By Christina Calloway
Whether it’s the sounds of bluegrass and country floating through the air, the smell of a grill firing up, the feeling of water splashing on your skin from a water balloon breaking on you — all the senses can be invigorated at the Roosevelt County Heritage Days Festival.
The annual event of hometown pride and tradition kicked off Friday night with rodeo events and a gospel jamboree.
Today’s day-long festival kicks off with a fun run and hometown parade and ends with music at City Park.
Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Director Karl Terry, the organizer of the event, said this year there are at least 70 vendors. Other popular favorite features of the festival include the car show and the pioneers presentation made during the event.
For this year’s entertainment, local musician Linda Brown has recruited talent from across southeastern New Mexico, including Fort Sumner, Floyd, and Dora.
Terry said the running joke about the entertainment each year is that performers should be referred to as the “Perfect Strangers” because though Brown reaches out to many musicians, she never knows who’s going to show.
“It’s more of a jam session with local musicians,” Terry said. “You never know what’s going to happen. (Brown) never knows what’s going to happen.”
Brown said it’s common for musicians to invite their friends.
“We just enjoy the opportunity to get together and perform at the (event) and provide some entertainment for folks after the parade,” Brown said. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and we appreciate the crowds joining in.”
Each year a set of county pioneers are honored at the Heritage Days. This year the Chamber is celebrating a couple who represents the value of hard work.
Bennie and Donna Victor both grew up on farms and had to work to help their families.
“Living on the farm and with our folks, we always worked. We did what we had to,” said Donna Victor, who moved here from Texas in 1944.
The couple were widowed when they got married 17 years ago.
“We’ve had a good life together,” said Donna Victor
The Victors are retired farmers. Donna Victor also worked at Dora schools for a short time and retired as an employee of the county clerk.
Bennie Victor is 84 and Donna Victor is 81. The couple has five children among them from their previous marriages.
“Roosevelt County is a great place to raise a family,” Bennie Victor said.
Donna Victor knows it’s not an uncommon statement, but she said she’s sincere when she says the people are good here, which has made it easy for them to stay so many years.
“It’s just home to us,” Donna Victor said.
Bennie Victor said though they love to get out and see their neighbors and friends, a lot has changed in the county.
“It’s harder to make a living,” he said. “The drought has a lot to do with it.”
The Portales High School classes of the 1980s will also make an appearance at the festival as they celebrate the decade.
Amy Franz, organizer of the reunion, said it’s just a fun reunion and not specific to any class.
She said she purposely scheduled it this weekend so that they can participate in Heritage Days events.
She said a lot of people came into town Friday to get together and planned to attend the parade today.
“Anybody who wants to come and be a part of the parade (today) can if they want and join on the parade floats,” Franz said.
The actual reunion events will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Yam Theatre.
Heritage Days schedule
• 7 a.m.: MainStreet Fun Run on site registration ($25)
• 8 a.m.: MainStreet fun run
• 8 a.m.: Car show registration
• 9 a.m.: Heritage Days car show
• 9 a.m.: Bike rally registration and dice run ($10 single, $15 double)
• 9:15 a.m.: Parade lineup
• 9:30 a.m.: Bike rally (dice run)
•10 a.m.: Parade starts
•10:30 a.m.: Booths open
• 10:50 a.m.: Heritage Days announcement
•11 a.m.: Local country music
• 1:30 p.m. Intro of pioneers
• 2 p.m.: Christian bluegrass music
• 3:30 p.m.: Car show ends
• 4 p.m.: Booths close
• Music ends when it gets dark.
The line-up for the parade begins at 9:15 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Avenue Oa and U.S. 70 and will come down Second Street. It will turn at Abilene and end at City Park.