Last week I took some time off to host my dad while he visits from out of state, which means I got to play tour guide. In his previous visits, we already explored most of the sights around my home in Austin, so this time I made plans to get out and stretch our legs in the surrounding area.
I let dad rest up on his first evening here, but the next day, we were off to explore downtown Bastrop and Bastrop State Park. Among the downtown shops and eateries on Main Street, we especially enjoyed the sign to the right (which, naturally, points to a door that canâ€™t be opened). In the park, the loblolly pine trees still bear scorch marks as a reminder of the Labor Day fires that burned the area more than a year ago, but the trails were all open. Newly built wood bridges span many of the creek beds. More sun gets through the sparse canopy than it used to, but thereâ€™s plenty of healthy, green growth underneath.
A friendly passerby offered to take our photo at last year's fair with Big Tex and (because of our woeful skill at midway games) the most expensive stuffed animal I've ever owned.
There's a little more than a week left to visit the State Fair of Texas, that grand showcase of food, entertainment, amusements, exhibits and Texas hospitality that lights up Dallas' Fair Park each fall.
Itâ€™s said that you canâ€™t get blood from a stone, but how about getting a horny toad out of one?
Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s said to have happened in Eastland, Texas, when the old courthouse was being torn down in 1928. A time capsule in the courthouseâ€™s cornerstone since 1897 was opened, and to the surprise of thousands of people gathered for the event, a horned lizard sealed up in the box 31 years ago was still alive. Named â€œOld Rip,â€ after Rip Van Winkle, the horny toad was taken on a national tour before dying less than a year later. (According to the story, that wasnâ€™t the end of his adventures.)
About a year after the Second Battle of Adobe Walls and later fighting in the Red River War, Quanah Parker and his band of Comanches surrendered themselves at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1875. During the next 35 years, Parker continued to represent his people, and also became known as a rancher, statesman and Native American Church leader. (Photo from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission)
The kids are back in school, and weâ€™re already working on the winter Texas Events Calendar, but hopefully thereâ€™s still room in everyoneâ€™s schedule for summerâ€™s last hurrah â€“ Labor Day!
In addition to the usual holiday celebrations, many communities choose this weekend to put on some of their biggest and most unique events.
On a recent visit to Houston, I made plans with my sister, Jean to go the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition before it leaves (on view through Sep. 23), and also explore the new Hall of Paleontology.
Long before the 1997 Oscar-winning film, I have always been fascinated with the history of the shipwrecked ocean liner and the class system within it. A traveling exhibit in honor of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition contains items uncovered from the ship including clothing, jewelry, luggage and leather goods, stationery, perfume bottles (one of the bottles still bears a faint scent) and china used in the first-, second-, and third-class dining rooms. I learned that china imprinted with the simple, smart design of the shipâ€™s White Star Line logo was served in third-class to discourage theft from passengers. (I must admit if I had been a passenger, the opposite wouldâ€™ve been true!) The items for the most part are remarkably well-preserved, thanks to a combination of the type of chemicals used to tan leather suitcases a century ago, plus the enormous water pressure from the ocean floor helped form a tight seal around the trunks and cabinets containing the contents.
As musicians and fans roll in for the annual Navasota Blues Festival this Friday and Saturday, I wondered: How did this town get its title as the â€œBlues Capital of Texas?â€
A key figure in the area's music heritage is songster and blues musician Mance Lipscomb, who was born in Navasota in 1895 and spent much of his life as a tenant farmer before releasing his first album 1960. (The term â€œsongsterâ€ refers to traveling musicians who played in a wide variety of styles that influenced and blended with blues music as it's known today.) After being signed by a major label at age 65, Lipscomb became a regular at music festivals and blues clubs around the country before returning home to Navasota in his final years. Today, the city celebrates his musical legacy with a two-day festival featuring celebrated local and regional blues performers.
Howdy, folks! My name is Erin, and Iâ€™ve mostly worked behind the scenes here atÂ Texas HighwaysÂ as editor of the event listings on the website, as well as in the magazine and theÂ Texas Events Calendar. Iâ€™m excited to join the team on TexasHighways.com to highlight the wonderful events the Lone Star State has to offer on my newÂ blog, Texas To Do.
Letâ€™s get started with some picks for events happening around the state this weekend. If youâ€™ve never experienced the Texas Panhandle, this weekend would be a great time to make the drive to Dalhart for the XIT Rodeo and Reunion. Starting in 1937, cowboys who worked the once-sprawling XIT Ranch gathered here to reminisce with their families, and put on a rodeo and free barbecue for the public. Today, the event has grown into a massive affair that triples the size of the town, offering the Worldâ€™s Largest Free Barbecue, a fiddlersâ€™ contest, arts-and-crafts show, concerts and more. Check out the links below for details on the XIT Rodeo and Reunion, and other events this weekend.
TH's May cover story of San Antonio's River Walk reminded me of a recent visit to the area. After an evening of celebrating my nephew Will's graduation from medical school at Tower of the Americas Chart House, I intended to stop for a nightcap at the Esquire Tavern on the River Walk on the way back to the hotel. But I overindulged and was ready to turn in for the night. By morning, I was rested and ready to take a stroll on the River Walk, with the goal to walk as far as the Museum Reach extension to see the art installations and recent additions to the area.
Texas Photographers: Descriptions of China, now showing at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, offersÂ perceptive views of a vast and fast-developing nation through the eyes of five photographers whose careers and creative visions are widely varied: Peter Brown from Houston, Al Rendon, Ricardo Romo, and Ansen Seale from San Antonio, and Joel Salcido from Austin. I had a chance to view the exhibit with my daughter, Lucy, as Fiesta celebrations drew to a close.
The images, shot last fall in and around Shanghai, Lishui City, Wenzhou, and Beijing, were part of a cultural exchange between the Confucius Institute at The University of Texas at San Antonio and the China Photographers Association. The photographers were also invited to show their Texas work at the associationâ€™s International Photographic Art Exhibition in Lishui.
As I was covering SXSW Film for TH, I spent my time in line waiting to get into screenings to observe and chat with my queue-neighbors. Like my colleague Lori Moffatt, I attended most of the screenings with a film pass. I kept thinking about my experience as a music fan, going to free SXSW music shows and ACL Fest, and how rabid music fans differ from serial filmgoers, and what these tribes have in common.
Among the film-pass people Iâ€™ve met at various theaters, I found that they tend to be local Austinites. In contrast, more of the SXSW music fans, even the wristband- and badge-less, hail from out-of-town, and with ACL Fest itâ€™s about even. Film-pass folks are loyal, tooâ€”many buy SXSW Film passes every year, much like ACL Fest goers. My cinephile friends Tina and Michael are in the film-pass camp, and they also get passes for the Austin Film Festival in the fall.
As SXSW Film was winding down, I set aside time for some of the free SXSW music shows. I went to Thursdayâ€™s Auditorium Shores concert and saw M. Ward and later, the Shins. I was pleased and surprised by M. Wardâ€™s high-energy set, and also the Shinsâ€™ recent addition, guitarist Jessica Dobson, who I think brings an edgier and more distinctive sound to not only the new material, but enhances their older hits without changing the structure. I also spent most of Friday afternoon at Waterloo Records, another major hub for free SXSW shows.Â I heard Talib Kweli, Jimmy Cliff, Of Montreal, and Gary Clark Jr. play to a near-capacity crowd and all performed phenomenal shows. And I returned to Auditorium Shores one last time to hear Bomba Estereo perform a short but explosive set before heading to UT for the Big Easy Express film screening with Mumford & Sons headlining a live show.
Two big misses/goofs: I took a break for lunch around 4 and missed Father John Misty, who I later discovered is Josh Tillman, former member of the Fleet Foxes, one of my favorite bands. And I stuck around for the headliner, 80sâ€™ hard-rock veterans the Cult, mistaking them for a younger indie pop band called the Cults. I felt so foolish, as the Cult took over a half-hour to set up and I had plans to meet friends on S. Congress. But the next day I felt somewhat vindicated when one of my young SXSW houseguests revealed to me that she and her friend made the same goof. Legions of middle-aged biker types surrounding the stage also tipped them off that maybe they werenâ€™t here to see the same band!