Among the many Christmas activities around the Highland Lakes last weekend were two excellent variations of the traditional Nutcracker ballet: The Story of the Nutcracker (pictured above), presented at Burnet High School by Studio 29 Dance Centre and the BHS Highlandettes drill team, and The Nutcracker’s Gifts of Christmas, presented at Marble Falls High School by Harmony School of Creative Arts. The Wildflower Dance Studio will present its own version of the Nutcracker at Llano High School on Saturday (two shows, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.), December 16 & 17. For more Nutcracker pictures from last weekend, see pages 8 & 9. You can check out the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page for many more photos from the Nutcracker shows and other events in our busy neighborhood.
I have had a lot of amazing days in my unique job, so I wouldn’t dare to say that last Saturday was the best, or even one of the top ten. But as far as the variety of interesting pictures (interesting to me, at least), Saturday had to be one of the best days I remember.
I was already feeling really good from two events on Friday night. I thought the Special Needs Adult Prom at Hill Country Fellowship was wonderful, and I was really proud of the people who made it happen. Then I was very much impressed with the acting of my friend, Graham Avery, who played the troubled man accused of murder in “Murder Weapon,” at Hill Country Community Theatre.
Then I was able to sleep in a little on Saturday, so I wasn’t too tired when I started my rounds on Saturday morning. The first stop was the great car show on the Burnet square, and there was an extra bonus there when I met cinematographer Shane Kelly, who was filming parts of the event for a Moon Shine Sweet Tea commercial.
I stayed there longer than I had planned, so I had to hurry back to Kingsland for the Laker Fest at Kingsland School. Fortunately, I got there in time to take pictures of the comical gunfight performed by my friends from the Burnet Gunfighters (another very photogenic group). An interesting side note there was the presence of normally-very-respectable principal Meloni Puishes, who played the role of a “floozie” in the tavern during the gunfight.
There were quite a few milestones during Kingsland’s rebirth in the second half of the 20th century. Some of the most important were the completion of the dam that formed Lake LBJ in 1951, the construction of Farm to Market Road 1431 in 1957 (finished in 1958) and the new bridge across the Llano River in 1968. But perhaps none so clearly marked Kingsland’s “arrival” as one of the major communities in the Highland Lakes area as the Grand Opening of the new Highland Lakes National Bank and the shopping center that came with it in June of 1965.
Woody McCasland was a bank examiner from Waco who often spent time in the Highland Lakes area. He would vacation in Kingsland between jobs at banks in Burnet, Marble Falls and Llano. He became aware that land salesmen were selling lake lots to quite a few people (particularly to military personnel in the San Antonio area and water-starved residents of west Texas), and realized that a forward-thinking bank could do very well as the new landowners began to move to Kingsland. A survey (done as part of the bank’s charter application in 1962) showed 1,000 people living within a five-mile radius of Kingsland.
It didn't take quite as much capital back then to start a new bank, but even with investments from a few partners, McCasland had to "go door-to-door" selling stock at $25 a share to come up with the necessary seed money. It worked, and the new Highland Lakes National Bank opened in March of 1963 between a cafe and a real estate office in the Odie Ainsworth building (now the Landmasters Real Estate building). Nearly all the existing local businesses (including Stein Lumber Co., Ainsworth Real Estate, Wood Grocery, Kingsland Auto Service, Wayman’s Restaurant, Dairy Dock, Foster’s Grocery, the River Ranch Store, Smith Electric, Kingsland Insurance Agency, Bill’s Marine Service and Kingsland Lodges) took out large ads in the Highlander to welcome the new bank, and a huge crowd attended the bank’s Grand Opening.
It seems like no matter how often I go through my voice mails, notes and emails, I find that I’ve missed some “Upcoming Events” in my article. To facilitate the printing process, I start with the first and last two pages each week, then do the middle four pages before I get to page 3 sometime on Wednesday evening (on a bad week, it’s more like early Thursday morning). That’s why the things I missed will often appear in Scatterthought; this week is a good example!
During the first two hectic weeks of April, I overlooked a town hall meeting with Commissioner Mike Sandoval (held on Tuesday night). On Wednesday afternoon, I noticed a Facebook message reporting on the meeting which included a discussion of a “Limited Countywide Residential Bulk Collection” scheduled for this Saturday morning (8 to noon). Llano County residents (and KMUD customers from Burnet County) can bring tires, furniture, mattresses, etc. to the Llano County Annex in Buchanan Dam. I should have reported this a little earlier.
Also on Saturday, the Hill Country Humane Society will hold another “Show and Shine” at Ace Hardware in Horseshoe Bay (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) In addition to the lovable rescue animals, they will be offering microchipping at $25 and nail trimming at $5. Bring your pets and take advantage of this special offer. For more information call 512-793-5463.
Later that same day, Phillip Smith will bring his “St. Paul Speaks” performance to Hill Country Fellowship in Burnet at 5:45. Doors open at 5:15 for fellowship and refreshments.
Last Friday, I was telling some of my friends that I just might die of exhaustion sometime Saturday evening. It didn’t happen; I had a wonderful weekend, including a visit from my daughter and son-in-law from Baton Rouge, who wanted to “see the Bluebonnet Festival and eat at Cooper’s.” We accomplished those missions, and they graciously allowed me to stop along the way and take pictures of some area events. I missed some, of course, but I got a lot more pictures than I can fit in this paper. If you have the opportunity, please look at my “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page.
One of the reasons I got so tired last week was that Marble Falls keeps growing and making changes. I finished last week’s paper around 8 a.m., but instead of getting my usual four hours of sleep before starting deliveries, I had to attend the Grand Opening at the beautiful new Bealls store. The next morning, I had to start my Friday deliveries early so I could attend the Ground-Breaking for the new H.E.B. Both those stores represent huge upgrades for area shoppers.
Then there was the Bluebonnet Festival’s Pet Parade and three Friday night concerts that I couldn’t miss before my guests arrived around 1 a.m. It was well after 2 a.m. before I got to sleep, and Saturday started quite early. I pared down my Saturday itinerary, attended the afternoon show of the Llano Country Opry, and was able to get a short nap while my guests went swimming at the Slab, before heading off to the street dance in Burnet.
We are definitely in the “busy season” here in the Highland Lakes area, and I wasn’t able to cover anything this week the way I would have liked to. On the other hand, I would have needed at least 32 pages to fit everything into the paper, and that is more than I can handle. So I hope you’ll enjoy what I have in this week’s paper and forgive me for what I don’t have.
This weekend will be dominated by Burnet’s wonderful Bluebonnet Festival. Even without the Air Show (which will be in September again this year), this festival is probably the best community festival in the Texas Hill Country. I’m hoping to give it quite a bit of space in next week’s paper, but you really need to experience it for yourself. I hope to see you there!
Among the many activities, there are a few that seem to go mostly unnoticed. One is the wildflower display in the back room of the library (you go in the Main Street side door) on Friday afternoon and during the day on Saturday. You can learn a lot about the flowers that bring the Hill Country to life each spring; it’s well worth seeing.
Another is the Rubber Ducky Race, over on Hamilton Creek. It’s a fun event, and you can win some great prizes; but more importantly, it raises money for Highland Lakes Literacy. It happens shortly after the Grand Parade, just about two blocks west of the square; you can buy tickets there between 10 and noon on Saturday, or get them ahead of time from any HLL member.
What a weekend! And it’s just the beginning of an action-packed spring season. This coming week will pose another challenge to me and my trusty Ford Focus, with weekend-long events in both Marble Falls (Paint the Town) and Llano (Fiddle Fest), plus a multitude of other activities in several other towns. If we could somehow be in Bertram and Llano at the same time on Friday night, it would make life easier. I definitely want to be at the Air Fiddle contest at the Badu House in Llano, but I also want to see Jake Penrod at the Globe Theatre in Bertram. I’ll be making tough choices all weekend.
One of the biggest events last weekend was the Fishing Tournament arranged by the VFD Auxiliary in Sunrise Beach. It looked like a lot of well-organized fun, and a big success. I congratulate the ladies responsible; especially those who showed up at 5:30 a.m. on a cold, dark morning! I also was impressed to see young people from the Boys & Girls Club holding a party at The Oaks Nursing Home in Burnet. Folks young and old seemed to be really enjoying themselves.
It’s not just fun events that have been impressing me lately; there are lots of businesses starting and growing these days around the Highland Lakes. One of them that is especially encouraging to me is The Antlers Hotel and surrounding enterprises; I saw on Facebook that owners Drew Gerencer and Rick Gregory had a record-setting week during Spring Break, and they are holding a Grand Opening and ribbon-cutting this Saturday at 1 p.m. for the new Club Car Bar addition to the Grand Central Café. That cluster of businesses in the historic heart of Kingsland is very important to Kingsland’s future, and I’m delighted to see them doing well.
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Highland Lakes Weekly
P.O. Box 911
Kingsland, TX 78639