RUIDosa — This Saturday, Friends of the Church of Ruidosa will hold their second annual community day in Ruidosa. The event will kick off at 2 p.m. and run until 7 p.m., with plenty of free food, drink, and entertainment along the way.

Friends of Ruidosa Church is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of El Corazón Sagrado de la Iglesia de Jesus, an early 20th-century adobe church located in the isolated town of River Road. The church is notable for its arches, which are the largest standing adobe arches in Texas.

The last mass in the church was held in the 1950s. The structure was then virtually abandoned by the Diocese of El Paso – Pinto Canyon local Donald Judd intended to purchase and restore the building, but those plans never materialized.

In 2019, the Diocese deeded the property to Presidio County to begin the restoration process. Friends of Ruidosa Church picked up the torch and began fundraising for the effort. This project has evolved into regular adobe-making workshops, fundraisers and community festivals.

As part of their efforts, the Friends collected oral histories from the era and invited core Ruidosa families to return and reminisce about their hometown. This year, Marfa Public Radio will lend recording equipment and expertise to try to collect more oral histories of life in Ruidosa and the church.

This weekend’s festivities will include an opening dance by the Matachines de Santa Teresa – a traditional dance group representing Santa Teresa Church at the Presidio. Cariño de la Radio, the alter ego of Jacqueline Del Olmo de Mira Marfa, will provide the soundtrack for the rest of the afternoon with the help of the Roswells, a bilingual country band from New Mexico.

The event will also include a community altar built by Jacquelin Zazueta de Marfa, as well as a large-scale sculpture installation by Chihuahua-based artist Miguel Valverde. Part of Ruidosa’s team traveled to the city of Chihuahua to see Valverde’s workshop and prepare the sculpture for shipment.

For board member Clara Bensen, the trip west was an important move. “We really wanted it to be a cross-border event this year,” she said. Getting the sculpture through customs was a challenge, but people from both sides of the river helped transport the piece successfully.

Although most of Ruidosa’s born-and-raised residents have moved on, the group hopes the restored church will serve as a community space for years to come. “The much bigger goal is to create this cultural site on the border,” Bensen explained. “It’s very meaningful to see everyone coming together there.”

The Ruidosa Church Community Day will take place from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday, November 5. The church is located in Ruidosa on FM 170, just south of the junction with Pinto Canyon Road. People coming from Marfa in high-clearance vehicles can take Pinto Canyon Road to the site; otherwise, the church is best accessed by taking FM170 north from the Presidio.


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