Surprise, more rain this morning! I wanted to put my head under the covers and stay, but it was Tai Chi and Tea day. So I dressed and by midmorning the rain stopped. By noon the sun was out with the promise of more rain by evening. So DH and I took a walk down to Marian Days.
When the Vietnamese priests settled here in the 1970s, they started a yearly celebration and devotion to Blessed Mother Mary, to whom they credit their safe passage to America. For the first twenty years it never rained on the gathering. But since then, the believers have suffered extreme heat, wind, and rain. On a few acres of ground, about 40,000 to 60,000 Vietnamese crowd together in tents and on tarps to pray and visit. The whole affair is a mix of carnival, revival, and family reunion. After a four day celebration, they leave and in a couple of days you never know they were here. The grounds are spotless of cups, napkins and other trash. That is a miracle in itself.
Events have kept us away from the event the last few years, but this week the break in the clouds at noon allowed us to walk down. Of course, it was like walking in a sauna, but once on the grounds the huge tents offered shade. I love see the bouncing umbrellas. Rain or shine, carried by men and women, the umbrellas ward off both rain and sun. No one cares if they make a fashion statement. They want comfort.
There are many tents from California, Texas, and Louisiana that serve meals to raise money for their churches and youth groups. There are booths with religious items, jewelry, and music CDs for sale. It is hard to tell what things are as everything is written in Vietnamese, but the people are eager to help you understand.
There was a tent this year of very strange fruits and vegetables. Some quite expensive as they were shipped in from China, Mexico or other far flung places. There were jack fruit which to me looked like Osage Orange hedge apples on steroids. These were dragon fruit which I thought were beautiful to see.
DH and I chose to eat at the Port Arthur, Texas tent which represents a church that has come to the event for 40 years and is a favorite of local people. I am not sure exactly what we ate, but we called it a Number 5 and Number 12!