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Labor Day in Far West Texas: Barbecue & Politics

Labor Day celebration at Cibolo Creek, marking its 25th anniversary (KRTS/Tom Michael).

Cibolo Creek Ranch was first established in 1857. It’s now an historic resort located between the cities of Marfa and Presidio, along Highway 67. The old forts there were meticulously restored by John Poindexter, a Houston businessman, who purchased it in 1990. Labor Day weekend marked its 25th anniversary. Many politicians were there.

Pete Gallego of Alpine, the former U.S. Congressman for the 23rd district of Texas, is thanking John Poindexter the owner of Cibolo Creek and talking about the virtues of Labor Day.

"I want to say thank you to John and I commend him and congratulate him on 25 years. And the people who really make our economy run and that’s the people in labor. So, it’s a great opportunity to thank every worker around that we see that contributes so much to make our country strong."

Poindexter stands in the food line serving beans. People gather plates to eat at tables on the grass. Gallego reminds everyone he’s running to reclaim the congressional seat he lost to Will Hurd, a San Antonio Republican. "I’ve enjoyed every second of my public service. And I hope to have the opportunity to do it again, with your help."

Labor Day honors the American worker, yes, but it’s also a time for civic leaders and political candidates, at barbecues across the state, to make political speeches.

Poncho Nevárez, State Representative for District 74, takes the opportunity for a big announcement:

"I was happy to announce that we’re running for re-election in 2016. We had some dignitaries from Mexico, as well, that are here and mayors from different town including Presidio, Marfa, and Alpine, if I’m not mistaken."

The staff at Cibolo Creek – mostly workers from Presidio - cut a cake, marking its 25th anniversary. State Senator José Rodríguez of El Paso talks about cross-border labor and Governor Greg Abbot’s first state visit to Mexico.

"Those of you here know how important Mexico and this region is to the development of the state of Texas and the whole Southwest. You know that the governor is making his first trip to Mexico. And I’m, hoping that he will use it as an opportunity to reestablish those longstanding ties that we have had in trade, commerce, culture, and family - for centuries."

Politicians and their donors mingle. Officials from both sides of the border. It’s a snapshot of the region – and as Nevárez says – a snapshot of Texas. "Because when people from the outside-in look at Texas, you want to know what Texas looks like: look around, this is it."

Dinner is over. Some file out in the dark. Others watch a short film about the history of the ranch and its restoration.

Former KRTS/KXWT News Director