Burnet’s hugely popular Day Out with Thomas, presented by the Austin Steam Train Association at the railroad depot and community center in Burnet, is scheduled for this Friday (11 to 5:30), Saturday and Sunday (8 to 6 both days), September 30 – October 2. The event includes 25-minute train rides, photo ops with Thomas the Tank Engine and Sir Topham Hatt, rock-climbing, miniature golf, a magic show, story-telling and videos, etc., etc. The photo above was taken at last year’s Day Out with Thomas. Other events, scheduled this weekend and coming weeks, are listed in the “Upcoming Events” article beginning on page 2. Photos from last weekend’s multitude of activities are on the inside pages of this paper and on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
If you are reading this, I’ve survived another really busy month. This time, after taking a vacation at the end of July and having a remarkably good August (the rain helped a lot; not only canceling events but keeping the temperature lower and putting most people – including me – in a better mood), I was better able to handle the heat and stress of September. Now I’m all ready for fall!
For some reason, October seems to be “History Month” in the Highland Lakes area. Probably Burnet’s Fort Croghan Day (Saturday, October 8) and Llano’s Wild West Weekend (October 14-16) are big reasons why I have that impression, but there are several other things going on that seem to confirm it. First to my mind: October 2 has been designated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas as Gonzales Day, marking the Battle of Gonzales and the beginning of the Texas Revolution. The DRT urges all Texans to fly their Texas flags in honor of the pioneers who fought in the 1835 Battle of Gonzales.
Another “history” event is the wonderful Western Trappings on the Llano Art Exhibit at the Llano County Historical Museum (see page 11 for details). Then there’s the Archaeology Fair at the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet (2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12) and the “Lunch with an Author,” featuring WW II researcher Dennis Blocker at the Marble Falls Library on Friday, October 14. There’s probably more, but that’s all I remember right now (and I think it’s enough to make my point).
While I’m thinking of history, I want to mention that JoAnn Myers, from the Burnet County Historical Commission , wishes to thank all those who helped make the Joppa fish Fry such a big success. It was a great event, and the funds raised will go to refurbish and preserve the last two remaining iron bridges in Burnet County.
After a couple of weeks with lots of activity in Burnet, it looks like Marble Falls is the place to be this weekend. The biggest event is probably the music-and-wine festival, FiestaJAM on Lake Marble Falls, but the Hill Country Space Expo, an impressive (and free) event at the Boys and Girls Club, could be a very close second. Then, depending on the weather, there could be a bunch of other activities: Main Street Market Day, the Sporting Clays shoot hosted by the Marble Falls Daybreak Rotary Club, Sweet Berry Farm’s “Harvest of Fall Fun,” The Phoenix Center’s Family Fun Day at Candlelight Ranch (on Sunday afternoon) and more. There’s also the “Don’t Hug Me!” show at Hill Country Community Theatre, Courtnaye Richard’s book launch at First Baptist Church and Chris Knight’s music at the Uptown (also on Sunday). Of course, there are events planned in other towns, too; just not quite so many.
Before I quit talking about Marble Falls, I want to mention the “Battle of the Bands” at this year’s FiestaJAM. Quite a few bands submitted videos for the online voting process, which has been going on for a couple of months. Of them, four finalists have been selected to perform by the lake on Saturday afternoon. One of those will win $1,000 cash (from sponsor Rebecca Creek Distilleries) and eight hours free recording time (from sponsor Uptown Sound Studio). The winner will be announced around 5:50 p.m. at Lakeside Park, just before headliner Joe Ely takes the stage for his performance.
Every once in a while, it happens. Two events that I’d really like to attend get scheduled at exactly the same time in different towns. If either one seems likely to take an hour or more, I’ll try to get to the beginning of one and the end of the other; that’s how (several times) I’ve been able to take pictures at graduations in Burnet and Llano the same night. And hopefully, I’ll be able to take pictures at the Fish Fry in Joppa (to raise funds for restoration of the two historic bridges there) and the Wags and Whiskers Gala at the Hill Country Humane Society in Buchanan Dam (to raise money for a new operating suite for the spay-and-neuter program) on Saturday evening. I don’t spend a lot of time in any one place (especially now that my doctor has advised me not to eat at any of these public events – I need to get my weight and my blood sugar down), so I can sometimes cover a dozen or more events in one Saturday.
Unfortunately, I had to choose between two good events at 1 p.m. on Sunday. I had already planned to attend the Prayer Walk in Bertram before I got an announcement for the Rotary Club’s 9/11 Commemoration in Marble Falls, and I was afraid that if I tried to make it to both, I wouldn’t really get either. I have been to the Marble Falls event before (it’s a great event, and I appreciate the efforts of the Rotary Club, the VFW and all the city officials and first responders who participate), and I was confident that it would get good coverage even without me, so I chose to go to Bertram this year. That’s why I have no Marble Falls 9/11 pictures in this paper.
The most interesting event this Saturday (to me, at least) is the Fish Fry in Joppa (from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Joppa Community Center on County Road 210). It is a project of the Burnet County Historical Commission, and will include a meal, a car show, a book-signing and a history program. All proceeds will go to restoration of the two iron bridges in Joppa, and the placement of historical markers at each.
The Oatmeal Festival was definitely the big event last weekend in the Highland Lakes area, and I’ve scattered pictures from that consistently-wonderful smalltown party all around this paper. But in keeping with my new policy of using my big front-page picture to “look forward,” I’m featuring the Bluebonnet Air Show this week. I had my fingers crossed as I made that decision, since everyone knows that bad weather could ruin the big plans of the Commemorative Air Force people, and (since it seems to rain almost every day around here lately) the biggest events this weekend could be those that are held indoors. I hope that’s not the case!
If the weather is good, there will be plenty to do this Saturday (see Upcoming Events” on page 2). One additional event that I want to mention is the 79th Texas Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship this weekend at Escondido Golf and Lake Club (in Horseshoe Bay).
The best senior golfers in Texas are here in the Highland Lakes area for a weekend of championship golf.
Next weekend will feature the big Burnet Art Festival. Twenty-seven accomplished Texas artists will choose an outdoor place and subject to paint in the outdoors somewhere in Burnet County; they will have two days to complete up to three pieces for the “plein air” competition. Once completed, their artwork will be put on display at Carolee’s (on the Burnet Square) for judging; the public is invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” Award and/or purchase a work of art. Also next Saturday, there will be a Bluegrass Festival at Burnet’s Haley Nelson Park, and the Burnet County Historical Commission will hold a Fish Fry fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Joppa Community Center (on County Road 210) to help restore and preserve two iron bridges near Joppa. The event will include a meal, a car show, a book-signing and a history program.
The new pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church has lived a lot of history, and now he’s making a little history right here in Kingsland.
Father Uche (pronounced “oo’ chay”) is from the Igbo section of southeast Nigeria, an area better known to most Americans as Biafra. The Igbos have been predominantly Christians since the arrival of Irish Catholic missionaries in the 1880s, and their work ethic and desire to succeed made their section one of the most prosperous in the nation. When oil production began in 1958, many of the oil wells were in Igbo territory.
This aroused some jealousy in the more populous north half of Nigeria, mostly Muslim and generally less prosperous. That animosity was increased by an attempted coup in 1966, led by an Igbo army major, in which some northern political leaders were killed. A massacre of Igbos in other parts of the country eventually led the Igbo section of the country to declare its independence as “Biafra.”
Evaristus Uche Obikwelu was born in the middle of the Nigerian civil war, where the new nation of Biafra was starved into submission by the Nigerian military and images of dying children made front-page news all around the world between 1967 and 1970. His father was an army officer who miraculously survived the waves of killing, and his mother was a strong Catholic who believed in the power of prayer (and she prayed fervently, asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, throughout that terrible ordeal).
As usual, I have quite a few things to write about this week; I think I’ll start with the front page picture. I’ve been debating with myself whether to concentrate on events that happened in the past week, or to focus more on things that are planned for the coming weekend. It wasn’t really a hard choice this week (because I really wanted to make sure that nobody forgets the Oatmeal Festival this Friday and Saturday), but some weeks I really want to brag about something from the previous week. I have plenty of pictures of all the area’s annual events, so I could probably come up with something from the past for every “future” weekend. Sometimes I don’t like the idea of putting “old” pictures on the front page, but I think my pendulum is swinging in that direction. Expect to see more of last year’s events on the front page to remind you of this year’s upcoming events (but this policy is still subject to change!)
I always enjoy writing about history, and partly because my preparation generally involves reading old newspapers. This week’s article was especially enjoyable for me because I feel a personal connection with three of the “main characters” in the 1939 news. Wallace Riddell is one, and my feeling of connection comes from seeing his statueso often and knowing several members of his family. But I actually “knew” Tex Robertson (referred to in the 1939 Bulletin as “Tex Richards”), and I had the pleasure of speaking with Rankin Johnson twice on the telephone (he still subscribed to the Bulletin when I was editor there, and actually sent me a replica of his 1941 baseball card after our first conversation; see page 5 for a picture of that card).
Speaking of writing about history, I have been startled (but pleasantly so) to see two of my old articles on the internet. One of them was on the “Portal to Texas History,” just a short piece on railroad museums. The other was a feature story about the history of Fredericksburg that appeared on the “Texas Hill Country” Facebook page. I used to work with them, and they have access to most of my old writings, but I had forgotten all about that article, and it got me sort of reminiscing. My first thought after reading it was “I used to be a pretty good writer,” but that was back when I could take my time and try to “do it right.” Now I just scribble as fast as I can!
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