Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Is Lighting Bright All Over Texas

Like a lot of things in Texas, Santa can be a bit larger than life in the Lone Star State.

You may even come across a Santa Claus brandishing a machine gun from a Texas business rooftop, or armadillos brandishing candy canes, like you see here, underneath Santa on the Longhorn.

In Texas you will find plenty of extravagant Christmas displays, all over the state.

Neighborhood displays, such as the Interlochen neighborhood in Arlington's Christmas light extravaganza which draws so many people police must direct  the traffic.

In East Texas you'll find the Holiday Trail of Lights which trails from six cities in two states, the towns of Marshall, Kilgore and Jefferson in Texas, plus Shreveport,  Bossier City and Natchitoches in Louisiana.

In Texas Hill Country you will find the Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail which runs through the towns of Boerne, Burnet, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Goldthwaite, Johnson City, Llano, Marble Falls, New Braunfels, Round Mountain and Wimberley. In the New Braufels part of the Hill Country Lighting Trail you will find Santa's Ranch, with a Christmas Light Park drive through over a million lights.

Go to our Eyes on Texas Christmas in Texas webpage for information about many of the dozens of Texas Christmas Festivals, including those in Austin, Belton, Canton, Cleburne, College Station, Columbus, Denton, Fort Worth, Galveston, Granbury, Grapevine, Grand Prairie, Jefferson, Johnson City, Marlin, Marshall, McKinney, San Angelo, San Antonio, Richmond,  Texarkana, Tomball, Waxahachie and Wimberley.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Coconut Cake at Sam's Original Restaurant & BBQ in Fairfield Texas

Years ago, sometime near the turn of the century, on a road trip from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to Houston and Galveston, something motivated a freeway exit to a place called Sam's Original Restaurant & BBQ.

It may have been a billboard mentioning a buffet at Sam's which was what caused the exit from the freeway.

What is definitely remembered is what a pleasant experience Sam's Original Restaurant was, so much so that a return stop was made on the way back north, and again a year or two later, with Sam's as the destination for a birthday lunch buffet.

Sam's Original Restaurant & BBQ is located in Fairfield, Texas, a town on I-45, north of Huntsville, south of Corsicana.

Several things made the Sam's experience memorable. One was the hot out of the over loaf of whole wheat bread, with butter, appearing as soon as one gets seated. The various BBQed meats were memorably good. But, it was the coconut cake that really sticks in the memory. It was the memory of the coconut cake which probably caused the repeat visits, and this from someone who is not much of a dessert fan.

The screencap above is from the Sam's Original Restaurant & BBQ website.

On the Sam's website we learned the charming story of how Sam's came to be....

In the year 1906 Samuel Augustus Daniel was born. Cooking was always in his blood. At the young age of nine he worked for Mr. Joe Roller in downtown Fairfield selling chili and Hokey Pokey. Sammy quit school in the eighth grade and opened his own hamburger stand. People liked his burgers so much that they called them “Sam Burgers.” During the ‘30s and ‘40s he owned several other eating places, including a popcorn and a hot dog stand on the square in Fairfield. In January 1944 Sammy married Doris Wayne Childs. In 1953 Sammy and Doris opened a small BBQ stand on the south side of town on Highway 75.

It was at this little stand, which had sawdust floors, old school desks for tables and surplus army tin trays for plates that Sammy perfected his BBQ sauce recipe. Doris was busy as well, developing her skills at making the homemade pies and desserts that everyone loves.

Sammy and Doris moved their family to Delaware in 1963 where they remained for three years. They missed Fairfield and their friends so they moved back home and opened another restaurant on highway 75 south of town. It was here where they first started making the homemade bread that is so famous.

Anyone in the mood for a road trip to Sam's Original Restaurant & BBQ? Anyone have any idea what hokey pokey is?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Fort Worth Stockyards with the Fort Worth Herd

The Fort Worth Stockyards are the location of Fort Worth's one and only claim to tourist fame.

And Where the West Begins.

The Fort Worth Stockyards are our favorite place to people watch on a Hot summer day in Texas.

Year round the Fort Worth Stockyards attract visitors from all over the world, looking to experience some of the Old American West.

Twice a day, weather permitting, there is a Cattle Drive of the Fort Worth Herd of Longhorns down Exchange Avenue through the heart of the Stockyards. The Herd of Longhorns includes Cowboys and a Cowgirl, or two, as herd drivers.

The Fort Worth Stockyards has a lot of good places to eat. One of our favorites is having All You Can Eat Ribs at Riscky's BBQ, while enjoying the view from the weather protected patio.

H3 Ranch is another good place  to get smoky meats. Connected to H3 Ranch is Booger Red's Saloon, where you can sit on a saddle seat have yourself a mug of Buffalo Butt Beer. Above that is Gar the Texan and one of his ex-wives enjoying a Buffalo Butt Beer in Booger Red's.

Across the street from Booger Red's you'll find Tim Love's Love Shack with another weather protected outdoor eating and music listening area.

Go to our Eyes on Texas webpage  about the Fort Worth Stockyards where you will find a lot of Stockyards information and photos.

For a closer look at the Fort Worth Herd go to our Fort Worth Herd in the Stockyards webpage.

To see the Fort Worth Herd in motion along with other parts of the Stockyards, like the Love Shack, watch the video below...

Friday, November 28, 2014

I Regret I Have No Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Gall Bladders to Sell

That is a screencap from our Eyes on Texas webpage about the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup you are looking at here.

During the years since the Sweetwater Rattlesnake webpage was added to Eyes on Texas that webpage has probably generated more questions and comments, via email, than any other subject, or webpage.

For the most part the strangest comments or questions come from Europe, most from the UK and Germany.

Today an interestingly odd question came from Texas...

Dear Eyes on Texas

On your website “A Chinese woman offered the Sweetwater Jaycees (they run the Rattlesnake Roundup as well as the skinning and frying) one dollar per snake gall bladder.” I live in Texas and I wonder if I can buy 600 snake gall bladders for 600 dollars. 

Thank you.
G

I had no memory of mentioning on the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup webpage that a Chinese woman was seeking snake gall bladders. When I looked at the webpage I eventually found the mention of snake gall bladders.

The entire blurb about seeking snake gall bladders...

The snakes are executed away from public eyes. But they are skinned in full view. A Chinese woman offered the Sweetwater Jaycees (they run the Rattlesnake Roundup as well as the skinning and frying) one dollar per snake gall bladder. To be used in some medicinal concoction believed by some to be as useful as Viagra.

Why does the Texan, Mr. G., seek 600 rattlesnake gall bladders, one can not help but wonder? Does he figure if one snake gall bladder is good to fix that which Viagra fixes that 600 snake gall bladders would be like Super Viagra on Steroids?

I used to reply to these type inquires, informing the inquirer that my only connection to the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup and snake gall bladders, skins or rattles was that I made a webpage documenting my one and only visit to Sweetwater.

The past couple years I don't bother letting inquirers know that I am not a supplier of rattlesnake related products. I figure they should be able to figure that out on their own.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Granbury Texas

What you are looking at on the left is the Hood County Courthouse in Granbury, Texas.

Granbury may be our favorite Texas small town, of the small Texas towns which we have had the pleasure to visit, with more visits to Granbury than any other small Texas town.

Granbury puts on excellent festivals, centered on its historic Courthouse Square which surrounds the Courthouse.

Festivals like General Granbury's Birthday.

The 4th of July Parade in Granbury is well worth enduring the July heat.

Lake Granbury sort of surrounds Granbury, adding to its scenic setting. Lake Granbury is an impoundment of the Brazos River, with four parks on the lake. You can swim, fish, float a boat, water ski, canoe and kayak on Lake Granbury. That is, when the lake is full of water. The current North Texas drought has most North Texas lakes, including Lake Granbury, running low on water.

There have been many a time a stop has been made at a Granbury restaurant on the way to or from nearby attractions, like the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center or Dinosaur Valley State Park, that is, unless the hunger pangs are too strong upon leaving Fossil Rim or Dinosaur Valley, resulting in a restaurant stop in Glen Rose, yet one more small Texas town with a county courthouse square, with Glen Rose being the county seat of Somervell County.

Of the many restaurants located around Granbury's Courthouse Square, our favorite is Babe's Chicken Dinner House. Babe's is always good, whether at the original Babe's in Roanoke, or any of the other Babe's which has opened this century.

Go to our Eyes on Texas website to the webpage about Granbury for more information about the history of Granbury, such as how the town got its name, restaurants, places to stay and other attractions, such as the Granbury Riverboat which you can float for brunch, lunch or dinner, with live entertainment, including a Murder Mystery Cruise.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is Jesse James Wanted Dead or Alive in Granbury Texas?

Two of our most visited Eyes on Texas webpages have to do with murder victims.

The most visited of those two murderous webpages is about one of the most notorious murder victims of all time. Lee Harvey Oswald.

The 51st Anniversary of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and the man Oswald assassinated, President John F. Kennedy, occurs in just a couple days.

The second most visited of our two murderous webpages is titled The Truth About Jesse James.

For the most part the truth referenced has to do with whether or not Jesse James survived the assassination attempt by Bob Ford, then somehow eventually made it to Granbury, Texas, where he lived out his life, dying in 1951, alleged to be buried in a Granbury cemetery.

The Jesse James in a Granbury grave allegations reached the point where an exhumation occurred, with the post-mortem examination quickly determining a wrong body had been dug up. If I remember right further exhumations were not allowed.

And so the rumor persists, that Jesse James survived Bob Ford's bullets to find his final resting place in a pleasant small town in Texas called Granbury.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Doing the Bunny Hop to Fort Worth's Ozzie Rabbit Lodge with Elsie Hotpepper

Over 50 years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas, in Dallas to be precise, at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, to be even more precise.

I was among the thousands who thronged to Dealey Plaza for the 40th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination. This was an event the likes of which I had never attended before.

All those years ago had you told me that in the 21st century I would be living within walking distance of the Gravesite of Lee Harvey Oswald my limited imagination would not have been able to conjure up a scenario where that could possibly happen.

And yet it did.

A few years ago, also near the location of Lee Harvey Oswald's grave in the Rose Hill Memorial Cemetery, in the Handley neighborhood of Fort Worth, a bar opened called The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge.

Ozzie Rabbit was Lee Harvey Oswald's nickname when he was in the Marines prior to defecting to the Soviet Union to find a wife, among other things.

Over the years I have blogged multiple times about The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge. Below is a list of those bloggings for your reading pleasure...

The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge

Saloon Hopping With Elsie Hotpepper To The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge With Her 12-Gauge Shotgun

Meth Whores Can Live In Peace At Fort Worth's Ozzie Rabbit Lodge

Looking At Ads While Drinking Heavily & Stripping

I think I will see if Elsie Hotpepper is available to do some saloon hopping tonight. It has been a while since we last visited The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oklahoma's Turner Falls Park in Winter

Turner Falls Park in Oklahoma is a popular year round destination.

Summer at Turner Falls Park one can find oneself a bit overheated hiking the trails, exploring the caves or climbing the stairs to the castle.

In winter it is not the norm to find oneself overheating whilst hiking the trails, exploring the caves or climbing the stairs to the castle.

In winter one might find Honey Creek in flood mode, such as I found it a few years back. That would be my steering wheel aimed at crossing Honey Creek which had flooded over the road.

As you can see below Honey Creek running more than its usual amount of water turns Turner Falls into a much more vigorous waterfall than the trickle seen when I made my first summer visit to Turner Falls Park.


You can go to the webpage I made after a summer visit to Turner Falls to see the falls in summer trickle mode, along with a lot of people, including myself, in the pool of water beneath the falls.


Above we are above Turner Falls, trying to be careful not to slip into a rapidly raging Honey Creek. This would appear to be a bit foolish to be at this location, but in the moment it did not look to be as dangerous as it looks in hindsight.

I do not know if Turner Falls Park goes into any sort of special Holiday mode, with special lighting or special events. I would suspect it does. But, even without special lighting or special  events, Turner Falls Park would be a good destination choice for a Holiday Season roadtrip.

For more pictures of Turner Falls Park in Winter go to my our Turner Falls Park in Winter webpage.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Great Raft of the Red River

What is known as the Great Raft was a giant log jam spanning, at its biggest, more than 160 miles, resulting in a clogging of the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers.

It is believed the Great Raft log jam began sometime around 1200 A.D., give or take a century. The Great Raft was part of the belief system of the members of the Caddo Confederacy who thought the Great Raft protected them from enemy tribes and also by making their land agriculturally productive due to the logjam caused flooding.

By the 1880s the Great Raft logjam blocked the free water flow all the way from Campti, Louisiana to the area now known as Shreveport. The Great Raft blocked settlement west of the area of Shreveport due to blocking the mouth of Twelvemile Bayou. The Great Raft raised the river levels, formed bayous and what became known as the Great Raft Lakes, including Caddo Lake, which remains a lake in the modern era.

The Great Red River Raft acted as a dam, elevating the level of the Red River, Caddo Lake and the Big Cypress Bayou, thus permitting commercial riverboats to float to Jefferson, Texas from the Mississippi River, connecting Jefferson to towns like New Orleans and St. Louis and making Jefferson one of the busiest port towns in America.

Jefferson being a port town would come to an end with the end of the Great Raft. A riverboat captain named Henry Miller Shreve began removing the Great Raft in the 1830s, By 1835 Shreve had cleared the Great Raft up to the mouth of Twelvemile Bayou.  By 1838 Shreve had managed to removed enough of the Great Raft to allow un-impeded navigation on the Red River.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Texas Renaissance Festival


The annual Texas Renaissance Festival is underway in Todd Mission, Texas. Todd Mission is located about 50 miles northwest of Houston. The Texas Renaissance Festival began in 1974 at the location of an abandoned strip mining site.

Texas Renaissance Festival makes the claim that it is America's biggest Renaissance Festival. In 2012 the recorded attendance was 606,694.

The Texas Renaissance Festival covers 55 acres and includes a camping area for festival goers.

The 2014 Texas Renaissance Festival began October 11, ending 8 weekends later on November 30.

Each of the Texas Renaissance Festival's weekends is themed, starting with Oktoberfest, then 1001 Dreams, All Hallows Eve, Pirate Adventure, Roman Bacchanal, Barbarian Invasion, Highland Fling and Celtic Christmas.

At the Texas Renaissance Festival you will find around 500 costumed performers performing on 17 stages. The Texas Renaissance Festival has some 340 shops with artisans, food and crafts.

If the weather cooperates the Queen's Royal Finale fireworks show starts when the sun goes down.

For all the information about the Texas Renaissance Festival that you could possibly need visit the Texas Renaissance Festival's website.

2014 Wurstfest in New Braunfels


Friday, November 7, the 2014 ten day New Braunfels Wurstfest opens, closing on November 16.

New Braunfels was founded by Germans, which is why the town has a festival to celebrate its German heritage, mixed in with Texas style fun.

Wurstfest is known for its salute to sausage. Along with beer, food, carnival rides, music, dancing  and more all done with Bavarian flair.

Wurstfest takes place near the headwaters of the crystal clear Comal River. If you've ever found your way to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels you will be able to find Wurstfest.

Daily Hours for Wurstfest...

OPENING DAY
4:00pm-11:30pm
SATURDAYS
11:00am-12:30am
SUNDAYS
11:00am-9:30pm
MON-WED
5:00pm-9:30pm
THURS & FRI
5:00pm-11:30pm

For more information check out the Wurstfest website.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Miriam "Ma" Ferguson First Female Governor of Texas

Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas was the wife of James "Pa" Ferguson.

Pa Ferguson began serving as the governor of Texas in 1915. He was impeached and removed from office in 1917, along with being banned for life from running for office in Texas.

Ma Ferguson won the governorship, serving a full term from 1925 til 1927. At that point in time Texas a governor served two year terms.

Ma Ferguson ran and won again, serving from 1933 til 1935.

In her first campaign for governor Ma Ferguson told voters she would follow the advice of her impeached husband, giving Texas "two governors for the price of one."

Among Ma Ferguson's campaign slogans was "Me for Ma, and I Ain't Got a Durned Thing Against Pa."

The Fergusons and their Ferguson brand of populism, to this day, are a controversial subject in Texas. "Fergusonism" was the popular term used to describe the Ferguson type of politicking.

Ma and Pa were Democrats,and thus sort of progressive. Ma and Pa did not drink, but Ma sided with the "Wets" in the fight to end Prohibition. Ma Ferguson strongly opposed the Ku Klux Klan. Ma Ferguson advocated a state sales tax and corporate income tax.

One of the more infamous quotes attributed to Ma Ferguson, regarding the issue of bilingualism is Texas schools, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.”

That goofy quote is something some Texas politicians might be heard saying in modern day Texas. Though Ma Ferguson is widely believed to have suggested Jesus spoke English, many scholarly sorts dispute this.

During Ma Ferguson's first term as governor she issued a lot of pardons, averaging over 100 a month. There were accusations that one could buy a pardon from Ma Ferguson. This lead to attempts to impeach her.

Another rumor persisted that Texas state highway contracts only went to those who advertised in Ma's newspaper, the Ferguson Forum. This rumor was investigated but no criminal charges resulted from the investigation.

Texas has had two females governors. Ma and Anne Richards. Wendy Davis would make number three.I don't think Wendy Davis will be as "colorful" a  governor as was Ma Ferguson.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Texas Legend Ima Hogg

Ima Hogg.

No, not me. The lady in the portrait is Ima Hogg.

This morning after I voted for Wendy Davis to be the next governor of Texas for some reason I thought of Ima Hogg. At that point in time I thought I remembered Ima Hogg was the first female governor of Texas.

Upon returning to my computer I quickly learned Ima Hogg was never governor of Texas, but she was known at "The First Lady of Texas" and that Ima Hogg was a well respected Texan for much of the 20th century.

Ima Hogg was born on July 20, 1882. Ima Hogg lived until August 19, 1975. Ima's dad was known as "Big Jim" Hogg.

Big Jim was the governor of Texas from 1891 til 1895. It was at Big Jim Hogg's instigation that the notorious Texas Railroad Commission was formed. Voters approved an amendment to the Texas constitution to create the Railroad Commission.

Big Jim Hogg died in 1906, at only 54 years old. Big Jim was a big landholder in East Texas, land Ima Hogg inherited. Early in the 20th century oil was discovered on the Hogg land, leaving Ima an extremely wealthy woman. Ima Hogg used her wealth to become a well known philanthropist and collector of the arts.

Ima Hogg was embarrassed by her name. If she was required to sign her name Ima would scribble her first name. On stationery Ima would have her name printed as Miss Hogg or I. Hogg.

I have long known of Ima Hogg. I always thought Ima had a sister named Ura, as in Ura Hogg. Turns out Ima Hogg having a sister named Ura Hogg is an urban myth.

Ima had 3 siblings, none of whom was a Ura. But they were all Hoggs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The 48th Annual International Chili Championship in Terlingua Texas

The 48th Annual Terlingua International Chili Championship starts up November 1, with four nights of fun & music.

And chili.

Lots of chili.

And lots of chili-heads consuming lots of chili.

Way back in 1967 the Chili Championship Cook Off started up. A couple of classic Texans, H. Allen Smith and Wick Fowler, both known for their amusing characters and their chili got themselves into a chili battle with two chili festivals morphing into on big happy party with a lot of chili.

For more information about the 48th Annual Terlingua International Chili Championship click here to go to the official website.

For information about Terlingua click here to go to our Eyes on Texas webpage about Terlingua.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Halloween Hunting for Haunted Houses in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex

Does the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone have the world's highest per capita collection of Haunted Houses haunting people during the Halloween time of the year?

Fort Worth has a Haunted House called Cutting Edge, with the name having something to do with meat packing. Cutting Edge has a Guinness World Record in the Haunted House category due to being the biggest walk through Haunted House in the world.

Visiting one of the Dallas/Fort Worth Haunted Houses will cost you anywhere from $17 to $30 something.

Below is a list of most of the Dallas/Fort Worth Haunted Houses, along with their location, with the Haunted House name linked to their website so you can learn precise location, hours and how much it costs to get really scared....

Cutting Edge (Fort Worth)

Hangman's House of Horrors (Fort Worth)

Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus (Irving Mall)

Zombie Manor (Arlington)

Reindeer Manor (Red Oak)

Moxley Manor Haunted House (Bedford)

Dark Hour (Plano)

The Parker House (Denton)

Boneyard Haunted House (Arlington)

Thrillvania Haunted House (Terrell)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington

The first time I rode a ride in Six Flags Over Texas, in Arlington, was memorable to me not due to any ride I rode, but due to it being the day that John F. Kennedy, Jr. went missing and presumed dead due to his plane not arriving in Hyannis Port as expected.

The lines at Six Flags have TVs on overhead. So, that day the ongoing JFK, Jr. story dominated the line waits.

The first time I visited Six Flags that which you see on the left perplexed me. I wondered if it was supposed to be some sort of Texas version of the Eiffel Tower. I inquired as to what it was supposed to be to learn it was a viewing tower made to look like an oil derrick.

The view from the top looks all the way to the skyline of Dallas to the east. I don't remember if the skyline of Fort Worth can be seen from the observation deck.

You can go to my Eyes on Texas website's webpage about Six Flags Over Texas for photos of the view from the Derrick Tower observation deck, and other photos of Six Flags, plus oodles of Six Flags Over Texas information.

When I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone I figured I'd be getting myself an annual pass to Six Flags. I figured wrong. I have been to Disneyland so many times I don't know how many. If I lived in the Los Angeles zone I know I would get a seasons pass to Disneyland, hence figuring the same for Six Flags.

Well.

I have been to Six Flags twice. Both times due to getting free passes. The first visit was so disappointing I never went again til years later when that second free pass arrived. Multiple things we not up to my Disneyland level expectation, most of which I mention on my Six Flags Over Texas webpage.

Six Flags Over Texas is located about six miles east of where I live.

If I got another free pass to Six Flags would I go again? Maybe. It has been at least 8 years since I've walked through the shabby entry. I am sure improvements have been made....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

White Rock Lake in Dallas

The pair of fishermen you are looking at here are on a dock on White Rock Lake. That would be the skyline of downtown Dallas to the west.

The State Fair of Texas takes place a few miles to the southwest of where these guys are fishing.

The first time I saw White Rock Lake it reminded me of Green Lake in Seattle. Only White Rock Lake is bigger, its amenities are more varied, its trail is longer and you are not allowed to swim in White Rock Lake.

I do not know why swimming is banned in White Rock Lake. Kayaking is allowed.

The paved trail around White Rock Lake is 9.3 miles long. There are multiple docks and piers of various sorts, and boat launch locations, as well as a marina. The Dallas Arboretum is located at the south end of the lake. There is a dog park at the northwest edge of White Rock Lake.

Go to my Eyes on Texas webpage about White Rock Lake for more pictures, information and directions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dallas Farmers Market

That would be my mom appearing to be sucking on a bitter lemon. My mom found that bitter lemon in Dallas at the Dallas Farmers Market, a couple years ago.

When visitors visit me from the Pacific Northwest and want to see the tourist highlights in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex zone the Dallas Farmers Market is one of the places I take them.

And, invariably people from the Pacific Northwest will remark that the Dallas Farmers Market reminds them of Seattle's Pike Place Market.

Which is understandable because both markets sell a lot of produce of various sorts. The Dallas Farmers Market is a bit less scenic than Seattle's Pike Place Market though, what with no elevation changes, no overlooking a large body of saltwater, with mountain ranges in every direction and not being in the heart of the downtown zone with skyscrapers close by.

The Dallas Farmers Market is sprawling though. And you can find something you won't find in Seattle's Pike Place Market, as in acres of palm trees for sale.

The Dallas Farmers Market is easy to find, located directly north of I-30 on the southeast side of downtown Dallas, with the street address being 1010 South Pearl Street. The Dallas Farmers Market is open 7 days a week, from 8am til 6pm, all but three days of the year. I think those closed days are Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.

You can go to my Eyes on Texas webpage about the Dallas Farmers Market for more pictures of my mom, plus many more pictures of the Dallas Farmers Market and additional information.

The Sam Houston Statue by Huntsville Texas

Years ago, driving south to Houston on Interstate 45, a few minutes after being surprised to drive through the town of Huntsville to see a giant Texas prison on both sides of the freeway, I was perplexed at seeing something looming, big, tall, and glowing white ahead.

Eventually, as I passed that which was big, tall and glowing white I could see it was a statue of a man.

I exited the first exit I came to and headed back north to check out the big, tall and glowing white statue.

It did not take long to learn this 67 foot tall statue is a memorial to one of the founding fathers of Texas, Sam Houston

The Sam Houston Statue stands in a well done park  with a visitor's center where you can learn all you need to know about the statue and about Sam Houston.

Go to the webpage I made about the Sam Houston Statue to find more information and photos of Sam.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

Way back in 2003 I visited the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Soon thereafter I made a Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup webpage and my first YouTube video.

Sweetwater takes a lot of flack for rounding up rattlesnakes. And killing most of those who get rounded up.

I don't know if it is still the case, but for years my webpage about the Sweetwater event Googled in the #1 spot. That has caused me many questions asking about rattlesnake products, like skins and rattles, that people assume I must sell.

Due to people thinking my webpage about the Rattlesnake Roundup is somehow officially associated with the event I get a lot of angry emails from anti-Rattlesnake Roundup activists. There have been 100s of comments relating to my Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup video on YouTube, many of them of the sort that generated the following in the Wikipedia article about YouTube....

Most videos enable users to leave comments, and these have attracted attention for the negative aspects of both their form and content. In 2006, Time praised Web 2.0 for enabling "community and collaboration on a scale never seen before", and added that YouTube "harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred". The Guardian in 2009 described users' comments on YouTube as: “Juvenile, aggressive, misspelled, sexist, homophobic, swinging from raging at the contents of a video to providing a pointlessly detailed description followed by a LOL, YouTube comments are a hotbed of infantile debate and unashamed ignorance – with the occasional burst of wit shining through.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Since I started my Durango Texas blog, years ago, I have blogged multiple times about the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Below is a list  of most of those bloggings.

SATURDAY, MAY 3, 2008
Rattlesnake Phobia

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2008
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2008
Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2009
The Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup Anti-Venom

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2009
The 2009 Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2009
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Comments

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2009
Alma's Mating Rattlesnakes & The Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup

TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2009
Sweetwater Sucks & Other Dumb Comments

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
A Rattlesnake Bridge & The Sweetwater Texas Rattlesnake Roundup

TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
YouTube Rattlesnakes, Australians, Americans, Texans & Nazis

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2011
The World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup Starts March 10 In Sweetwater Texas

SATURDAY, MARCH 12, 2011
We Need To Thin Down The Population Of Rattlesnakes At Our Ranch

SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2011
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Pageant Hopefuls Decapitate & Skin Snakes

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2012
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup Weekend Kick Off Is Thursday March 8 With The Rattlesnake Review Parade

SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2012
The 2nd Saturday Of March Dawns Cold Thinking About Rounding Up Rattlesnakes

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
Apparently Killing Sweetwater Rattlesnakes Is Senseless & Makes You Look Like A Moron

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2012
The Sweetwater Rattlesnakes Will Have Their Day

MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2013
Apparently I Have A Big Rattlesnake Surprise Waiting For Me

TUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2013
Apparently Children Are Witnessing Rattlesnake Beheadings In Sweetwater Texas

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas Being Too Cautious About Ebola

I saw that which you see on the left on Facebook a few minutes ago via the marathon runner who calls himself Mr. Spivey.

There seems to be some over-reacting going on to America's first Ebola case being in Dallas.

Not just Texans and those of us who live in the Dallas vicinity are over-reacting. I have detected some over-reacting on Facebook from Facebookers located as far from Dallas as the state of Washington.

I know Big Tex has become a bit of a hypochondriac after he went up in flames during a previous State Fair of Texas, so I guess the big guy putting on a germ blocking mask makes sense to him. But I really think Big Tex is over-reacting.

I would think a bigger health danger at the State Fair of Texas is presented by the consumption of any of the 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists.

Fried Siracha Balls? Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet? Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil?

Which I believe was the Best Taste winner this year.

Deep Fried "Breakfast for Dinner"?

Which I read yesterday goes for 18 coupons. Coupons cost 50 cents each. Math is not a forte of mine, but I think that works out to being 9 bucks for a Deep Fried "Breakfast for Dinner".

I believe the cheapest of the Big Tex Choices is 17 coupons. I don't know if the Most Creative winner, Original State Fair Brew - Funnel Cake Ale is 17 or 18 coupons.

I also do not know why, for sure, so many events in Texas do not do straightforward transactions using American currency, but instead you have to turn American currency into coupons if you want to eat something fattening or get on a carnival ride.

I was told, years ago, that the reason for the coupons was that it was hard to find temporary fair help who could make change. But you could find help which could count coupons. At the time this made no sense to me. But, I have now been long enough in Texas to see why the coupon payment method simplifies matters sufficiently for just about anyone to master....

Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Tex at the 2014 State Fair of Texas Needs a Makeover

What is going on with the 2014 version of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas?

Is this the result of the extensive therapy Big Tex had to go through after that horrific fire torched the big guy?

Did the fire leave Big Tex's arms all akimbo?

And his posture a bit stiff?

Did the fire leave Big Tex in need of wearing adult diapers?

And who dressed Big Tex this year?

Big Tex looks like he'd be a good candidate for What Not To Wear if that makeover show was still on TV.

Maybe Heidi Klum could have the Project Runway designers design a new look for Big Tex.

And what is going on with the Big Tex boots?

Previously Big Tex wore very tasteful boots, as evidenced in the video made from the last time I visited Big Tex.

The 2014 version of the Boots of Big Tex look like the psychedelic result of an old hippie's bad idea.

And the Big Tex belt appears to match the boots. I have not seen a frontal view of the 2014 Big Tex so I do not know what the Big Tex big belt buckle looks like. I suspect it is likely colorful.

And why does the cowboy hat of Big Tex appear to be too small for his big head?

This is all very perplexing....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Prisoners in Penitentiary Hollow in Lake Mineral Wells State Park

A couple miles east of the city limits of Mineral Wells you will find the entry to Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway.

The Trailway is a biking, hiking, horse riding trail which trails all the way from Weatherford to Mineral Wells.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park has over 17 miles of hiking trails, of which 9 are open to horses and bikes.

The most unique attraction in Lake Mineral Wells State Park is Penitentiary Hollow.

Go to our Eyes on Texas webpage about Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Penitentiary Hollow to see photo documentation about what is so unique about Penitentiary Hollow.

I do not know if Penitentiary Hollow is so named because it was used at some point in time as a prison. I suspect that may be the case. One could easily keep a large number of prisoners inside the "Hollow" with little means of escape, only needing a few guards to keep an eye on the prisoners.

In our modern era no one is kept prisoner in Penitentiary Hollow. The location is currently an extremely popular rock climbing venue.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park is only about 40 miles west of the western fringes of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Go here for a map showing the location of Lake Mineral Wells State Park.

A Town In West Texas Named After Kermit Roosevelt

The bearded guy looking like he's ready for some South American jungle trekking is named Kermit.

Kermit Roosevelt.

Son of a United States President named Theodore Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt was born October 10, 1889, died June 4, 1943 from a self inflicted gun shot wound whilst Kermit was serving in the army, stationed in Alaska during World War II.

Kermit Roosevelt was plagued by depression and alcoholism for much of his life.

At some point in time early in the last century, maybe around 1916, Kermit Roosevelt stayed at the T Bar Ranch in northern Winkler County in West Texas. Kermit was staying at the T Bar Ranch to hunt antelope.

Apparently Kermit Roosevelt left quite an impression on the West Texas locals because soon after his visit a new town was named Kermit, in his honor.

After becoming a town Kermit has gone through periods of population gain and loss, with the ups and downs following oil booms and busts.

The population of Kermit, at last count in 2000, was 5,714.

No information could be found regarding whether or not Kermit Roosevelt ever returned to visit Kermit after the town was named after him.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells

It was not long after I arrived in Texas that I was exploring the area west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, when I saw a HUGE building looming in the distance as I approached the town of Mineral Wells.

This HUGE building looked so out of place, towering above the small town which looked like it had fallen on hard times.

I can not remember now how it was I learned this HUGE building was the Baker Hotel. I know I discovered the Baker Hotel late in the last century, before Googling made it easy to find information.

After I began my Eyes on Texas website I returned to Mineral Wells to take more photos of the Baker  Hotel. On one of my visits a custodian let me inside to explore the first floor. By then the Baker had been stripped of most of anything valuable, but you could still see signs of its glory days, like the art deco style floor pointing arrow above the elevator door. And what looked like pink tinted mirrors in the ballroom. Why those mirrors were still there seemed to be yet one more Baker Hotel mystery.

When I made a Baker Hotel webpage it was the only webpage devoted to this subject on the Internet. That is no longer the case.

Earlier in this century I would frequently get inquiries about the Baker Hotel from people thinking I somehow had a direct involvement with the building. Over the years there have been multiple instances of someone having a plan to restore the Baker Hotel to its former glory. Some of these plans seem well grounded, generating news coverage.

And then nothing seems to happen and the Baker Hotel remains in its state of gradual decay.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exhausting Hike To Summit Of Enchanted Rock

As you can see the hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock in the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, in the heart of Texas Hill Country, can be a bit exhausting for some.

Hiking Enchanted Rock may be the best hike in Texas. It certainly is one of the most scenic and most popular.

Go to our Eyes on Texas Enchanted Rock webpage for more pictures and more information, including the following Enchanted Rock factoids...

  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area consists of 1643.5 acres on Big Sandy Creek, north of Fredericksburg, on the border between Gillespie and Llano Counties. It was acquired in 1978 by the Nature Conservancy of Texas. Enchanted Rock is a huge, pink granite dome rising 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covering 640 acres.
  • Enchanted Rock was named a National Natural Landmark in 1970. In 1984 Enchanted Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • A Spanish conquistador captured by the Tonkawa escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a "pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own." The Indians believed he cast spells of enchantments on the area, The first well-documented explorations of this area began around 1723 when the Spanish stepped up their goal to colonize Texas. During the mid-1700s, the Spaniards made several trips to the north and northwest of San Antonio, establishing a mission and presidio (fort) on the San Saba River and doing some mining on Honey Creek near the Llano River.
  • There is only one granite formation in America larger than Enchanted Rock and that is Stone Mountain in Georgia.
  • Enchanted Rock State Park fills up (in terms of parking) and frequently closes on weekends (sometimes as early as 11 a.m.) Reopening usually occurs at 5 p.m. Call ahead (325-247-3903) or have alternate plans if you arrive at the park and find it closed. 
  • There is only one granite formation in America larger than Enchanted Rock and that is Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maybe a Mighty Fine Time at the 2014 State Fair of Texas drinking Funnel Cake Ale with Fried Gulf Shrimp Boils

Those are the BIG BOOTS of BIG TEX you are looking at on the left.

Big Tex stands guard and greets people at the State Fair of Texas.

It was from Big Tex I learned to use the phrase "mighty fine time" after I heard Big Tex greet me with something like "I hope you have yourself a mighty fine time at this year's State Fair of Texas."

I don't remember for sure, but I think you may hear the big guy say mighty fine time in the video below that I compiled from that year's State Fair visit.

The State Fair of Texas, also known as the Texas State Fair, starts up in a couple Fridays, September 26 to be specific. The Fair runs through October 19.

Earlier this month the winners of the Big Tex Choice Award were announced. The Best Taste Award went to Clint Probst's Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil. The Most Creative Award went to Justin Martinez's Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale.

I believe this is the first year State Fair of Texas visitors under 21 years old can not sample one of the Big Tex Choice Award winners.

To read the details of what makes up a Fried Shrimp Boil and Funnel Cake Ale, along with descriptions of the fried concoctions which did not win, go to the blogging I blogged last month about the Big Tex Choice Awards titled The State Fair of Texas 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards This Year With Beer.

I do not know if I will make it to the 2014 Texas State Fair. My last visit I parked in a remote parking lot from whence I was delivered to the Fair's entry gate via a Trinity Rail Express train. That was fun.

I could take a TRE train to Dallas, and then hop the DART train line which goes directly to the State Fair of Texas. That might be adventurous. Or possibly all sorts of aggravating.

If you have yourself a mighty fine time watching the video below, please note that that is not Big Tex playing bongos you hear throughout the video....

Visiting Zebra at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

If you are visiting the Hill Country zone that surrounds Glen Rose there are two nearby attractions you need to visit.

One is Dinosaur Valley State Park.

The other is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

The intro blurb from my Eyes on Texas website's webpage about the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center sums up how I felt about the experience.

Located near Glen Rose and Dinosaur Valley, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is the most entertaining attraction we have yet found in north Texas. The lively wildlife, the many visitors, the well-designed park, the scenery. This place even managed to have several very steep hills, both uphill and downhill, so steep they required 'shift to low gear' signs. Steepest road grades we have seen in Texas. 

The drive through Fossil Rim is basically one surprise after another. I had never had a a zebra stick its head in my window before. Or try to bit a chunk out of my steering wheel.

I don't think I have ever added so many photos to a webpage as I did on the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center webpage.

I also do not believe I ever experienced, before or since, as much interaction with wildlife as I did the day I visited Fossil Rim. In addition to the zebra, I also got close with an ostrich, a giraffe and a laughing goat. To name a few of the more memorable encounters.

After I webpaged my experience I got email from Fossil Rim, after which a few emails were exchanged. And then Fossil Rim mailed me a Season's Pass for two, along with four guest  passes. All good for a year.

None of which I got around to using. I have long intended to  return to makes videos. But never have.

I have never been much of a fan of zoos. Although zoos have greatly improved, losing much of that animals in prison cages feel, replaced with simulated natural habitats.

At the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center you definitely do not feel like you are visiting a zoo. It feels more like you are taking a drive through the natural habitat of hundreds of wild animals having themselves a mighty fine time interacting with the visitors.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lost in Dinosaur Valley State Park

As you can see on the list of links on the right I have an Eyes on Texas Facebook page.

Today Facebook repeatedly suggested I enable an automatic posting feature where a Facebook post gets posted as an Eyes on Texas Twitter post.

Not really understanding what this would do I enabled it, thinking that the Twitter tweet would somehow link back to the Facebook post.

Instead the Twitter tweet linked to the link in the Facebook post which linked to my original Dinosaur Valley State Park page on my Eyes on Texas website.

So, a person seeing the blurb of text on Twitter, when clicking on the link, does not go to the Facebook source of that text, instead they go where that text does not exist.

Confusing.

Below is the text in the post on Facebook about Dinosaur Valley State Park of which Twitter tweeted the first few words.....

The best hiking and mountain biking that I have experienced in North Texas has been in Dinosaur Valley State Park, located near Glen Rose and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. 

I sort of enjoy getting lost. 

I've been lost on the Dinosaur Valley trails both hiking and biking, with the best/worst lost experience occurring on a Christmas Day.

I did not realize the park would be pretty much empty on Christmas Day, with no one at the entry gate. I pedaled for hours, telling myself to keep track of the various junctions and colored trail markers.

But, as the sun began to set I realized I was not where I thought I was. 

I was lost. 

As darkness began to set in I began pondering hiding the bike in the brush and moving as fast as I could on foot. Right about then I got my bearings.

I think this may be the last time I've been lost.

Until today when I got lost in Facebook and Twitter.........

Friday, August 22, 2014

The State Fair of Texas 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards This Year With Beer

Next month, September 26 to be exact, in Dallas, the 2014 State Fair of Texas opens, and stays open through October 19.

The Texas State Fair is well known for many things. Big Tex comes to mind. As do Corny Dogs. Along with one of the biggest State Fair Midways in America, including what used to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the Western Hemisphere, til supplanted by bigger wheels in Seattle and Las Vegas.

And then there is the annual competition to win a Big Tex Choice Award.

Previous years, as far as I know, all Big Tex Choice Award entries have been deep-fried delectable items like Deep Fried Coke, Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll, Fried Bubblegum, Deep Fried Butter, Deep Fried Beer.

Well, you get the drift.

Now this year, for the first time, one of the entries is not deep-fried. That would be Original State Fair Brew  - Funnel Cake Ale, the first Tex Choice Award potential winner in history requiring one be 21 years old to sample.

Below, direct from the Big Tex website, that being the official website of the State Fair of Texas, are this year's Big Tex Choice Award finalists...

Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato by Butch Benavides
The creamy and moist insides of a baked potato, loaded with generous amounts of butter, bacon, and cheddar cheese, are coated and battered with a delectable blend of spices and flour that create a perfect combination of fried crispy crust and delicious, creamy loaded baked potato. Served with a ranch dipping sauce.

Deep Fried “Breakfast for Dinner” by Edna Sutton & Tom Grace
A twist on a favorite American dinner–”Breakfast for Dinner.” This is a 10″ flour tortilla stuffed with eight favorite breakfast items – scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, potatoes, ham, onion, cheddar cheese and gooey cinnamon roll bits – that are deep fried until golden brown and served with a creamy country gravy, salsa and a pico-queso dip.

Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet by Isaac Rousso
The Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet is a blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate. It is baked and deep fried to a perfect golden brown. This mountain of flavor is topped off with whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries, and a delicious blueberry glaze.

Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil by Clint Probst
Everything you would expect in a shrimp boil rolled into a ball, dusted with Fish Fry, and fried to a golden brown! Baby gulf shrimp, diced red potatoes, onion, lemon, and seasoning are formed around a cocktail shrimp, dusted and fried with the tail sticking out for a handle. Served with a remoulade sauce.

Fried Sriracha Balls by Mark Zable
A lip-smacking combination of shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes, and Sriracha hot sauce, formed into balls and coated with crispy tortilla chips. It is then flash-fried until golden brown. For those who like their food higher on the Scoville Scale, extra Sriracha Sauce is available.

Fried Sweet Texas by Justin Martinez
Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts gave inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler, and creamy buttermilk pie. It is then deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, and then served up with a side of Texas’ own Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. A real tribute to Texans and their amazing sweet treats!

Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale by Justin Martinez
A light and delicious ale brewed to be reminiscent of one of the telltale flavors of the State Fair – FUNNEL CAKE! This refreshing English style summer ale has been brewed to be ready and crisp, with just the right amount of toastiness and sweetness, finishing with delicate notes of natural vanilla; all great flavors you find in a perfectly executed funnel cake. For those whose taste buds call for a sweeter finish, take advantage of the option to have the rim of your cup coated with powdered sugar. Must be 21 years of age.

Twisted Texas Tacos by Christi Erpillo
What do you get when you combine the four major food groups of Texas? Chicken Fried, Barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Chili – Twisted Texas Tacos! This taco starts off with tender, juicy hickory smoked Texas beef brisket, double-dipped in a barbecue spiced buttermilk batter and deep fried until it is robust and beefy. It is served in a warm flour tortilla, generously layered with a Mexican cheese blend, crispy fried okra, and a sweet and crunchy tri-color slaw, accented with zesty poblano and sweet pepper corn. Served with a creamy country gravy, spicy Texas Chili and a miniature salute from the Lone Star flag.

Below is a  list of the previous winners of the Best Taste and Most Creative Awards.....


The last time we attended the State Fair of Texas was the 2006 version. That year Fried Coke won the Most Creative Big Tex Choice Award.

Below is our video made from the 2006 visit. In this video you get a good look at Big Tex, hear Big Tex talk, walk  through the aforementioned Midway and if you look closely you will see Fried Coke available for ones dining pleasure...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The 4th of July in Texas including Willie's 4th of July Picnic in the Fort Worth Stockyards

On the left you are looking at a float which floated in the 2013 Arlington 4th of July Parade.

The people in the picture are all looking skyward due to being momentarily distracted by a large formation of airplanes passing overhead.

Last year's Arlington 4th of July Parade had many special moments, such a the Big Bud Kennedy float, the Wheelin' Elvi, several salutes to Veterans, multiple marching high school bands along with a lot of patriotic 4th of July type moments.

The Granbury 4th of July Parade has many large well done floats, a lot of school participation, including cheerleaders, marching bands and the town's football team. After the Granbury 4th of July Parade ends the celebrating continues around the courthouse square.

Willie's 4th of July Picnic once again takes place at the Fort Worth Stockyards. More details about that below.

A look at some other Texas 4th of July celebrations, including Willie's Picnic....

Amarillo: July 4th Fireworks

The Texas Panhandle's largest fireworks display, sponsored by the Amarillo Globe-News. More than 50,000 people gather near Thompson Park to view this spectacular event. Time: Sunset. Cost: Free. Location: Ross Rogers Golf Course in Thompson Park (US Highway 287 north).

Arlington: Annual 4th of July Parade

This parade has become one of the largest in Texas. An old-fashioned community parade. With over 150 entries that include marching bands to exotic automobiles, military color guards to clowns, and dignitaries to unique presentations, the theme of what Independence Day is all about. Parade entries and volunteer helpers are welcome. Time: 9am, lasting about two hours. Cost: Free. Location: downtown Arlington.

Baytown: July 4th Celebration

An evening featuring a variety of family-oriented activities including a parade, food booths, craft booths, a children's amusement area, live entertainment, and a fireworks display. Cost: Free admission. Location: Bicentennial Park (Market Street / Lee Drive) in Baytown.

Chappell Hill: 30th Annual 4th of July Parade

"Best Small Town Parade in America," featuring floats, cowboys, antique cars, the renowned Marching Kazoo Band. Creative entries welcomed. Prizes awarded. Time: 10am. Cost: Free admission. Location: Downtown Chappell Hill.

Lake Jackson: Old Fashion 4th Celebration

An old-fashioned 4th of July celebration, the day begins with food, games, fun, family and friends, ending at dusk with a spectacular fireworks display. Location: MacLean Park, 91 Lake Road.

Lubbock: Fourth on Broadway

A celebration of the 4th of July with a parade and street fair. The parade begins at 10am, followed by live music, with food and craft booths lined up along Broadway. The day ends with a concert and fireworks display. Time: All Day. Cost: Free. Location: Broadway Street.

Rockport: Rockport Art Festival

This art town's juried fine arts festival hosts 125+ artists from across United States. In a tented atmosphere adjacent to Rockport Center for the Arts, it is situated by Aransas and Little Bays and Rockport's Harbor and Beach Park. Includes artists' demonstrations, foods, live entertainment, shopping and hands-on art activities for children.

Washington-on-the-Brazos

Celebrate our nation's independence where Texas declared her independence. HEB Presents Fireworks-On-The-Brazos with free Blue Bell ice cream and Coca-Cola drinks, live concert and a fireworks extravaganza. Time: 10am-10pm. Cost: Free. Location: Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, 12300 Park Road 12, Washington, Texas.

Willie's 4th of July Picnic 

Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic is designed to provide guests a not-to-be-missed afternoon and evening of exceptional performances by artists from all musical genres, along with some unexpected jam sessions. Basically Willie's 4th is an all day concert taking place at the Fort Worth Stockyards. $40 advance purchase general admission, $60 day of show general admission. For more information about Willie's 4th of July Picnic go to Billy Bob's.

The Woodlands: 9th Annual Red, Hot & Blue Festival

The Woodlands' single largest event is held in Town Green Park on the banks of The Woodlands Waterway. The 23-minute fireworks show, shot over The Woodlands Town Center, is the second largest in the Greater Houston region, second only to downtown Houston. Location: From I-45 going South: Take the Robinson Road/Woodlands Parkway exit #76. Continue on I-45 feeder to Woodlands Parkway and turn right. Follow Festival Parking signs to park. From I-45 going North: Take the Woodlands Parkway exit (76B) and travel west on Woodlands Parkway. Follow Festival Parking signs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The 66th Annual Aransas Pass Shrimporee Takes Place This Friday the 13th Weekend

Who is heading to the Texas Gulf Coast this week to Aransas Pass for the 66th Annual Shrimporee?

This morning, on Twitter, we saw the Shrimporee being talked about, with some of the talk mentioning pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp and pepper shrimp.

With shrimp being one of our favorite seafoods, it would seem we might have a weekend full of tasty treats at the Shrimporee.

Shrimporee runs for three days, starting today, Friday the 13th of June, though Sunday the 15th.

Admission is $7 for Adults, $3 for Kids 7 - 12, free for Kids 6 & under. A Three Day Pass is $12. Senior over 65 and Active Military are $3.

Hours are Friday 6pm til Midnight, Saturday 11am til Midnight, Sunday 12pm til 6pm.

The Shrimporee Parade starts up Saturday at 10am.

If you enjoy a good Outhouse Race, that race runs Saturday starting an hour before the parade, a 9am.

At the Shrimporee you will find two stages where you can enjoy live entertainment and dancing all weekend long.

At the Shrimporee you will find Commercial Exhibits, Arts & Crafts, Miss Shrimporee Contest, Shrimp Eating Contest and plenty of activities for kids.

For more information go to the Aransas Pass Shrimporee website.

And, since you will be in the neighborhood, you may also want to visit Port Aransas, where you may get to hear Alma, the Songbird of the Texas Gulf Coast sing.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Texas Festivals in June

June is a big month for Festivals in Texas.

In June the musical drama titled TEXAS starts up in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, playing Tuesday - Sunday through August.

Also in June, in Luling you can thump a watermelon at the Watermelon Thump and enter a watermelon speed spitting contest.

In Aransas Pass at the Shrimporee you can enter a shrimp eating contest.

Below are some of the festivals taking place in Texas in June. Please let us know if you have a June Texas Festival we need to know about. Or if you want to make a comment about one of the June Texas Festivals.

Kerrville Folk Festival
City: Kerrville
Each year since 1972, more than 100 performers grace the stages.
www.kerrvillefolkfestival.com

"TEXAS"
City: Canyon
This Palo Duro Canyon State Park outdoor musical drama attracts visitors from around the world. You can watch the TEXAS show along with a Chuckwagon Dinner..
www.texas-show.com

AlleyFest
City: Longview
This is a three-day arts & crafts festival with music, kids activities, 5-K and 10-K run, food. www.alleyfest.org

Shrimporee
City: Aransas Pass
Enjoy lots of seafood and a parade down the town's main street. Includes a shrimp-eating contest.
www.aransaspass.org

Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games
City: Arlington
Features Scottish Highland Dancing, national dancing, bagpiping, drumming, Scottish folk music and much more.
www.texasscottishfestival.com

Tom Tom Festival
City: Yoakum
Includes a rode Friday and Saturday night, weiner dog races, barbecue cook-off and arts & crafts. www.yoakumareachamber.com

Texas Folklife Festival
City: San Antonio 
Brings together more than 40 ethnic communities from across Texas to celebrate in a cultural. extravaganza of music, food and dance.
www.texasfolklifefestival.org

Tomato Fest
City: Jacksonville
Includes arts & crafts, entertainment, tomato eating contest, kids activities, street dance, farmer's market and tomato peeling.
www.jacksonvilletexas.com

Fort Griffin Fandangle
City: Albany
With singing, dancing, pantomime and pageantry, this outdoor musical re-creates the look and feel of the Old West.
www.fortgriffinfandangle.org

National Championship of Mounted Drill Riding
City: Canton 
Unparalleled competitive events, and overall family value.
www.superride.us/

Watermelon Thump
City: Luling
Watermelon thumping, watermelon seed spitting contest, watermelon eating and more.
www.watermelonthump.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Winning the Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest at the Watermelon Thump in Luling Texas


Luling is a town located in the southern end of the Texas Prairie & Lakes Region. Luling is widely known as the town where the annual Watermelon Thump takes place.

The Watermelon Thump is a four day festival which takes place the last full weekend in June, which would make the dates for the 2014 Watermelon Thump Thursday June 26, Friday June 27, Saturday June 28 and Sunday June 29.

The Watermelon Thump is a big event drawing crowds from out of town, as well as Luling's locals.

Admission is free for the opening day. Some time periods are free on Friday and Saturday, with Sunday featuring free full access.

You can get admission fee details and who is performing, and when and where, along with other Thump information, by visiting the official Luling Watermelon Thump website.

One of the most popular events taking place during the Thump is the watermelon seed spitting contest. There is also a watermelon eating contest.

We have been practicing watermelon seed spitting, with 8 feet 3 inches the current best spit....

Friday, May 23, 2014

The National Polka Festival & Parade This Memorial Day Weekend in Ennis Texas


The National Polka Festival starts up today, May 23, in Ennis, Texas, with the 2014 Polka Festival coming to a close on Sunday, May 25.

Saturday  morning, starting at 10am, the National Polka Festival Parade takes place, snaking its way through downtown Ennis.

We had the pleasure of enjoying the Ennis National Polka Festival Parade a few years ago. This was one of the best, if not the best, small town parade we have ever seen. As in, highly entertaining, charming and fun.

On our Eyes on Texas website you can see what we saw watching the Ennis Polka Festival Parade.

The Downtown Ennis National Polka Festival activities, like the parade, are free.

An admission fee is charged for events such as the Love & Theft Country Concert.

You can get all the details you need to know by visiting the Ennis National Polka Festival's website.

From the official Ennis National Polka Festival website the following description of the festival....

The festival kicks off with an opening dance Friday at 7:00 pm,featuring polka music and the King and Queen Dance Contest, where participants and non-participants are encouraged to wear traditional Czech kroj (costumes). At 10:00 on Saturday morning, floats, bands, and colorful costumes will kick-off the downtown festivities. The parade traditionally includes something for visitors of all ages. Enjoy the music of our polka bands riding on decorated floats or the sounds of our award winning Ennis High School Marching Band. The Shriners make their annual appearance, as well as celebrities, public officials, motorcycles, horseback riders, clowns, kids, and seniors! This giant parade twists through historic downtown Ennis and is sure to please.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Canton First Monday Trade Days

Canton First Monday Trade Days is believed to be the biggest and longest running flea market in the United States.

We have no way of knowing if there is a flea market in America that has been around longer, but we would sure be surprised if there is a bigger market of this type anywhere in America. Or the world, for that matter.

To our eyes, First Monday's is like a sprawling world's fair of a flea market.

From our Eyes on Texas webpage about Canton First Monday Trade Days....

Since 1850 in a town in East Texas called Canton an event called First Mondays has held Thursday through Sunday prior to the First Monday of each month.

First Monday's has grown from an event for farmers to market their wares to an event where armies of vendors sell a huge variety of items to thousands of shoppers in a shopping zone sprawling over hundreds of acres. 

On our Eyes on Texas webpage about Canton First Monday Trade Days you will see a couple dozen photos giving you a good idea of what you will see there, including what you might find to eat there.

On our Eyes on Texas webpage about the town of Canton you will find information about where to stay and where to eat during your visit to Canton.

Wikipedia has a good article with a lot of good information about Canton First Monday Trade Days including the following...

Some advice for new visitors:

  • Try to visit on a Thursday or Friday since crowds are slightly lower and selection is best.
  • Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons to visit.
  • If you see it and love it, buy it. Don't take the chance on it being there when you return. Being new, you may not find the same booth again. It is easy to get turned around.
  • Plan at least 5 hours to make even a cursory "run-through" of the area. Serious shoppers will need 8 hours to 3 days to cover the entire grounds.
  • Bargain with the vendors. Even in the more established sections you can never tell who will say yes.
  • Take a magnifier and small magnet. They'll come in handy for examining condition and identifying "brass" or "bronze" that is really steel.
  • Wear comfortable shoes all the time and clothing appropriate for the season. Almost year 'round—wear sunscreen.
  • If you don't know about an expensive collectible, be wary. Fakes and overpricing exist but knowing something about the item can prevent a bad purchase.
  • Remember where you park. Even small purchases get heavy when carried over time and distance. You'll want to drop items off in the trunk.

That remembering where you parked advice is very good  advice. We had ourselves a major adventure re-locating our vehicle after hours of wandering around First Mondays.

The Wikipedia article also said the following...

Despite the large size of the facility, people with disabilities will find easy access, and can even rent a scooter to get around the market area with ease. Be aware however that extremely hot weather can make a big difference in ability to get around.

A couple months ago a man named Gary emailed us regarding incidents where people with disabilities did not find easy access at First Mondays, quite the contrary.

We blogged about what Gary had to tell us on our Durango Texas blog in a blogging titled Apparently Canton First Mondays Is Violating The Americans With Disabilities Act In Texas. You can click the link to the Durango Texas blog to read all of what Gary had to tell us, part of which is below...

Although First Mondays rents scooters, there are places where they are not allowed, Old Mill itself has a sign saying Foot Traffic Only! As does The Mountain. This has been a huge concern for the ADA and the disabled / handicapped community. There are no signs saying no scooters allowed, just foot traffic only signs. Last month a disabled 14 year girl with her scooter and her parents were removed and the police called, apparently Canton's police are not familiar with the laws that protect the disabled and handicapped. I can just picture how dramatic this was for that child. A few months before that there was another incident involving their supposed security guard and a senior man on his mobility scooter, carrying a blue disabled plaque, who was repeatedly told "His kind wasn't welcome". I have heard this type of complaint before, but I think this one regarding the child stepped over the line. 

We hope this type incident has not happened often, and that measures have been taken to make sure such incidents don't happen in the future, because to our eyes, Canton First Monday Trade Days is a very happy place where a lot of people seem to have themselves a mighty fine time....