt chose her as the newest recipient of the Hometown Hero Award.
At a time when Rockwall needed it most, Claudette Hatfield, wife of former Mayor George Hatfield, looked around and devised a plan to effect change. She and longtime friend, Barb Coleson, rallied their personal troops and created Friends of Downtown Rockwall and subsequently Rockwall Farmer’s Market to infuse new life into the Historic Downtown area. These were all-volunteer projects with one collective goal in mind—bring people downtown, create a reason for them to stay… and keep coming back.
Nearly 15 years after the start of her crusade, the change is here. To see it now, it’s difficult to remember a time when the Square wasn’t bustling with excitement. After all, it has always been a place to congregate and celebrate, but a thriving tax generator… it was not. Her action on behalf of Downtown helped create a turning point for the area. While Claudette acknowledges her role in “the perfect storm” that happened in Downtown Rockwall at the time, she downplays the significance of her part in particular. “A few key businesses came in, and that helped, but we needed more,” Claudette said. “Friends of Downtown and Rockwall Farmer’s Market just happened to come in at the right place and time to make a difference.”
“Make a difference” may be a bit of an understatement. The Rockwall Farmer’s Market has become somewhat legendary in North Texas. Respected as one of the best in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the market regularly brings more than 1,000 patrons of all walks of life Downtown every Saturday, and helps foster the hometown feel of much smaller cities. The market was also instrumental in Rockwall’s Main Street designation in 2009. In short, a literal game changer.
On any given weekend from May through September, you can find Claudette at the Rockwall Farmer’s Market checking on vendors and doing whatever needs to be done. The rest of the time, she is planning for it. Her passion and enthusiasm for her chosen projects are unmatched, and have inspired countless others to dedicate their time and talents for the benefit of this community. With her trademark charming southern accent she claims, “People want to be part of a winning team.” Her projects are indeed winners. What she doesn’t acknowledge is that they are… because of her.
Through the Hometown Hero Award, Mayor Pruitt wanted to spotlight Mrs. Hatfield’s decades of accomplishments. “Claudette never wants praise or recognition for all she does, and yet we need to highlight her positive contributions,” he said. “Creating the pumpkin patch, decorating Downtown every fall to make it festive, founding the Farmer’s Market, and the list goes on. Her example of volunteerism has led the way for many to follow, and we want to honor that.”
Her list of volunteer projects actually extends beyond Downtown, including Helping Hands Board of Directors, Rockwall Summer Musicals, Friends of the Library, Rockwall Women’s League, and so much more. Her missions have proven to be long-lasting and pivotal for the growth and success of this community. When likened to the Energizer Bunny, Mrs. Hatfield smiles but shakes her head. It’s clearly not the first time she’s heard this analogy. Would she ever slow down; has she even considered it? “Of course not. What else would I do? We can never stop improving our Downtown and creating a destination to draw people here. There is always more to be done.” The Rockwall City Council presented Claudette Hatfield with the second Hometown Hero Award at their meeting on Tuesday, February 18.