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Written by Texas Highways

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.

Night Sky Festival

On March 5, the Texas Night Sky Festival in Dripping Springs offers a slate of activities that explore the attributes of nature at night, as well as ways to protect darkness from ever-encroaching artificial light pollution. Speakers include Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night, and Lakota descendants, telling traditional tales of the night sky. Demonstrations of citizen-science techniques for taking darkness readings and reducing glare complement children’s activities, a mobile planetarium, solar telescopes, and an astronomer-led star party—all in celebration of the beauty of the untainted night sky.

Gabriel Voisin Avions Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe

With its emergence in the 1920s, Art Deco design inspired wide-ranging innovations that emphasized a blend of industrialism and luxury. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Auto­mobiles and Motorcycles, 1929–1940, examines how automakers embraced Art Deco with a display of 14 stunning cars and three motorcycles, along with images and videos. The autos on display, with their sleek aerodynamics and chrome detailing and ornamentation, are unlike anything you’ll see on the road today. February 21-May 30, 2016.

Courtesy Tees Events USA

Elvis Presley never performed at Southfork Ranch, but the King’s dramatic flair surely influenced the fictional Ewing family and its glitzy North Texas estate. While Elvis and the Ewings are gone, Southfork lives on as a tourist destination and event center. March 4-6, 2016, Southfork will host Texas’ Tribute to Elvis, featuring 18 Elvis impersonators vying for the chance to represent Texas at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis. Along with contestant showcases, the weekend features various Elvis tribute shows, memorabilia sales, and discussions with Elvis associates, including his bodyguard, Sam Thompson; tour producer, Charles Stone; and backup singers The Holladay Sisters.

Life 01lay

As far as nicknames go, it could be one of the most famous in the world—or at least us Texans like to think so. Far beyond the meandering borders of the Red and Rio Grande rivers, those four little words conjure a larger-than-life mental image of tougher-than-nails cowboys, dusty Longhorn cattle drives, and heroic Alamo defenders. It’s an enduring moniker, symbolic of Texans’ unwavering independent spirit.


When Gil Rainosek walks into the San Marcos restaurant bearing his name, he chats with the kid behind the counter, snatches an errant napkin from the floor, and pops into the kitchen to make sure enough iced tea is being brewed—duties any restaurant owner would perform. Rainosek sold Gil’s Broiler & Manske Roll Bakery about 15 years ago, but he tells me he comes back every month or so “just to check in.”


In a demonstration kitchen within shouting distance of Davy Crockett’s fiddle, a 650-pound purple amethyst, and circus memorabilia from the 1920s, San Antonio’s 90-year-old Witte Museum hosts a series of dinners complete with wine, beer, or cocktails from such spots as Comfort’s Bending Branch Winery and Stonewall’s Pedernales Cellars. Since its debut in summer 2014, the Salud! Culinary Nights program has presented more than 15 dinners and has secured a spot in the regular date-night repertoire of many adventurous Witte fans.

2009.Courtney.IMG 2129The Texas Hill Country has long attracted visitors for its combination of outdoor recreation and historic towns, and in recent years it has developed into one of the most visited wine regions in the country. The Fredericksburg area and its “Wine Road 290” trail—a string of more than a dozen wineries along a 45-mile stretch of US 290—enjoys the lion’s share of attention, but there’s much to be found off the beaten track.


For Austin-based clothing company Fort Lonesome, the classic Western pearl-snap shirt is all about wearing your heart on your sleeve—or at least around your shoulders. Proprietor Kathie Sever and her fellow tailors practice what she calls “thread-based storytelling,” creating one-of-a-kind embroidered garments inspired by her clients’ lives, passions, families, and influences.


Early travelers on the wagon road that later became US 287 must have thought it was a mirage—a gabled Victorian manse with a covered porch on a West Texas plain. Now the centerpiece of the Charles Goodnight Historical Center, the ranch house of legendary Panhandle cattleman Charles Goodnight is also a tribute to grit and creativity—his and that of a pair of modern-day ranch women who strived to preserve it.

Stolen Horses rgb300The six-hour miniseries Lonesome Dove first aired in February 1989 while I was taking an evening painting class in Fort Worth. My fellow students and I usually didn’t pay much attention to the television in the studio, but that evening we couldn’t focus on our still-life lesson. As retired Texas Rangers Capt. Augustus “Gus” McCrae and Capt. Woodrow Call rode off on an epic cattle drive from Texas to Montana, they took us along, too.


I do a lot of traveling and have developed a system over the years. I keep a kit packed with toiletries, a backpack stocked with such essentials as binoculars and sunscreen, and I carry my passport and emergency-contact information in a small case. All I have to do is toss these into the car or a suitcase whenever the travel opportunity arises.

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