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July/August 2018

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103 Main Street • Blanco, Texas A “CAN’T MISS SHOPPING EXPERIENCE” July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   5

H In this issue Brent Thurman Memorial

Bull Riding celebrates extraordinary man ..........8

Bracken Bat Cave

See more than 1.5 million bats emerge ............6

Exotic Resort Zoo

Animal adventure in Johnson City....................10

oping that you all had a wonderful July 4th and you’re out there enjoying every day in this amazing Hill Country we live in...or that you might be lucky enough to be visiting! We are truly blessed to have this area where we can take a day or two —or even a week or two— to see and do such incredible things. Tag us on our Facebook page and show us some of your Hill Country travels this summer. We want to see your adventures and images of this beautiful Texas Hill Country! Here’s one of ours on the Frio River... happy summer!

— Julie

Susan Gibson

Joyful, driven, musical passion ........................14

Julie Spell Harrington Publisher/Ad Sales 512-484-9716 •


Melissa Maxwell Ball Editor/Design

On the Frio with Suzy Moehring Mallard .........16

512-569-8212 •

Ernie Altgelt • Ernie Lee Suzy Moehring Mallard Writers Gerry Burns & Adelle Spell Distribution

Calendar of Events

Plan your next adventure! ................................19

ON THE COVER Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding (See story, page 8.) Photos courtesy BTMB.

Volume 28, Number 9 ISSN: 1524-2315. Entire contents © Copyright 2018 TD Austin Lane, Inc. •



Texas Hill Country Locator Map

© 2018 by TD Austin Lane, Inc.

6   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

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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Hill Country WONDER

BATS, from page 6

By Ernie Altgelt


peaking of bats, have you ever wondered where to find the largest single bat colony in the world? (And by large, folks, we’re not talking hundreds or thousands, but millions of these flying, flapping and frenzily feeding furry little fellows, all in one spot!) Well, wonder no more because, just north of San Antonio, nestled on the southern edge of our beloved Hill Country exists a geological marvel that, for thousands of years, has been playing host to humongous hordes of these extremely helpful, yet often harried, oh-so-adorable aerialists. Known simply as the Bracken Cave, named after the small (human) community that’s situated nearby, this unique natural declivity continually astounds with its massive, mostly monocultural composition that annually bequeaths many appreciated benefits to the surrounding countryside. Or, to put it simply, there’s a “hole” bunch of bats in Bracken – and, that’s really cool! The primary summertime tenants of the Bracken Cave are Mexican free-tail bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), a species that is native to the Americas and prefers living in large colonies. Ranging from the central United States south throughout Central America and then dipping into greater South America, these 3.5 inch flying torpedoes can reach horizontal air speeds nearing 100 miles per hour in their nocturnal dietary pursuit of flying insects. Their adult numbers in the Bracken Cave, estimated to number more than 15 million, also make this site one of the largest

Photo by Jonathan Alonzo / Bat Conservation International.

Photo by Jonathan Alonzo / Bat Conservation International.

concentrations of mammals of any kind, anywhere. Interestingly, all of the mature bats are females who come to the cave from Mexico each March and April to bare their young. After the birthings, the population can double. The males roost elsewhere. When winter nears, with the youngsters achieving independence, this teeming throng heads for warmer quarters back across our southern border. The limestone cave itself measures 650 long by 124 feet wide with a floor to ceiling height of 117 feet. It was obviously known

Bats emerging from Bracken Cave. Photo by Jonathan Alonzo / Bat Conservation International.

8   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

See BATS, page 7

by Native Americans since this area was widely populated by the same. European settlers first discovered the site in the mid1800s and considered it a curiosity of not much value. However, when the use of guano (bat poop) became popular for agricultural and military uses (the nitrates contained are excellent for the manufacture of gunpowder), Bracken Cave was mined extensively. Since the droppings had accumulated to a depth of 75 feet in some places, literally tons were excavated. A fact that most don’t realize is that before the discovery of oil, guano was Texas’ number-one mineral export. With the modern day use of synthetic chemicals, the demand for guano has waned and the bats like that just fine. And, while the colony enjoys the nurturing atmosphere within the cave, for the majority of us, it’s a highly toxic situation. With so many packed animals clinging above, producing waste and/or eventually dying and dropping, the resulting, lower-level accrual, due to high levels of ammonia and carbon dioxide, can be deadly. But, the cave isn’t exclusively a single species habitat. The guano is a much desired food source for various other residents including crickets, fleas and mites as well as six species of dermastid (flesh-eating) beetles, who all thrive on the cavern floor. However, the dark, odiferous interior is definitely not, people-friendly! Yet, the Bracken Cave is a boon to the surrounding environment. With its 15 to 20 million hungry inhabitants, scientists have estimated that up to 147 tons of insects are consumed nightly saving the region’s cotton farmers $740,000.00 in pesticide and crop damage costs. Worldwide, bats in general, through direct and indirect pollination, seed dispersal and pest control, also benefit other crops including coffee, chocolate, sugar, rice, agave as well as numerous fruits and nuts. Bracken Cave is now owned and ably stewarded by Bat Conservation International, a respected Austin-based non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of all of the Earth’s bats. Its mission is “to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet.” Members and their guests are invited to enjoy a summertime evening visit to the cave’s grounds to witness the daily dispersal of these laudable creatures as they corkscrew their way into the welcoming Texas Hill Country dusk. It’s an inspiring sight guaranteed to impress and further the notion that there really is a “hole” lot of bats in Bracken. FYI • For more information about Bracken Cave and Bat Conservation International, including membership, visit the website at





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Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding After 20 years... the final ride

10   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

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rent Cullen Thurman. He’s known as a gentleman who never met a stranger, the guy who made you feel like you were his best friend. The one you wanted to hang out with, who always had a grin on his face. He was one of the good guys, and a hero to many. Brent Thurman is not to be forgotten… not ever. His legacy as a compassionate and driven young man has left many treasured memories and a permanent reminder of what goodness and selflessness is all about. Brent Thurman truly cared about and loved people and life beyond measure with a real enthusiasm. “He lived everyday of his life exactly like he wanted. Brent lived more in 25 years than I could if I lived to be 100,” says his mother, Kay Thurman. Brent graduated from Dripping Springs High School in 1988 where he played football & ran track. He was even on a speed skating team as a child at “Hotwheels” (for our old school South Austin friends who remember that jewel of a place). But Brent’s true passion in life was bull riding. By the age of eight, he was fearless — possessing a unique style of riding (in which he carried his free arm lower than other riders and used his feet more than his upper body) which distinguished him even as a child. He was extraordinary and eventually ranked among the top 30 bull riders in the world. That amazing kid from Dripping Springs was headed to the top! Brent qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo in 1993, finishing fifth in final standings and 13th in the 1994 Crown Royal World standings. Little did we know that December 17, the tenth and final round of the 1994 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas would be the final ride of his career. Brent sustained an injury and never regained consciousness. One of the original founders of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Brent was recognized for his contribution and sport of bull riding when he was inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor in October 2011. Helping others was another of Brent’s passions. “He volunteered at Covington Junior High that at that time they had a program for special needs children,” explains Denise Henley. “When the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding first started, that program was still active so we were able to have them participate in the Exceptional Rodeo for many years.” “What sticks in my mind was a trip to take the class to the Travis County Livestock Show and Rodeo…. he was as taken with them as they were with him. Hours of fun rides, funnel cakes, touring ‘the car that Bonnie and Clyde were shot in,’ made the top of the list,” remembers Kay. “Brent and I both realized early in the trip that those children gave us much more than we could ever have given them. That particular day makes the ‘Top 10’ in my list of memories with Brent and I am so blessed to have so many.” Those who love Brent keep his memory and the legacy of love alive at the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding. This year’s final and 20th annual event is Friday and Saturday, September 21-22 at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. A Cow-

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boy Reunion & Auction with Jake Hooker & the Outsiders are planned Friday night, September 21, at Dripping Springs Ranch Park Banquet Hall at 6 pm. Saturday evening’s events begin at 5:30 pm, when “exceptional athletes” (adults of all ages who know challenge and adversity in their lives ) participate in rodeo events designed specifically for them. It is one of the highlights of the event. “Our association with Marbridge came from the first annual Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding. Marbridge was asked to be part of Brent’s Special Day and each and every one of them stole our hearts — many of the same athletes still compete today. They have an Equestrian Program at Marbridge and that is what our donations fund each year,” Kay shares. Your heart will be overwhelmed at the happiness you see in the faces of participants. And that is exactly what Brent would have wanted. The final and 20th Annual Memorial Bull Riding starts Saturday night at 7:30 pm. The People’s Choice Band performs at the dance immediately following the Bull Riding.Proceeds benefit Marbridge Ranch, Jason Walford Foundation, Red Arena and Special Olympics Area #13. For information about the Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding, visit or find the event on Facebook.

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Johnson City’s

Hill Country ADVENTURE


Summer Reading 2018 JUNE + JULY 2018


he Texas heat was rising fast at the Exotic Resort Zoo, and it was nice sitting in the cool morning breeze on the cedar porch in the shade waiting for the first tour to assemble. After some last minute morning chores, manager Donavan Trahan arrived and greeted us warmly. His parents, Dennis and Marilyn Backque, started the ranch back in 1995. Since then tens of thousands of visitors have toured the premises and fed the animals on the ranch, home to 500 animals of 80 species. Donavan handed us a bucket of feed pellets, and said we would be loading up for the 9 am tour out back, meanwhile, we were free to look around the camp. As we went out the back door to visit the petting zoo, a small, white goat inspected us from the enclosure. His big black eyes and pink nose were irresistible, and of course, he knew we were packing feed pellets. We paid him a toll, and passed on toward the very clean and tidy bathroom facilities. Not far down the path, we found the African Sulcata Tortoise. Water was running in his enclosure, and he was happily out in the early morning dew. When we came back 90 minutes later, we did not see him. Perhaps he was aestivating by then. These hard-shell critters are from the Sub-Sahara Africa. To cope with the heat, they go underground in burrows they dig for themselves. They’re not hibernating down there; they just

By Ernie Lee hang out underground where it is cool and comfortable. There were a few rules for feeding the animals: feed with flat open hands, no running or chasing the animals, and keep all gates closed. The open hands policy saved a few of my fingers, I am sure. After watching the porcupines and other smaller animals in the petting pen, we saw the handlers feeding the ring-tailed lemurs, one of whom had two babies firmly attached — one anchored to her back, the other slung from her belly. We were advised not to feed the lemurs because they are fiercely protective, especially of their young. The petting pens held ponies, llamas, kangaroos, wallabies, and plenty of goats. Be careful you don’t spend all of your feed pellets in one place. Soon, it was time to “load up” for the tour. Loading up was easy, even for the few old-timers we had in our group (ourselves included). A couple of short steps, and you could sit along the sides of the wagon with plenty of legroom. The motion of the wagon made the morning even more pleasant, as we moved off down the roads cut through the grassland and meadows. We passed some cages of large hooved animals, like kudu and elands on the way to the open range. Once through the big

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See ZOO, page 12

Just a few of the many interesting and unusual faces you’re likely to encounter at the Exotic Resort Zoo. Photo courtesy Exotic Resort Zoo.

12   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

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on’t miss the 7th Annual Gunner Thames Memorial Rodeo Saturday and Sunday, September 1-2, in the Chester Frank Arena at Wimberley’s Veterans Park. Proceeds from this CPRA rodeo event go to raise funds for scholarships for deserving youth rodeo athletes, for area Youth 4H and FFA projects, and to a crisis fund to benefit area youth. Photo courtesy Brenda Thames. For more information, visit

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he 7th Annual Dripping Springs Fair and Rodeo will return to Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center July 2729, with thrilling rodeo action, live entertainment, a steer show, a Mutton Bustin’ Shootout, good food and drinks, kids’ activities and lots of family fun. Saturday night’s CPRA Rodeo will begin at 8 pm and includes the Mutton Bustin’ finalists. For details, visit


abor Day weekend, enjoy a beauty pageant, artisans, vendors, music and more in Oatmeal, Texas, Friday starting at 5 pm and fun family activities in downtown Bertram Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm. A Saturday evening dance features Jarrod Birmingham with Drew Moreland. The local fest is held to raise scholarship money for local youth. For complete details, visit

Exotic Resort Zoo, from Page 10 gate, it did not take long for our wagon to become surrounded at every stop. Winding into other fields, we saw several residents of the ranch. The giant ostriches were aggressive. Hang on to your feed bucket — these guys will snatch it away from you faster than you can blink an eye! We also learned a few things about zebras on the tour. The stipes on a zebra are unique to each animal, and you can identify individuals by the pattern. Zebras can run almost 35 mile per hour, and they are not always white with black stripes but can be black with white stripes. This coloration is a major protection in the wild, as together in a herd they sort of blend in, and it’s hard for a lion to pick out just one. The further back on the ranch we got, the bigger the animals became. The camels were both one and two-humped — tall, gangly creatures, with big lips and fuzzy noses. The shaggy bison seemed kings of the ranch. One snort and a toss of 14   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

its massive head, and every other animal around scattered. The ranch’s welcoming cedar cabins — available for overnight stays — looked inviting, and I’ll bet that catch and release fishing pond has some lunkers hiding in it. I plan to go back and find out soon. The stars on cloudless nights must shine like diamonds. Our tour ended and it was time to go, but not before we enjoyed a cold drink at the snack bar. My feed bucket was empty, and I had barely broken a sweat —now that’s the best way I know to visit the zoo. When visiting the Exotic Resort Zoo, stay on Highway 281 four miles north of Johnson City. You will see the big ZOO signs on the east side of the road, on Zoo Road. Tours run from 9 am to 5 pm year-round (except Thanksgiving and Christmas days). The cabins are available year-round. For more information and reservations, visit or call 830-868-4357.

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Hill Country MUSIC

the joyful sound of

Remarkably, Susan never “planned” on a career in music (she wanted to be a forest ranger) but, with so much innate By Ernie Altgelt | Photo by Dave Hensley talent in being able to tell a moving story while melodically accompanying herself, in retrospect, her current situation seemed inevitable. olks that are really great at something generally are that Today, the willing troubadour, while always writing, way because of the personal fulfillment derived from spends a lot of time, as she relates, “gigging.” She explains their actions. In other words, they just love what they do that, for her, “Touring means staying away from home for and, it shows in all aspects of their accomplishments. weeks or months,” something she’d prefer not to do. Yep, being on the receiving end of a positive emoGigging translates more into a “going back and forth” tional reward truly is one powerful incentive and tends to keep existence traveling from her beloved Wimberley property to those that can, doing wonderful things. And fortunately, for wherever the current venue is then returning that same day those of us who can appreciate outstanding accomplishment, – which is just the way she likes it. However, Susan has perthat’s more than just fine, that’s really great too. formed extensively all over the nation, as well as in Sweden Wimberley’s Susan Gibson is an extraordinary exemplar of and the UK. someone who, aided by this joyful, driven passion, is able to So, what about her music? Well, to her ever-growing excel, in all ways, at her craft. As an obviously talented singer fan base (and that includes a number of trade notables), and songwriter, this perfectly-attuned professional continues it’s all incredible. Her heart-felt lyrto make her mark, repeatedly, through ics, strongly delivered, coupled with her exceptional music, winning praise Wimberley’s Susan some expertly rendered guitar and/or for her work across multiple, appreciawork mesmerize any audience tive spectrums, while treasuring every Gibson is an extraordinary banjo – whether Country/Western, folk or minute of the effort involved. Don’t exemplar of someone who, ballad oriented. The songs are mostly believe it? Well, give Susan a listen and rooted in truth and often refer to her you too will see/hear that she truly aided by joyful, driven family. loves what she does and it shows! passion, is able to excel— With four well-received albums to She was born in Minnesota into her credit along with a number of ina very nurturing family headed by a in all ways— at her craft. dustry accolades – she was Songwriter railroading father and a schoolteacher of CMA Single of the Year for “Wide mom. With her dad’s job in transportaOpen Spaces” (covered by the Dixie Chicks), the BMI Writer tion, the Gibsons were kept “on the road,” often moving from of the Year 1999, inducted into the West Texas Music Hall of town to town. Fame in 2009 as its Entertainer of the Year and, an Official As a result, a young Susan garnered lots of experiences Folk Alliance Showcase Artist for 2010 and 2011 – her cregrowing up that a more sedentary existence wouldn’t have dentials are unassailable. She is just plain good! provided. As she relates, “It wasn’t always fun picking up and So, now that you’re intrigued, the next time you hear starting over but, it did instill a certain degree of confidence that Susan Gibson is on the ticket, sign up quick because in my ability to make my own way.” Eventually, Texas (in Amyou’ll cherish what you see and hear as much as she will rearillo) was the assignment and, after that, the Lone Star State spond to your approbation. remained her, and the Gibson family’s, permanent home. As she openly and adamantly admits, “I really do love During her childhood years, with her father’s approval, all the parts of playing and making music” and, as long as Susan’s mom (a piano teacher, too) encouraged her daughter that deep emotional connection remains intact, we can be to be musical. Discovering harmonies, Susan, when paired assured that she’ll continue to audibly and expertly make us with her sister, were able to produce exquisite sounds, occalaugh and cry, relate and reflect and, most importantly, feel sionally with their mother joining in. as well. Always strong pretty darn good about everything. of voice and not timid about performing, Susan participated Thank you Susan Gibson, for loving your craft because, it in her schools’ and churches’ choirs contributing ably. definitely shows! Eventually, as a teenager, she got her first guitar and beFor more information about Susan Gibson and her music, ingan composing songs. It wasn’t long before she, as a solo act cluding upcoming performances and releases, visit her website at and in a band, was on stage wowing audiences. And the rest, as they say, is history.


16   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   17

Hill Country PARKS

On the Frio

Turn your guns into CASH! BUY • SELL • TRADE

A column by Suzy Moehring Mallard


his is the time of year that you’ll find me on the Frio. I’ve come to Leakey to the Frio River during the week of Leakey’s July Jubilee Parade since my 25-year-old grandson was a sixth grader, so 13 years or so. Our Austin friends LaNell and Art Coltharp and Herb and Judy Wilson started coming to the Frio for the Fourth of July when their kids were babies, and those babies have grown kids now – so a long, long time – and then they invited a few friends, and before they knew it, it was an annual happening. Our group of about 70 takes over most of the cabins at River Haven and some of the cabins at Leakey Springs, and we spend a week doing nothing except lolling in the Frio, doing a few tube rides down the river, and having a big pot luck supper together under the oak trees at River Haven. Oh, and our River Haven Lawnchair Brigade marches in the parade on Saturday. Besides all that lolling and tubing and eating and parading, we do get out and about. One year, my friend Cathy Glazener asked me if I wanted to go with a group to Lost Maples State Natural Area for a little hike. I swear she called it a little hike. It was beautiful, and our hike included some steep uphill climbs, some shady times along the Sabinal River, a waterfall along a little creek, cliffs, lots of blooming wildflowers, including buttonbush brimming with butterflies – but it wasn’t a little hike. We almost missed supper back at River Haven. Lost Maples has 10 miles of trails, and I’m pretty sure we hiked all the

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trails. The drive to Lost Maples from Leakey was full of windy roads and hilly vistas across the canyon, so that was a big bonus. Several times, we’ve gone to Garner State Park near Concan – a couple of times I’ve chaperoned the

Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool. Photo © Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. 18   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

“The Austin gun store without an attitude”

Frio River at Garner State Park. Photo courtesy Visit Uvalde County,

youngest kids in our group at the dance on the pavilion, and we’ve also splashed around in the Frio in the afternoons under those big cypress trees. No rope swinging for me, but plenty of our kids did. Garner is hosting Summer Hayrides through August 9 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7 pm ’til 8 pm. As the old-school hay trailer goes through the park, you’ll hear stories about the history of Garner State Park. Register at the Visitor Center from 9 am to 3 pm and pay your $5 and you’re all set. And Garner has 11 miles of trails in its 1,700 scenic acres of Hill Country terrain. This year, I’m hoping to make it to Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area and make one of the tours tours from Rocksprings to see the big colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that make their home in the enormous vertical cavern that might be be the largest one-chamber cavern in Texas. It starts out at 50 feet wide and 140 feet deep,

Mark A Thompson DDS MS Specialist in Orthodontics

Located in the old Dumas Train Depot

512-858-2916 •

Corner of Ranch Road 12 @ Highway 290 West

9300 Hwy 290 W • 512-394-0125

HELPING YOU LIVE BETTER The YMCA of Austin is here to help active older adults live better and enjoy life more. Whether you’re looking to remain fit, recover from an injury, relieve arthritis pain, or you just want to connect and have fun with your peers, the Y is the perfect place to start. LEARN MORE AT



SAVINGS OF $48 For New Members 65 or Older *Offer valid for in-person registration only. Not valid for online registration. Springs Communities YMCA 27216 Ranch Rd 12 | 512.894.3309

See PARKS, page 18 July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   19

Canyon Bass’ amazing rides

Hill Country PARKS, from page 16


then the shaft widens out to 320 feet and drops 350 feet deep. And when I say big colony of bats, that means three million streaming out as the sun sets and they wake up to go hunting across the Texas Hill Country. Evening Bat Flight tours are Wednesdays through Sundays through the end of October. Reservations to watch the bat flight need to be made at the Rocksprings Visitors Center on the town square. And tours are the only way to see Devil’s Sinkhole, so whatever you want to do needs to start at the visitor center in Rocksprings. [ Ed. Note: Another amazing bat flight nearby is the Frio Bat Flight Tour — the world’s second largest bat flight open to the public — at Frio Cave near Concan. There, you’ll witness 10-12 million bats emerge. Check the website at www/ for more information on tours, held nightly in the summer (weather permitting).] I’m talking big here about going off on an excursion. The pull of our part of the Frio River is great. Our cabins at River Haven sit on a cliff above a part of the Frio with huge cypress trees forming an island, a gravel bar at one end giving us a place to sit and visit, and a natural dam at the other end making a shady little swimming and fishing area. I’ll probably just stay in the water -- swimming, floating, doing nothing.

Sabinal River. Photo by Tom Wiley.

alented and hardworking young bull rider, Canyon Bass, of Wimberley has won both the 2018 Texas Junior High State Champion Bull Rider and World Champion Junior High Bull Rider titles. Canyon, an eighth grader, also had the high point ride of the week at the World Championship in Huron, South Dakota, in June, where he competed against close to 1,000 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia and Mexico. Congratulations to Canyon and his parents, Clay and Stephanie Bass, along with the rest of his family, on these remarkable accomplishments!



September 22, 2018 • 7:30 pm Dripping Springs Ranch Park 29401 Ranch Rd 12, Dripping Springs, TX 78620 Texas/World Jr. High champ Canyon Bass.

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Frio Bat Flight near Concan. Photo courtesy LeAnn Sharp.

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• 1204 CR 350 • PO Box 72 • Concan, TX 78838 Texas’ largest tree at Crider’s in Concan. Photo by Melissa Ball. 20   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

Canyon Bass in action at the 2018 World Championships. Photos courtesy Bass family.

Dripping with Taste Food & Wine Fest is September 8 DRIPPING SPRINGS H The 11th annual Dripping With Taste Wine and Food Festival September 8 from noon to 6 pm offers an afternoon of food, wine and spirits, demonstrations, grape stomping, live music and much more at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. More than 80 vendors will be on hand for the event, offering artisan shopping and a variety of food and wine related merchandise. This year, Chef Andrew Striver of Vista Brewing will lead a foodie discussion. He is known for showcasing each ingredient in creative ways by blending classic and modern techniques. Dress casually for an afternoon of fun enjoying the flavors of the Hill Country. Presale tickets are $40, available now. For information and tickets, visit the website at www.

Friday night • September 21 Cowboy Reunion & Auction Jake Hooker & the Outsiders 7 pm

Saturday night • September 22 Exceptional Rodeo Event 5:30-6:30 pm Bull Riding 7:30 pm People’s Choice Band 10 pm

Produced by Bo Davis, DVS Productions. Proceeds benefit Marbridge Ranch, the Jason Walford Foundation, RED Arena & the Special Olympics July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   21

Savor the flavor of Dripping Springs & beyond at the 11th Annual

Hill Country CALENDAR NOTE: Dates and/or locations for the events listed in the Calendar may change. Some require admission fees or reservations. Please call ahead to confirm. EVERY DAY

GRUENE: Enjoy great, live music at Gruene Hall. There are free music shows Monday through Thursday nights, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. EVERY SUNDAY

BEE CAVE: Thundering Paws Pet Adoption. Noon to 4 pm at PetSmart. 512-402-9725. HELOTES: Family Night and Free Dance at John T. Floore Country Store., 14492 Old Bandera Road. 6 pm. SECOND SUNDAY

BANDERA: Second Sunday Music Fest. Afternoon of music, food, and fun at Frontier Times Museum. JOHNSON CITY: Taste Wine + Art. Kirchman Gallery. 830-868-9290.

CYPRESS MILL: Bunkhouse Gang at Wenmohs Ranch. Paint and enjoy fellowship of artists. 830-825-3465. EVERY TUESDAY

SAN MARCOS: San Marcos/ Wimberley Area Community Bible Study. Interdenominational Bible Study of Daniel and Revelations begins September 4 through May 7, 2019. Men, women, couples, Spanish, youth and children. 6:30 8:00 pm. (New Members Reception August 28, 6:30-7:30 pm) First Christian Church, 3105 Ranch Road 12. 512-808-9156 to register. WIMBERLEY: Hill Country Community Band Rehearsal. First Baptist Church. 7 pm. EVERY TUESDAY - SUNDAY

CANYON LAKE: Seniors Bingo. 12:30 pm at Habitat for Safe Seniors, 2174 Old Road, Startzville. 830-8992256.

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Farmers Market. 3 pm to 6 pm at Highway 290, Ranch Road 12.


DS Ag Boosters City of Dripping Springs and the


Pre-Sale Tickets $40 at 22   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Cook Off Club. 6:30 pm. VFW Hall. Email ryoncrew@ WIMBERLEY: Heart of Texas Genealogy Society meets at

Great Hill Country

Pumpkin Patch Open October 6-29

Saturday, Sunday & Monday 10am-4pm

Love Creek Orchards 830-589-2202 13558 State Hwy16 N • Medina,Texas 78055

July 27 Friday July 28 Saturday

CPRA Rodeo - 8:00 pm

July 29 Sunday

Team Roping - Books Open 9:00 am; Roping Begins 10 :00 am

Slack - 9:00 am Vendors, Petting Zoo, Mechanical Bull, Kids Activities From 10:00 am—4:00 pm CPRA Rodeo 8:00 pm

All Daily Events except CPRA Rodeo are free to Spectators Mutton Bustin’ Signup Begins - 6:30 pm each night

Chef Andrew Striver of Vista Brewing

Artisan Shopping Live Music Grape Stomping & More!


Schedule of Events

Dripping Springs Ranch Park Wine • Distilled Spirits Brewed Fermentations Local, Fresh Fare Chef Demo featuring

Songrwriter’s Circle. Talented musicians perform original songs throughout the night. You never know who might walk in and perform at Cheatham Street Warehouse. 8 pm. WIMBERLEY: Farmers’ Market. Senior Citizen’s Activity Center, Ranch Road 12. 512-264-1637.

The pumpkins are coming! Don’t miss the


DRIFTWOOD: United Methodist Church Bluegrass Gospel Sing-along Service. 11 am. 512-944-6300


KERRVILLE: Kerr County Farmer’s Market. Rain or shine, market offers array of seasonal fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, meat, farm eggs, honey, fresh baked goods, more. River Star Arts & Event Park. www. NEW BRAUNFELS: Veteran Music Group at VFW Post 7110. 5 pm to 8 pm. Open to all veterans, all skill levels. Song writing, guitar, keyboard, more. 600 Peace Avenue. Gary Walter, 512-460-9919. SAN MARCOS: Kent Finlay’s

WIMBERLEY: Glass Blowing Demonstrations at Wimberley Glassworks. BANDERA: Cowboy Capital Opry. Silver Sage Senior Center. 830-7964969. GRUENE: Swing Dance Lessons and Two-Ton Tuesday at Gruene Hall.


Saturday, September 8 12 pm to 6 pm


Tickets To Rodeo


5 & Under Free 6-12 $10 per night Adults $15 per night $5 daily car pass Dripping Springs Ranch Park 1042 Event Center Dr. Dripping Springs, Texas 78620

27-29, 2018 July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   23

Hill Country CALENDAR Wimberley Village Library. 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm. FOURTH WEDNESDAY

WIMBERLEY: Meeting of the Hill Country Neighbors. 10:30 am. Community Center. 512-847-2849. EVERY THURSDAY

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Coffee House with Light Dinners, Desserts, Open Mic. 6 pm to 9 pm. Thyme and Dough. INGRAM: Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market. Highway 39 & Old Ingram Loop. 2 pm to 7 pm. 830-367-2800. FIRST THURSDAY

DRIPPING SPRINGS: First Thursday. Events, food and music plus special sale items. 5 pm to 9 pm. DRIPPING SPRINGS: Vince F. Taylor American Legion Post 290 of Dripping Springs meets at 7 pm. 512-858-5637. FIRST & THIRD THURSDAY

CANYON LAKE: Noon Lions Meeting. Canyon Lake Golf Club. 830-899-4406. SECOND THURSDAY

WIMBERLEY: Hill Country Bead Society. Wimberley Community Center. 1 pm. Marilyn Pierce, mp@ SECOND & FOURTH THURSDAY

WIMBERLEY: Toastmaster Club. Learn public speaking, leadership. 7 pm to 8 pm at the Community Center,14068 Ranch Road 12. 512847-6822. THIRD THURSDAY

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Dripping Springs VFW Post 2933 meets at 7 pm. 512-858-5637. WIMBERLEY: Susanna’s Kitchen Coffeehouse presents some of best in Hill Country music. Pie, tamales, pizza, coffee, soft drinks available. Doors 7 pm, music 7:30 pm. WIMBERLEY: Third Thursday. Shops stay open ’til 8 pm. EVERY THURSDAY - SATURDAY

WIMBERLEY: Live Music at Linda’s Fine Foods. 500 FM 2325. facebook. com/LindasFineFoods. EVERY THURSDAY - SUNDAY

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Craft Beer Tasting, Free Tour at Twisted X Brewing Co. EVERY FRIDAY

BLANCO: Tasting Room Open & Brewery Tours at Real Ale Brewing Company. WIMBERLEY: Bingo. Family friendly fun at the VFW Hall on Jacobs Well Road. 512-847-6441. GRUENE: Friday Afternoon Club. This quintessential happy hour celebrates warmer weather with great beer prices, prize giveaways, and the best in Texas tunes broadcast live by KNBT 92.1 FM Radio New Braunfels. FIRST FRIDAY

BANDERA: Knights of Columbus 24   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

Fish Fry. 5 pm at St. Joseph’s Hall. FREDERICKSBURG: First Friday Art Walk. Tour galleries, enjoy demonstrations, plus refreshments, extended hours. MARBLE FALLS: Art Walk. 5 pm to 8 pm. SECOND FRIDAY

BANDERA: Medina Community Jam Session. Bring a covered dish, snack or dessert. Medina Community Center. UVALDE: Four Square Friday. Shopping, food, music, art. 6 pm to 9 pm. FOURTH FRIDAY

BANDERA: Fourth Friday Jam. Music at Silver Sage Corral. 6:30 pm. 830-796-4969. EVERY FRIDAY - SUNDAY

FREDERICKSBURG: Shows at Rockbox Theater. Variety, music rock ’n roll show. 866-349-6688. EVERY SATURDAY

AUSTIN: Austin Farmers Market. Republic Square. 512-236-0074. BANDERA: Cowboys on Main. See cowboys, steers, horses, wagons, strolling cowboy musicians, gunfighters, more Western-themed action on Main Street Downtown. BANDERA: Flying L Chuckwagon Dinner Enjoy barbecue, wagon rides, roping lessons, hat and pistol branding, archery, old-time photos, cowboy stage show, gunslingers, line dancing, and more. Flying L Hill Country Resort. BOERNE: Tejas Pro Rodeo Series Live Rodeo. Gates 5 pm, rodeo at 7:30 pm. Live music and dancing 9 pm. BOERNE: Farmer’s Market. 9 am to 1 pm. More information at www. DRIPPING SPRINGS: Texas Music and Wine. FISCHER: Jackson Open Artisan and Farmers Market. 9 am to 5 pm. 6341 Farm Market 32., 830935-2781. HUNT: Rodeo, Live Music and Dancing at Crider’s Rodeo and Dance Hall. 830-238-4441, www. NEW BRAUNFELS: Farmers Market, 186 South Castell Avenue. NEW BRAUNFELS: Chuckwagon Supper and Cowboy Music Show. WIMBERLEY: Tour Jacob’s Well. Hear stories about floods, divers, and experience beauty of the spring that started the town of Wimberley. 10 am. WIMBERLEY: Arnosky Family Farms Market. Ranch Road 2325 and Highway 165. 830-833-5428 WIMBERLEY: Saturday Evening Dinners at the Blair House Inn.

UTOPIA: Lunch and Dinner Served at Laurel Tree. FIRST SATURDAY

BANDERA: Market Days on the Courthouse Square. 830-796-4447. BANDERA: First Saturday Book Sale. Public Library. 830-796-4213. BANDERA: Bandera Cattle Company Gunfighters. Re-creating shootouts and daily life of the Old West. Shows are at high noon and 2 pm. Bandera Visitors Center. BANDERA: Cowboys on Main. See and interact with a sample of the Old West cowboy lifestyle on Bandera Main Street. Cowboys on Main. DRIFTWOOD: Community Club. Group meets to enhance community spirit. Dinner 7 pm. KERRVILLE: Kerr County Market Days and Hill Country Swap Meet. Two events in one location. Hill Country Youth Exhibit Center. Free admission, WIMBERLEY: Market Days. Oldest outdoor market in the Hill Country and second-largest in the state features 475 -plus booths of art, crafts, antiques and treasures. Lions Field. SECOND SATURDAY

CASTROVILLE: Market Trail Days. Houston Square. 830-539-2316. WIMBERLEY: Second Saturday Gallery Trail. 15 galleries around Square stay open late offering art, wine, appetizers. Facebook. com/ SecondSaturdayGalleryTrail. EVERY SATURDAY & SUNDAY

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Craft Beer Tasting and Free Tour at Twisted X Brewing Company, live music and food. 23455 West Ranch Road 12. ROUND MOUNTAIN: Tours at Westcave Preserve. FIRST/LAST SATURDAY-SUNDAY

LAMPASAS: Trade Days. Meet artists and craftsmen who create one-of-a-kind items, from antiques, collectibles, quilts, and crafts, to folk/fine art, home furnishings. SECOND SATURDAY-SUNDAY

AUSTIN: Tours of Bright Leaf Natural Area. FOURTH SATURDAY-SUNDAY JOHNSON CITY: Market Days. Information at MOST SATURDAYS

BANDERA: Bandera Cattle Company. Gunfighters Experience the excitement of the Wild West with the award-winning Bandera Cattle Company Gunfighters, re-creating shootouts and daily life of the Old West. Shows at high noon and 2 pm. JULY 12-15, 19-22

WIMBERLEY: “Little Shop of Horrors.” The Wimberley Playhouse.

JUY 14-15

KERRVILLE: 3rd Annual Summer Market. Vendors from across Texas offering art, jewelry, clothing and accessories, gourmet food and gift items. Inn of the Hills. JULY 14-29

WIMBERLEY: “Robin Hood.” Part of the children’s theatre series. Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens, 1101 Farm Market 2325. JULY 14, 28

BOERNE: Hot Rod Night. Reminiscent of old-fashioned Americana street parties—a gathering place for old and new friends. Soda Pops, 103 North Main. JULY 20

BOERNE: Star Party. Astronomyfilled event features star experts with telescopes for dazzling nightsky experiences. Bring blankets, chairs, and bug spray. Boerne City Lake Park, 1 City Lake Road. JULY 21

FREDERICKSBURG: Night in Old Fredericksburg. Celebrate the heritage of the Texas Hill Country with a barbecue and chili cookoff, live music, food, drinks, and more. Gillespie County Fairgrounds, 530 Fair Drive. JULY 21-22

FREDERICKSBURG: Fredericksburg Trade Days. Shop more than 400 vendors or relax in the biergarten listening to live music. FREDERICKSBURG: Live Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing. Gillespie County Fairgrounds. JULY 22

FREDERICKSBURG: PCAA Concert in the Park presents Johnny P & The Wise Guys. Bring your chairs, eats, and drinks. Marktplatz, 100 block of West Main. SAN MARCOS: Don’t Tread on My Tri! Swim in beautiful Spring Lake, bike with epic views of the Hill Country, and run around Spring Lake area during this classic triathlon. Meadows Center. JULY 24-27

KERRVILLE: 73rd Annual Heart of the Hills Golf Tournament. Nonprofit event committed to giving back to the local community while providing a friendly, competitive game. Scott. JULY 26-29

FREDERICKSBURG: “Seussical Jr.” Dr. Seuss’ best-loved characters collide and cavort in musical caper as the Cat in the Hat narrates story of Horton the Elephant. Presented by Fredericksburg Youth Theater. JULY 27

BANDERA: Texas Heroes Hall of Fame. The Frontier Times Museum July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   25

Hill Country CALENDAR celebratesthe National Day of the American Cowboy by inducting great Texans into their Texas Heroes Hall of Honor. 510 13th Street. JULY 27-29

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Dripping Springs Fair and Rodeo Showcasing the finest in rodeo skills, food and drink, live music, and entertainment.Arts and crafts vendors and kids’ activities. Dripping Springs Ranch Park. dripping FREDERICKSBURG: 41st Annual Hill Country Auto Swap Meet. Car corral, flea market offers free parking, free shuttle service on Saturday, concessions. Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. KERRVILLE: “Seussical the Musical” The Playhouse 2000 Summer Musical Camp performs, featuring students ages 5-18. Cailloux Theater. JULY 28

JOHNSON CITY: Art Walk. Galleries are open from 4 pm to 8 pm with adult beverages and snacks provided. Nugent Avenue and Main Street. BANDERA: National Day of the American Cowboy. Bandera Cattle Company Gun Fighters, ranch rodeo, Native American exhibits, picker’s circle, chuckwagon breakfast, much more. JULY 28-29

JOHNSON CITY: Market Days. Local artisans offering handmade items, bakery goods, jewelry, plants and food. City Park, US Highway 290 and Avenue G. KERRVILLE: Texas Gun and Knife Show. New and used guns, knives, gold and silver coins, jewelry, camping gear, military supplies, and more. Kerr County Hill Country Youth Event Center. KERRVILLE: 15th Annual UGRA River Clean Up. Community event to remove trash from the Guadalupe River and raise awareness about the problem of litter in the community. Flat Rock Lake Park, 3840 Riverside Drive. cleanup.html, 830-896-5445. JULY 28-29

FREDERICKSBURG: 123rd Annual Gillespie County Bundes Schuetzenfest. Don’t miss this old-fashioned shooting competition among the region’s five shooting clubs includes the parade of clubs, competition, and awards ceremony. Spectators welcome. Grapetown Shooting Range, Old San Antonio Road. 830992-5654. AUGUST 3

KERRVILLE: Chamber of Commerce Business Expo & Car Show. Hill Country Youth Event Center, 26   Hill Country SUN July/August 2018

3785 State Highway 27. kerrvilletx. com, 830-896-1155. WIMBERLEY: EmilyAnn Theatre presents Shakespeare Under the Stars — Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare’s classic love story told under the stars. 101 Farm Market 2325. AUGUST 3-5

UVALDE: Hotter ’N Hell 100- Mile Yard Sale. Castroville on the East; Brackettville on the West. Start at either end but don’t miss a stop along the way at Uvalde, Knippa, Sabinal, D’Hanis, and Hondo. US 90. AUGUST 7-8

FREDERICKSBURG: Live Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing. Gillespie County Fairgrounds, 530 Fair Drive. AUGUST 10-25

INGRAM: “The Odd Couple, Female Version.” Unger and Madison are at it again, but instead of the poker party that begins the original, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over forTrivial Pursuit. Hill Country Arts Foundation. AUGUST 10 - SEPTEMBER 21

INGRAM: “Altars and Icons.” Art Exhibit Artist’s impressions of myths, legends, and their source of inspiration. Hill Country Arts Foundation. AUGUST 11

WIMBERLEY: Second Saturday Gallery Trail. Art galleries around the Square invite you to come early and stay late for wine, light bites. Various locations.

festival. Congress Avenue Bridge, 100 South Congress Ave. KERRVILLE: Back to School Bash. Free community event, bounce houses, food, a cake walk, music, face painting, and more. Salvation Army Kroc Center, 201 Holdsworth Drive. AUGUST 18-19

AUSTIN: City-Wide Garage Sale. Enjoy this vintage, collectible, and antique market. Palmer Events Center. AUGUST 19-26

BANDERA: Buck Sloan’s Musician Reunion. Bring chairs, camping supplies, snacks, and fans if you have ‘em. Dnner every evening around 5 pm. Mansfield Park, 300 Seventh Street., 830-796-3045. AUGUST 23-26

FREDERICKSBURG: 130th Annual Gillespie County Fair and Parade. Horse racing, concerts, dances, carnival, and midway all at the oldest continuously running fair in Texas. Parade starts at 10 am on Friday on Main Street. Gillespie County Fairgrounds, 530 Fair Drive. AUGUST 25

JOHNSON CITY: Art Walk. Galleries are open from 4 pm to 8 pm with adult beverages and snacks provided. Nugent Avenue and Main Street. AUGUST 25-26

FREDERICKSBURG: Fredericksburg Trade Days. Shop more than 400 vendors or relax in the biergarten listening to live music.

AUSTIN: POP Cats. Convention celebrating felines with line-up of cat-centric speakers, plus artists and vendors from Texas and around the world. Austin Humane Society with adoptable kitties; bring your cat to enjoy a customdesigned playground. FREDERICKSBURG: Live Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing. Gillespie County Fairgrounds, 530 Fair Drive. JOHNSON CITY: Market Days. Local artisans offering handmade items, bakery goods, jewelry, plants and food. City Park, US Highway 290 and Avenue G. KERRVILLE: Hill Country GunShow. Sales of guns, ammo, and more. All prodeeds to local veterans. Hill Country Veterans Center, 411 Meadowview. doehill6679@, 830-315-3101. STONEWALL: Grape Stomp at Becker Vineyards. Celebrating the end of harvest, barrels are cut in half and filled with grapes to stomp. Becker Vineyards, 464 Becker Farms Road.

AUSTIN: Bat Fest. Celebrate the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats who emerge from under the bridge at dusk at the 14th annual

STONEWALL: President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 110th Birthday. The public is invited to participate in this free event commemorating

AUGUST 11-12, 18-19, 25-26

STONEWALL: Grape Stomp at Pedernales Cellars. Pedernales Cellars, 2916 Upper Albert Road. AUGUST 16

BANDERA: Third Thursday Cowboy Camp. Pickers who play cowboy, Texas, or Western swing music are welcome to sit in at free event. Public welcome. Bandera Beverage Barn RV Park, 1407 State Highway 16 North. AUGUST 17

BOERNE: Movies in the Park presents “The Little Mermaid.” Come out early, pick your spot, get a movie snack or two, and enjoy free entertainment Festivities begin at 7:30 pm and the movie starts at dark. Boerne City Lake Park. AUGUST 17-19



LBJ’s birthday. Check in at Visitor Center first for information on the day’s activities. Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site. tpwd. 830-644-2252. AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 1

BERTRAM: 41st Annual Oatmeal Festival. Enjoy food and craft vendors, games, a fun run, a horse trail ride, pet and grand parades, an oatmeal drop flyover, a bake-off, music, dance, and a vintage movie theater, and more. Downtown Bertram., 512-244-6357. FREDERICKSBURG: Vereins Quilt Guild Show. The 10th biennial judged show, “Rhapsody in Blue,” features 100 quilts, old-fashioned bed turning, vendors, a boutique, scissor sharpening, a tea room, donation quilt, and more. Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, 1800 North Llano., 701-371-8719. AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 2

KERRVILLE: Fall Music Festival. Three-day event combines camping, music, and the best of Texas wines and beers. Quiet Valley Ranch, 3876 Medina Hwy. UVALDE: PalominoFest & Pro Rodeo Labor Day Weekend Celebration. SEPTEMBER 1-2

WIMBERLEY: 7th Annual Gunner Thames Memorial Rodeo. Chaester Franklin Arena at Veterans Park. SEPTEMBER 22

DRIPPING SPRINGS: 20th Annual Brent Thurman Memorial Bull Riding. (See story, page 8.) Dripping Springs Ranch Park. BrentThurman. com. DRIPPING SPRINGS: 28th Annual Pioneer Day at the Pound House Farmstead. Tours, artisnas demonstrating Texas pioneer skills and crafts, BBQ, displays, pioneer games and much more. OCTOBER 6

DRIPPING SPRINGS: Twilight and Starlight — A Celebration of Dripping Springs. Cocktails, food, dancing, games and auctions. OCTOBER 6-29

MEDINA: Great Hill Country Pumpkin Patch. Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10 am to 4 pm. 13558 State Highway 16. 830-589-2202. OCTOBER 11

DRIFTWOOD: Friends Foundation 25th Annual Barbecue Fundraiser. 5 pm to 10 pm at Salt Lick Pavilion. OCTOBER 27

WIMBERLEY: 15th Annual Hunter’s Night Out 30-Gun Raffle. Barbecue plates and raffle. St. Mary Catholic Church. July/August 2018 Hill Country SUN   27

Rio Bella Resort

on the Frio

All Rentals Overlook the Frio Vacation H Wedding H Reunion

Kayaks H Paddleboards H Tubes 5 miles to Garner State Park

13 miles to Golf Club at Concan

H Motorcycles Welcome! H

(830)232-4781 — Open Year ’Round —


May/June 2018

LOCAL POSTAL PATRON Post Office Box 1019 Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Photo © Mason Photography •

Vintage & New! Destination Shopping for Texas, U.S.A & Australian brands. Boots, Clothing, Jewelry & Accessories. AKA The Cat Shop!

We Buy Boots!

Corner of the Wimberley Square • Open Daily

512-847-1818 •

Hill Country Sun, July/August 2018  

People, place, events, and more in the beautiful Texas Hill Country

Hill Country Sun, July/August 2018  

People, place, events, and more in the beautiful Texas Hill Country