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Written by Texas Highways

2012 02 16 dirt fest biking photo near yucca brian frazierBig Bend Ranch State Park and Lajitas provide some great mountain-biking opportunities, including the park’s Fresno-Sauceda Loop, which was designated an epic ride by the International Mountain Bicycling Association in 2010. With the level of rides available and the generally appealing February climate, it is no surprise that the area is the destination for a mountain biking festival each Presidents’ Day weekend.

For years, that weekend was reserved for the Mas o Menos 100K endurance race. In 2011, Desert Sports launched a mountain bike festival, now known as the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest.

Sponsored by Desert Sports, Big Bend Trail Alliance, Big Bend Ranch State Park and Lajitas Resort, the festival, scheduled for Feb. 16-18, is not a race but instead focuses on enjoying the ride and the scenery. The event offers guided rides ranging in length and for skill levels from beginning to experienced.

While the focus is on the opportunity to ride, there are after-ride mixers and festival gatherings at local watering holes to wind down for the evening before hitting the trails again the next day. A highlight of the event for some attendees is the opportunity to test new demo bikes.

Registration is open to only 500 riders and allows those who register to participate in any of the scheduled rides. Riders sign up for the rides of their choice when they pre-register.

To pre-register for the event or for more details, visit

CharroParade0Eighty years ago during the latter years of the Great Depression, Brownsville business leaders—wanting to alleviate the gloomy atmosphere—planned a parade to celebrate what made the city unique: its border location and rich cultural heritage. People donned traditional Mexican outfits and honored the Mexican cowboys who are considered heroes of the borderlands.

The Charro Days Fiesta, scheduled this year for Feb. 19-26, continues to bring together the sister-cities Brownsville and Matamoros to celebrate their bi-national culture and traditions.

The family-oriented festivities include three days of popular parades featuring floats, dancing and music. The BISD Children’s Charro Days Parade is Feb 23, the illuminated parade is Feb. 24, and the color guard and grand international parades are Feb. 25. All of the parades travel down Elizabeth Street through the historic downtown area.

The parades are just part of the activities that draw about 200,000 attendees to the weeklong event. The festivities kick off with the Baile del Sol Street Dance on Feb. 19, where attendees enjoy watching the beautiful costumes and energy of folkloric dances. The carnival, with more than 40 rides and attractions—such as the Tilt-A-Whirl, Pharaoh’s Fury, Zipper and Drop Tower—plus beloved carnival foods, runs Feb. 23-Mar. 5 at the Amigoland Grounds. Noche Mexicana with folkloric dancers, mariachi music and food is Feb. 23. As the week winds to a close, the costume ball Feb. 25 gives attendees an opportunity to dress in costume and enjoy dancing to the music of Mariachi 7 Leguas.

For more information and the schedule of events for Charro Days Fiesta, visit or call 956/542-4245.

Dallas Blooms at the ArboretumEach year Mother Nature sheds winter and puts on a colorful spring season opener with Dallas Blooms. The largest floral festival in the Southwest returns February 25–April 9 with more than 500,000 blooms throughout the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s 66 acres. This year’s festival, “Flower Power: Peace, Love and Blooms,” is a salute to the psychedelic ’60s and will feature flower arrangements inspired by the decade throughout the garden. During the six-week exhibit, the space plans to throw a variety of garden parties and concerts in addition to the main attraction—the spring blooming of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, violas and other annuals and perennials. The blooms are a result of 11,560 man hours spent planting bulbs in the winter. The grand finale is the garden’s collection of 3,000 azaleas that bloom en masse through April.

austin music signs620The Old Austin crowd loves to reminisce about all-night jam sessions with Stevie Ray Vaughan and the lost progressive-country paradise of the Armadillo World Headquarters. Listening to “Austalgists,” it might sound like all the great clubs closed long ago.

RedRiver122 horseThough a North Texas native, I somehow never considered the Red River Valley a great getaway option—until recently. Tips from savvy friends piqued my curiosity about the stretch of landscape between Gainesville and Wichita Falls.


Back in the day, folks traveled from near and far to this Northeast Texas town to take a dip in the sulphur springs for their rumored healing powers. While those stinky springs may be dry, I found that this town still flows with culture, art, good eatin’, and the sweet aroma of Texas.

yodelOff a dark winding road about four miles northeast of Georgetown, a lively German-style celebration unfolds most weekends. Or at least that’s the rumor my friend Adam and I are acting on when we head out from Austin toward Walburg on a recent Friday evening.

Oxbow Store MAA 43There is a sweet spot in East Texas where mile-high meringue and heritage are folded into the ultimate dessert experience. Nestled along the banks of Caddo Creek in Old Town Palestine, Oxbow Bakery is a slice of old-timey heaven and a portal to nostalgic memories.

Photo: Courtesy Rodeo Austin

Sorry, Dallas Cowboys football fans: real Cowboys represent the official sport of Texas, and you can find them year-round at rodeos in every corner of the state. But it’s more than just boots, bulls, and bareback riding at Rodeo Austin (March 11-25, 2017). In a city dominated by South by Southwest in March, you’ll find more than just the biggest names in country music. In its 80-year history, the rodeo has attracted performers as diverse as Sublime, Boyz II Men, Dwight Yoakam, and Destiny’s Child (Beyoncé’s only appearance in the Live Music Capital of the World). This year’s all-star lineup includes Elle King, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Patti LaBelle.

TheShed 9617

Author Roald Dahl wrote, “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” And when it comes to divine grub located in an unlikely shop, his words ring true.

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People pack the wall-to-wall tables in Gruene Hall, and the band has hit full swing when I walk in one summer Sunday morning. Folks clap along to the music as they dig into plates of bacon and eggs, roasted turkey, and mashed potatoes.

rockstacking 1Michael Grab wades into the waist-high water of the Llano River in Central Texas, reaches down to the bottom, and fishes out a platter-size rock. Like most large stones, it’s not perfectly round, and its edges undulate in an irregular pattern.

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