Kara Young drives John Young in a small tractor during a parade held as part of Fourth of July festivities in Muleshoe. (CNJ Correspondent: Andrew Chavez)
By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
MULESHOE — When Sue Haberer used to teach school, she was always looking for that perfect gift to give the other teachers on holidays. That was until she discovered gourds, and started unlocking their potential.
“I can grow them, and then I paint them,” the Levelland resident said Monday, standing under a vendor tent at the Fourth of July celebration in this Panhandle town.
What started as a hobby has now turned into an entrepreneurial enterprise for Haberer, as she grows, cleans, dries and paints designs on the gourds to sell. One had a patriotic picture of Lady Liberty painted on the side, along with the red, white and blue of America’s banner.
Free market enterprise was alive and well at the Fourth of July celebration Monday. Many vendors showed up to sell their patriotic goods on the street. Standing among snake, apple, cannon ball and tobacco box varieties of gourds — named after their shapes — Haberer spoke about the meaning of independence in America.
“Independence means to live in a free society, to live in a land where you are not afraid,” she said, citing the many countries in the world where that is not the case. In the spirit of free assembly, Haberer noted she is also president elect for the Texas Gourd Society, an organized group of gourd enthusiasts.
The Main Street parade was filled with an assortment of old-school muscle cars, propped up trucks, horse brigades and antiquated tractors. Children chased down candy in the streets as the parade filed by.
“I just think this is a time to honor our troops and be proud of our independence and what they’ve done for us,” said Sherry Brandvick, who was selling heirloom and custom boot jacks made by her husband, Ben. A boot jack helps cowboys get their boots off without bending over, she said. Her best customers are in Nebraska and San Antonio, she said.
As the festivities continued the sounds of interstate commerce were never far away. A train full of Yang Ming box cars rocketed toward New Mexico.
Local cheerleaders served up hamburgers and hot-dogs to attendees, and the six-piece Mariachis Mi Tierra band played traditional Mexican tunes behind Carolyn’s furniture shop — where a number of bed stands, bureaus and armoires fashioned from unfinished wood were being sold.
Several children stood amazed as Starbright the Clown twisted off one balloon animal after another behind the store.
John Harris of Muleshoe was selling an assortment of knives and other collectibles on Main Street. One had bald eagles inlaid into a faux-alabaster handle and went for $12. Several had patriotic mounts and pictures of America’s bird gliding nobly through the sky.
“It’s good for everyone to come out and visit and have a good time,” he said of the celebration. “There’s just a lot of good people here.”