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Hillary Colleen Love Willow City Loop / 3

Letter from the Editor

CEO AND PUBLISHER Mitchell Moorhead PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER Scott O’Neill COO AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Erin Baxter CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tony Maples MANAGING EDITOR Spring Sault DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Meg Moorhead DIGITAL EDITOR Yehoshua Flores CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS MarLee Berry, Robert C. Deming, Gay N. Lewis, Spring Sault, Melissa Trevathan-Minnis, Jenny Webster Jurica

In any direction you turn, your eyes will feast upon the exquisite natural wonders of the Texas Hill Country in full-bloom. Birds are singing a sweet Lone Star melody and dark cobalt bluebonnets are turning heads. It’s springtime in Texas! Which means the hearty Texas wildflowers have made their annual appearance under the warm Hill Country sun. It’s time to get out of the house, dust off those hiking shoes and bicycles, pop open that camera lens, spread a picnic blanket, and get outside! Enjoy the spring season while it lasts, as the bluebonnets are only around for a limited time. Our spring issue is packed with every type of bluebonnet known to mankind, and we’ve explored its myths and legends, origins, and much more! You’ll certainly enjoy flipping through the pages and pages of bluebonnets… believe me, it’ll make you want to take a day trip to Burnet or Willow City Loop! Also enjoy our ultimate wedding planning guide and some sips at our Hill Country breweries. Many thanks for your continued support and love for our Hill Country and Heart of Texas Magazine. Without loyal fans like you, we couldn’t proudly exclaim, “We are Texas Hill Country!”

Erin Baxter


CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS 10-7 Outdoors, Brandon Ade, Amy Ashcraft, Ana Branca, Jason Cargill, Kristin Cochran Photography, Jerry Cotton, Don Davis, Robert C. Deming, Franco Folini, Crystal Glade, Tod Grubbs, Dionne Hartnett, JMT Images, Todd Leckie, Gay N. Lewis, Hillary Colleen Love, Alaina McDavid, Andreanna Moya, Dennis Rex, Richlynn Group, Becky Rogers, TKO Publicity & Marketing, Twenty Toes Photography, Jason Weingart, Kurt Westerman, Tony Maples SALES DIRECTOR Luis Garza SALES REPRESENTATIVES Corporate Sales Office PO Box 8343 Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657 (512) 763-0051 Heart of Texas Magazine produced by Texas Media Group

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CONTENTS The Unlikely Hill Country Painter.....................10 Hill Country Artist Spotlight: Becky Rogers

Hill Country Food Truck Frenzy........................36 Indulge in Delectable Roadside Cuisine

On the Hunt for Texas Bluebonnets................56 The Best Places to Find Wildflowers This Spring

10-7 Outdoors Caring for Families of Fallen Officers....64 Police Officers Teach Kids to Fish, Hunt, and More / 5

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Becky Rogers

The Unlikely Hill Country Artist

by Gay N. Lewis


ecky Rogers arrived in Texas from the Sunflower Sate and now calls the Texas Hill Country home-sweet-home. Her birth place, Elkhart, Kansas is a small county seat town in the southwest corner of the state.

Rogers hails from a tri-state area. Three states, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas intersect near her birth place. Elkhart, Kansas is about 150 miles north of Amarillo, and the Kansas/ Oklahoma line divides the town. Rogers could have chosen to travel across the line to Oklahoma or Colorado to begin her adult life, but instead, she chose college and career in the Lone Star State. Becky Rogers, the first-born of five, began painting as a child and is the first and only artist in the family. Her early memories are of sketches of landscapes, but as a young college student, she decided art was not the best way to earn a living. While attending Lubbock Christian University, she switched her major from art to business and entered the finance world of banking. So, how did a banker become a well-known Texan and a sought-after artist?

While making a name for herself in Temple, a goodlooking guy, Jerry Rogers, caught her eye. He also worked in the banking profession, and marriage was soon in their plans. When asked who her all-time favorite Texan is, she quickly responds, “Jerry! He’s a native Texan!” Now, years later, the couple live in the Hill Country. No doubt she would have been born in or around Fredericksburg if her parents had given her a say in the matter. All the way from planting her roots in Lubbock, to down south in the Hill Country, Rogers loves Texas and plans to stay. The Kansas girl became a Texas lady. Art, her life-long goal, was forever in her mind, and Rogers continued to dabble with painting while she tallied up columns of numbers at the bank in Temple.

After Temple, the Rogers lived in Corpus Christi for six years, and then found their way to the Hill Country. They searched the region around Fredericksburg and found a beautiful, inspiring location just outside Comfort, Texas. At present, their large house accommodates two art studios. One is Following her university years in Lubbock, Rogers was strictly for her personal use, and the other is her teaching offered employment in the mortgage and loan sector of studio. The couple plans to downsize soon and relocate to finance. She relocated to Temple, Texas, and that occupation Boerne, Texas, another gorgeous locale for an artist. lasted 20 years. 10 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

How does Rogers decide what to paint? She and Jerry love to travel the backroads of the Hill Country scouting out possibilities. Jerry drives and meanders through country byways and stops often for his artist wife. Rogers hops out and takes thousands of digital photos of vistas. She later recreates the scenes on canvas. She says, “You never know what breath-taking sight awaits around the next bend in the road. I like to go at different times of the day. I always see something new.”

Rogers receives commissions from patrons for specific images. People seek her out to recreate their favorite setting. A rancher desires a painting of his spread, another wants to see his cattle on canvas, someone else requests a certain field of Texas bluebonnets. A painting can take days or months to complete, and pricing depends on the size of the canvas.

Her go-to food is barbecue, but she doesn’t care for cooking. She also loves country western music. She says, “Jerry knows the lyrics to songs and sings along, and I enjoy listening.” The Each painting is an original. She never paints the identical couple have no children, but they adore their Yorkie. scene twice. Rogers says, “I love reproducing something to What’s the best part of Texas? “That’s easy. the beauty of be loved by others.” Her favorite outings center on the Willow City Loop outside of Fredericksburg. “That’s usually where I the Texas land and the down-home friendly people.” find the best bluebonnets.” I also like Llano and the San Saba area for wildflowers. I love spring. The Texas Hill Country From the Sunflower State to the Lone Star State and vibrates with color.” beyond, Rogers is now a well-known Texas Hill Country artist. You can see her paintings in many galleries. Rogers names and signs each of her paintings. She says the title is the most difficult part of her work and husband For more information, visit Jerry offers suggestions. The name of a canvas might pop into her head days or months after completion. / 11

Marble Falls

Photo by Tod Grubbs

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Makes It Easy

for Wildflower Watching


hen every direction you take is practically a photogenic masterpiece, you might be in Marble Falls, Texas. Within a very short time, Texas wildflowers will be in full bloom, and those who make a seasonal visit to the Texas Hill Country to marvel in their splendor will come in droves. Those wishing to get a leg-up on the groups of amateur photographers, tourists, and fair-weather fans of the area can easily do so thanks to the town’s efforts where bluebonnets, buttercups, and Indian paintbrushes are concerned, using the Marble Falls wildower map. Updated continually by the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce, the map features the best displays of Texas wildflowers coupled with each of the locations for safely exiting your car and strolling through the veritable fairyland of fields filled with blooming beauty, taking both the time and speculation out of searching for the very best vistas and unique perspectives. / 13

Making itself the wildower nexus of Texas, this area is of particular natural springtime exquisiteness. Situated less than 100 miles from the major urban centers of Austin and San Antonio, it features a sea of breathtaking bluebonnet beauty, not to mention its additional annual wildflower splendor. Its rural Texas Hill Country atmosphere together with its quaint charm makes Marble Falls a tourist destination of year-round interest but of particular appeal in the spring. Capitalizing on this, the wildflower map is available in its visitor center and its downtown core offers a variety of shopping and delicious dining options. All of these amenities serve to perfectly complement a visit and wildflower adventure in the Texas Hill Country.

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The Marble Falls wildflower map also goes the extra mile by specifying which popular flowers can be spotted where, assisting those looking to take the perfect Texas family photo with a backdrop of bluebonnets, coreopsis, and Indian paintbrushes. And, by providing information on designated parking places for safe wildflower viewing, it can guide visitors to the perfect locale for family fun, strolls through fields of beautiful flowers, and the setting for pictures which will be valued for generations to come. While you’re in Marble Falls enjoying this seasonal beauty, make plans to take scenic hikes, visit local wineries, dine at unique restaurants, and relax in luxurious spas. A weekend away in Marble Falls is an ideal Texas Hill Country getaway filled with rest and relaxation, not to mention renewal, among the magnificent fields of wildflowers. Visit the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce website at to plan your Marble Falls spring wildflower visit, complete with a selection of accommodations, great places to eat, shop, and tour the Texas Hill Country. / 15

Planning t Congratulations! You have met the love of your life and are ready to set out on your next big adventure: planning your dream wedding. Thankfully, the Hill Country of Texas has all of the components necessary to create a beautiful and memorable day for both you and your guests. Perfect weather, gorgeous venues, and everything you need to complete the most intricate of details can be found right here in the heart of the Lone Star State. However, organizing an event of this magnitude can be a daunting task. That is why we have assembled this planning guide to help you nail down the essential pieces of your special day.

Photos by K�istin Cochran Photography 16 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

the Perfect Hill Country

Wedding by MarLee Berry

Essential #1 — Choosing the Right Date Before you can begin assembling the fine details of your wedding, you must first choose a date. While this may seem to be one of the simpler steps in the litany of “To Dos” associated with planning your big day, it could have a dramatic effect on the style of wedding you choose and the number of guests who are able to attend. As you begin to searching for the perfect date, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Weather - The Knot, a well-known wedding planning website, notes the fall season as the most popular time to wed throughout the majority of the state, mostly due to more reliable weather; however, that does not mean that beautiful ceremonies cannot take place at any time throughout the year! For instance, if you have your heart set on a summer wedding, just make sure you take the proper steps to ensure your guests’ comfort. Some ways this can be accomplished are to provide plenty of shade, fans for cooling, and lots of ice water to drink.

Conflicting Dates – Keep in mind as you browse through the calendar that certain dates are better than others simply because they do not conflict with major holidays. While the thought of a Christmas wedding may sound good in theory, know invitees may not be willing to sacrifice time with their families.

Cost – Finally, the date you choose to exchange your vows can impact the overall cost of your wedding. In a 2016 study conducted by The Knot, weddings that occurred in central Texas were estimated to cost just under $30,000. According to, peak wedding months are from May to October. Choosing a date outside of this window may help you save on overall costs. / 17

Essential #2 — The Venue

Now that you have chosen the perfect • Rustic — Hidden River Ranch Weddings and Events, Lampasas Texas date, you must decide where your wedding • Classic — Ma Maison, Dripping Springs, Texas will take place. Thankfully, the Texas Hill • Outdoorsy — Cypress Falls Event Center, Wimberley, Texas Country is rich with stunning venues all • Modern — Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, San Antonio, Texas across the region. The location you choose is ultimately going to be a reflection of your ceremony’s theme. With that in mind, here are four venues whose ambiance will fit at least one of the four basic wedding themes:

Essential #3 — The Fun Details

Finally, now that you have chosen the where and when of your wedding, it is time to fill in all the details. From choosing the dress of your dreams and selecting members of your bridal party, to planning the reception’s seating chart, the most important thing to remember as you dive in is to choose details that are a direct reflection of you and your fiancé. Years after your wedding is over, guests may not remember what color the napkins were, but they will remember if the ceremony and reception reflected you both as a couple. Even though wedding planning may have you stressed, we hope this quick wedding planning guide will help you get the basic necessities out of the way so that you can focus on what is really important, making your day special and memorable for you and your soulmate.

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TheItsTexas Bluebonnet Legends and Myths by Jenny Webster Jurica

Nothing is more of an icon of our state than the Texas bluebonnet, named for its resemblance to a woman’s sunbonnet often used to ward off the harsh Texas sunlight. Today, you might see children decked-out in their Easter Sunday finest and posed among a field of bluebonnets on any given spring day. No one can’t argue that there was never a more-loved wildflower than the bluebonnet. But few know the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to the history, legends, and myths of the bluebonnet and how the wildflower manages to come back, year after year, to the delight of residents and visitors alike.

Photo by Kurt Westerman

Legends of the Texas Bluebonnet

One legend of the Texas bluebonnet revolves around its very origins. It has been a long-held rumor that the flower came to Texas by way of Spanish explorers. Some say the explorers obtained the seeds from priests in the Holy Land, sending the special flowers as a good luck charm for the new land. Some believe that these Spanish explorers used the seeds to bribe mischievous Native Americans into cooperating. While both stories are entertaining to consider, neither is true. The Sandyland Texas Bluebonnet is as native to Texas as Willie Nelson and Shiner Bock, and any bluebonnet-like flower that came from Europe would be different from what grows here today. Another legend of the bluebonnet that takes a decidedly more mystical angle comes from the Jumano Indians. The Jumano Indians tell a tale of a time when missionaries were making their way through New Mexico and Texas, spreading the word of Christianity to the tribes. The Jumanos reported seeing multiple visions of a nun, dressed in a rich, cobalt-blue color. She visited them in their dreams and taught them about Christianity. On the morning after her last otherworldly visit to the tribe, they awoke to find the entire field where they were sleeping to be covered in a beautiful flower--the exact, deep blue color of the nun’s habit. Yet another legend surrounding the state flower is that of the rarely seen pink bluebonnet. Legend has it that the pink bluebonnets are most often found “downstream” of the Alamo and represent the blood that was shed at the battle of the Alamo. According to legend, the pink bluebonnets are found near the San Antonio River and within sight of the historic mission where so many lives were lost in the battle for Texas’ independence from Mexico. 22 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

A Divisive Beginning as the State Flower The first state flower of Texas was the Lupinus subcarnosus. This incarnation of the Texas bluebonnet is a tiny, unassuming version of the flower and most commonly found in coastal and south Texas. It won out as the Texas Legislature’s choice for state flower in 1901, when the legislature first set out to name a flower that best represented Texas. Among the runners-up for state flower in 1901 were the cotton boll and the cactus. It was a hard-fought battle for the title though, made possible largely due to the efforts of a tenacious group of women. The women, who made up the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas, couldn’t bear the thought of a cactus or a cotton boll representing their beloved state. So, they set to work, displaying paintings of bluebonnets on the floor of the legislature and even going so far as to make floral arrangements of bluebonnets to adorn each politician’s desk the day of the voting. After careful consideration, the striking beauty of the bluebonnet appealed to the legislature most. Unfortunately, some people argued that out of all of the varietals of bluebonnets, (yes, there is more than one type of bluebonnet!) the Lupinus subcarnosus is the least attractive and least ubiquitous of the bluebonnet varieties in Texas. They contended that the Lupinus texensis, the more pronounced, larger and bolder version of the flower should represent the state instead. However, the Lupinus subcarnosus held the title of the state flower until 1971 when the legislature decided to settle this epic legislative battle by combining the two varieties of bluebonnet into one official, generic state flower and adding, “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded” to the decision, thereby covering all of their bases. / 23

Myth: Cold Weather Is Dangerous for Bluebonnets With Texas’ recent cold weather, many might be concerned about the forecast for the 2018 Texas wildflower season. Does the cold weather harm the plants? The short answer is no. In fact, the colder weather helps to build the root structure of the bluebonnet plant, which yields a stronger, studier plant that is capable of producing showier, bolder, and larger blooms in spring.

Myth: Roadside Bluebonnets Are Naturally Occurring To debunk this myth, we turned to the Texas Department of Transportation. The Texas Department of Transportation was organized in 1917. Shortly after the organization was formed, officials noted that wildflowers were among the first plants to reappear along roadsides after road construction had been completed. This inspired the Texas Department of Transportation to capitalize on this hearty flora to beautify Texas’ highways and to aid in anti-erosion efforts. They enlisted the help of landscape architect, Jac Gubbels, who in 1932 encouraged and cultivated the growth of native wildflowers along Texas highways. As a result of Gubbels’ work, to this day, the department delays the mowing of Texas roadsides until after wildflower season has come and gone to help encourage the growth and prosperity of future crops of Texas wildflowers along our highways. Texas Department of Transportation purchases and sows roughly 30,000 pounds of wildflower seeds (much of which is comprised of bluebonnets) a year to create the fields of beauty that adorn our roadways.

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Myth: It Is Illegal to Pick A Bluebonnet Contrary to what your mother probably told you, no, it is not illegal to pick a bluebonnet. What IS illegal though is trespassing on private property in order to pick or view bluebonnets. It is also advisable to use caution when walking along highways and other roadways to admire the flowers. Many people get lost in the awe of a field filled with blue, red and pink and forget that they are merely steps away from speeding traffic. Also, one should always take caution to look for snakes and other pests when walking amongst the wildflowers. No matter its origins or the myths surrounding it, the Texas bluebonnet remains one of the most beloved and recognizable symbols of our great state. Its determination to come back--year after year--stronger than ever is symbolic of the people who call this great state their home. Bluebonnets are at their prime for only a small, two to four week window every spring, and they serve as a peaceful reminder that life is short. We should all take the time to stop and admire this bold, showy state flower of Texas while they are in full bloom. Sources:,,, / 25

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twenty toes photography Schertz , Texas / 27

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The Bluebonnet

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Rattlesnake On Saturday morning, the Texas Identification and Taxonomy Association tweeted that several members were en route to Bend, Texas after local game wardens were unable to identify an “unusual organism.” On Monday morning, TITA confirmed that the animal was “a previously unknown species of snake” and released several images and a description of the animal: Crotalus Lupinus (Texas Bonnet Rattlesnake). Dr. William Nye, founder of TITA and Professor of Biological Sciences at The University of Texas, released this statement after visiting Bend, Texas to inspect the snake over the weekend:”This weekend, we had the opportunity to observe a previously unknown specimen in Bend, Texas. The Governing Committee at TITA has designated the snake’s scientific name as ‘Crotalus Lupinus,’ and the discoverer, Robert McCrae, has assigned the common name of ‘Texas Bonnet Rattlesnake.’ While a lot of research is still needed, this find reestablishes everything we teach about natural selection and adaptation. The snake has obvious similarities to the Lupinis Texensis, or Bluebonnet. It is safe to say, with certainty, that this rattlesnake has reached an evolutionary point where it is interacting with our Texas State Flower. This is the first Texas Bonnet Rattlesnake that we have documented but maybe that’s the whole point ... this species has evolved so they will NOT be seen. Evolution is Nature’s smartest tool and I remain hopeful that future data reveals a thriving new species.” WE ARE INFAMOUS!!!! Our APRIL FOOLS Bluebonnet Rattlesnake made Snopes in TWO DAYS! could not have made it without’s y’alls help, and to Casey Hubble for the article, a big THANK YOU! Check Snopes here Check out Casey’s article here texas-bonnet-rattler-discovered-in-bend-texas / 31

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Tony Maples Llano , Texas / 33

Jason Weingart Spicewood, Texas. 34 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018 / 35

Hi ll Country Food Truck Frenzy


Photo by Alaina McDavid

by Melissa Trevathan-Minnis

mong the many amazing things about living also often offer playgrounds for children to visit as in the Hill Country are the many options for parents watch from tables. delicious food. We are fortunate to have a variety of cuisine that ranges from the Food trucks in recent years have run the gamut traditional to the very unusual. from casual to quite sophisticated, and we have seen a number of very successful food trucks go on to Recent years have seen a massive growth in the develop brick and mortar restaurants. Think, Torchy’s popularity of food trucks. Not only can we see them Tacos that now has multiple locations across the dot the streets in cities and highways, but we also see state which started as a small food truck and grew in a number of food truck parks that have popped up. leaps and bounds from there. These parks offer consumers the benefit of one-stop shopping, where a group of several people can each We’ve selected five awesome food trucks that we pick what suits them and then meet up at a picnic think serve our Hill Country quite well! table and collectively enjoy their finds. These parks

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Photo by Andreanna Moya


Gourmet on Da Geaux

Rock N Dilly’s

1. Biscuits and Groovy

It’s hard to deny the call of bacon and eggs and gravy all piled high. Better yet they also offer sausage, cheese, and vegan options to adorn your plate. Biscuits and Groovy has locations in Hyde Park in Austin, and off Barton Creek Rd in Austin. With menu items with names like Aretha Franklin and Johnny Hash, Biscuits and Groovy is indeed, very groovy. Check them out of Facebook for more information:

2. Tia’s Kitchen

If you are going to serve Tex-Mex food in Texas, it had better be good. Otherwise, the competition will gobble you up. Tia’s Kitchen is up to the challenge with their scratch-made food. Tacos, enchiladas, rice, beans and divine salsa. Parked in Cedar Valley Eats Food Truck Park off of Highway 290, this truck is tucked behind the Belterra Neighborhood. Parents can watch while kids play on the playground. Check them out on Facebook for more information:

3. Southern Gourmet on Da Geaux

Are you up for a road trip? Southern Gourmet is a traveling truck that primarily serves the San Antonio area. But, they’ve been known to visit other cities like Fredericksburg. This one offers some hard to resist Cajun options sure to please. Check out their Facebook page for their current location:

4. Rock N’ Dilly’s

Ready for dessert? Rock N’ Dilly’s offers a variety of sweet creations aimed to please your sweet tooth. From shaved ice with gummy bears, to banana splits, they can make your mouth sing. Rock N Dilly’s can be found in New Braunfels. Check them out on Facebook for more information:

5. Gourdough’s

Finally, we wanted to add a tried-and-true favorite. Gourdough’s, like Torchy’s, has gone on to brick and mortar success but still maintains its roots in the heart of Austin at their downtown food truck. Sometimes a doughnut smothered in sweet and sticky toppings is the only way to end the night. Check them out on Facebook for more information: Dotting the Hill Country, these food trucks enrich our lives and palates and make our lives a little sweeter! / 37

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Cover Photo - Tod Grubbs South of Llano, Texas / 39

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Story and Photos by Robert C. Deming 42 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

Texans are largely an arrogantly proud,

sometimes chauvinistic people and in turn are proud of their lineup of unique Texas craft beers. But, some have recently begun to realize that the only Texas ingredient in their locally brewed beer was the water. The four ingredients in a traditionally brewed beer are water, barley, hops, and yeast… and Texas-grown barley and hops just didn’t exist. Until now. Jester King Brewery Back in 2012, Brandon Ade saw this as an opportunity. The Indiana native and Purdue University graduate moved to Texas to work as a computer e n g i n e e r, but before long, he quit to build a barley malting plant. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any beer-quality barley grown in the state, so he went to the plant experts – Texas A&M University. Six years later, Leanderbased Blacklands Malt is providing high-quality, Texas-grown barley malt to area brewers like Brian Dwyer. Dwyer is the head brewer at Oasis Texas Brewing, 15 miles northwest of the Texas Capitol building. He is also a recent immigrant to the state, coming from a brewing job in Maine, where local brewers had been supporting the growth of the local barley farming for years. Dwyer connected quickly with Ade, with the result that Oasis is about to brew an Alt styled beer from 100% Texas malt. For Dwyer and Ade, it isn’t so much about being “all-Texan” as much as “local, high quality, and unique.” Oasis has two of the highly coveted Great American Beer Fest medals and plans to continue that tradition with Texas grown barley. The Oasis Texas Brewing taproom gives patrons an all-Texas kind of a view, as it is situated on the top of a tall cliff overlooking Lake Travis. The brewery’s unique location allows the beer to be gravity fed from the brewhaus to fermentation to aging to packaging, rather than being pumped, as the brewery is built vertically

Oasis Texas Brewing - Brian Dwyer / 43

Oasis Texas Brewing - Brian Dwyer

Oasis Texas Brewing Taproom down a 450-foot-tall cliff. The Oasis Texas Brewing Company also has a chef serving up delectable food along with those tasty brews and expansive views. Hops are an essential part of modern beer. These green cone-like flowers are traditionally grown in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and it has long been thought hops couldn’t be grown commercially in the Lone Star State. “They said it couldn’t be done. I proved them wrong,” said a local Hill Country farmer. He indeed likes a challenge but doesn’t want to be mentioned yet, as he’s still a couple of years away from having his first commercial crop. He has already grown 300 hop plants in seven varieties, of which six did very well. He believes the soil Ph and temperature ranges in his irrigated field are just right. The bigger challenge he sees is the occasional high wind, which means he will have to create a different trellis system to hold the tall, climbing vines. “We’re going to do it a little different. They don’t have twisters up there in the northwest. My trellis poles are going to be built of pipe-stem.” He doesn’t expect to ever produce enough of the aromatic hop cones for the big brewers, but he expects plenty of interest from small breweries and home brewers. “Things are going to go wrong. That’s the name of the game.” He looked out at acres of plowed fields under a clear blue Texas sky and smiled, “I’m thinking about planting this whole field with hops. It’s just another day on the farm.” Is there Texas grown yeast? At least one brewer, Jester King Brewery west of Austin, has been using wild yeast from the air for years. This is tricky for brewers, though, as they don’t know exactly what strains of yeast will show up, and consistency is difficult. Allison, a brewer at Jester King, says that their farmhouse ale reflects their local area through the unique yeast cultures they use, although they take longer to ferment and condition than the more standard yeasts. This Dripping Springs area brewery uses some malt from Blacklands Malt and plans to expand their Texas resume by growing hops on their property. An all-Texas beer may never be mainstream, and it will never be the lowest priced beer, but it is definitely on the way – and will be well be worth the wait. 44 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

Todd Leckie The Poppy Barn in Castroville / 45

Robert Earl Keen Pioneer, Living Legend, and Texas Music Inspiration by Spring Sault

Photo by Richlynn Group 46 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

When last I spoke with Robert Earl Keen, he was gearing up for his Christmas variety show, entitled “REK’s Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree.” The Texas-born singer and songwriter took the project on as a labor of love and launched the show on November 27, 2017 after having worked on it from April of that year. Meeting rave reviews from those in attendance, he continued on with still more personal passions, including the Hill Country Youth Orchestras. Keen took the time to do a phone interview on his projects, life in general, and his full schedule, including music and the many opportunities he has to do what he desires most. With the re-release of “No. 2 Live Dinner” in vinyl as a pre-cursor to his Christmas show, interest in what this Lone Star State domestic product becomes involved in has piqued. He participated in the “Hand-in-Hand” benefit which aired in simulcast throughout America in the fall of 2017 and raised $14 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in Texas. He also laid the plans for this healthy 2018 touring schedule with Lyle Lovett, which has become a sold-out show, and in early February of this year, the pair made an appearance with George Strait at his popular concert series in Las Vegas. / 47

All that being said (and done), his involvement with the Hill Country Youth Orchestras for the 11th year running was first and foremost on his mind and in his heart at the time of our interview. The event was scheduled to take place on February 24 in Kerrville, and over the years, it has come to be known as a forerunner in terms of fundraising for child involvement in music in the state. Raising close to $800,000 over its years of benevolence, Keen’s event for the Hill Country Youth Orchestras assists them to provide kids the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and gives them the opportunity to become part of a symphony. Hill Country Youth Orchestras (HYCO) operates throughout the Texas school year and presently works with 140 children (when REK started with this project, there were 80.) It’s the only tuition-free youth orchestra program, and according to Keen, as well as those that participate, it can truly boast of great teachers and a fantastic curriculum. Keen’s one-night-only concert event for the HCYO in February was held at the Cailloux Theater in Kerrville and featured none other than bluegrass and country music legend Ricky Skaggs. 100 percent of the proceeds from ticket sales went to the HCYO Scholarship and Endowment Fund which provides school-aged children in Texas (from Kindergarten through high school) the opportunity to participate in its programming. Keen and Skaggs together were a force to be reckoned with, having numerous albums under their belts, industry awards and accolades, and continuing to perform at shows that fans consistently clamor for tickets to (such as this). Keen’s pride in discussing this event during our interview was clear to hear, and with great reason. The program continues to be imitated in many states, however Texas is the only one in which it’s completely free, thanks to efforts such as this as well as great benefactors. With respect to his own musical goals, Keen noted that 2018 is the year in which he has some space. Identifying that although his touring schedule is considerable (he’s on the road at least half of the year), he noted that he’ll spend the rest of his time like everyone else…fixing the house, being with family, and checking things off of his list of to-dos. But, his fans will also be happy to hear that some of the free space he’s allowing himself is earmarked for recording new songs and putting another record out – something that hasn’t happened since 2015, with “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions.” This, together with his efforts to focus on family life, take the opportunities he’s been given, and give back through his music makes REK the kind of artist his fans remain both committed to and inspired by. 48 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

Photo by TKO Publicity | Marketing

Photo by TKO Publicity | Marketing

JerryNorthCotten of Kingsland / 49

5 Varieties of the

Texas Bluebonnet by Jenny Webster Jurica

The Texas bluebonnet: What is not to love about its bright blue flowers set against the rich green of its foliage? The favorite flower of most dyed-in-the-wool Texans, the bluebonnet actually has several different incarnations. All five varieties of the bluebonnet look so similar though, that to the untrained eye, one would probably not be able to tell the difference. One thing is for certain though--when you spot that blue lupine standing tall in a field, no matter which variety of bluebonnet it is, you are home. 50 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

All five varieties look so similar

Lupinus subcarnosus (Sandyland Bluebonnet):

This was the original State Flower of Texas, named so by the Texas Legislature in 1901. The Lupinus subcarnosus has a slightly more muted color scheme and tends to have less densely-packed flower petals, giving it a sparser, willowy look. You’ll find this variety of bluebonnet in south central Texas, especially prominent in Hidalgo County. It was unseated as the official state flower in 1971, when the legislature conglomerated all varieties of the lupine into one, generic Texas bluebonnet, becoming the official state flower.

Photo by Flickr/Amy the Nurse

Lupinus texensis (Texas Bluebonnet)

This variety of bluebonnet is the most popular and most recognized as the state’s official flower. With deep, royal blue petals that are large, showy and packed, this variety has more flower heads per stem which results in a bigger impact flower. Each stem can have upwards to 50 fragrant flowers, featuring white tips that complement the dark blue nicely.

Photo by Flickr/gilldrums73

Photo by: Flickr/BevoStevo

Lupinus Havardii (Big Bend Bluebonnet):

If you have traveled through west Texas, (namely in the Big Bend region of the state) in early springtime, you might have stumbled upon this behemoth version of the state flower. Standing up to three feet tall, the Big Bend Bluebonnet is tall and gangly with flowers adorning only the top four to eight inches of stem. This variety is so well suited to life in far west Texas that it all but refuses to flourish anywhere else. / 51

Lupinus concinnus (Annual Lupine):

The tiniest version of the state flower, the annual lupine is found all over the southwest United States, from Texas stretching to California, and northern Mexico. Not nearly as assuming at its fellow lupines, the annual lupine features darker purple and red blooms and prefers to live in sandy soils. This desert-dweller is a favorite among bees.

Lupinus plattensis (Dune Bluebonnet):

The Dune Bluebonnet makes only a brief appearance in the Texas Panhandle but nowhere else in the state. It is much more prevalent in Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, and parts of New Mexico. The Dune Bluebonnet is the only perennial species of bluebonnet in Texas. It stands two feet tall and features light blue flowers with a dark spot.

Photo by Flickr/Don Davis

Photo by Flickr/brewbooks

Interested In Growing Your Own?

There are a few “rookie mistakes” in bluebonnet cultivation. Many folks water their bluebonnets too much, and some even try to plant them under trees. The truth is, bluebonnets love nothing more than dry conditions and sun...lots of sun! Also, the time to plant the seeds is in September and October. This allows the plants time to form good, strong roots during the coldest part of the year, which will set the stage for a colorful show in the spring.

Beware the Roly-Poly

No matter if you call that prehistoric looking little ball of insect a “pill bug” or a “roly poly,” one thing is for certain: this flexible little crustacean has quite an affinity for the bluebonnet and can eat an entire plant overnight. The good news is that the deer who call Texas (and our yards) home typically do not eat bluebonnets, so you can add the lupine to the list of deer resistant plants. No matter which variety of Texas bluebonnet you call your favorite, this beloved springtime visitor is special to all. While the flower may look slightly different from region to region, it stands as a symbol of the unspoiled, natural beauty of the state of Texas. As the former Texas governor, Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel once sang, “You may be on the plains or the mountains or down where the sea breezes blow, but bluebonnets are one of the prime factors that make the state the most beautiful land that we know.” Photo by Franco Folini 52 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

Sources:,, / 53

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Jason Weingart Brenham, Texas. / 55

The Search for

Bluebonnets By Crystal Glade

Nothing says springtime in Texas like a field of bluebonnets. The official state flower, and the unofficial symbol for all things Texan, the bluebonnet makes the perfect backdrop for a Hill Country road trip. Here are some of our favorite places to find bluebonnets in and around the Texas Hill Country.

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There’s no better place than Burnet for all things bluebonnet! Celebrating the annual Bluebonnet Festival every April, this charming town is situated amongst miles of multi-colored wildflower fields. Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Burnet is surrounded by natural wonders and historic buildings, all of which are enhanced by the splendor of springtime bluebonnets. In fact, just outside Burnet, on Highway 281, is one of the state’s most photographed bluebonnet locations. Known locally as The Bluebonnet House, this 19th century two-story limestone structure is a favorite stop for photographers and wildflower enthusiasts.

Turkey Bend Recreation Area

Nestled alongside scenic Lake Travis, the Turkey Bend Recreation Area comes alive with color each spring thanks to its wide open fields of bluebonnets. This 1,000+ acre park couples the beauty of bluebonnets with magnificent lake views. Continue traveling RM 1431 towards Marble Falls for one of the most picturesque wildflower-viewing routes in the area. While in Marble Falls, be sure to make a stop at Blue Bonnet Café and sample some homemade soups or a slice of their legendary pie.


Fredericksburg is already one of the Hill Country’s top road trip destinations. Celebrating its German heritage through family, food, and hometown hospitality, Fredericksburg truly shines in the springtime when bluebonnets are in full bloom. Each spring, nearly every roadside in and around Fredericksburg is rife with vibrant wildflowers and the majesty of nature at its finest. For the best in breathtaking bluebonnet views, head north out of Fredericksburg via the Willow City Loop off Hwy 16. This winding 13-mile drive showcases some of the best panoramic views in the Texas Hill Country, featuring not only bluebonnets, but daisies, sunflowers, Indian paintbrush, and more. Fredericksburg is also home to the nation’s largest working wildflower farm, Wildseed Farms, which features over 200 acres of native Texas wildflowers. Wildseed Farms is open year-round and admission is free.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

A nature-lover’s paradise, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin is a botanical garden with a long history of education and conservation. The center’s walking trails, display gardens, and rustic structures offer a more landscaped location to take in the magnificence of Texas bluebonnets – and a great variety of backgrounds for photos. Stop in the gift shop to pick up some bluebonnet-inspired keepsakes for your fellow wildflower watchers. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for youth.

McAllister Park

Comprised of nearly 1,000 acres in northeast San Antonio, McAllister Park serves as a city park as well as a nature preserve. Facilities include picnic areas, sports fields, and both paved and unpaved trails – all of which abound with bluebonnets every springtime. Locals flock to McAllister Park for bluebonnet photo ops, thanks to its ease of access and plentiful parking. With room to run and play, and front-row access to nature and wildlife, McAllister Park is a welcome oasis inside the hustle and bustle of the growing city. These are only a handful of the many stunning bluebonnet locations the Hill Country has to offer. Whether taking family portraits or simply taking in Mother Nature’s colorful grandeur, be sure to get out and appreciate Texas bluebonnet season while it lasts. Always remember to be respectful of nature, property boundaries, and your fellow bluebonnet buffs!

Photo by Jason Weingart / 57

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Toddkingsland, Leckie texas / 59

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Jerry Cotten Muleshoe Bend / 63

10-7 Outdoors

the Chance to T�uly be �ds

Offers Children of Fallen Officers

by Spring Sault

Making time for a phone interview en route to pick up a chocolate Labrador pup in Louisiana, which was donated for auction at the upcoming 10-7 Outdoors Thin Blue Line Gala, Kris Caldwell, a founding member of the group, explained that that the event was sold out within 30 days of its announcement. The outpouring of community support for their mission was heartwarming to Caldwell, to say the least, and the donations of items toward their fundraising initiatives continued to come forward from Texas sportsmen and women, ranchers, community businesses, and people of a like mind in the weeks leading up to the event. Why? A shared concept of neighbor-helping-neighbor brings everyone to the same playing field. The founders of 10-7 Outdoors, Justin Leathers, Mike Bali, and Kris Caldwell, are no strangers to having a huge impact on people’s lives. They’re all North Texas full-time police officers who, as a result of their jobs, know what it means to serve their communities. But, they saw a need that wasn’t being filled, and they wanted to do something about it. In their line of work, 64 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

Photo courtesy of 10-7 Outdoors it’s a sad fact that death is a potential outcome to a call, and with that, the family members of fallen officers are left to pick up the pieces. Although the “blue family” (as many of the widows and widowers have described their police counterparts), rallies around them, offers support, and tries their best to maintain ties, the void that’s left for the children having lost a parent can never be filled. Having a positive impact on these children is what the group at 10-7 Outdoors set out to do. To assist the families of fallen officers, the group has developed value-added opportunities which support their child’s personal growth, as well as help them maintain and nurture their family and community roots. By mentoring the officer’s child or children in guided hunting and fishing trips, this registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has meant so much more to its recipients than any traditional form of support. Taking their name from law enforcement code referencing “out of service,” their group mindset and compassion envelops those that they care for. And, through their

own personal ethics, genuine concern, and their knowledge of good sportsmanship, they continue to assist these kids in every way that they possibly can – bringing others along in the process. Raised to hunt and fish, each of the group members has also felt the effects of the loss of a friend and coworker in the line of duty. Combining their outside interests with their love of their jobs, they developed a plan for 10-7 Outdoors in 2014, providing the initial outdoor experiences, working to honor the parents who lost their lives, and teaching the children outdoorsmanship values, fish and wildlife management, firearm safety, hunting techniques and ethics, and so many other valuable lessons that may even have been inadvertently learned. With a goal to devote time and support to each child, mentor and guide them through their grieving, and maintain the memory of the parent through positive enrichment, 10-7 Outdoors has created lasting bonds with each family that they touch. And, their volunteers and community cohorts are equally as moved. In his interview, Caldwell explained, “There are people in Texas, as well as other states, who are familiar with what we’re doing. But we didn’t understand to what extent. In the first year of planning for our fundraising gala, we set a 200-seat maximum. We thought if we sold 100, we’d be blessed.” As it turns out, 65-70 percent of those they spoke with already knew what their group was about and were readily happy to either attend the benefit or provide some manner of support. Working relationships they had built resulted in such things / 65

as the puppy (noted above) being donated through a K9 officer via reputable breeding lines. Several outdoor experiences were donated via ranch owners and operators and guide services for gala attendees to bid on at auction. And, a guitar signed by Toby Keith was donated for the very same purpose because a friend of the group got word to his stage manager. All of this became possible, and readily so, as a result of the shared passion and enthusiasm for what 10-7 Outdoors does. At no cost to a family, their child or children (the trips are designed for groups of two, three, or four, including parents) receive transportation to Texas, where they are met by a member of 10-7 Outdoors and escorted to a ranch or guide service location for a completely unique and specially-designed hunting or fishing trip (or a mixture of both). Each outdoor experience offers structured and healthy healing time, with compassion and support which is unsurpassed. The testimonies from parents whose children have been able to have this experience all identify that the group’s members do their utmost to ensure the safety, inclusion, and genuine empathy for the child as a result of their circumstances. Subsequently, when Caldwell and his counterparts considered the potential for expansion of their project (their program is so popular that they’ve had calls for potential franchising opportunities in other states), the first thought they had was to continue the mentoring component with the assistance of those that have attended their hunts and fishing trips. “We don’t want to grow too quickly,” Caldwell explained. “We want to ensure we’re always placing the right kid with the right hunt, and we don’t want this to become something impersonal. We have a great volunteer army and a waiting list covering nine different states, including Texas. In terms of growth, we’ll continue to work with our volunteers to build the mentorship we’ve been able to develop, and look to bring three older kids back, if they’re available, to assist with new and younger kids on trips.” The summer of 2018 will be the first opportunity for this to happen, as the group looks to accommodate school schedules for those it works with. They do have trips planned for March, however the potential youth mentors will still be full-time students at that time. With respect to increasing the number of trips, Caldwell also indicated that this is a possibility (noting that this year’s schedule has jumped considerably thanks to the charitable nature of their supporters and the success of the gala), however the group would like to continue to take a cautious approach to growth to ensure the integrity of the program. “We want to make sure your heart’s where our heart is; your mind’s where our mind is,” he explained regarding those that are asking to help. “We’ll protect our organization because it means protecting our kids.” And, that, in a nutshell, is what 10-7 Outdoors is truly all about. 66 / Heart of Texas Magazine Spring 2018

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Heart of Texas Magazine  

Spring 2018

Heart of Texas Magazine  

Spring 2018