Marfa Chamber of Commerce hosts family Easter event, says hopefully first of many

Julian Camarena shows off an egg he found to his sister Eva Camarena at the Marfa Chamber of Commerce Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. Julian and Eva, both of Austin, were visiting their grandmother, Luly Karam (left), from Ojinaga with their mother, Lee Taylor, who previously worked at the Mexican consulate in Presidio.

MARFA — Local children decked out in their pastel best flooded the lawn outside the Presidio County Courthouse on the morning of Easter Sunday to hunt for colorful, candy-filled eggs hidden in the grass. 

A sizable group of egg hunters lined the sidewalk seconds before takeoff, waiting for the Marfa Police Department officers tasked with overseeing the event to give them the go-ahead. “Everyone go, go, go, go, go!” came the call from the squad car parked alongside the lawn. Kids 5 and under were given a head start of a few seconds, then it was a free-for-all. “Adults, you can go now!” came the second call, met with laughter from attendees.

Angela Morgan, owner of Salon Coterie, said her kids were so filled with anticipation the morning of the event, they almost left her behind.

“They were very excited — they were going to leave me at home to run here,” she said. “They said, ‘We’re going to get there early!’ I said, ‘I think in an Easter egg hunt, they don’t actually want you to get there early.’”

Morgan’s sons, 11-year-old Easton Watts and 7-year-old Cy Watts, were dressed in matching pastel jumpsuits as they poured over their treasures. Easton held up a massive egg filled with Reese’s Pieces and temporary tattoos. Easton said he had a great time, even though he suspected the game was rigged by the grown-ups: “The little kids got to go first” he said, and “Their parents helped them grab all the big eggs.”

Morgan said she was thrilled by the large turnout. “It’s festive, there were so many kids — and a perfect day for it. You’ve got to take advantage of the peach courthouse on Easter.”

The event was put on by the Marfa Chamber of Commerce and was catered by the operators of beloved, gone-but-not-forgotten local restaurant Mando’s — the eatery closed its doors in December 2019, but made a triumphant comeback for the spring holiday to raise funds for the chamber. The sales from Mando’s generated around $2,000, said the chamber’s president, Abby Boyd, which will go towards future public programs and workshops.

The event was the first Easter event of this kind, but Boyd said she hopes it’s just the beginning. Seeing the big turnout is a good indicator the community will continue to turn up, she said.

Sunday’s event was powered by a crew of about 20 volunteers, who hid roughly 900 eggs spread out across three hunts: at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. If volunteers keep turning up, said Boyd, maybe the chamber can replicate the event on a larger scale in the future.

“I wanted every kid to leave with a bucket full of eggs,” said Boyd. “This was definitely a test run. We weren’t sure what the turnout would be, but now that I know that this is something the community wants and will show up for, we’ll do our best to do it bigger and better. But that totally depends on our volunteers and the people who are willing to show up and make sure it happens for the kids.”

Boyd said that in her position at the Chamber of Commerce, she wants to create events that make the local kids feel special.

“We want to make sure that kids in Marfa have the opportunities to come out and see that their community cares for them and be able to form great memories in this town that keep them connected and tied to this community,” she said.

Boyd also said she hopes such community-oriented events will incentivize potential donors to give more money to the chamber, which can go towards funding more events. The work of putting on the events should shift the reputation of the chamber, she said, so that donors want their dollars going into it — events like the Easter egg hunt showcase that potential.

“We’re hoping just by doing the work that the people who support it will start showing up, but that needs to happen for this to keep going,” said Boyd. “These are the things we always should have been doing for this community. So after I’m not in the chamber any longer, and it’s somebody else’s job, I want this to be  just a given — this happens every year, it’s expected.”

Lee Taylor of Austin, originally from Ojinaga, said she and her kids had been visiting her hometown the weekend of Easter and decided to drive up for the event — she was glad they had. And, she would make the trek from the border again, if the chamber put it on next year.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “I would definitely come back. There’s a lot of people — I think everyone’s happy about it.”

The next event hosted by the Marfa Chamber of Commerce will be a three-on-three basketball game for adults to take place this summer, said Boyd. More information on that event is forthcoming.