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Written by Texas Highways

George Catlin, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

On five trips to the American frontier in the 1830s, artist and writer George Catlin chronicled American Indians of the Great Plains in hundreds of colorful, detailed paintings. Forty of those works make up the Smithsonian Art Museum Touring Exhibition George Catlin’s American Buffalo, which the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon hosts until August 30, 2015. Depicting bison, American Indian hunters, and tribal culture, Catlin’s paintings capture life on the Great Plains shortly before American settlement and government policy ushered in irrevocable changes.

Courtesy Star of the Republic Museum, Blinn College.

At the Star of the Republic Museum, Enduring Spirit: African Americans in 19th Century Texas focuses on three time periods: the 1820s and early ’30s, when African-Americans were among settlers seeking land grants; the slavery years of the Republic of Texas and the Confederacy; and the post-Civil War era, when blacks met mixed fortunes as sharecroppers, craftsmen, and refugees. Artifacts of the exhibit—on display through February 15, 2016—include slave records, a slave quilt, and pottery made by newly liberated entrepreneurs. The Star museum is part of the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.

T-Bone Walker "The Talkin' Guitar." Courtesy T-Bone Walker Blues Fest

Longview will celebrate the widespread musical influence of Texas bluesman Aaron “T-Bone” Walker June 5-6, 2015 with the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest. About 30 bands will play the festival on indoor and outdoor stages at Maude Cobb Convention Center. Headliners include Los Lonely Boys, Rick Derringer, Tab Benoit, and Eric Gales. Born in 1910 in the Linden area and raised in Dallas, Walker was a dancer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist who wrote a multitude of classics, including “Stormy Monday.” He’s also credited as the first bluesman to record playing electric guitar.

Antelope Lodge, Alpine, Texas. Photo by J. Griffis Smith.

Tired from a long day of driving, we pulled up to the Antelope Lodge in Alpine and were transported into a 1940s-period postcard. White stucco cottages with covered porches and vintage metal lawn chairs framed a grassy courtyard studded with picnic tables. The foothills of the Davis Mountains loomed against a big blue sky behind the retro red-tile rooftops.

Illustration by Michael Witte

May can be the cruelest month for travel lovers. Spring break has come and gone. Summer vacation is but a dream.

An Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow Screening at Lake Travis.

Quick, name a song about summer.

Oakdale Park

Glen Rose’s Oakdale Park celebrates its 90th anniversary on May 2 with historical tours of the park, live music from bluegrass to doo-wop, a Model A Ford Club meet, woodcarving demonstrations, and the Art on the Paluxy Show. That same day, Glen Rose marks the induction of its downtown square into the National Register of Historic Places with live music and tours that feature Barnard’s Mill and Art Museum and the old jail house. You can even ride in a vintage fire truck to Oakdale Park and back.

Presidio La Bahia. Photo by J. Griffis Smith

Presidio La Bahia played an active role in Texas’ tumultuous early days, both militarily and agriculturally. Established by the Spanish in 1749, the historic limestone presidio, located in present-day Goliad and home to an active Catholic parish, will interpret different historical eras spanning 1749 to 1836 with the inaugural “In the Shadow of the Presidio.” The May 16 event will feature reenactors portraying the Spanish Colonial era, the Texas Filibuster era of the 1810s and ’20s, the subsequent Mexican period, and the Texas Revolutionary period. On May 15, the presidio will rekindle a lost tradition by marking the Feast of San Isidro, named for the patron saint of farmers and a patron saint of the presidio’s Our Lady of Loreto Chapel.

Courtesy Diamond Bessie Murder Trial

Started 68 years ago as a tour of historic homes, the Jefferson Pilgrimage has expanded over the years into a weekend of activities harkening to the town’s 19th-Century heyday as a Northeast Texas inland river port. Events taking place April 30-May 3 include five presentations of the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial at the Jefferson Playhouse; tours of four homes built between 1851 and 1893; a parade; reenactments of Civil War land and naval battles—including a locomotive chase and a gunboat on Big Cypress Bayou; living history encampments; twilight garden strolls; and a craft fair and sale. jefferson-texas.com/events or jeffersonpilgrimage.com.

Photo by Michael Amador 

The Lone Star State’s Czechoslovakian heritage will be on full display as Ennis hosts its 49th annual National Polka Festival, May 22-24. Polka and dancing are the highlights, including 14 bands and nightly performances at three Ennis fraternal halls. Don’t miss Friday night’s King and Queen Dance Contest, featuring dancers in traditional Czech kroj, or folk costumes, and music by the Dujka Brothers. The weekend also includes a parade, arts-and-crafts show, horseshoe tournament, kolache-eating contest, fun run, and polka Mass. www.nationalpolkafestival.com.

© Rob Greebon

“I’d like to be in Texas for the roundup in the spring.” So goes the old cow­boy song, reflecting many a Texan’s longing for the most vibrant of seasons. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin celebrates spring with Wildflower Days, including The Spectacular Wow!, an exhibit of Texas Highways’ springtime photos from our annual April wildflower issue. The show runs April 25-May 31 at the center’s McDermott Learning Center. Also on April 25, Texas Highways Photography Editor Brandon Jakobeit will host a wildflower-photography portfolio review for budding photographers. TH contributors Theresa DiMenno and Laura Vu will be on hand to talk shop and review your photo work.

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