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Hill Country SUN FREE

DECEMBER 2013 Hill Country Regional

Christmas Lights Trail R Wimberley’s

Santa Fe Connection for an eclectic shopping experience

R One family, three locations

Oak Creek Cafe R Whimsical works of Bulverde artist

Shirley Hammett R The Hill Country’s most complete

Calendar of Events Serving Austin, Bandera, Blanco, Buda, Bulverde, Canyon Lake, Comfort, Concan, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Gruene, Henly, Johnson City, Kerrville, Kyle, Llano, Leakey, Luckenbach, Marble Falls, Medina, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Sattler, Sisterdale, Stonewall, Wimberley, Utopia, Vanderpool & More

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Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail

Local communities light up the Hill Country this holiday season

The beautifully-lit Pedernales Electric Co-Op headquarters in Johnson City, part of the holiday Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail. Photo courtesy Hill Country Regional Lighting Trail.


By Ernie Altgelt



isiting the Texas Hill Country at any time of the year is a joy. The ubiquitous warmth, friendliness, charm and scenic beauty remain constant draws, attracting from far and wide across a diverse and welcoming seasonal spectrum. But within this spectrum, thanks to the substantial Yuletide efforts of 10 spirited communities, for many, the most wonderful time for a visit remains the Christmas Season. Why you ask? For the past 20 years, multiple participating municipalities have united in establishing a December “competition of candle power� where each strives to be the best and the brightest when it comes to lighting things up around town. Do you want to know just who outshines who? Then hop in the family sedan (pick-up truck or two-wheeler) and motor on, up, down and around the Texas Hill Country regional Christmas Lighting Trail – your guaranteed pathway for a very illuminating and entertaining (not to mention, Santa-approved) experience. Initially, the trail grew out of a “bright idea� conceived by one of Johnson City’s local garden club members. The ever active organization annually takes pride in draping their town’s stately courthouse and other structures each December with thousands of twinkling lights. The effect is stunning and always draws substantial crowds eager for some glittering Christmas cheer. Realizing that other like minded Hill Country towns had been bitten by the seasonal “lighting bug� as well, it seemed only natural for teaming up and staging a region-wide celebration of illumination.

Acceptance was immediate and the Christmas Lighting Trail was created. Two decades later it just keeps growing and glowing, attracting (and awe-ing) thousands from across the state and beyond. Today, the territory covered is impressive. From Burnet at the northern tip then south to Bandera with oh-somuch in between including Marble Falls, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Dripping Springs, Blanco, Wimberley, Kerrville and Boerne, at each stop, the high voltage viewings can (and will) be breathtaking. Commercial buildings, parks, streets, even private residences beckon like blazing beacons welcoming one and all to Christmas in “Small Town, USAâ€? Texas style. And, if the millions of lights and other festive decorations weren’t enough, at many of the stops special adjunct events guaranteed to equally delight will be staged throughout the season including caroling and other musical treats, shopping, parades, religious reenactments, Santa-sightings and myriad other not-to-be-missed inspiring diversions. Young, old and even those in the middle can’t help but be impressed so plan your route early, bundle up (including Rover) and be sure and bring the camera. You’ll want to capture the many special and electric moments encountered within each of these “tinseledâ€? towns – ho, ho ho! FYI • At multiple sites in each participating community, helpful brochures detailing the entire “mappedâ€? trail (and the related events, dates and their specific locations) will be available at no charge. To request a complementary brochure before embarking, call 830-997-8515 or visit the web site at There are no admission fees to the majority of offerings and parking will be plentiful and free.

Hill Country SUN Julie Harrington Publisher Advertising Melissa Maxwell Ball Editor Ernie Altgelt Allie Eissler Maxine Mayes Laurel Robertson Writers Gerry Burns Delonn Bowie DeLane Ibarra Adelle Spell Distribution

December 2013 Volume 24 • Number 7 ISSN: 1524-2315 Entire contents copyright © 2013 by TD Austin Lane, Inc. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any fashion without the written consent of the publisher. • The Hill Country Sun is published monthly. For advertising rates or information, call Julie Harrington at 512-484-9716 (email Credit cards accepted. • Circulation: 22,000. Distributed monthly to more than 450 popular Hill Country locations (see list of towns on front cover) and home delivered to all 5,276 Wimberley homes and 8,663 Dripping Springs homes by the US Postal Service. • Cover: The Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail includes the communities of Burnet, Bandera, Marble Falls, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Dripping Springs, Blanco, Wimberley, Kerrville and Boerne. (See story, page 2.) Beautifully illuminated Johnson City Courthouse, inset top left Market Square in Fredericksburg, inset top right PEC Auditorium at PEC Headquarters in Johnson City (Photos courtesy Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail). inset lower right EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens’ Holiday Trail of Lights in Wimberley (Photo courtesy EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens). • Deadline for calendar events 15th of each month. Email Like us on Facebook •



Texas Hill Country Locator Map

© 2013 by TD Austin Lane, Inc.

Austin J5 Bandera B10 Bergheim D9 Bertram I2 Blanco F6 Boerne D9 Buchanan Dam F2 Buda J7 Bulverde G10 Burnet G2 Camp Verde B8 Canyon Lake G9 Castroville C12 Center Point B8 Clear Springs H11 Comfort C8 Concan A11 Driftwood H7 Dripping Springs H6 Fischer G8 Fredericksburg C5 Georgetown K2 Granite Shoals G2 Gruene H10 Hancock G8 Helotes G6 Henly G6 Highland Lakes F2/3 Hondo B13 Hunt A7 Hye E6 Ingram B7 Johnson City F5 Kendalia F8 Kerrville B7 Kingsland F2 Kyle I8 Lampasas G1 Leakey A9 Llano D2 Liberty Hill I12 Luckenbach D6 Luling K10 Marble Falls G3 Martindale J9 Mason B2 Medina A9 New Braunfels H10 Oak Hill I6 Oatmeal H2 Pipe Creek C10 Round Rock K3 San Antonio F12 San Marcos I9 Sattler H9 Seguin I11 Sisterdale D8 Spring Branch F9 Startzville G9 Stonewall D6 Utopia A10 Vanderpool A9 Wimberley H8



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A DISTINCTIVE COLLECTION OF in the Fall Gathering of Artists • December 14

Fine Art

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Unique gifts, shopping at Santa Fe Connection


By Allie Eissler

anta Fe, New Mexico — or “The City Different,” as it is nicknamed — is an enchanting blend of old Western, Native American, and Spanish sensibilities, and fans can find a little bit of everything at the Santa Fe Connection in Wimberley. “I used to travel to Santa Fe at least three times a year,” explains owner Sigi Salinas, “and I love the culture.” Her store stocks everything from one-of-akind Mexican paintings, ethnic skirts, and hacienda furniture to statues, pottery, handmade jewelry, and tribal artifacts. Visitors can find colorful glass vases decorated with intricate starfish and sand dollars, oil paintings of crumbling missions and fields of bluebonnets, and sculptures of suns, galloping horses, and golden doves. Gifts are available in all price ranges, from smaller magnets, travel candles, and samplers of all-natural soaps to larger, more exotic accents for the home. Sigi originally moved to Texas from Germany to attend dental school, but after spending many years fashioning gold and porcelain crowns, she began to dabble in making jewelry as well. She enjoyed this creative outlet so much that she eventually opened her own jewelry store. In need of shop décor, she put some of her own paintings up along with a selection of curios, pottery, and statues she acquired in Mexico. “I had quite a few paintings all over my house and in the attic that I’d painted myself over the years,” explains Sigi. “I thought I might try to sell them in the store, and lo and behold, people actually bought them. Then I started buying paintings from other people, and it became an art gallery.” Visitors loved the style so much that Sigi soon began selling decorative pieces right off the walls, and it wasn’t long before she opened a store that was exclusively southwestern-themed, with folk art and kachinas. “At first, I offered mostly Native American pottery and artifacts, but I slowly started to integrate items made in Texas, along with clothes and turquoise jewelry,” explains Sigi. “Now I make a lot of one-of-a-kind necklaces with natural amber, bone, and stone beads.” Over the years, Sigi has owned and operated a number of gift stores in the San Antonio area, including Heaven On

After a number of successful gift stores in the San Antonio area, German native Sigi Salinas finds a new home in Wimberley with her eclectic and original shop, Santa Fe Connection. Photos courtesy Santa Fe Conn Earth, the Cottage, the Turquoise Coyote, Sigi’s Treasure Chest, and the Santa Fe Connection on the Riverwalk. When her daughter and son-in-law (and fellow managers) moved to Colorado to run their own store, she decided to pare down, sell her dental lab, and focus exclusively on the Santa Fe Connection until her lease was up — and it was then that she discovered a brand new home in the heart of Wimberley. Traveling the Hill Country in search of scenery to paint, Sigi stumbled across a building for rent in Wimberley, and the rest is history. She has operated the newest incarnation of the Santa Fe Connection for the last six months, with the assistance of new business partner Dan Moore. “He’s an all-around wonderful person,” says Sigi. “He puts up with this headstrong German, and we work together well.” “I love Wimberley,” adds Sigi. “It’s a nice community. The folks are friendly and helpful, and the pace is much slower and more laid-back. I can sit outside under our at least one-hundred-year-old oak tree sipping a cool drink and watching the people pass by.” FYI • The Santa Fe Connection is located in Wimberley at 13900 Ranch Road 12. For more information about the shop or to order pieces online, visit their web site at www., email sigi@santafe-connection. com, or call 512-847-2721. The shop is open seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm.



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Gift Certificates make the perfect gift! From one-of-a-kind jewelry to fabulous furniture, glassware, art, home furnishings and more, you’ll find fantastic gifts at Santa Fe Connection. Stop in and check out the enchanting blend of old Western, Native American, and Spanish sensibilities at 13900 Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley. Photos courtesy Santa Fe Connection.

EmilyAnn Theatre’s holiday Trail of Lights WIMBERLEY H For many, the holiday season is simply not complete without a visit to the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens’ Holiday Trail of Lights. More than 100 seasonal exhibits created by local families, individuals, businesses, schools, churches, and organizations combine to make this one of the best family-oriented holiday sites in the Hill Country. Guests can take a train ride on the Jingle Bell Express (for kids 60 lbs or less) and enjoy hot cocoa at the Yule Log. FYI • The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens is located at 1101 Farm Market 2325 in Wimberley. The Holiday Trail of Lights is November 30 through December 31, open Sunday through Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm. Admission is free, donations greatly appreciated. For more information, call 512-847-6969 or visit the web site at

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Oak Creek Cafe(s) keep good food in the family


his surprise, all three wanted to work in he term “family restaurant” takes the family business and excelled at difon a whole new meaning when ferent aspects of it: oldest son Benjamin talking about the family of Oak ran a tight kitchen; younger son Andrew Creek Cafés growing as fast as the Hen- managed an orderly front-of-house, derson family that is the lifeblood behind daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Craig were hard workers all-around. Penny (in all three Hill Country eateries. The Oak Creek Café family tree be- this instance known as Nanna) played a vital part by watching gan seven years ago, granddaughters Madie with a small corner café and Micky while Craig in Dripping Springs, and Jennifer worked at well known among lothe café. cals for its fried catfish Mike advised them dinners and burgers. A all, “I really don’t want few years later, the Henyou to go into the resdersons added an Oak taurant business... it’s Creek Express drivetoo hard a way to make through next door and, a living... but if you’re and this past spring gonna do it, spread out branched out with a new The “Texan” burger. and own your own resfull size Oak Creek Café Photo courtesy Oak Creek Cafe. taurants to make the just down the road in money worth all the Blanco. At the helm of each restaurant – and trouble.” A few months later, Mike moved in the kitchen, the dining room and behind the cash register – is a Henderson. over to the new Oak Creek Express (a In 2006, after 30 busy years in the res- smaller version of the original café, oftaurant business, Mike Henderson was fering an abbreviated menu and a conveready to downsize to a small café with nient drive-through) and let the offspring his wife Penny and see their just-grown run things in the main house. They knew kids set out in the world on their own. To their jobs, and the transition was seam-

By Laurel Robertson

Oak Creek Express LEFT sits next to the original Oak Creek Cafe on U.S. Highway 290 in Dripping Springs. Photo by Laurel Robertson.


Son Andrew, granddaughter Madison, daughter Jennifer, granddaughter Mikeala and son-in-law Craig at the Oak Creek Cafe in Dripping Springs. Photo by Carla McCandless. less. Nothing succeeds like success and at age 30, son Benjamin began to imagine starting his own restaurant in the Hill Country west of Dripping Springs. After a careful search of several communities, he chose Blanco as far enough away from Dripping not to be in competition with the mothership, but still near enough to have family support. He remembered travelling through Blanco on childhood trips with his grandparents, and it had always seemed the best place in the Hill Country to him. When a large restaurant space on the Blanco Square became available, Benjamin was ready to jump. But jumping took awhile. There was a lot of cleanup and remodeling to do first. “Without my grandparents, I could never have pulled it off,” he insists. “My grandpa is 80 years old and he can work circles around me!” Benjamin credits grandparents Joe and Joan Mooneyham of Medina Lake as instrumental in getting all three family restaurants dressed and ready for operation. The Blanco location underwent a total renovation - floor to ceiling - in-

Oak Creek Cafe founder Mike Henderson with granddaughters Madison and Mikeala. Photo by Carla McCandless. cluding new metal siding on the walls, curtains, paint, décor, etc. “We started in January and finished just in time to open in March,” Benjamin recalls. Blanco’s Oak Creek Cafe offers a See OAK CREEK CAFE, page 7

The newest Oak Creek Cafe at 419 3rd Street in Blanco. Photo courtesy Oak Creek Cafe.


dripping springs

OAK CREEK CAFE, from page 6 are always growing in the minds of the Henderson family. After all, there are two kids yet to go…. FYI • Oak Creek Café and Oak Creek Express in Dripping Springs are both located at 660 Highway 290. Hours for the Café are Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm; 6:30 am to 9:00 pm weekends. Express hours are 10:30 am to 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm daily. For more information call the Café at 512-829-4593 and the Express at 512-858-0329 or find them on Facebook. Oak Creek Café in Blanco is located at 419 3rd Street, on the southwest corner of the Square. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11 am to 8:30 pm; and weekends from 11 am to 9 pm. For more information, call 830-833-3363.

North Pole Village, plenty of old fashioned fun for the whole family CANYON LAKE H Since 1996, CRRC has sponsored the North Pole Village in their Recreation Center at 125 Mable Jones Drive. With the help of many volunteer elves, the CRRC Recreation Center is transformed into a pint-sized village for children. Each building in the village offers an activity or gift to brighten a child’s day. Kids can visit a bakery, post office, toy land, elves house and more.  Weather permitting, you can also see a live Nativity performance sponsored each night by local churches and enjoy a hay ride through the Hidden Valley Sports Park.  FYI • North Pole Village is open December 12, 13, 14 and 19, 20, 21 from 6 pm to 8 pm each night.  Entrance is $3 for anyone older than 18 months.  Face painting and cookie decorating are an additional $1 each.  A photograph with Santa costs an additional $5.  Funds from the North Pole Village help support many of CRRC’s programs in our community to include the Crisis Food Pantry, Crisis Utility Assistance and Crisis Rental Assistance programs.  For more information, call 830-964-2324 or visit the web site at

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menu similar to the Dripping Springs Café: fried and grilled catfish, burgers, steaks and chicken-fried steaks, pork chops, soups and salad (“American fare”, Benjamin calls it) – and has added beer and wine (many from local breweries/vineyards) to the mix. A small bar off the entryway has the requisite TV for keeping up with the ballgame over a beer. Patios front and back bring the dining outside and host live music on Sunday afternoons. Plans are underway for a new breakfast menu and hours, expected later this fall. Ideas for more “family restaurants”

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Whimsical style of artist Shirley Hammett


By Maxine Mayes

ulverde water colorist, Shirley Hammett’s, artistic leanings surfaced at a very early age.“When I was just six, my mother wanted me to take piano lessons,” Shirley recalls. “But I was so shy that I was afraid of my teacher.” The shyness, the fear, and the fact that Shirley colored the pages of music in her student’s book instead of practicing them, led the piano teacher to suggest a switch from music to art. Shirley grew up in Corpus Christi where her parents owned a grocery store. By age 12 she was painting the weekly spe-

cials on the plate glass display windows. At about the same age Shirley did her first oil painting, a fine rendition of Donald Duck with his nephews in a boat. The ducks and the boat were contained within an oval against a black background, but water, a fishing line, and a cork were visible outside the scene’s boundaries. In retrospect, that painting seemed to foreshadow what would become Shirley’s practice of painting “outside the box.” In high school she was the cartoonist for the school newspaper and as an art major at Del Mar College she designed sets for plays produced by the student theater club.



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Most of her earlier endeavors were in the medium of oil, but she clearly recalls when her focus changed to water colors. “My husband was a career Air Force pilot which meant we moved around a lot. At one of his stations I took water color classes from a teacher on base. From then on that’s all I wanted to do.” While raising her three daughters, Shirley’s time for painting was somewhat limited, but for decades now she has found creative fulfillment and professional success with water color collages, a niche genre that allows her imagination free reign and gives her complete license to always color outside the box. Most of her work is whimsical, a word an online dictionary defines as “playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way” but which Shirley describes as “Weird!” Examples? A frog on tippy toes wearing a net tutu. “Always A Bridesmaid” (a big-eyed puppy adorned with a veil and pink posies). “Dr. Spot” (an adorable Dalmatian puppy sporting a stethoscope). A banana split topped with a pickle (an ideal gift for somebody expecting a baby). A cluster of oranges nestled beneath an actual net bag that oranges come packaged in. Shirley does a lot of “kitchen art,” especially fruits and vegetables and chickens. In “Sisters,” three hens stand on top of each other with the one in the middle all “gussied up” with painted toenails and bling. The materials Shirley uses for layering her paintings are endless. Dryer lint glued to a small square of water color paper translates to avant-garde art in her talented hands. Fringe from a white blouse that fell apart in the dryer serves as the stringy root ends of green onions. Fifty-yearold threads saved from sewing her girls’ clothes become believable corn silk. But it was a daughter’s suggestion that resulted in what might be called the signaSee SHIRLEY HAMMETT, page 9

“Dr. Spot” by Shirley Hammett. Photo by Carl Mayes.

“Sisters” by Shirley Hammett, a quirky piece of “kitchen art.” Photo by Carl Mayes.

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SHIRLEY HAMMETT, from page 8

Bulverde artist Shirley Hammett at work in her studio. RIGHT Shirley’s signature taco artwork. You can find Shirley’s work at the Starving Artist Gallery and the River Art Group Gallery, both in the historic arts village at La Villita in Downtown San Antonio. Photos by Carl Mayes. ture piece of Shirley’s career. “One day my oldest daughter said, ’Mom, why don’t you paint a taco?’ So I bought a giant package of yellow paper the color of cheese. After it was shredded I had three paper grocery bags crammed full.” Those fine strips of “paper cheese,” along with similar green strips for lettuce, crown all of her three-dimensional

taco paintings. A subtle outline of the Alamo appears on the taco shell, making the piece an ideal souvenir for the tourists who flock to the River Art Group and Starving Artist galleries in La Villita where Shirley exhibits. “La Villita is a favorite place for tourists,” Shirley explains, “so people from many countries have bought the tacos.

One time an international couple walked by and the lady said ‘Look at that enchilada,’ so I had to explain the difference.” At 78, Shirley has now spent most of her life “coloring,” but she rarely tires of creating quirky art in her home studio. “Sometimes,” she says, with a radiant smile, “I don’t even want to stop long

enough to go downstairs to fix supper.” FYI • Browse Shirley’s paintings at the Starving Artist Gallery (210-226-3593) and the River Art Group Gallery. (, 210-226-8752). both in La Villita, the historic arts village located at 418 Villita Street in downtown San Antonio. Both galleries are open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. You can meet Shirley in person any second Saturday at the River Art Group Gallery.

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Historic Texas maps make for great holiday gifting AUSTIN H Texas is so big even Santa needs a map, or three. Historical maps on the Texas General Land Office web site make quick, easy gifts for anyone who loves the Lone Star State and its colorful past. But best of all, proceeds from the sales preserve historic documents and help Save Texas History. “Buying a map at is not only a breeze, it will help preserve the very documents that tell the story of Texas,” says Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. “We receive no funding from the Legislature to preserve the priceless historical documents we are entrusted with — this is how we do it.” Maps from the General Land Office are not just beautiful and unique gifts, they’re educational, Jerry notes. “Texas history is an epic tale,” Patterson said. “These maps don’t just tell that history — they show it.” For example, he says, a German map of the Kingdom of New Spain — handdrawn in 1720 — shows that Texas began as a part of the Spanish Empire, ruled from Mexico. “The first illegal immigrants to Texas had names a lot like mine,” Jerry says. “Understanding our history gives you the context you need to better deal with the issues of today. Plus, this map just looks great on any wall.” A perennial top-seller is an 1845 commemorative map showing the full size of the Republic of Texas when it stretched all the way up to present-day Colorado. Another favorite is an 1889 map — the first of its kind — that shows Texas as it is today, and is decorated with period advertising around the margins. FYI • These and hundreds of other great maps can be found at Click the “search entire catalogue” button to go to our archive of over 80,000 city, county and state maps. Once on the archive page, select the “Bestselling Maps” search filter in red to see a set of more than 200 attractive maps specifically selected to be great gifts. Most maps at cost as little as $20. Online and phone orders before 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20th can be delivered by Christmas Day. Maps may be purchased at the General Land Office, 1700 N. Congress Ave., through Monday, Dec. 23. To search for maps, place orders, or make a monetary donation to the Save Texas History Program, visit www. or call the Land Office toll-free at 1-800-998-4GLO (4456).

New park exhibit recalls tragic day from a unique perspective JOHNSON CITY H “We all stood there in shock with the rest of the world,” recalls Richard “Cactus” Pryor, who was at the LBJ Ranch when he learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination November 22, 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park remembers the event’s 50th anniversary with a new exhibit describing that tragic day and the transition of power to President Johnson. The exhibit is located in the Hangar Visitor Center on the LBJ Ranch and will be on display for six months. The public is invited to not only view the exhibit, but also to contribute their own memories or reflections from that day in history.   From the breakfast speech in front of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, to the motorcade through Dallas, the swearing in of Johnson on Air Force One, to his brief speech at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, visitors can follow the timeline of events, with a special emphasis on Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson’s experiences.   The exhibit also includes a short video of Cactus Pryor, well-known Austin radio personality and longtime friend of the Johnson family, recounting his memories from that day. Cactus Pryor, Bess Abell, Dale Malechek, and other staff members and friends were preparing the LBJ Ranch for the arrival of the Kennedys later that same day. After getting the first reports from Dallas the staff gathered in the kitchen. While watching a small black and white television perched on top of a refrigerator they heard Walter Cronkite announce the death of President Kennedy.   In a recreation of what it may have felt like inside that kitchen, the exhibit includes a mock-up refrigerator and television set—including the now iconic image of Walter Cronkite—where visitors can post a short personal memory from that day: where they were, how they heard the news, how they felt, and how it impacted the nation. The shift of power from President Kennedy to President Johnson was exhibited when Johnson hosted his first state visit from West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard on the LBJ Ranch in late December 1963. The exhibit will showcase the famous “Stetson Statesmanship,” as Newsweek magazine called it, as President Johnson hosted a Barbeque for Chancellor Erhard in the school gym in nearby Stonewall.   FYI • The Hangar Visitor Center is located on the LBJ Ranch unit of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park as part of the self-guided driving tour. Permits are required to drive on the LBJ Ranch and can be obtained free of cost at the LBJ State Park located at 199 State Park Road 52 in Stonewall, from 9 am to 4:15 pm. The visitor center is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm and there is no cost to view the exhibits. For more information on this and other park activities visit the web site at or call 830-868-7128, extension 235.

Holiday lights park celebrates 11 years


By Linda C. Jacobson

Find us on Facebook. HillCountrySun

Melanie and Frank Bass. Photo courtesy Melanie and Frank Bass.

Wimberley & Dripping Springs locations Call or email for your customized session today


~BEvery I NFriday G O~ v 4 Early Bird Games 7:15pm ~ 50/50 Split v 10 Regular Games 8pm VFW Hall Post 6441 @ Veterans Park 4 mi. no. on RR 12 to Jacobs Well Rd Non Smoking • Plenty of Parking • Air & Heat • Food Available • 512-847-6441 • Lic. #1-74-6066562-7

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spirit and takes about 20 minutes to drive through. For a one-time visit at $28 per vehicle or a season pass of only $56 for unlimited visits, a drive through Santa’s Ranch is one of the most unique and economical holiday treats for families and friends to share — by the carload! FYI • Santa’s Ranch is located between New Braunfels and San Marcos, at 9561 I-35, two miles south of Tanger Outlet Mall. From New Braunfels, go about 6 miles on I-35 North to Exit 199 (Posey Road). Take the Exit 199 to the turn around and go back south on I-35 access road about 1 mile to the park entrance on the right. From San Marcos, go south on I-35 for about 2 miles to the Exit 199 (Posey Road). Take the exit and stay on the access road for about 1 mile to the park entrance on the right. Admission is $28 per vehicle; season passes (unlimited visits) are available for $56. The park is open every night through Jan. 4; hours are 6 pm to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 6 pm through 11 pm Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit the web site at or call 830-743-1293.

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ven before each season at Santa’s Ranch comes to a close, owner Frank Bass is already thinking up something new to add when the park reopens 10 months later. The drive-through Christmas light park, which opened for its 11th consecutive season November 1, features many new displays that have been in the works for months, Frank says. “We can’t wait for visitors to see what’s been added,” he says with a Santa-like twinkle in his eye. First, he says, “there are more lights than ever,” which is quite amazing considering that at last count they were already up to 1.5 million. And as much as everyone loves strings of colorful Christmas lights, it’s the themed displays that really light up the faces of children of all ages. “This year we’ve added a prehistoric area and many other surprises,” he says. Frank and his wife, Melanie, started Santa’s Ranch in 2003 after some similar parks in the area closed. Every year he recruits family members and a crew of Santa’s helpers to build dozens of scenes, run some than 75 miles of cords, and test the more than 1.5 million twinkling lights. Of course, the standard nativity scenes, reindeer and numerous Texasthemed displays are back. But a new area of which Frank is particularly proud of honors the military. “As Americans we are indebted to the men and women who fight for freedom,” Frank explains. “I wanted to express our appreciation to the military with a special display this year.” Located on Interstate 35 between New Braunfels and San Marcos, Santa’s Ranch fills 12 wooded acres with holiday



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Santa’s Ranch drive through Christmas lights park, located between New Braunfels and San Marcos, features nearly a mile of holiday lighted scenery, including more than 350 feet of drive-through tunnels, about 300 lighted characters and around 50 major scenes (including the town of Bethlehem, villages, a toy mill, cartoon characters and numerous Bible scenes. The drive takes about 20 minutes to complete. Photo courtesy Santa’s Ranch.


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NOTE: Dates or locations for the events listed in the Calendar may change. Some require admission fees or reservations. Please call ahead to confirm information. EVERY DAY GRUENE: Live music at Gruene Hall. Enjoy free music shows Monday through Thursday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. WIMBERLEY: (every day except Monday) Wimberley Glassworks gallery open daily 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. Glassblowing demos daily. SECOND SUNDAY BANDERA: Cowboy Camp. Live cowboy music at Frontier Times Museum. Free. 1 pm to 5 pm. 830-328-0321. JOHNSON CITY: Taste Wine + Art Music Events. Rockin’ gospel to Latin music at the Kirchman Gallery. 830-868-9290. SECOND AND FOURTH SUNDAY SAN MARCOS: Gypsy Moon performs at Palmer’s Restaurant Brunch. Enjoy music from popular duo from 11 am to 2 pm. 218 Moore Street. 512-353-3500. EVERY MONDAY CANYON LAKE: Seniors Bingo. 12:30 pm at Habitat for Safe Seniors, 2174 Old pm Road, Startzville. 830-899-2256. WIMBERLEY: Toddler Story Time at Wimberley Library. 10:30 am. 512-8472188, WIMBERLEY: Wimberley Community CYPRESS MILL: The Bunkhouse Gang at Wenmohs Ranch. Paint and enjoy fellowship of other artists. 830-825-3465.




WIMBERLEY: Hill Country Community Band. First Baptist Church. 512-858-7960. FIRST TUESDAYS BANDERA: Cowboy Capital Opry. Silver Sage Corral Senior Center. 830-7964969. THIRD TUESDAYS NEW BRAUNFELS: Country Music Show. Knights of Columbus. 830-6294547. LEANDER: Low Cost Pet Spay, Neuter and Vaccination. 512-260-3602, ext. 101. EVERY WEDNESDAY DRIPPING SPRINGS: Farmers Market. 3 pm to 7 pm at the Highway 290 and Ranch Road 12. March to December, rain or shine. WIMBERLEY: Farmers’ Market. Fresh produce, fresh breads, more at the Senior Citizen’s Activity Center. 512-264-1637. THIRD WEDNESDAYS DRIPPING SPRINGS: Cook Off Club meets at 6:30 pm in the VFW Hall. FOURTH WEDNESDAYS WIMBERLEY: Hill Country Neighbors. 10:30 am. Community Center. 512-8472849. EVERY THURSDAY DRIPPING SPRINGS: Coffee House with Light Dinners, Decadent Desserts and Open Mic. 6 pm to 9 pm. Thyme and Dough. 512-894-0001. FIRST THURSDAY BUDA: First Thursday. Stroll through the downtown antique and specialty shops, enjoy the food from downtown

Catch live Texas music from Roger Creager at Gruene Hall December 28. Photo courtesy Roger Creager.

restaurants. WIMBERLEY: YAPI (Young Artist Performance Incubator). Kids 18 and under perform. Maui Wowi. SECOND THURSDAY WIMBERLEY: Hill Country Bead Society Meets. Wimberley Community Center. 1 pm. For information, Marilyn Pierce at FIRST AND THIRD THURSDAY CANYON LAKE: Noon Lions Meeting at Canyon Lake Golf Club. 830-899-4406. THIRD THURSDAY WIMBERLEY: Susanna’s Kitchen Coffeehouse presents some of the best in Central Texas’ musical talent. Concerts held at Wimberley United Methodist Church, Corner Ranch Road 12 and County Road 1492. Doors open by 7 pm, concert at 7:30 pm. Free child care; tamales, pizza, pie, coffee and soft drinks available. Tickets at the door. For listing of performers, visit the web site at EVERY THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY WIMBERLEY: Live Music at Linda’s Fine Foods. 500 FM 2325. 512-847-5464. EVERY FRIDAY BLANCO: Tasting Room Open and Brewery Tours at Real Ale Brewing Company. CEDAR VALLEY: Free Wine Tasting and Art Gallery. 5 pm to 8 pm at Cedar Valley Spirits (across from Nutty Brown Cafe). GRUENE: Friday Afternoon Club at Gruene Hall. Broadcast live by KNBT92.1 FM Radio New Braunfels. 4 pm to 7 pm. 830-629-5077. WIMBERLEY: Bingo. VFW Hall on Jacobs Well Road. 512-847-6441. WIMBERLEY: Preschool Story Time at the Wimberley Village Library. Bring your little ones at 10:30 am. 512-8472188, WIMBERLEY: Celebrate Recovery. First

Baptist Church Youth Building. 7 pm to 9 pm, with pizza at 6:30 pm. 512-847-9035. SECOND FRIDAY CASTROVILLE: Friday Night Fever. Cars, trucks, bikes, food, shopping. 6 pm to 10 pm. Lundquist Automotive. www., 830-931-2479. WIMBERLEY: Wimberley Area Parkinsons Association Meeting. Chapel of The Hills Church, 11 am. For information, call Gae Koen, 512-847-7953. THIRD FRIDAY JOHNSON CITY: Cruise-In. See classic and collectable vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Free admission . FOURTH FRIDAY BANDERA: Fourth Friday Jam. At the Silver Sage Corral starting at 6:30 pm. Call 830-796-4969 for information. EVERY FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FREDERICKSBURG: Rockbox Theater. Renowned variety, music, and rock ‘n roll show, great family fun. 866-3496688. EVERY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY WIMBERLEY: Live Music. Linda’s Fine Foods. EVERY SATURDAY AUSTIN: Austin Farmers Market. Republic Square. 512-236-0074. AUSTIN: Sunset Valley Farmers Market. Barton Creek Mall. 512-280-1976. COMFORT: Comfort Area Farmer’s Market. 8 am to 1 pm. Comfort Park on Highway 27. COMFORT: Wine Tastings at High’s Café. 4 pm to 7 pm. DRIPPING SPRINGS: Texas Music and

Wine. FISCHER: Jackson Open Air Market. Local artists and farmers, food, fun and entertainment. 9 am to 5 pm. 6341 Farm Market 32. 830-935-2781. NEW BRAUNFELS: Canyon Trail Chuckwagon Supper and Cowboy Music Show. Evening of song and hearty dining. 830626-8200, 888-408-7245. WIMBERLEY: Tours of Jacob’s Well. Hear the stories about floods and scuba divers, experience beauty of spring that started town. 10 am. WIMBERLEY: Arnosky Family Farms Market. Fresh flowers, veggies, cheeses, more. Ranch Road 2325 and Highway 165. 830-833-5428. BANDERA: Market Days. 830-796-4447. BANDERA: First Saturday Book Sale. Public Library. 9 am to 1 pm. 830-796-4213. FIRST SATURDAY DRIPPING SPRINGS: Low Cost Pet Vaccinations. At Tractor Supply on Highway 290. 512-858-7229. WIMBERLEY: Market Days. (March through December). Everything you can’t live without at Lions Field. 7 am to 4 pm. FIRST AND THIRD SATURDAY WIMBERLEY: Toastmasters Public Speaking and Leadership Club. 10:30 am. Visitor’s Center. 512-913-4804. SECOND SATURDAY CASTROVILLE: Market Trail Days. Houston Square. 830-539-2316. THIRD SATURDAY MARBLE FALLS: Bluegrass, Country and Western, and Gospel. 6 pm to 10 pm. Boys and Girls Club. 830-898-1784.

Hill country calendar EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ROUND MOUNTAIN: Tours at Westcave Preserve. SECOND SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AUSTIN: Tours of Bright Leaf Natural Area. DECEMBER 1 CONCAN: Mimosas and Thanksgiving Sale at Cowgirl Loca. Stop by this fun boutique for a little holiday cheer. DECEMBER 1-8 WIMBERLEY: Wimberley Players present “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Based on the Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Shultz. Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday matinee at 2:30 pm. Wimberley Playhouse. DECEMBER 1-24 SEGUIN: Seiler Christmas Tree Farm. Cut your own tree. Open weekends 9 am to 6 pm, weekdays 4 pm to 6 pm. Turn right on Elm Creek Road at Smithey’s Store, follow signs on Jakes Colony road. 830-401-4590, 830-379-3468. DECEMBER 1-29 SAN ANTONIO: Smithsonian traveling exhibit, Native Words, Native Warriors, at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Exhibit tells the story of soldiers from more than a dozen tribes who used their Native languages while in service in the U.S. Military. DECEMBER 1-31 WIMBERLEY: EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens’ Trail of Lights. Sunday



through Thursday 6 pm to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 6 pm to 10 pm. DECEMBER 1 – JANUARY 1, 2014 JOHNSON CITY: Hill Country Christmas Drive Thru Lights Display. More than half a million lights illuminate this display nightly. Enjoy lights from the warmth of your car as you listen to our very own radio station that plays nonstop Christmas music. 512-955-1706, MARBLE FALLS: Walkway of Lights Open 6 pm to 10 pm (weather permitting). Lakeside Park. 830-693-4449. DECEMBER 1-30 SAN MARCOS: Santa’s Ranch Drive Thru Christmas Light Park. 100 displays and animations. Open Sunday to Thursday from 6 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 6 pm to 11 pm. DECEMBER 1 - JANUARY 5 FREDERICKSBURG: Eisbahn. Enjoy outdoor ice-skating at the Marktplatz. DECEMBER 4 WIMBERLEY: Tree Trimming and Cookie Exchange. Janelle Flocke demonstrates German tradition of creating ornaments with gingerbread molds. Make your own ornaments, materials provided. Admission is three dozen cookies to be enjoyed during the program and then to exchanged. Sign up, space is limited. 6 pm. Wimberley Village Library. Call Carolyn at 512-847-2188.


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Hill country calendar DECEMBER 4-7 SAN MARCOS: Sights and Sounds of Christmas. Enjoy an ice skating rink, giant snow globe, carnival, holiday music, the town of Bethlehem, and special appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Claus. San Marcos Plaza Park. DECEMBER 5 KERRVILLE: Symphony of the Hills Concert. Cailloux Theater. NEW BRAUNFELS: Wassailfest. Stroll through holiday lights and sample wassail from local merchants. 6 pm to 9 pm. Downtown. DECEMBER 6 AUSTIN: Seton Southwest Hospital Volunteers’ Holiday Bazaar — “A Midnight Clear.” Wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres while strolling the bazaar to live music. Silent auction, yule tree and private shopping featured. Tickets $20 each or two for $35. 6:30 pm to 9 pm. 7900 Farm Market 1826. 512-324-9018. BANDERA: Shopper’s Jubilee. See the

arrival of Mary and Joseph and lighting of Christmas decorations. Walk along Main Street, enjoy strolling musicians and merchants’ open houses. FREDERICKSBURG: Lighted Community Christmas Parade. Lighted night parade signals start of the holidays. Main Street. www.fredericksburg-texas. com. DECEMBER 6 UVALDE: Stargazing Party. 7:15 pm at Fort Inge Park. 830-934-2271. DECEMBER 6-7 BOERNE: Dickens on Main. Features live music, pet parade, lighted Weihnachts Parade at 6 pm Saturday, more. Downtown. DECEMBER 6 & 7, 13 & 14 JOHNSON CITY: First United Methodist Church Annual Christmas Program. Show for all ages and a great part of anyone’s Christmas. Five free shows each night, starting at 6 pm (last show at 8:30 pm). Each show lasts about 10 minutes. Children are welcome to pet the animals

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December 12, 13, 14 & 19, 20, 21 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Christmas Fun for the Whole Family Bakery r Post Office r Toy Land Ice Fishing r Elves House r Hayride Pictures with Santa $5 r Live Nativity Admission only $3.00 - 18 mos. & under Free! CRRC Recreation Center - Below Canyon Dam 125 Mabel Jones Dr - Canyon Lake • 830-964-2324 PAGE 14 DECEMBER 2013 R HILL COUNTRY SUN

after each show. Plus, large display of nativity scenes, free refreshments (cookies, hot chocolate and coffee). For more information, call 830-868-7414 or visit the web site at DECEMBER 6-8 WIMBERLEY: Community Chorus Concert. Chapel in the Hills. Email DECEMBER 6-15 FREDERICKSBURG: Holiday Wine Trail. Get your tickets online to receive a grapevine wreath to decorate with ornaments from 32 participating wineries on this self-guided tour. DECEMBER 7 BANDERA: Cowboy Campfire Christmas. Caroling, Christmas stories and a live nativity with camp coffee and hot chocolate. Bandera City Park. BANDERA: Holiday Parade. Welcome Santa to town at 11 am on Main Street. COMFORT: Live Music with Mike Blakely at Hill Country Pottery. 1 pm to 4 pm. Live music, local wine poured by Singing Water Vineyards, live pottery demonstrations, and reveal of newest pottery creations.  738 Farm Market 473. www., 830-446-2957. DRIPPING SPRINGS: Wesley Gallery Holiday Jewelry Trunk Show. Visit with the artists, enjoy refreshments, a glass of wine and shop for Christmas gifts. Anne Dee Thierry brings an expanded selection of her Pieces of Bali to show along with new designs from Debbie Scott, Julie Speir, Lee Carrell, Marianne Mitchell, Zanna James and March Mattingly., 888-806-0678. DRIPPING SPRINGS: Christmas on Mercer Street. Downtown. Arts, crafts, food vendors, more. Don’t miss the tree lighting at 6:15 pm. More information at, DRIPPING SPRINGS: Hill Country Holiday Gift Tour. Purchase ticket to participate, receive a holiday shopping bag to fill with special gifts at each stop along the way. 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets at Chamber of Commerce, 509 Mercer Street. JOHNSON CITY: 30th Annual Hill Country Toy Run. Starts at the Johnson City Courthouse at 9 am (arrive early for social time with coffee and donuts), the Bikers Toy Run heads west and swings through Fredericksburg, through Llano to of Cherokee, picking up bikers along the way. With Santa and a sleigh full of presents, the children of the Cherokee Home will be wide-eyed and smiling as Christmas joy is delivered and the motorcycle enthusiasts spend the afternoon with them. Event open to all. No fee. Motorcycle encouraged. Kevin Martin at 830-868-4007 or Lisa Lusk at 830-8687693. JOHNSON CITY: Timeless Christmas. LBJ Boyhood home will be lamp lit, an opportunity to experience family life at the Johnson’s house as it was during the 1920s. Walk the short trail to the Johnson Settlement to experience a late 830-868-

7128 ext. 231, WIMBERLEY: Market Days. Everything you can’t live without at Lions Market Pavilion. DECEMBER 7-8 BOERNE: Oma’s Christmas Craft Fair. Find the perfect gift at Kendall County Fairgrounds. BUDA: Buda Fest. Enjoy arts and crafts and live music all weekend, plus a 10 am parade Saturday. Downtown. GRUENE: Christmas Market Days. Gruene Historic District. 10 am to 5 pm. www. DECEMBER 7-8, 14-15, 21-22 JOHNSON CITY: Johnson City Courthouse Ornament Sale. Find ornaments, crafts, bird houses, postcards, bumper stickers and local cookbooks for sale. Blanco County Courthouse. 830-8687010. DECEMBER 7-23 AUSTIN: “The Nutcracker.” Presented by Ballet Austin at the Long Center. DECEMBER 8 WIMBERLEY: 2nd Annual Holiday Extravaganza supporting Wimberley HS Project Graduation 2014. Noon to 6 pm at the Wimberley Community Center. Vendor Booths selling lots of holiday gift items. Pictures with Santa, $5 sitting fee includes free photo. $3 admission gives you one chance at raffle drawings throughout the day. Contact for more information. DECEMBER 9 AUSTIN: Conspirare Christmas Concert. Holiday concert with singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster combines many musical genres into one experience. The Long Center. DECEMBER 12 DRIPPING SPRINGS: Wine and Cheese Art Opening at Brenham House Art and Antiques. 6 pm to 10 pm. 16746 Fitzhugh, just east of Ranch Road 12. 832-260-2526. SAN MARCOS: Destination’s Annual Andrews Sisters Revue Christmas Show at the Public Library. 8 pm. 625 East Hopkins Street. 512-393-8200 for more information. DECEMBER 12-14, 19-21 CANYON LAKE: CRRC North Pole Village. Pint sized Christmas village for kids, live Nativity, hay ride and more. 830-964-2324, www.crrcofcanyonlake. org. DECEMBER 13-14 FREDERICKSBURG: The Christmas Journey. Drive-through presentation of the Christmas story is depicted in multiple scenes, all with live characters and animals. Bethany Lutheran Church., 830997-2069. GRUENE: Jerry Jeff Walker. Live music at Gruene Hall. DECEMBER 14 AUSTIN: Central Texas Medical Orchestra, featuring Andrew Sords, Violin, and Guest Artist Sara Hickman. Dr. Robert Radmer, Conductor benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society.  7:30 pm LifeAustin Church 8901 West Highway 71. Tickets online $25.

DECEMBER 14 BURNET: Christmas at Old Fort Croghan. Families dressed in pioneer attire welcome visitors to celebrate the season as people did in the 1800s. 512-756-8281. FREDERICKSBURG: Tannenbaum Ball. Elegant evening with catered meal, live entertainment, dancing and auction. St. Mary’s Event Center., 830-990-8441. DECEMBER 14 FREDERICKSBURG: Christmas Party Dance at Pat’s Hall. Music begins at 8 pm. www., 830-997-7574. GRUENE: Jingle Bell Run/ Walk. 9 am in Historic District. 830-708-2991. SATTLER: Canyon Lake Christmas Parade. Santa’s arrival in Canyon Lake includes a flyover by the CENTEX Wing Commemorative Air Force. Gary P. Nunn plays the Luckenbach Christmas 11 am., Ball December 21. Photo courtesy Gary P. Nunn. 830-964-2461. STONEWALL: 44th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. LBJ State Park. WIMBERLEY: 6th Annual Winter’s Eve: mas Carol” by Charles Dickens in front A Christmas Festival. Meet Santa and of the fireplace, holiday hors d’oeuvres enjoy live music, food, holiday cheer and Yuletide music.  10 am to 5 pm. www. and late night shopping with merchants open ‘til 10 pm. Look for the big tent on DECEMBER 26 the Wimberley Square. www.wimber- FREDERICKSBURG: Zweite Weihnachten. Enjoy the German tradition, 512-847-3333. WIMBERLEY: Gypsy Moon. Live music of “Second Christmas” with delicious at Linda Allen’s Fine Food. 7 pm to 10 pm. food, live music and fellowship. 2 pm to 5 pm. Gillespie County Historical Society DECEMBER 14-15 WIMBERLEY: “Night of Alleluias.” A Social Hall, 312 West San Antonio Street. Enjoy this holiday Christmas Praise Con- 830-997-7928. cert presented by First Baptist Church of DECEMBER 27 Wimberley. Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday GRUENE: Cory Morrow in Concert. at 10:45 am. Free admission, childcare for kids under 5 available. www.fbcwimber- DECEMBER 28 FREDERICKSBURG: Candlelight Fever at the Pioneer Museum. Tour historic DECEMBER 17-24 AUSTIN: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. buildings decorated for the holiday seaShades of old Austin are reflected at this son, and enjoy live music and refreshmarket with eclectic gifts and live local ments. entertainment. Palmer Events Center. DECEMBER 28 GRUENE: Roger Creager in Concert. LUCKENBACH: Luckenbach Christ- mas Ball. Celebrate the season in a his- DECEMBER 31 toric dance hall with a concert by Gary P. FREDERICKSBURG: New Year’s Eve Party at Pat’s Hall. Music and dancing Nunn. starts at 8 pm. DECEMBER 21-22 DRIPPING SPRINGS: Ballet Southwest FREDERICKSBURG: New Year’s Eve Academy presents “The Nutcracker.” USO-Style Hangar Dance. Wear your Enjoy this family friendly version of the best 1940s-inspired outfit and enjoy holiday classic at the Austin Waldorf swing dance lessons and live music by School Performing Arts Center. 512-288- Bill Smallwood and The Lonestar Swing Orchestra. Hangar Hotel. 830-997-9990. 8282, BOERNE: Cowboy Christmas at En- LUCKENBACH: New Year’s Eve Celchanted Springs Ranch. Celebrate the ebration. Music by Drew Womack, plus magic of the season at this holiday enjoy breakfast tacos and champagne at western wonderland including kids’ ac- midnight. Advance tickets are required. tivities, animals, wagon rides, arrest-a- Luckenbach Dance Hall. www.luckenguest, puppet shows, skits, music, carol- ing, food, photos with Santa and much JANUARY 1, 2014 more. www.enchantedspringsranch. FREDERICKSBURG: Black-Eyed Pea and Cornbread Cook-Off. Comfort food com, 830-249-8222. STONEWALL: Becker Vineyards Boxing at Torre di Pietra Vineyards. www.texasDay Celebration. Reading of “A Christ-

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Hill Country Sun, December 13