Alumni and Portales residents celebrate Founder’s Day

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Local residents and alumni took a trip down memory lane Sunday during the Founder’s Day Picnic at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

More than 500 people attended the three-hour event featuring music, a potato sack race, old cars, tours of the campus and authentic period food for ENMU’s’ 75th anniversary.

Virginia Branscum said she certainly remembers the inaugural picnic, but not being this luxurious.

“(I) enjoy meeting all these wonderful people,” Branscum said. “People that I’ve met and people I haven’t thought of in years who came to be here. The town has changed so much I can’t believe it.”

Branscum attended the inaugural picnic for then Eastern New Mexico Junior College in 1934. She came to ENMJC in 1941, and majored in secretarial science. She went on to the University of Texas at Tucumcari after she graduated from ENMJC.

A few old cars were parked in-between the picnic area and Roosevelt County Museum. Alumni and residents packed tables setup by ENMU staff, who were on hand to serve or help anyone.

Janet Roehl, communicative arts and sciences professor, said she taught the class who took on the assignment of the organizing the picnic.
“It really is a student driven picnic,” Roehl said. “The students are here. They came back on their own to volunteer to help put this on.”

Roehl said the students worked on the logistics and research for the food. She said it is nice having a student activity to kickoff the Founders’ Day Picnic because the university is student oriented.

“I think it is a tremendous success, there’s many more (people) than we had hoped for,” Roehl said. “This is very exciting. The last I heard the school had sold 527 tickets.”

All the tables were full with some people staying true to form and putting down blankets in order to have a picnic. People attending the picnic got a box meal with fried chicken, apple pie, potato salad, and a hard boiled egg,

Roehl said the picnic is the first event to kickoff for the year long festivities for ENMU’s 75th anniversary.

ENMU President Steven Gamble said they had to limit the amount of tickets due to lack of space, but people were just dropping by to pick up a meal and go.

Gamble said it was time consuming in planning the events, but the school was smart in enlisting the help of the event planning and communicative classes.
“They got involved in this and did a great job,” Gamble said.