The Tourism Issue

1.3) The Marfa Lights are a, if not THE, major tourist attraction of this area next to McDonald Observatory. The town holds an annual Marfa Lights Festival every year. They have been doing these festivals since only 1986. According to a report by Dave Kelly at his private web site "The city of Marfa has organized a Labor Day "Marfa Lights Festival" for the past dozen years, with the 13th edition scheduled for September of this year." which was posted in 1999. This means that the Festival has only been going since 1986. The festival occurs on the 4th and 5th around Labor Day.

1.3.1) In 1999 the Texas Department of Transportation's 'Statewide Transportation Enhancement Program set aside $832,483 on project STP 00(570)TE to build a 'Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center' The projects were selected for funding in January 27, 2000 and February 24, 2000. (

1.4)According to Louis Lowrys' World of the Strange' web page dated November 1999 "Before the lights became something of an international phenomenon and the chamber of commerce started up the Marfa Lights Festival -- held every Labor Day weekend for the last 13 years -- the only thing that put Marfa on the map was the movie "Giant," which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Even during the filming of the 1956 classic, the lights were part of the Marfa character. Legend has it that Dean would spend his nights staring into a telescope, looking for the lights."

1.5) For more information on the Marfa Lights Festival, including information on area accommodations, contact the Marfa Chamber of Commerce at 800/650-9696. The Marfa Chamber of Commerce runs a Web site,, which includes links to everything you'd want to know about the area. This web site seems to be permanently frozen, either because of the heavy traffic, or because the people that run it are having ISP problems etc. The chamber can also be contacted at (915) 729-4942.


1.6)The towns people seem to have no apparent interest in finding an answer to what they are. From what I gather, they are committed to the accuracy and mystique of their legends and folk lore about this area, at least that's what visitors hear publicly.


From West Texas News:


"Vasquez sets sights on commissioner post


MARFA - Armando F. Vasquez has announced that he will run for Presidio County commissioner, Precinct 1. Vasquez, 74, has been on the Marfa Independent School District board for three years and has served as director of the Southwest Texas Municipal Gas Corp. for 15 years. The Marfa native is a retired businessman, a World War II veteran and currently operates the family ranch at Casa Piedra. He has volunteered at the Marfa and Presidio County Museum and has promoted the Marfa Lights phenomena for years.

Copyright (C) 2001 Dr. Sten Odenwald