Labor of love

By Thomas Garcia: PNT Staff Writer

For the fifth year, a Portales couple used the Labor Day holiday to expand its friends and family.

More than 20 people took advantage of the cool temperature for a Labor Day barbecue at Rotary Park, organized by Joe and Dia Kelting.

“This is a family event,” Joe Kelting said. “My wife and I have a lot of friends that are part of our extended family.”

A lot of the students attending Eastern New Mexico University are from out of town and can’t travel home for the holiday, Joe Kelting said.

“Moving here 25 years ago, my wife and I know first hand about being away from family during the holidays,” he said.

The barbecue is open to every one that wants to come enjoy fellowship and food. The Keltings invite the local churches and pass out flyers at the campus and around town.

“This barbecue is a chance to get together and get to know the people coming to Portales,” said Dia Kelting.

And the people who stay always have a place to go each Labor Day.

“This is my third year to attend the barbecue,” said 11-year-old Samantha Menchaca. “I like to come out to the park and spend time with my friends.”

The Keltings are no strangers to cooking for others; they open their home to ENMU students for a free lunch every Wednesday.

Cassie Carpenter moved to Portales five years ago to attend ENMU and has known the Keltings for two years.

“I eat with the Keltings throughout the week,” Carpenter said. “It is nice having a local event and not traveling on the holiday.”

The barbecue is more like a potluck, every one that comes brings something for everyone to enjoy, Joe Kelting said.

“This is just something that we do for our community, for our family,” Joe Kelting said.