PHOTOS: Several Hundred Attendees Gather At The 7th Annual Voices From Both Sides Event

In the late afternoon, attendees gathered in the Rio Grande to join hands. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)

By Diana Nguyen

On Saturday, hundreds gathered to swim, dance, and enjoy music on the Rio Grande at the seventh annual Voices From Both Sides event in Lajitas. The event began in 2013 and takes place every year on the weekend of Mother’s Day.

The party is organized in part by Jeff Haislip — part of the nonprofit Big Bend Citizen’s Alliance — with the purpose of using art and music to raise awareness of the Big Bend’s border.

Tightened border security after 9/11 made it harder for locals and visitors to the area to cross the Rio Grande. Prior to that, they moved freely across the river to shop, eat, and even go to school. The nearest port of entry is 50 miles away in Presidio.

Haislip says he hopes a port of entry will return to Lajitas/Paso Lajitas because “there was a community here that was divided. It was very obvious that we’d been torn apart. You’ve got families that haven’t seen their mother in a year because it’s so hard to get around there. “

Some families return annually to reunite with their loved ones for the day.

Father Michael Wallens from St. Paul Episcopal Church offered communion to attendees in the river to kick off the day. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)
For the past few years, Zulma Carrasco has traveled from Houston to meet her parents Jesus Manuel Carrasco and Rosie Carrasco of San Carlos. Zulma and her parents are currently unable to cross the respective borders legally. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)
Musicians from the Big Bend and Mexico played throughout the day. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)
At this year’s Voices From Both Sides, Amy McLean and Dick Willauer got married in the Rio Grande. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)

About Diana Nguyen

Diana Nguyen is a reporter for Marfa Public Radio. Previously, she was the host and executive producer for West Texas Talk. Her work explores the forces that shape the people and places of Far West Texas.
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