Old Settlers Reunion rolls around once a year in late August (see The Texas Spur 8/28/08 and 9/4/08) during which people from Dickens and Motley counties come together to celebrate. Not privvy to the history of the event, I’m not certain exactly what it is they celebrate, but I do know that it has been going on for 85 years now, and I have covered it for the newspaper for the past 12 years.
It has always been held in Roaring Springs, where the grounds used for the event are there strictly for that reason, but I’m not sure Dickens County gets much out of the event financially unless it is from increased alcohol sales (and therefore increased sales tax revenue) in Dickens the weekend of the event. Maybe that is why Old Settlers, while I was growing up in Spur anyway, was projected as nothing more than a drunken shebang full of barbarous brawls and bawdiness. Much to my young and naive consternation, my parents would never let me attend.
In recent years, though, it appears that Old Settlers organizers have taken and made great strides in altering its notorious reputation of old. Today’s event appears to be more civilized, involving kids, grandmas, and even turtle races. Even the rodeo has changed, converting to ranch rodeo events, rather than the more traditional pro rodeo events, which is more representative for both counties’ heritage. I’m told alcohol is no longer allowed on the premises and the dances are geared more to the physical activity of doing such.
So, this ain’t your mama’s Old Settlers. Even if an occasional inebriated attendee finds a way in, it is hardly noticeable, and one can just walk away and without going too far, find a friendly and conscientious crowd.