Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day in Rural America - 4th of July in Ft. Davis Texas

Patriotism is still alive in rural America folks!  In fact, few places in the United States showcase the resilience of the American Spirit more than this small little town.  It was only a few months ago that Ft. Davis was ravaged by a wildfire that burned 314,000 acres.  Many families lost their homes.   Ranchers lost valuable grassland already devastated by drought, livestock were lost and hundreds burned, fences were burned to the ground.  Most ranchers had to sell off what cattle they had left because they had no where to put them. 
photo by Carolyn Nored Miller

During the wildfire, this small town did what other small towns like Joplin, small towns in the South and in Minot, North Dakota have done - they banded together and took care of each other.  Ranchers and cowboys fought their own fires beside the volunteer fire department and Foresty Service, they looked for each other's cattle and lended what little land they had left to pasture cattle for those that had lost everything.  Neighbours took in those that had lost their homes, restaurants shut down to donate their time and their food to feed the hungry, churches opened up to serve first responders meals and volunteers poured in immediately to assist in distributing resources. 

This weekend, Ft. Davis was ready for a celebration.  The town was determined to show it's true colors and red, white and blue were displayed everywhere.  And thank God, people showed up.  Hundreds of people from all over the state came to celebrate the 4th with the townspeople.  The parade seemed even larger this year.  Several long time residents had their family reunions and were in the parade, the Prude Ranch summer camp kids filled flatbed trailers, the Ft. Davis National historic site Buffalo Soldiers marched, the Martinez family rode their horses, the Baize family rode side saddle, and anybody with a four wheeler or a dune buggy roared loudly down the parade route. 

Every type of law enforcement or civic organization imaginable was represented from the Sheriff's Department, the Fire Department, EMS and Border Patrol.  Apparently, the only rule is that there are no rules and anyone with a siren can be in the parade.

After the parade, people gathered around the courthouse lawn (the only green patch of grass anywhere in the tri-county area, by the way)  and enjoyed a very eclectic array of culinary choices from food vendors.  You could find anything from the 4H crew selling BBQ, Menudo to Turkey Legs and Shrimp on a Stick.  Of course there were the wide assortment of booths selling everything from lavender ice cream to handmade rocking chairs.  We even had a barbershop quartet serenading people.  And at the historic Ft. Davis National Bank they had a bank robbery re-enactment for those that wanted to see the mayor, local pastors and other townspeople, dress up and shoot each other.

Ft. Davis Methodist Church Float
My two year old melted down about half way through the festivities and so we didn't stay for the shoot out or the street dance that evening.  The kids were actually on a float this year instead of watching from the side lines so we left the ranch early to be at the parade route in time.  I'm glad they had the chance to be in the parade for once, but it's also nice to sit in your lawn chair and get pegged in the head with candy by kids that don't know how to throw, while watching all of the interesting characters go by. 

So if  you ever want something different to do for the 4th of July, and you feel like driving a long way to Far West Texas to a little town in the mountains called Ft. Davis, please do.  It will be worth the drive.  They'll probably even put you in the parade!

The Patriot and Rooster Cogburn - can you get any more American that that?


Stephanie said...

Great post Michelle. It was an honor to ride the float with you and celebrate the great country that we are blessed to live in.

Katrina said...

It was great to be able to see some of that small town Texas pride. I don't think anyone does 4th of July better!

mountain mama said...

how fun! the human spirit is so very strong!

happy {late} 4th!

Jennifer said...

How cool! Looks like a wonderful time!

Rachel said...

D always talks of the great 4th in Ft. Davis... we may need to stick around one year so I can see just what it's all about. :)