CORNUCOPIA OF FALL COLOR
Festival Season Brings Celebrations of Heritage, Culture and Even the Great Pumpkin
By Susie Tommaney
As the weather begins to change, it’s time to look forward to fall festivals in and around the Lone Star State. There’s plenty to see and do with community celebrations devoted to all sorts of passions, including food, culture, heritage and art.
In the heart of Texas bluebonnet country is the beautiful town of Brenham and, if you haven’t visited its downtown district lately, now’s your chance to see the magnificent mural by artist Anat Ronen. Everybody knows Brenham is home to Blue Bell Creameries — which we love — but there’s so much more to see and do in this region. From nearby wineries (Texas Star, Pleasant Hill, Windy, Saddlehorn) to history (Barrington Living History Farm is in nearby Washington) to eclectic eateries and natural beauty, Brenham offers all sorts of ways to reconnect with family, friends and natural beauty. Plus, the kids will want to get in on the action with the newly revamped Washington County GeoTour, with 30 new geocaches and a chance to earn that highly coveted Geocoin.
We’re always looking for excuses to make a road trip and the Texas Hill Country never fails to deliver. Sports enthusiasts are converging in Rocksprings (just west of Kerrville) over Labor Day weekend to participate in the Camp Eagle Classic Mountain Bike Festival, the largest of its kind in Texas. Even for those not racing, there’s plenty of adventure to be had with a zip line, river fun, hiking and rock climbing. Then, as September comes to a close, triathletes in the Kerrville Triathlon Festival will be swimming in the Guadalupe, biking the rolling hills and running along the Kerrville River Trail. With eight different distance events — including a kids’ run, Aquabikes and half distances — there’s something for every class of athlete. For a more laid back run/walk, don’t miss the Salvation Army 8th Annual Pumpkin Run & Harvest Festival, with a costume contest, games, music and so much more.
We weren’t all born in Texas, but we got here as fast as we could. For those who can trace their ancestry back to the Celts, just follow the sounds of pipe and drum to the Kerr County Celtic Festival & Hill Country Highland Games at Stonehenge II in Ingram, just west of Kerrville. It’s a great chance to learn ancient games like braemar, open stone, heavy hammer, caber, sheaf and more.
Everybody’s got a chance to venture back into the Renaissance era with Kerrville’s popular Renaissance Festival. Dress up in period garb, witness the tomato tossing and knife throwing competitions, and enjoy performances by the Cheeky Peacocks, Marty the Juggler and The Great Rhondini Escape Artist.
Kid-friendly events are in abundance, too, including the eye-popping street painting at the Kerrville Chalk Festival on Peterson Plaza. It happens, rain or shine, but we’re hoping for the latter as this popular event benefits the Museum of Western Art. For old timey fun that includes bingo, amusement rides and game booths, be sure to check out the Notre Dame Catholic School Festival.
Avid gardeners won’t want to miss the Fall Native Plant Sale & Festival at Kerrville’s Riverside Nature Center. With an abundant selection of native plants and trees, plus pro tips, it’s the go-to place for successful landscaping. Feeling more adventurous? Then go see the oh-so-cute animals at the Kid ‘N Ewe and Llamas Too Festival, a fiber arts showcase for spinners, weavers, knitters, crocheters and felters.
Not a festival but equally as fascinating, don’t miss the Tour of Homes by Comanche Trace. It’s easy to get distracted by Comanche Trace’s pro golf facilities, private river park, fishing lake and walking/jogging trails, but do venture inside to see this year’s showcase of newly constructed homes with magnificent views. Some of the homes are for sale so, if you develop that Hill Country itch, learn more about the Kerrville region at www.kerrvilletexascvb.com
Head east on I-10 and feel the road slip away as you enter a kinder, gentler state of mind in Louisiana’s St. Francisville. North of Baton Rouge and on a bluff overlooking the winding Mississippi River is this quaint small town overflowing with breathtaking scenery and southern hospitality. Explore the beauty of the great outdoors during the Feliciana Hummingbird Celebration, an annual event that promotes the unique breeding habits found in the region. Enjoy music and art in the park during the 16th Annual Yellow Leaf Arts Festival, with live music and handcrafted work by more than 50 artists and craftspeople.
Learn more about how St. Francisville’s magnificent gardens came about during the Southern Garden Symposium; the 30th anniversary theme is The Changing Nature of Gardening. Come for the afternoon tea and stay for the hospitality and notable speakers. Explore the tradition and history of St. Francisville even further during the month of October with one of America’s most haunted homes, The Myrtles Plantation. Visitors on the tour will discover fine antiques, architectural treasures and tales of romance and mystery.
For bucking broncos and plenty of whoopin’ and hollerin’ action, there’s the biannual Angola Prison Rodeo, the longest running prison rodeo in the country. But purchase those tickets ahead of time because the “wildest show in the South” often sells out.
Discover authentic German culture at Germanfest in Roberts Cove, a small community in the Acadiana region of southern Louisiana. It’s a family friendly event with children’s activities, folklore demonstrations and, for those of legal age, a large selection of German beer on tap.
One of Louisiana’s largest (and oldest) agricultural festivals is the International Rice Festival in Crowley. They know how to do it up right with parades, a rice cooking contest and another contest for eating, plus a farmers banquet, classic car show and Queen’s ball. Explore the region in depth by taking a tour of the rice fields and crawfish pond at Kelly’s Landing, an agricultural museum and Cajun prairie farm; while there be sure to check out the John Deere Toy Museum.
CULTURE AND HERITAGE
Heritage and cultural events around Texas include bowlfuls of gumbo at Medina Lake’s Cajun Festival and enjoying Indian summer in Helena and Sulphur Springs. Schertz, La Grange and Victoria serve as gathering spots for Czech-Slovak descendants, the Scots and Celts gather for games in Salado and Ingram, and the Wendish remember their German heritage in Giddings. Old Town Coldspring even conducts a mock hanging of a rascal and hosts a shotgun wedding. Other throwbacks to the Wild West can be found in Alvarado, Beeville, Lake Whitney, Lewisville and Richmond.
There’s something special about the historic town of Bastrop: It’s far enough outside Austin proper to avoid that big city traffic and, even in this day and age, has managed to hold on to the century-old character of its Main Street. We always look forward to the annual Holiday Homes Tour, the crown jewel of Bastrop’s four-day Lost Pines Christmas Weekend.
Nature’s bounty inspires even more events devoted to crops and livestock. Pecans have their day in the sun in Seguin, they go all out for hot peppers in Palestine, and heapin’ helpings of BBQ get served up in Jasper and Graford. Aromatic herbs can be found in Wimberley and mushrooms rule the roost in Madisonville. In fact, Madisonville is known as the Mushroom Capital of Texas and visitors will discover why this event is so popular with its auto showcase, a fine art contest, a gala dinner and the best in Texas wines and craft beers.
Those with a sweet tooth won’t want to miss the Heritage Syrup Festival in Henderson, where ribbon cane syrup is king. It’s amazing to watch the Depot Museum’s antique mule powered equipment create old-fashioned cane syrup, plus local folk artists will be on hand to demonstrate rope and basket making, blacksmithing, quilting and other survival skills.
We’ll discover harvest festivals in Liberty Hill, San Saba and Woodville. The Heritage Village Museum in Woodville even has a living village with pioneer demonstrations, ethnic performances and musicians playing everything from dulcimer and bluegrass to folk and gospel. There’s also a replica of a Civil War Confederate camp and a buggy and wagon exhibit.
Oktoberfest is celebrated in Addison, Celina, Emory, Fredericksburg, La Grange, McKinney and Pearland. McKinney’s Oktoberfest is a three-day affair that offers up the best in bier, authentic German fare and Bavarian craftsmanship. Kids will ask to come back for Halloween when pumpkins, ghosts and candy abound during Scare on the Square; then everybody’s invited Home for the Holidays when McKinney celebrates Christmas with a festival, tree lighting, entertainment and plenty of holiday spirit.
Explore good old-fashioned fun at county fairs in Brenham, Kerrville and Seguin, and no autumn would be complete without an homage to the great pumpkin; find yours in Bertram, Kerrville and Paris.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
Getting ready for the holidays has never been easier with arts and crafts produced by Texas artisans and craftspeople. Both Corsicana and Sulphur Springs display magnificent quilts, New Braunfels has its popular Christkindlmarkt, and there are arts festivals in Brenham, Denton, Edom, Fredericksburg, Ingram, Pearland, Waco, Winnsboro and Wylie.
Angleton knows how to throw a shindig with its popular Market Days on the Brazoria County Fairgrounds. Sure, some go for the funnel cakes and Old Plantation soups and dips, but the big draw here are the more than 200 vendors selling everything from vintage furniture to boutique gifts, plants, jewelry and more.
There’s something for just about everybody in the family when it comes to the 44th Annual Fair on the Square in Huntsville: From classic cars to beer and wine tastings, plus shopping galore at more than 400 booths, this is a shopping paradise for one-of-a-kind treasures and gift items.
Friendswood hasn’t hit the half a century mark, yet, but it’s well on its way with the Mary Queen 49th Annual Christmas Bazaar and Luncheon at Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood. Stock up for holiday gifting with locally-crafted wood, jewelry, clothing and more.
And remember that it’s still Fall Antique Weeks in Round Top, Warrenton, Carmine and surrounding areas. Refer to our all-inclusive guide in the August issue to learn more about where to shop and what to see. Dealers have been flocking to The Arbors in Round Top for more than 20 years, selling everything from custom furniture and fine art to handcrafted jewelry and more. Cole’s Antique Show in Warrenton is the largest indoor venue in the area, and this year will have more than 250 established dealers showing quality antiques, art and jewelry collections.
September 1-3, Camp Eagle Classic Mountain Bike Festival, Rocksprings, www.tmbra.org
September 8, Arts & Autos Extravaganza, Denton, www.dentonmainstreet.org/arts-and-autos
September 8, Grape Stomp & Harvest Celebration, San Saba, www.sansabachamber.org
September 12-15, Johnson County Pioneer and Old Settlers Reunion, Alvarado, www.alvaradopubliclibrary.org/johnson_county_pioneers.htm
September 14-15, Lone Star Heritage Quilt Guild Quilt Show, Sulphur Springs, sulphurspringstxquilts.com
September 14-22, Washington County Fair, Brenham, www.visitbrenhamtexas.com/event/washington-county-fair-2
September 15, Feliciana Hummingbird Celebration, St. Francisville, Louisiana, www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com/features/feliciana-hummingbird-celebration
September 15-16, Notre Dame Catholic School Festival, Kerrville, www.notredameschool.cc
September 20-23, Addison Oktoberfest, Addison, www.addisonoktoberfest.com
September 22, 38th Annual Medina Lake Cajun Festival, Medina Lake, cajunfestival-medinalake.com
September 23, 30th Annual Wendish Fest, Giddings, www.texaswendish.org
September 23, Victoria County Czech Heritage Festival, Victoria, www.victoriaczechs.org
September 26-October 6, Fall 2018 Antique Show, Round Top, www.arborantiques.com/round-top
September 27-October 6, Cole’s Antique Show, Warrenton, www.colesantiqueshow.com
September 28-30, McKinney Oktoberfest, McKinney, www.mckinneytexas.org/664/Oktoberfest
September 28-October 28, Texas Big Worm Pumpkin Patch, Bertram, www.facebook.com/TexasBigWormPumpkinPatch
September 28-29, Western Days, Old Town Lewisville, www.cityoflewisville.com/about-us/city-departments/community-relations-tourism/special-events-festivals/western-days-festival/live-music
September 28-30, October 5-7, Tour of Homes by Comanche Trace, Kerrville, www.comanchetrace.com/tour-of-homes
September 29, Heritage Days, Old Town Coldspring, www.sjchistorical.org/heritage-day.html
September 29-30, Kerrville Triathlon Festival, Kerrville, www.kerrvilletri.com
September 29-30, Texas Arts & Crafts Fair, Ingram, www.txartsandcraftsfair.com
October 1-31, The Myrtles Halloween Extravaganza, St. Francisville, Louisiana, myrtlesplantation.com
October 1-26, Piecemakers’ 38th Annual Quilt Show, Corsicana, www.corsicanaquiltguild.com/2018-quilt-show.html
October 4-7, Bee County Western Week, Beeville, www.experiencebeecounty.org/pages/WesternWeek
October 5-6, 24th Annual Possum Fest BBQ & Chili Cook-Off, Graford, www.possumkingdomlake.com
October 5-7, 38th Annual Oktoberfest, Fredericksburg, www.oktoberfestinfbg.com
October 5-7, 19-21, King’s Oktoberfest, Pearland, www.kingsoktoberfest.com
October 6, Fall Native Plant Sale & Festival, Kerrville, www.riversidenaturecenter.org
October 6, 44th Annual Fair on the Square, Huntsville, www.faironthesquare.com
October 6, 43rd Annual Pioneer Day, Lake Whitney, www.lakewhitneychamber.com/43rd-annual-pioneer-day
October 6, Indian Summer Days and Dutch Oven Cooking Contest, Sulphur Springs, hopkinscountymuseum.org/events.html
October 6, Oktoberfest on the Square, La Grange, www.visitlagrangetx.com/oktoberfest-on-the-square
October 6-7, Germanfest, Roberts Cove, Louisiana, www.robertscovegermanfest.com
October 6-7, Pearland Art & Crafts on the Pavilion, Pearland, www.visitpearland.com/artshow2018
October 6-7, Kerr County Celtic Festival & Hill Country Highland Games, Ingram, kerrcountyceltic.com
October 7, 14, 21, 28, Angola Prison Rodeo, Angola, Louisiana, www.angolarodeo.com
October 11-14, 135th Annual Guadalupe County Fair & Rodeo, Seguin, www.gcfair.org
October 12-14, 25th Annual Texas Mesquite Arts Festival, Fredericksburg, www.texasmesquiteartfestivals.com
October 13, Inaugural Celina Oktoberfest, Celina, www.celinaoktoberfest.com
October 13, Champion Oaks Ranch Boots & BBQ Festival, Jasper, www.championoaksranch.org/3rd-annual-boots-bbq-festival
October 13, 1st Annual Oktoberfestival, Emory, www.emorytx.com/2018-october-brews-fest
October 13, 17th Annual Texas Mushroom Festival, Madisonville, www.texasmushroomfestival.com
October 13-14, Edom Art Festival 2018, Edom, www.visitedom.com/edom-art-festival
October 13-14, Kerrville Chalk Festival, Kerrville, www.kerrvillechalk.org
October 18-21, International Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, www.ricefestival.com
October 19-20, 30th Annual Harvest Festival, Woodville, www.heritage-village.org/HarvestFestival.htm
October 19-20, Southern Garden Symposium, St. Francisville, Louisiana, www.southerngardensymposium.org
October 19-20, Heritage Fest and Muziky, La Grange, www.czechtexas.org
October 20, Texian Market Days, Richmond, www.georgeranch.org/programs-events/texian-market-days
October 20, Texas Arts and Music Festival, Brenham, www.texasartsandmusicfestival.com
October 20, Harvest Fest 2018, Liberty Hill, www.crosstrackschurchumc.org/event/harvest-festival-2018
October 26-28, Pecan Fest Heritage Days, Seguin, www.seguintexas.gov/departments/main_street/pecanfest_heritage_days.php
October 26-28, 39th Annual Kerr County Fair & Midway, Kerrville, www.kerrcountyfair.com
October 26-27, Hot Pepper Festival & Parade, Palestine, www.visitpalestine.com/events/2018/hot-pepper-festival--parade
October 26, HerbFest 2018, Wimberley, www.hillcountryherbs.org
October 27, Indian Summer Heritage Festival, Helena, www.helenatx.com
October 27, Festival of Pumpkins, Paris, www.paristexas.gov/322/Festival-of-Pumpkins
October 27, Salvation Army 8th Annual Pumpkin Run & Harvest Festival, Kerrville, www.kerrvillekroc.org
October 27-28, Yellow Leaf Arts Festival, St. Francisville, Louisiana, www.artsforall.felicianalocal.com
October 28, Bexar County Czech-Slovak Heritage Festival, Schertz, www.bexarcountyczechheritagesociety.com
October 31, Scare on the Square, McKinney, www.mckinneytexas.org/660/Scare-on-the-Square
November 3, 18th Annual Holiday Boutique, McKinney, www.stgabriel.org/holidayboutique
November 9-11, Kid ‘N Ewe and Llamas Too Festival, Kerrville, www.kidnewe.com
November 9-10, Winnsboro Art & Wine Festival, Winnsboro, www.winnsboroon lineguide.com/Art_wine_festival_2018
November 9-11, Scottish Gathering and Highland Games, Salado, www.saladoscottishfestival.com
November 9-11, Brazos Fine Art Show and Gala, Waco, www.pactart.org/bfas
November 10, 30th Annual Heritage Syrup Festival, www. Henderson, www.hendersontx.us/14/Heritage-Syrup-Festival
November 17-18, Market Days, Angleton, www.angleton.tx.us/tourism
November 23-25, Home for the Holidays, McKinney, mckinneytexas.org/677/Home-for-the-Holidays
November 30-December 1, Mary Queen 49th Annual Christmas Bazaar and Luncheon, Friendswood, www.maryqueencatholicchurch.org
November 30-December 1, Christkindlmarkt, New Braunfels, www.christkindlmarktnbtx.org
December 1, Wylie Arts Festival, Wylie, www.wylietexas.gov/artsfestival
December 8, Holiday Homes Tour and Lighted Christmas Parade, Bastrop, www.bastropcountyhistoricalsociety.com
January 25-27, February 2-3, Kerrville Renaissance Festival, Kerrville, www.kerrvillerenfest.com