Monday, September 21, 2015

The Big Boots Of Big Tex Are Ready To Walk The 2015 State Fair of Texas

Those are the big boots of Big Tex, looking mighty fine at the 2007 edition of the State Fair of Texas,

The 2015 edition of the State Fair of Texas is opening in Fair Park in Dallas on September 25, closing on October 18.

Big Tex is a giant, talking, animatronic cowboy in Dickey jeans and Justin boots.

Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly won the Big Tex Choice Award this year, out tasting the other finalists who came up with concoctions like Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy, Deep Fried Alligator's Egg Nest, Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo, Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso and Smoky Bacon Margarita.

The Smoky Bacon Margarita won the coveted Big Tex Choice Most Creative Award. You will need to prove you are 21 to order a Smoky Bacon Margarita.

Below is video of an Eyes on Texas look at the 2007 State Fair of Texas. In the video you will see and hear Big Tex, among many other things.....

Monday, August 31, 2015

Big Tex Best Taste Choice Award Goes To Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly

Well, we were sure Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy or Deep Fried Alligator's Egg Nest, one or the other, would be the surefire winner of the State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Award for Best Taste.

Instead the coveted Best Taste Award went to Fernie's Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo

One would have thought the Holy Moly Roly part of the name would have been enough to leave  a bad taste in the mouth of the taste testers.

You have to be 21 years old, or older, to sample the winner of the Big Tex Choice Most Creative Award because that award went to the Smoky Bacon Margarita created by Isaac Rousso who somehow was able to infuse a frozen lime-based Margarita with smoky bacon.

Seems a bit odd to give a State Fair Food Award to an alcohol concoction that fairgoing kids can not imbibe in.

You can read the descriptive details of all the Deep Fried Finalists, and the one non-Deep Fried Finalist, in our previous blog post about the 2015 Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Look At The Fort Worth Stockyards Before They Are Possibly Ruined By New Development

Lately the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District has had some Fort Worth locals, and others, worried that a proposed development in the Stockyards area would somehow compromise the Historic District's integrity.

From what we understand of the proposed development it seems like it would enhance and improve the Stockyards, not damage them.

We have long been fond of the Fort Worth Stockyards, it being Fort Worth's only unique tourist attraction.

We have also long thought Fort Worth does not devote sufficient resources to the Stockyards, of the improvement sort, that such a tourist attraction warrants.

So, let's take a look at this "Historic District" and see how historically well preserved it currently is.

Above we are walking on the sidewalk on the north side of the east end of Exchange Avenue, the Stockyards main drag. Last December, on a night visit to the Stockyards, I tripped when I came to this section of missing sidewalk. The lighting in the Stockyards is very bad, drastically needs improving.

The sign on the missing sidewalk is pointing you to the Stockyards Stables Petting Zoo.

The Petting Zoo is housed  in what looks like a circus tent. Is this one of the new developments threatening the historical integrity of the Historic District?

Next we are looking at the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze.

Is this an historically accurate maze? Does it add to or detract from the Stockyard's authenticity? Is the proposed  new development, which is seen by some as so threatening to the Stockyards historic integrity, of the same sort thing as this maze?

And then next to the maze we have the Mechanical Bull installation.

Again, is a Mechanical Bull an historically accurate thing to install in an Historic District? Or does it compromise the Historic District's integrity?

Next we come to a recent addition to the Fort Worth Stockyards, the Hyatt Place Hotel.

I do not remember much protesting happening when a developer proposed building a new hotel in the heart of the Stockyards. The hotel was built where a tacky carnival was located. We thought  it to be a big improvement on that piece of land, and the building aesthetically matches the look of other older Stockyard buildings.

And then we come to The Shoppes on Rodeo Plaza.

We have long thought the garish yellow did not look good. And that the use of the word "Shoppes" seemed out of place. Is the new proposed development of the quality level of The Shoppes on Rodeo Plaza?

And then there is the tackiest eyesore in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.

The New Isis Theater. This has been a boarded up mess since before the turn of the century. The billboard used to say "New New Isis Theater Opening Soon." Now the billboard says "Welcome to the Stoc Yards." Missing a 'k'.

Now, all those people upset about the proposed new Stockyards development, how do they rationalize being upset by that, while tolerating the boarded  up New Isis Eyesore?

There have been some attempts to improve the Stockyards in the past, such as that which you see below.

This is Saunders Park. A Venice-like scenic spot in the Stockyards which few people see. The water you see flowing under the Stockyards is Marine Creek. We believe if you have been in the White Elephant Saloon you have been above the water tunnel you see here.

Now, why have few people seen this scenic part of the Fort Worth Stockyards?  Below is your answer to that question.

Access to Saunders Park and Marine Creek is via  the alley you see above. This alley is a short distance east of the aforementioned White Elephant Saloon. There is no signage on Exchange Avenue pointing you to the park. If you venture down this alley you get  to walk past some fragrant garbage bins before you take a right turn to find yourself surprised by Saunders Park.

The most authentic part of the Fort Worth Stockyards is the actual stockyards, with its impressive boardwalk one can walk on to view the stock, such as the Fort Worth Herd, which you see below, taking a rest between their twice daily Cattle Drives down Exchange Avenue

We don't believe the actual stockyards, which you see above, are threatened by the proposed new development.

Is the proposed new Fort Worth Stockyards development developing the area we refer to as The Stockyard Ruins? That being the area of the long abandoned Swift Armor meat packing plants, which in the 21st century look like Berlin at the end of World War II.

The Stockyard Ruins were used by the FOX TV show, Prison Break, to simulate a Panama prison. We can see where some might think the Stockyard Ruins are an amazing eyesore. But we think of the Stockyard Ruins more like an historic relic, and thus fitting quite well being adjacent to a National Historic District.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists With Deep Fried Alligator's Egg

Every year Texas eagerly awaits learning the State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists and what marvels of culinary amazement made the Top 8.

This year's Top 8 seems to be more varied than previous years, what with proteins like alligator, lobster and buffalo getting the deep fried treatment.

Of the Top 8, to my taste, the Deep Fried Alligator's Egg Nest is the least appealing. Followed closely be the Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy.

Champagne Gravy?

Well, let's start with that Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy and go through the 8 Finalists one by one.

Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy by Abel Gonzales
A lobster tail is breaded, then deep fried, then covered with a sauce made with lemon butter and champagne gravy. I can find no explanation as to what champagne gravy is.

Cowboy Corn Crunch by Isaac Rousso
Jalapeno, sweet corn kernels, cream cheese and some bacon is deep fried to a crispy crunch, then stuck into something called a palm leaf cone for your consumption convenience.

Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg by Cassy Jones
That Cajun staple, alligator meat, is mixed with jalapenos, onions, garlic and Monterrey Jack cheese, then rolled in bread crumbs before being tossed in the deep fryer before being placed on a nest of shoestring French fries drizzled with chipotle sauce.

Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo
That is one long name for this concoction's new take on carrot cake. Baked bread mixed with cinnamon gets flattened, then filled with carrot cake, raisins and shredded carrots. Then rolled in cream cheese before being breaded with a combo of panko and graham crackers, sprinkled with nutmeg and more cinnamon, then drizzled with more cream cheese and a dusting of powdered sugar, along with caramel on the side. Nothing appears to be deep fried with this Finalist.

Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo by James Barrera
Lean ground buffalo gets some Mesquite smoke flavor added before getting rolled in the Official Native Pepper of Texas, that being Pequin chili pepper. The buffalo is then covered with crushed corn nuts before being dipped in a batter made with Shiner Bock Beer before hitting the deep fryer and then being dusted with bacon bits. The Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo comes with a chipolte cream dipping sauce.

Lone Star Pork Handle by Justin Martinez
A pork chop, with the bone-in, for handle purposes, gets a pork rub marinate before getting dipped in batter made with Lone Star Beer, then a coating of toasted bread crumbs before getting deep fried and coated with a bourbon barbecue glaze.

Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso by Allan Weiss
Chicken is shredded, then mixed with cream cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, cilantro, Sriracha sauce and bacon, then rolled into a ball coated with pretzel breading before being deep fried. This is served with jalapeno ranch dipping sauce to provide some much needed extra heat.

Smoky Bacon Margarita by Isaac Rousso
You must prove to be 21 to sample this Finalist's concoction. Somehow the taste of bacon is infused into a frozen lime Margarita. Bacon crumbles garnish the top of the cocktail. As an added bonus the Smoky Bacon Margarita comes in a collectible souvenir cup that you will be sure to want to your collection of such things.

Well, that concludes our look at the 2015 Big Texas Choice Awards Finalists.

See you at the 2015 State Fair of Texas, opening September 25, closing October 18.

Friday, July 10, 2015

31st Annual Parker County Peach Festival July 11 in Downtown Weatherford

Saturday, July 11, 2015, the 31st Annual Parker County Peach Festival takes place in beautiful Downtown Weatherford in the area surrounding the Parker County Courthouse.

This is a one day festival, opening at 8am, closing at 5pm.

There is a $5 admission fee. Children 12 and under go to the festival for free.

This year Parker County Farmers are reporting a Bumper Crop of Parker County Peaches.

Previous years festival goers have been advised to arrive early because peach products run out as the day progresses. We do not know if the Bumper Crop is going to have the festival supplied with peach products til closing time.

Among the peach products we have sampled at past Parker County Peach Festivals are Peach Juleps, Peach Smoothies, Peach Cobbler, Peach Pie, Peach Ice Cream and a plain ol' fresh Parker County Peach.

You can go to our Parker County Peach Festival webpage for a good look at what you will find Saturday in Weatherford, Texas.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Flooding Has Forced Temporary Closure of Oklahoma's Turner Falls Park

Torrential rain in Oklahoma is flooding Turner Falls Park, forcing the City of Davis, on May 7, 2015, to close the popular park until the flooding recedes.

That is Turner Falls falling a lot of water you see here.

The flooding at the base of the falls has Turner Falls looking a lot shorter than its usual 77 feet.

The photos were taken by the Davis Police Department, then posted on the Davis Police Department Facebook page, along with saying...

Sorry for the inconvenience of Turner Falls being closed but it's not safe to open. We will open as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.

Above you are looking at the flooded swimming hole that, come summer, will have a lot of people cooling off beneath Turner Falls.

Go to our Turner Falls Park webpage and you will see photos of what Turner Falls looks like when it is not flooding, including, if I remember right, a photo of my humble self underneath the then trickling falls.

A few years ago we visited Turner Falls in winter. At that point in time Honey Creek was running high with some flooding, but nothing like is currently happening. Go to our Turner Falls Park in Winter webpage and you will see photos of a semi-flooding Honey Creek and Turner Falls falling a lot of water.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hippie Hollow Skinny Dipping At The Only Legal Clothing Optional Public Park In Texas

What you are looking at here is a screen cap from a Durango Texas blog post from June 1, 2008 which documented our Clothing Optional Hippie Hollow Nude Beach in Austin experience.

Hippie Hollow has a Facebook page.

Wikipedia also has a Hippie Hollow page.

The Hippie Hollow Facebook page uses the Wikipedia article as its source for Hippie Hollow information.

From that information we learn that Hippie Hollow Park used to be known as McGregor County Park. The Hippie Hollow land is owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority, which is the governmental entity responsible for Travis Lake, which is the lake one skinny dips in at Hippie Hollow.

The Lower Colorado River Authority leased the Hippie Hollow Park area to Travis County whose Parks Department has been in charge of the only legally recognized clothing optional public park in Texas since 1985.

If you go to Hippie Hollow expecting to find a nice sandy beach you may be disappointed to instead find a rugged, rocky cove that can be a bit adventuresome to traverse.

This area of Lake Travis was known as a skinny dipping swimming zone for years. Then, during the American Cultural Revolution of the 1960s it became more popular than ever as a free-spirited destination. It was after the rock festival known as Woodstock that the name Hippie Hollow came in to existence.

In the 1970s the increase in skinny dipping drew some complaints, making Hippie Hollow a bit controversial, but the Travis County sheriff at the time, Raymond Frank, wisely decided it was better for the county's cops to focus on more serious offenses than skinny dipping, thus rendering Hippie Hollow to be the only legally recognized public park in Texas where it is not considered a crime to swim without a swimsuit.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Texas Hill Country Bluebonnet Wildflowers Are Putting On A Good 2015 Show

We have been seeing reports that this year's Texas Bluebonnets blooming in Texas Hill Country is the biggest bloom of bluebonnets in several years.

The last time we witnessed the Texas Hill Country Wildflowers the colorful day started near Fredericksburg at Wildseed Farms, where, along with hundreds of others, we walked in fields of wildflowers of various sorts being grown for their seeds.

That day continued on to a hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock for an elevated view of Hill Country, before continuing on, heading north through the most colorful display of wildflowers we had ever eye witnessed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tiptoe Through Texas Tulips

A family of farmers with roots back to Holland have planted for your flower plucking pleasure the first Tulip Field in Texas.

Texas-Tulips has a well done website, a screen cap of which you see here.

From the website you can find all the information you need so that you can go do some tiptoeing through the Texas Tulips.

Texas-Tulips is located near Pilot Point, that being a small town east of Denton at the north end of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Deer Park and the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site Monument

Near the Texas town of Deer Park is where you will find the San Jacinto Battleground Natural Historic Site, which is a National Historic Site where the 570 foot tall San Jacinto Monument marks where the Battle of San Jacinto took place, victoriously, winning Texas its independence from Mexico.

The town of Deer Park was founded in 1892, with the town's being named Deer Park due to its proximity to a deer preserve.

Deer Park is the Texas town closest  to the San Jacinto Battleground Site, as such, Deer Park bills itself as "The Birthplace of Texas."

Deer Park is near the Houston Ship Channel and Buffalo Bayou, which allows the Battleship Texas to be docked as part of the 1,200 acre San Jacinto Battleground Site.

For more information about Deer Park and the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site go to our Eyes on Texas entry about Deer Park.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Almost That Time of Year When Texas Blooms Colorful With Wildflowers

Soon March will arrive, and with March will come the arrival of Spring, and with the arrival of Spring will come that time of the year when the hills of Texas  come alive with the sight of a technicolor display of wildflowers.

The photo you see here was taken north of the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

When the conditions are right, with the right amount of sun and rainfall, the prime Texas Wildflower season lasts from March through May.

For more Texas Wildflower photos, along with a list of some of the more than 5,000 species of Texas Wildflowers go to our Eyes on Texas Wildflowers webpage.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Deep-Fried Western Diamondback Rattlesnake available at Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup in March

Soon it will be the second weekend of March which will have the Eyes of Texas and people from other locations on the planet focused on Sweetwater, Texas where the 2015 Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup takes place.

Rounding up rattlesnakes is controversial. You can read about this controversial issue via a previous Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup blog post on this subject, with additional links to other previous blog links on the subject.

Among the controversies regarding the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup is the fact that most of the snakes which get rounded up are killed.

Some of the butchered rattlesnakes roundup in Deep-Fried Western Diamondback Rattlesnake & Chips Baskets, which you see being offered by the young rattlesnake purveyor in the picture.

Squeamishness prevailed, so no one in our tour group sampled any fried rattlesnake, though we were assured it tasted like chicken. Chicken with a lot of little bones.

The World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup  takes place on the Second Weekend in March.

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup weekend starts up on the second Thursday of March with the Rattlesnake Review Parade at 4pm through downtown Sweetwater. That evening, the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant takes place in the Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.

The doors open at 8:00 a.m. Friday for the Annual Sweetwater Jaycees World's Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up, with snakes being weighed in at 7:00 a.m. that morning at the Nolan County Coliseum.

For more information about the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup, including video of our visit to the Roundup, go to our Eyes on Texas Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup webpage.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ZestFest 2015 January 23-25 in the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas

The Fiery Food Experience known as ZestFest 2015 starts up this Friday, January 23 with the ZestFesing ending Sunday, January 25.

This is the 10th year ZestFest has taken place in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, returning this year to the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

$15 gets you in to ZestFest to begin sampling zesty tastings, beer and liquor samplings from 1pm to 7pm Friday, 10am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 5pm Sunday.

You can learn about the celebrity chefs, such as Jon Bonnell, who will be sharing their zesty cooking and zesty eating contests, along with other pertinent information at the ZestFest website.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo Parade Rolls Today at 11am

At 11am this morning of January 17, 2015, the world's biggest non-mechanized parade, the Fort Worth Stock Show Parade, will be rolling,walking and riding through downtown Fort Worth, signalling that day after the beginning of the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The weather of North Texas has decided to cooperate with this year's Stock Show Parade, with the relatively balmy temperatures well above freezing, with no danger of rain or cold causing a cancellation of today's big Fort Worth event.

If you are new to Fort Worth and in town for the Stock Show you may want to also visit the Fort Worth Stockyards, which is where the Stock Show used to take place, a long time ago.

If you explore around the Fort Worth Stockyards long enough eventually you will  find yourself walking on the actual Stockyard's boardwalk, looking down on the Fort Worth Herd of Longhorns.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lee Harvey Oswald Nick Beef Gravesite & The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge

If part of your visit to Fort Worth includes visiting the Gravesite of Lee Harvey Oswald, after your visit to the Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Burial Park, that being the location of the final resting place of Oswald, you might want to continue your trip to this particular dark side of American history by heading west a slight distance on East Lancaster Avenue where in the Urban Village of Handley you will find the Ozzie Rabbit Lodge.

Ozzie Rabbit was Lee Harvey Oswald's nickname when he was a member of the U.S. Marines, prior to defecting to the Soviet Union where he found himself a Russian bride named Marina.

The Ozzie Rabbit Lodge is decorated with memorabilia from the John F. Kennedy era.

Be assured, the Ozzie Rabbit Lodge is definitely not some sort of shrine to Lee Harvey Oswald, if you are among those who think that naming anything after anything to do with Lee Harvey Oswald is in bad taste.

Due to being the east side of Fort Worth's hippest watering hole, the Ozzie Rabbit Lodge is a popular night spot, at times.

For more information regarding the final resting place of Lee  Harvey Oswald, including directions on how to find his gravesite and the Nick Beef gravesite next to him, go to our LEE HARVEY OSWALD GRAVESITE webpage, where you will also a link to video we took of the trek to find the Oswald gravesite.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Legendary Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo Opens January 16

The 2015 version of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo starts up this upcoming Friday, January 16, ending on Saturday, February 7.

Weather permitting, and sometimes the weather does not permit, the 2015 Stock Show Parade will be parading starting at 11am on Saturday, January 17.

Parades are one of the things Texas does real well, with the Fort Worth Stock Show Parade being one of the best. It is the biggest non-mechanized parades in the world. We have no idea how many other parades there are in the world which do not allow motorized contraptions to move the parade.

Find all the information you could possibly need about this Legendary Thing, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, at the event's Official Website.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio

In Texas Hill Country, near San Antonio you will find America's largest privately operated caverns, known as the Natural Bridge Caverns.

Natural Bridge Caverns are adjacent to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which is a drive-through animal safari park.

Somehow Natural Bridge Caverns was not discovered by Texans until found on March 27, 1960 by four students from San Antonio's St. Mary's University. The caverns were located on land owned by Mrs. Clara Wuest. Negotiations with both the National Park Service and the Texas Park System had both entities agreeing the caverns should be developed as a public attraction, but neither agency had the funds to make it happen.

So, Mrs. Wuest developed Natural Bridge Caverns as a privately funded enterprise, which opened on July 3, 1964.

You can go to the Natural Bridge Caverns website for all the information about various activities in the Natural Bridge Caverns complex, along with pricing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sandsurfing the Sand Dunes at Monahans Sandhills State Park

Less than five miles east of the West Texas town of Monahans you will find what is likely the best sandsurfing location in Texas.

Monahans Sandhills State Park.

Sand Tobogganing also takes place on the Monahans Sandhills. Along with many other sand hill related fun, such as Sandhills Football.

In Monahans Sandhills State Park you will find sand dunes up to 70 feet high.

Monahans Sandhills State Park is 3,840 acres in size.

Inside the park you will find an unusual oak forest, one of America's largest, consisting of Harvard Oaks which seldom grow taller than three feet, but which have roots growing as deep as 90 feet into the sand in search of water.

After a fun day of sandsurfing you can stay in the state park. There are campsites and RV hookups.

In the nearby town of Monahans you will find many of the national fast food franchises, along with BBQ, Tex-Mex and buffet restaurants.

Below is a map of Monahans Sandhills State Park from the good folks at Texas Parks & Wildlife.