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Written by Texas Highways

 Courtesy Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce

September 16–20, celebrate the heritage of the Piney Woods forest industry at the Texas State Forest Festival. The event, which draws about 30,000 people each year, includes the Southern Hushpuppy Championship on September 19, featuring 35 contestants vying to cook the most delicious cornbread balls. Another highlight is the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, which stages multiple presentations per day of feats like axe throwing, log rolling, and tree climbing. A carnival, petting zoo, cheerleading competition, an “East Texas Got Talent” show, and other events round out the festivities.

Courtesy Abilene CVB

Designated the “Storybook Capital of Texas” by the Texas Legislature, Abilene is home to a robust literary culture and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. September 21–26, the West Texas Book Festival fetes local and regional writers with author luncheons and presentations, a publishing workshop, a fundraising gala, and book signings at the Abilene Public Library and Abilene Civic Center. On September 26, the Boots and Books Luncheon honors Bill O’Neal, a Western historian from Carthage, as this year’s recipient of the A.C. Greene Award for lifetime achievement.

 DW 0098Texas may be known as the land of wide-open skies and endless horizons, but not to those who travel east. Here, towering trees overtake sprawling prairies, and visitors spend much more time looking up rather than out. I set my own gaze upon the East Texas town of Lufkin and set out for a day trip behind the “Pine Curtain.”

This year’s lineup of Extraordinary Texans possesses the brio and gratitude of Texans who love what they do.


When Bryan-based Messina Hof Winery decided to open a North Texas tasting room, there wasn’t much debate about which city it would call home.

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Not even 10 years old when my parents treated me to my first meal at Gaido’s, the famous restaurant on Galveston’s Seawall, I figured that the giant crab perched on the roof meant this was a very special place.

Get out of the office. Flee that marathon meeting. Park your car. Exit the laundry room. Now: Find a bench under a tall, green tree, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet. Ahhh. Feel better?

The National Museum of the Pacific War complex sprawls across six acres today, but it began as the Admiral Nimitz Museum, housed in the historic Nimitz Hotel building with its distinctive steamboat shape.


The Commerce Street Bridge—one of the state’s oldest bridge sites—stands at a confluence of time and place in downtown San Antonio. The historic span has supported a parade of historical events and personalities for more than two-and-a-half centuries.


Folks flock to the tiny East Texas arts enclave of Edom for several reasons. They come for its artisans, who make jewelry, pottery, and birdhouses; for its live music and arts festivals; and also to pick blueberries and blackberries each summer at Blueberry Hill Farms. As much as anything, though, visitors come to chow down on home-style cooking at the quintessential roadside eatery, The Shed Cafe.

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Just a few hours into our first visit to Rancho Loma, it was clear that my husband and I were destined to return again and again. I told Marshall so, as we sat near the crackling flames of the fire pit, winding down with conversation and coffee after an extraordinary dinner at this remote ranch house restaurant. He nodded in happy agreement.


Seated at a softly whirring potter’s wheel at Castroville Pottery, artisan Mark Dykes leans forward, his fingertips shaping a blob of morphing clay.

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