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Written by Texas Highways

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Founded in the 1850s, the town of Dripping Springs—just west of the booming city of Austin—hosts so many weddings that the Texas Legislature last year designated it as the “official Wedding Capital of Texas.” But many people these days know the Dripping Springs area for its surprising concentration of distilleries, breweries, and other drinks-related businesses that allow visitors to taste beer, cider, and spirits right from the source.

giraffefossil

Sure, it’s fun to hand-feed giraffes through the sunroof, but there are other important reasons why Texas drive-through wildlife parks matter.

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Okay, I admit it. I still like to play Cowboys and Indians. I’m fascinated by vintage images of frontier days and the Old West. The modern world with all its geegaws and gadgets is stimulating and fun, but my imagination really sings when it wanders into the territory that cowboy balladeer Don Edwards has described as “west of yesterday.”

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For Clint Orms, belt buckles are more than just accessories. The silversmith sees them as a vestige of Western tradition—tools to be used and enjoyed, and then passed along as family heirlooms.

Moth Baldwin

"Clayton, look at this moth” shouts the poet Sharon Olds, calling to me across the green lawn in front of the concert hall at Round Top’s Festival Institute. Despite having just met her, I am not surprised to have one of the world’s most renowned contemporary poets call out to me about a moth on a car.

Cotton812

The cotton boll in my hand feels light and delicate, and I easily see how it could translate into the soft, comfy shirt I’m wearing. But, then—ouch!—a sharp burr pricks my hand.

Illustration by Drue Wagner

Down in the Rio Grande Valley, there’s something about springtime, when the palm trees sway in the southerly breeze and even the cacti are blooming, that calls us out into the great outdoors. Pull out your sunglasses, hats, and hiking boots: Here are some recommended activities, roughly ordered from one end of the Valley to the other.

Featherfest Participants KAC2233

"'Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” wrote 19th-Century American poet Emily Dickinson in the opening line of her poem of the same name.

This phrase came to mind as I boarded a tour bus before dawn last April during Galveston FeatherFest and Nature PhotoFest.

crawfish

The crawfish at Larry’s French Market in Groves looked like a pile of bright red miniature lobsters heaped on a beer tray. I got mine with boiled potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and a crab.

chili

Although the origins of chili are a bit soupy, some historians claim it stems from a spicy stew concocted by Spanish immigrants in San Antonio, circa early 1700s. Others hold that chili is descended from a trail stew favored by cowboys in the late 1800s. Either way, it has become an undeniable part of Texas’ heritage and a symbol our state.

Courtesy Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas

The Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas is quick to point out the Irish influence on early Texas, noting the 12 Irish-born and 30 Irish-descendant defenders of the Alamo. So it’s a lucky coincidence that Texas Independence Day and St. Patrick’s Day both fall in March. The San Antonio-based Society celebrates Irish heritage March 12-19 with events including an Irish music festival at the Arneson River Stage; a River Parade; a St. Patrick’s Day Alamo wreath-laying; and the Harp & Shamrock Irish Festival on March 19, 2016 at the University of the Incarnate Word. The fest features a parade, Gaelic football and hurling, and traditional music, dance, food, and drink.

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