Tex Appeal | June & July 2024

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for Fourth of July across Central Texas; plus learn how fireworks are made

Inexpensive & budget-friendly summer fun ideas for children

Ways to stay cool & have fun in Central Texas this summer

4 JUNE & JULY 2024 | TEX APPEAL 36 Celebrating Independence
48 Old-Fashioned Fun
52 Beat the Heat
58 Bass Fishing
62 Making Friends
the summer
72 Broncs & Buckles
celebrates 100 years of rodeo 6 8 9 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 34 66 68 70 ADVERTISING INDEX EDITOR’S LETTER CONTRIBUTORS NEIGHBORS Salado Senior Center OUTREACH One Community One Day SCENE Bluebonnets in Bloom SCENE Budweiser Clydesdales SCENE Salado Art Festival FLAVOURS Fire Street Pizza SPIRITS La Riv Kitchen & Bar SCENE Spirit at O'Briens Irish Pub THE REVIEW The Women
Last Mrs. Parrish CENTEX ARTS Central Texas cosplayers THIS GIRL’S GARDEN Native and adaptive plants ENTREPRENEUR 1914 Coffee House FACES OF BUSINESS IN CENTRAL TEXAS COMMUNITY Christmas in July INDEX ON THE COVER
Events planned
Lakes lure thousands to Bell County each year
area children spend
building relationships
Ralph Wilson Youth Club
Winter Carlisle plays in the surf at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. | 52 Photo by LISA CARLISLE Belton Lake offers fantastic fishing spots and stunning sunsets. | 58 Photo by SKEEBO
oo t y s ZOOTYS ZOOTYS ZOOTYS | 1407 South 31st Street | Suite C | Temple, Texas 76504 | 254.770.0904
Photography: Angela Sitz | Model: Carol Koster, Retired Teacher, now Community Volunteer
6 JUNE & JULY 2024 | TEX APPEAL The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions to this index. ADVERTISING INDEX 21 Main............................................................................... 36 Acropolis Greek Cuisine 3 Arthur Murray Temple 27 Baylor Scott & White Health 75 Bell County Museum .......................................................... 33 Belton Chamber of Commerce .......................................... 74 Belton Veterinary Clinic ...................................................... 29 Bentons 51 Black Meg 43 26 Canning It Up 14 Carlson Law Firm 47 City of Temple Marketing & Communications .............. 42-45 Coast Dental....................................................................... 55 Continental Battery Systems .............................................. 27 Cultural Activities Center 19 Dead Fish Grill 25 Elise and Alyssa Market Events 39 Ellis Air Systems 56 Extraco Banks ....................................................................... 2 Flintrock Builders ................................................................ 17 Food Care Center .............................................................. 19 Garlyn Shelton GM Back cover Hall’s Roofing 27 Harper-Talasek Funeral Home 17 Hill Country Transit 65 Huntington Learning Center .............................................. 65 Killeen Overhead Doors ..................................................... 15 Lastovica Jewelers .............................................................. 34 Main Street Medical Supply 19 My Giving Tree & iMERAKi ................................................ 51 OG’s School of Hair Design 69 Orenda Education 60 Papa’s Café ......................................................................... 65 Precious Memories Florist & Gift Shop .............................. 27 Priority Charter Schools 29 Salado Creek Antiques 29 Salas Team Realtors ............................................................ 70 Shilo Inns ............................................................................ 61 SPJST Headquarters Vestnik ................................................ 7 Suzy Q’s 36 Tanner Roofing 33 Tap Tap Art Studios ............................................................ 68 TDT Advertising ................................................................. 24 Temple Children’s Museum 15, 41 Temple Civic Theatre 39 Texas Ranger Hall of Fame ................................................. 14 The Benefit Group, LLC / TBG Wealth Management ........ 33 Topsarge Business Solutions .............................................. 17 Wilson Valley Mercantile, LLC 15 Woodland Cottages 25 Young’s Daughters Funeral Home ...................................... 57 Z Medical Aesthetics .......................................................... 25 Zootys 5 Life and Style in Central Texas Interested in Advertising? 254-778-4444 (Temple) | 254-501-7500 (Killeen) See more bluebonnet photos on page 14.
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It’s summertime and family time! The kids are out of school and although you may have to work, hopefully you can find the time to have fun together as a family. I’m so excited for this issue because it is chock full of so many fun things to do in Central Texas!

Summertime in Central Texas is beautiful, but it’s also blazing hot and we all need ways to cool off in the 100+ degree temperatures. Rachel Strickland provides some amazing ideas for keeping cool in the summer heat, including water parks, swimming areas and much more. Read all about it on page 52.

It’s time to dust off those old roller blades, pull out your board games and enjoy some family time. Sometimes the most fun times to be had are the simplest. On page 48, Tonya Warren gives tips and suggestions for old fashioned fun this summer.

BRANDY CRUZ editor@ texappealmag.com facebook.com/ texappealmagazine

One of America’s favorite pastimes is fishing — father and son bonding through shared moments and life lessons. With two large lakes — Belton and Stillhouse Hollow — nestled in Bell County, fishing is one of the best ways to spend a summer day. Check out David Stone’s story about fishing on page 58. Hundreds of children in Central Texas participate in Ralph Wilson Youth Club’s summer camp, page 62. Amy Rognlie interviewed staff and participants in the camp to find out what makes Ralph Wilson such a great summer camp.

Sue Morrisey, one of Tex Appeal’s two newest writers, shares what kinds of Independence Day activities people should expect in Central Texas, on page 36. Fireworks, parades, hamburgers and hot dogs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Fourth of July activities.

This issue’s CenTex Past highlights the centennial celebration of Belton’s Fourth of July Rodeo. Find out all about the scheduled festivities on page 72.

It’s safe to say children enjoy dressing up as their favorite superhero or anime character, but some people carry that passion into adulthood to become cosplayers. Through creativity, passion and art, these people embody their favorite characters in remarkable detail. Read all about cosplayers in Central Texas on page 30.

Bobbie Jo Young is the other new Tex Appeal writer and excitedly shares her passion for writing with an entrepreneur feature on 1914 Coffee House. The Burnetts felt a calling to share their Christian faith and hospitality through their business venture five years ago. Read their inspiring story on page 66.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we did creating it. There are a lot of great things to see and do in Central Texas. My hope for you is that you read the stories we selected for this issue and do something you’ve never done before. Rent a boat and go fishing on Belton Lake, paddle down the Leon River or swim under a magnificent waterfall. Central Texas beckons you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new this summer.

Tex Appeal

KILLEEN DAILY HERALD 1809 Florence Rd., Killeen, TX 76540

TEMPLE DAILY TELEGRAM 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501




Graphic Designer M. CLARE HAEFNER











Advertising 254-778-4444 in Temple 254-501-7500 in Killeen


Tex Appeal Magazine is published by Frank Mayborn Enterprises, Inc. 10 S. Third St., Temple, TX 76501. The cover and content of Tex Appeal Magazine is fully protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in any manner without prior permission.


For the United States, $24 per year, 6 issues. Mail check to P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114. For questions about subscriptions, call 254-778-4444.


Send address changes to: Tex Appeal Magazine, P.O. Box 6114, Temple, TX 76503-6114.

HOW TO CONTACT US: Advertising: 254-778-4444 or 254-501-7500. Editorial: Contact Brandy Cruz at editor@texappealmag.com

in Central Texas

LISA CARLISLE is Tex Appeal and the Temple Daily Telegram’s advertising director. Lisa is a wife and mother of five — two girls and three boys, together they enjoy exploring locally and you can always find them outdoors or in the water. She is a native Austinite and has lived in Temple since 2018. She also is a member of the Betty Martin DAR chapter. Her hobbies include photography, genealogy, cooking, family time and festivals.

PHOENIX CARLISLE is an obsessive book lover, who can’t get her hands on enough books. A high school honor student, Phoenix wants to be a criminal lawyer, and she hopes that she can travel to all the places she dreams of. For now, she helps her parents handle four younger siblings as she continues to read and write.

BLAIR DUPRE is the news editor of the Fort Cavazos Sentinel and has over a decade of photography experience. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2018 and now resides in Belton with her best friend, Jessica, and their cats Boo and Biscuit.

SUE MORRISEY is a marketer by day, cherishes her life as a mom of six and granny of five. She loves sewing, knitting, theater and rocking out to punk, metal and ’80s music.

SKEEBO REICHERT has over 25 years experience as a professional photographer and has expanded his services to include filmmaking. The Temple High School graduate has a BFA in photography and sculpture. He lives in Temple with his wife and two sons. PhotoBySkeebo.com

AMY ROGNLIE is an author and middleschool teacher. Her newest series of cozy mystery novels, The Short Creek Mysteries, are set in Bell County. Amy’s articles have been published in national magazines and websites. She blogs on encouragement, hope and faith on AmyRognlie.com. Amy and her family reside in Little River-Academy.

BECKY STINEHOUR is a portrait, commercial and event photographer, specializing in live music venues. Her work has been published in several regional magazines. She is a Killeen High School graduate who loves to highlight her hometown connections through the lens of her camera. Find her on Instagram at ciphoto.

DAVID STONE is a lifelong journalist with more than 40 years of experience. His grandfather was a journalist, and so was his great-grandfather. He decided he had enough of murder and mayhem as a news writer and wanted to write something upbeat and inspirational, so he now owns and writes for Our Town Temple as well as for Tex Appeal Magazine.

RACHEL STRICKLAND is a university writing tutor and freelance writer. She earned a Master of Arts in English from Texas A&M UniversityCentral Texas in 2021. She has a passion for anything related to language and writing, and her words have been published in various blogs, newspapers and literary journals. In her free time, she enjoys reading, crocheting, and listening to true crime podcasts — always with her cat on her lap.

TONYA WARREN has been a registered nurse for 33 years with Ascension Providence Healthcare in Waco and a lifestyles writer for a few years. She lives in Waco and enjoys reading, writing and taking her grouchy German Shepherd on walks.

BOBBIE JO YOUNG serves as the director of membership development at the Temple Chamber of Commerce, where she focuses on business development, events and marketing. Previously, she worked as an advertising executive for the Temple Daily Telegram while also serving as a chamber ambassador. Her work has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their seven children.


Find us on Facebook/texappealmagazine and read older issues at TexAppealMag.com.


Tex Appeal is always looking for photographers and freelance writers from Central Texas. Send a resume and three to five recent published samples for consideration to editor@texappealmag.com.



Walk in the door of the Salado Senior Center, and you will be greeted by warm smiles, a hearty welcome, and the busy hum of a lot of happy people. Celebrating its oneyear anniversary on June 17, the senior center has already been a resounding success and is serving a great need in the community.

“I was feeling not needed and in the way, (but) the Salado Senior Center gave me worth and wanted me to be there,” said center member J.L. Alley.

The center’s mission is to provide a safe, friendly, enriching environment for seniors to engage with others who share the desire for independence and a more complete community life. Currently, the senior center meets at Salado United Methodist Church, and has more than 270 members. Membership is free, and everyone age 55 and older is welcome to join the fun. The center is open every Monday and Thursday and is

bursting at the seams with 75 plus seniors attending each day, some from as far away as Morgan’s Point, Jarrell, Belton and Georgetown.

“It just keeps growing,” board member Dave Swarthout said. “We’d love to eventually get our own building so we can be open five days a week.”

For now, the board is working on adding a third day to the schedule. The center offers game time each Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the coffee pot is always on. Snacks (sometimes homemade) are available all day, with popcorn being a fan favorite. There is almost always a dominoes game or bridge hand going on, with plenty of laughter sprinkled in. The crochet group is also popular, and the outdoor pickleball and cornhole area sees some great matches played. Thursdays are bingo days, and exercise classes like yoga or tai chi are offered as well.

“Sometimes folks come in to do one thing, like play dominoes or bridge, but then they get involved when they see all the other activities we offer,” volunteer Trish Weigand said.

The arts and crafts classes are a big hit, including projects such as painting birdhouses or learning to quilt. Seniors are also treated to presentations from groups such as the Central Texas Master Gardeners. In addition, members can attend a book club in conjunction with the Salado Public Library, take a seminar on Medicare, learn about fraud prevention, or play mahjong. If that is not enough, the Salado Senior Center’s staff throw a huge party each month for all the members who have birthdays.

“We go all out,” said Jane Avila, the center’s activities director. “We have a theme each month, and a whole team of hostesses that decorate the center.”

Local artists play live music and dancing is encouraged. The June birthday celebration theme is “Back to the ‘50s” with plans for a soda jerk, poodle skirts and records from the ’50s along with live music.

“My favorite part about volunteering at SCC is meeting people and seeing them change and blossom,” Weigand said. “That’s the most wonderful thing. Some people don’t have anyone, and coming to the senior center gives them something to look


forward to; to have a support system — almost like family.”

elected officials will be present, and local musician Paul Cox will provide live music.

SCC’s board and staff members are all volunteers, but they apparently have as much fun as the seniors.

“We feel like we are the ones who are blessed,” Weigand said. “All the staff says that all the time.”

The senior center’s big first anniversary celebration on June 17 will include a lunch where donors and volunteers will be recognized. The Village of Salado


Address: 650 Royal St., Salado

Phone: 254-271-2415

Website: saladoseniorcenter.org

Facebook: facebook.com/profile.php?id= 100090906063707


One Community One Day


When you help people, you feel better about them and yourself,” said Joe Dyer, Belton recreation superintendent.

On a recent Saturday morning in Belton, 200 players from the Lake Belton High School football team and almost as many softball and track athletes from Belton High School descended upon Heritage and Chisholm Trail parks, ready to work.

Belton’s annual One Community One Day brings volunteers together to assist those in need with various projects throughout the city. From beautification efforts to small repairs and beyond, the goal is to make a meaningful impact on those who give and receive service. One Community One Day came from the Belton Youth Advisory Commission members and has been an annual event in Belton for 15 years.

The goal of the organization is to develop youth leadership through service in local government. These young people learn that they can make a difference in the community, particularly in the lives of their peers.

“One Community One Day is great because it is powered by teenagers, who are getting their first exposure to leadership. We have discovered over the years that the young people who participate in this event are extremely capable. YAC members do most of the recruiting of volunteers. They bring together civic groups, youth groups, families, and individual volunteers, each of which is eager to reduce the burdens of a neighbor. It’s truly one of the best things that happens in Belton every year,” Dyer said.

Student participants echo that sentiment.

“We’re here to help out the community and make it better than it was yesterday,” said Jeremiah Battreall, a junior at Lake Belton High School. “When we’re working together, it feels like family bonding – like we’re getting to know each other better.”

At last year’s event, Battreall and his teammates cleaned up the yard and swept the deck for an elderly Belton resident.

“We do everything the ‘212’ way,” Battreall said. “You know, how water comes to a boil at 212 degrees. Instead of just making it to the ‘boiling point,’ we want to go past that and be better than we were before.”

The number of projects the organization undertakes varies by year, but in general each year they try to serve up to 20 homes. In 2023, they had more than 200 volunteers who worked at more than 20 residences.

Typical jobs include clearing gutters, raking leaves, washing windows and mowing grass. On occasion, volunteers have had the opportunity to paint fences, remove dead limbs or debris and haul off old furniture from a property. The city of Belton partners with volunteer programs, such as the Belton Police Department’s R-U-OK program, to identify people in the community who would benefit from a helping hand.

This year, the LBHS students cleared brush, spread mulch over the trails and picked up trash at Heritage Park. At Chisholm Trail Park, the track team and softball athletes worked on their ongoing project of clearing invasive species from the tree line near Sparta Road, helping to improve accessibility to the area. The sports programs at BHS have officially adopted Chisholm Trail Park, much to the delight of Belton Parks and Recreation.

“The kids are highly motivated,” Dyer said. “They get done in an hour what other groups would do in two.”

The high school coaches are equally enthusiastic, even serving as the bus drivers for the event. “We like to give back to a great community where we can,” said Brian Cope, LBHS campus athletic director and head football coach. “It’s great for kids to have to show up outside of school hours and do something for the community. We want them to not just how to be great football players, but good men, good husbands, and good fathers.”

Anyone can volunteer for the One Community One Day event. Volunteers are high school students looking for service hours, civic groups, school groups, church youth groups, families and individuals.



Spring in Central Texas brings color to roadways across the region as bluebonnets and other wildflowers bloom. | Photos by BRANDY

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Photos by BECKY STINEHOUR 1 2 3 4

1 & 2. Clydesdale horses pull the Budweiser wagon up Main Street in Salado on March 2. The iconic horses were in the village for Texas Independence Day. The celebration also included the Texas Pizza Festival and tours of the Salado Museum.

3. Festival-goers try their hands at homemade pizza in Salado.

4. Crowds line Main Street in Salado as they wait for the Clydedales to arrive.

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Photos by BECKY STINEHOUR 1 2 3 4 5

1.Art lovers browse vendor booths in Salado for an art show in March.

2. Michael Constance entertains the crowd.

3. Jocelynn Ortiz smiles after having her face painted by Mary-Ellen Thomas.

4. Joe Friddle, a local artist, smiles in front of his booth.

5. A couple browses through one of the many vendor booths at the Salado Art Festival.


Feed Your Senses


Nestled in the heart of rural Belton sits a welcoming pizza joint that prioritizes excellent food, a fun, family-friendly experience, and happy customers. Fire Street Pizza began as a food truck and has grown into a well-loved hang-out spot for locals who want to enjoy a hot slice of wood-fired pizza, a cold, locally sourced beer, and a fun destination experience.

Since the beginning of their relationship, Jason Brumbalow and his wife, Alis, wanted to open a restaurant. They bought a plot of land from family in 1998 and began working on their dream. Jason said the area lacked a Neapolitan pizza joint and he wanted to help fill that void. They started out with a food truck, and in late 2017, the couple was finally ready to open a brick-andmortar restaurant.

“We found resounding success with a destination wood-fired pizza restaurant that we built, by hand, over 18 years,” Jason said.

Born and raised in Killeen, Jason began working in the restaurant industry at the age of 15. Something about it just struck a chord with him. By age 18, he was bartending, but ended up leaving the bar scene and went to school for 3D animation instead.

“I learned very early that being creative was the best way I could stop time and find stillness,” he said. “So, art, design, photography, videography, animation and production have always been a thing (for me). I soon developed into a producer in the magic industry, working with the creative teams of David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Criss Angel.”


Since Jason has always been interested in startups, advertising, and marketing, opening a restaurant wasn’t too much for him. From the moment you turn into the gravel parking lot of Fire Street Pizza, it’s obvious you’re in for an experience. The ambiance is impeccable — string lights sparkle from every corner and music keeps the vibes high. There is plenty of seating available, both indoors and outside, and there’s plenty of room for the kids to run and play.

Fire Street serves up traditional, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, a style that originated in Naples, Italy and is distinctive by its soft, fluffy crust. Jason says it’s the most important part of the pizza, and he’s worked hard to perfect his recipe. For Jason, coming up with different pizza varieties is the most fun part of the creative process.

“Food is the only art form I know of that can be enjoyed with all five senses,” he added.

Even the names of the pizzas are unique, and Jason says they all come from pop culture references, inside jokes, and music themes, including “California Dreamin,’” “Harvest

Moon” and “My Sharoni.”

It’s a fact that pizza just isn’t the same without a cold one to go along with it, and the folks at Fire Street are fully aware of this, so they have a ton of beers on tap. They source their beer from local breweries within a one-hour radius and then work to pair them with the food. The mix of good food and drinks makes Fire Street a great place for people to hang out.

“Most people come to stay and chill, rather than turn and burn,” Jason said.

Fire Street hosts trivia and jukebox bingo every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., which are both huge crowdpleasers. They also feature local musicians, which helps to cultivate their self-proclaimed “funky vibe.” Fire Street’s customer base is mainly families and locals, and over half of them are returning customers who have turned into lifelong friends.

“That was something that I experienced in my old restaurant days, and it’s wonderful to see it happen here again,” Jason said. “Our entire staff rallies under the idea of ‘creating a place to free people from concern.’ Life is tough; we want to create a getaway.”

The food and atmosphere at Fire Street are so incredible that many people choose to hold their events there, including birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, hail and farewells, and even divorce parties. They also offer offsite catering.

“We can bring the oven truck to your door, or you can bring your crew to our spot,” he said.

From lounging in their spacious outdoor seating area to taking pictures in front of the “I Love You to Pizzas” wall, time spent at Fire Street Pizza is truly an experience.

“There is an X-Factor here that you have to see first-hand to ‘get it,’ Jason said. “That’s why most people return. I’ve even had customers tell me they come to watch the staff because they are so energized and excited by what they do. I couldn’t think of a better measure of success than something like that.”


Address: 10310 FM 439, Belton

Phone: 521-910-4676

Website: firestreetpizza.com

Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday


Authentic Experience


Within the flourishing West Adams district, La Riv Kitchen & Bar draws local attention with its upscale luxury and culinary excellence. Since its opening in 2014, this modern Italian restaurant has been a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Owned by the dynamic duo, Chef Vira Chudasma and her husband, Phil Monge, La Riv promises a memorable dining experience from the moment you step through its doors.

Boasting an open floor plan, La Riv offers patrons a first-hand view of the restaurant's imported Italian brick oven as it flawlessly bakes pizzas to perfection. With a commitment to sourcing only the freshest ingredients from local farmer’s markets, the menu showcases a variety of Italian favorites, including sumptuous soups, refreshing salads and mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas.

“My love for food, wine and travel inspired me. Watching the cooking of my mom and grandmother inspired me to become a chef,” Vira said.

Additionally, La Riv carries an impressive selection of specialty cocktails, craft beers and wines to complement every dish; the Vira Martini and Jalapeno Margarita stand out as consistent fan favorites. The La Riv bar sets the scene for a delightful evening to enjoy with friends and family.

What truly sets La Riv apart is the dedication of its chefs, who spent time in Italy crafting the menu to ensure an authentic culinary experience. The result is a menu filled with rustic pasta dishes, specialty steaks and a myriad of other Italian delicacies that transport diners to the sun-soaked hills of Tuscany.

“Our team is eager to provide

Chef Vira Chudasma and her husband, Phil Monge, offer patrons at La Riv an authentic taste of Italian cuisine.

you with an exceptional dining experience, featuring our delicious food, refreshing beverages, and topnotch service,” Vira said.

The ambiance at La Riv Kitchen & Bar is as inviting as the menu. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, guests are immediately made to feel at home.

“It’s a close-knit community where almost everyone knows everyone. Our guests know the quality of food we provide and the standard that is being maintained in La Riv,” Vira said.

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply enjoying a night out, La Riv promises an experience that will leave a lasting

impression. One of the highlights at La Riv is "Wine Down Wednesday," where guests can unwind and indulge in their favorite wines at a special price. Additionally, the restaurant recently hosted its highly anticipated 5th Annual Rosé Wine Tasting event on May 8, which was a “fun-filled day of sipping on delicious rose wines from around the world. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or just looking for a good time, this event is perfect for everyone.” La Riv also offers live music nights and happy hour specials.

In a city teeming with dining options, La Riv manages to stand out by offering a perfect blend of modern

luxury and elevated Italian flavors. With its commitment to quality, freshness and authenticity, La Riv has solidified its place in the vibrant West Adams community. Whether you're a seasoned foodie or simply someone who appreciates a good meal, a visit to La Riv Kitchen & Bar is an absolute must.


Address: 7410 West Adams Ave.,

Temple Phone: 254-231-3661

Website: www.larivkitchen.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. TuesdaySaturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays


Wednesday May 29th

6:00 - 7:30 pm

Drink of the Night: CUCUMBER

Refreshing & a hint of Spice


1. The drink of the night at O’Briens was James & Ginger.

2. From left, Cody Leshikar, Nikki Mayo and Ryan Leshikar inside O’Briens Irish Pub.

3. A view of the O’Briens spread in the April & May issue of Tex Appeal, on display at Spirit Night.


7410 W Adams Ave Temple, TX
2 1
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Sharing Their War Stories


“There were no women in Vietnam” is a phrase Frances Grace “Frankie” McGrath frequently hears. But the young Army combat nurse knows better. She served two tours in field hospitals alongside several other women who became like sisters during literal trials by fire. Frankie was taught to believe that her job was to be a good housewife and mother. But in an impulsive decision in the wake of her older brother’s death, 20-year-old Frankie (fresh out of nursing school)

decides to follow Finley to Vietnam, leaving her idyllic life in Coronado Island, California, behind. When the Navy and Air Force both deny her enlistment due to lack of experience as a nurse, Frankie joins the Army Nurse Corps instead and ships out after a few short weeks of boot camp.

Thus begins Frankie McGrath’s unimaginable journey in Kristin Hannah’s The Women (St. Martin’s Press, February 2024). Frankie aims to serve her country and make her father proud to claim her place in the “heroes’ wall” lining the office of his study. She’s going to war to save men’s lives, not risk her own. But after landing at her first field hospital moments before an attack, Frankie quickly learns that serving as a war nurse is much more dangerous than she realized.

Finding her feet with the help of fellow nurses Edith and Barb, Frankie forges friendships that keep her going in her darkest moments in Vietnam and after she returns home. Spit on simply for wearing a uniform at LAX, Frankie is shocked and ashamed that many Americans call veterans “baby killers”even though many of them are “walking dead,” surviving combat only to die later from the effects of Agent Orange.

Told in two parts, The Women shares Frankie’s experience as a combat nurse and her struggles to assimilate after she returns to the United States. Facing PTSD, addiction and heartbreak, Frankie loses herself in a world where no one wants to speak about, much less understand what she experienced. Vietnam divided America like no war had before, with protesters, including returning veterans, lashing

out at a government that was lying about lives lost and its losing effort against the North Vietnamese army.

In an author’s note at the book’s end, Hannah writes that she vividly remembers the war and the protests. “Reading the firsthand accounts of the women who served in Vietnam was incredibly inspiring,” she writes, adding that it saddened her to realize their stories were often forgotten or overlooked.

Hannah remedies that with The Women, creating characters who embody the experiences of the unknown number of women who served — from Army, Air Force and Navy nurses, doctors, air traffic control specialists and military intelligence personnel to civilian war correspondents and workers for the Red Cross, Donut Dollies, USO and other humanitarian groups. As this incredible work of historic fiction makes clear — not only were women in Vietnam, they were heroes.

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Dive In to a Psychological Thriller

Summer is about getting gorgeously tan, wearing classy perfume, and having the time of our lives … then maybe some rich drama. Throughout The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, the summer will be drama filled with plot twists you couldn’t predict even if you read the ending first.

Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more — a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish, who Amber believes, takes her “perfect” life for granted. To everyone in the exclusive setting of Bishops Harbor, Daphne — a socialite and philanthropist — and her real-estate husband, Jackson, are front-page perfection. Amber’s envy could eat her alive … if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidant, leaving her to grow closer to Jackson. Yet a skeleton from both women’s past may unravel everything that Amber has worked toward, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

This novel’s plot was insane. It was twisted, dark, rich and desperate. Constantine split the book in two parts which allows the reader to explore Amber’s side of the story — filled with jealousy, anger and greed against the beautiful Mrs. Parrish — then Daphne’s side. The welldeveloped plot revolves around Jackson Parrish and how he infiltrates both women’s lives. It is gorgeous writing, leading to a story you will never forget or expect. This book is the definition of not taking other’s lives at face value. Nothing will ever seem as it is within the tragic life of Daphne Parrish.

Now let’s talk about this book’s aesthetic. I absolutely loved this book. Christmas in New York? The summer home in the Hamptons? The gorgeous colonial style home of the Parrishes? The entire book was one fabulous setting after the next. As much as I ultimately adore Daphne, I too am incredibly jealous of some parts of her life. This book is the perfect summer read, inviting you to a world of classy pearls, white bathing suits and rich environments. The aura of mystery abounds as the Parrish life is exposed and you begin to shame Amber for her plan. The refreshing ending for Daphne teaches the lesson to be careful what you wish for.

Which brings me to my ultimate conflict within this book. The novel brings in so many emotions about every character that you truly do not know whether to hate or understand everyone’s motives, except Mr. Parrish,

whom you will hate the entire time. The two women are so incredibly different in both of their perspectives — white swan and black swan. It was an intriguing way to demonstrate how characters’ lives can throw one another’s off and also complete them at the same time.

Now, this book does have some trigger warnings I would want to make readers aware of. There is cheating demonstrated, as seen through Amber’s entire plan. Then the plot focuses on the abusive relationship in the Parrish household. I cannot share everything without revealing the whole plot, yet I would recommend taking a look online before going in blindly. Or do like I did, and be shocked to your sun-kissed core as the story unfolds.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine is the perfect summer drama. The plot twists, aesthetic and settings are enough to gain one’s ultimate attention.

Happy summer, and I hope you enjoy this thrilling drama.

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Crafting a Character


In the creative realm of fandom and reality, there exists a unique breed of enthusiasts who possess the remarkable ability to breathe life into beloved characters from pages and screens, transforming themselves into living embodiments of imagination. These are cosplayers — individuals who use their passion for fictional worlds to create tangible expressions of art and identity.

In the fascinating world of cosplay, enthusiasts transform themselves into beloved characters from anime, video games, comics, TV shows and movies. Beyond the thrill of embodying these characters at conventions, a significant aspect of cosplay lies in the meticulous creation of the costumes. Although many may have begun their journey by purchasing pre-made costumes, they now pour their blood, sweat and tears into creating the iconic costumes. It’s truly an art form that requires creativity, dedication and a deep love for the characters they portray.

Cosplay costume making is a labor of love that involves a blend of artistic skills and technical know-how. From sewing the sometimes intricately detailed garments to sculpting elaborate props, cosplayers invest countless hours into perfecting their craft. For many, the process begins with a detailed study of the character’s design.

“I usually start with a general character or picture, but I am not always concerned with being screen accurate. I have a few cosplays that are very similar to the source materials, but others are simply indicative of a character or style,” Lisa Youngblood, a librarian with the Harker Heights Public Library, explained. “When I present cosplay workshops for library patrons and families, I often tell them that breaking down a costume into visible shapes and layers is a good way to start working on a cosplay.”

Stephanie Corlew said she has always loved dressing up for Halloween, but decided to start cosplaying for the Bell County Comic Con.

“The first year of Bell County Comic Con was my first ever con and I went as the Riddler,” Corlew said. “I saw all the amazing cosplays there and decided to continue experimenting with different ways to make cosplays.”

Although she often dresses as Disney princesses, Corlew said her favorite cosplay to date is The Moogle from Final Fantasy.

“My favorite cosplay so far is my most current one, The Moogle,” she said. “I created the headpiece for it and I’m in the process of making new wings to wear. I wore it to Anime Sunika with a different pair of wings and a lot of people were excited to see me walking around!”

Killeen cosplayer Eriel Lopez, known as Loopy Lopez among the cosplay community, goes all out in her transformations and isn’t afraid to tackle characters who are traditionally male.

“I have done Vegeta (from the ever-popular Dragon Ball franchise), and it’s my absolute favorite,” Lopez said. “But instead of being prince, it’s princess.”

The artist’s stunning cosplay of the Saiyan Prince(ss) Vegeta was noticed at the Bell County Comic Con by both voice actors of the popular anti-hero — Brian Drummond and Christopher Sabat — who autographed the armor, which she now displays in her home.

Cosplayers employ a diverse range of materials and techniques to bring their creations to life. Fabric, foam, resin, faux hair and many other materials are used to craft costumes and props. Sewing skills are essential, as is a lot of time and patience.

To transform into Killer Frost, Lopez said she used Worbla Transpa Art — non-toxic thermoplastic sheeting that can be shaped with a heat gun — to create long icicles for the iconic DC character’s icy hair. She said it took her two months of shaping to create her masterpiece.

Temple resident James Shapiro said he spent 50 labor hours creating his first Mandalorian outfit. He and his wife, Sabrina, love cosplaying so much they decided to open an Etsy shop to sell their custom creations. The couple credits cosplay for bringing them together, but it has also helped James, who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder from his military career.

“I got into cosplay as a healthy outlet for my PTSD as I was getting near the end of my military



career,” James said.

James said he met Sabrina after she purchased some costume pieces from his online store. A few months later, they discovered they were both in the same Mandalorian cosplaying group and their relationship grew from there.

“We do custom commission pieces and also pieces that look like a certain character,” Sabrina said. “We will print raw pieces and send those out as well, if they don’t want them painted. It depends on what that customer wants.”

She said they do everything from custom paint, to installing visors, to weathering different armor pieces. Last year, the couple sold more than 500 custom pieces, mostly Star Wars helmets, which is one of the most popular cosplay fandoms. Sabrina said that although they build for others, they will also help people who have questions about making their own cosplay.

The creative process is akin to an artistic journey filled with triumphs and challenges. They often encounter unexpected hurdles, but overcome those obstacles through problem-solving. At the journey’s end, when all the blood, sweat and tears are done, it is an exhilarating experience to step out of their own lives and step into their character.

“I cosplay Rapunzel and kids go crazy for it,” Sabrina said. “I love their reactions and seeing them so happy. So being a princess is definitely my favorite.”

“I feel super accomplished and proud of my work and excited to wear it,” Corlew said about her experience.

“I get anxious that it’s not great and afraid it won’t be liked,” Lopez said, “but once it’s on, I feel

better and know that I worked hard to accomplish my thoughts.”

Youngblood said she is always excited about wearing something she’s made, but it always comes with doubts and adjustments, especially because she uses her cosplay for both work and play.

“I tend to find the faults, the ways that I need to improve the piece, the ways that I need to make alterations to make the costume more comfortable or easy to move in,” she added. “It is usually my third wearing that I have everything looking good but also really functional.”

Youngblood said she has several popular costumes, including Star Wars jedis, Pikachu (from Pokémon), Professor McGonagall (from Harry Potter) and Ms. Frizzle (from The Magic School Bus).

“I love to cosplay characters that get reactions from kids and families,” she said.

She shared that sometimes children are a little shy, especially if they’re seeing one of their favorite characters brought to life through cosplay, so she likes to have something with her costume that children can hold onto during photos, such as Baby Yoda.

“Obi Wan Kenobi and Professor McGonagall are two of my favorite book and movie characters, so I particularly love playing them or similar characters,” Youngblood said. “In both cases, I am able to engage kids with training sessions (light sabers or wand use).”

Through a profound understanding of their character, cosplayers truly embody the essence of their favorite heroes, heroines and villains to become walking works of art that blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

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Stargazing, Texas Style!


This is the Year of the Cactus. Well, at my house, at least. I admit that I have arrived late to the native and adaptive plant party, but I’m here now ... mostly because, well, it seems to make sense to choose plants that actually want to grow in the harsh climate of Central Texas. As our summers become longer and hotter every year, it seems silly to pour one’s efforts into, say, a dahlia plant. Or a delphinium. Cherish the memory of those non-heat-andhumidity-loving plants if you must, but don’t try to coerce them into thriving in Bell County.

Instead, try a plant that will thrive here because it is intended to grow here. Plants native to our region have been growing here practically forever without human coddling or intervention. They are part of the natural landscape and ecosystem and grow quite happily here, thank you very much. Adapted plants are

those that are not native to our area but have become acclimated to and established here without becoming invasive or harming the ecosystem. They are also able to thrive without humans imposing ourselves upon them.

Another argument for using native and adapted plants comes straight from the mouth of our venerated queen of wildflowers, Texas’ own Lady Bird Johnson: “Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours. I want Texas to look like Texas and Vermont to look like Vermont.”

Indeed. Though it may be tempting to try to recreate an English cottage garden, you don’t live in England … or Vermont. Let’s be happy creating gardens with the palette we have been given.

Which leads me back to the cactus. I may have gotten a wee bit enamored with prickly pear cactus, especially after I watched a show

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about an elderly couple who grew a (ginormous) garden full of hardy cactus in Canada, of all places. And then there was that video of the man in Italy harvesting yellow, red and orange prickly pear cactus fruits and eating them for breakfast while on his veranda overlooking Venice. Or the woman in Arizona who grew a wall of 6-foot tall, blue-green prickly pear, smothered in millions of lemon-hued flowers and humming with bees. Sigh. I might have also become a tad smitten with all the different variety of opuntias, which is the official name for prickly pear cactus. Did you know that some opuntias have purple pads? And that the little hairy things that stick and prick are called glochids? And that there is an almost infinite variety of flower colors? And that some opuntias are spineless? And that the fruits are called tunas?

But I digress. Just because I am engaging in a love affair with cacti doesn’t mean I’m digging up my flower beds and converting them into desertscapes. Many lovely plants are available to Central Texas gardeners, including some of my favorite native and adaptive plants: lantana, Turk’s cap, red yucca and Russian sage. All have gorgeous, long-lasting blooms, and I would no doubt grow them anyway, even if I wasn’t aware that they are Central Texas-happy plants through and through. Oh, and did I mention crape myrtle, American beautyberry and Indian hawthorn? Or how about oleanders, roses or esperanza? Anyway, you get the picture.

If you plant things that want to grow here, they will. And you’ll make all the little native birds, bees and butterflies happy too. What more could you ask for?

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Celebrating Independence


As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, Central Texas is bustling with excitement for the upcoming Fourth of July festivities. Are you into traditional parades and rodeos? Maybe food trucks and live music are your jam. And, of course, everyone’s favorite, glorious fireworks. Central Texas has it all. Here’s your guide to the best local celebrations.



If you're planning to join the festivities, in any of the featured cities, here is the essential information at glance to help you navigate the events:


Event Date: Starts early on Saturday, June 29, with activities through July 4-6.

Location: Main activities around the Bell County Courthouse, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Yettie Polk Park, and Cadence Bank Center.

Special Attractions: Parade, Festival on Nolan Creek, PRCA Rodeo, Downtown Street Party, and Backyard Party at Schoepf’s.

Admission: Free public access to most events; carnival wristbands and table reservations available for purchase.

Parking: Available in the vicinity; follow local signage.


Event Date: Thursday, July 4.

Location: Crossroads Park, 1020 Research Parkway.

Main Event: H-E-B Fourth of July Fireworks Show at 9:30 p.m.

Admission: Free, sponsored by H-E-B and the City of Temple.

Parking: Free throughout the park.

Note: No smoking or personal fireworks are prohibited within city parks.


Belton is gearing up for its spectacular Fourth of July celebration, a tradition that has captivated the heart of the community for over a century. This year, the festivities kick off with the famous parade, expected to draw more than 30,000 spectators. The parade route begins at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, moving south on Main Street and winding its way to the Belton Police Memorial.

Following the parade, attendees can head to Yettie Polk Park for the Festival on Nolan Creek, featuring an array of food and craft vendors, games, a petting zoo and much more. A short walk away, carnival rides and attractions beckon families and adventure-seekers alike.

Later, enjoy the Backyard Party at Schoepf’s Barbecue, featuring a concert and fireworks show. The gates open at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are needed. However, seating is limited, so you need to reserve your seats ahead of time. You can also buy tables to guarantee seating for your group. For more details and to reserve seating, visit https://schoepfsbbq.com.

Rodeo enthusiasts are in for a treat! The PRCA Rodeo runs from July 4-6 at the Cadence Bank Center. This indoor, air-conditioned venue will host the only PRCA Rodeo in Texas over the Fourth of July weekend, bringing cowboys from around the country to this event. The rodeo is celebrating its 100th year in Belton, with a host of activities planned. Read more about it on page 72.

Can't wait to start celebrating the Fourth of July? The Belton Chamber of Commerce is getting the party started early! Join them on Saturday, June 29, from 5 to 11 p.m., for a downtown Belton Street Party. This event will take place around the Bell County Courthouse at 101 E. Central Ave. It's a free, family-friendly gathering open to everyone. At the Belton Street Party, you can enjoy live music, food trucks, craft beer, wine and more.

You can find all of the details, including information about a hot dog eating contest, a car show and the carnival at Liberty Park by visiting https://rodeobelton.com/street-party.


In Temple, the 26th Annual H-E-B Fourth of July Fireworks Show is set to dazzle spectators with what's billed as the "GREATEST FIREWORKS show in Central Texas." This year, the event will unfold at Crossroads Park, located at 1020 Research Parkway. The festivities kick off on July 4 with the park opening at 6 p.m. Admission is completely free, thanks to generous sponsors like H-E-B and the City of Temple, ensuring everyone can join in the celebration.

Whatever you love to do, Central Texas has something for everyone as we commemorate America's 248th birthday. So gather your family and friends and celebrate freedom! Continued


Visitors are encouraged to come early, bringing along lawn chairs, picnic baskets and blankets to secure a comfortable spot for the evening's main attraction. The fireworks are set to light up the sky at 9:30 p.m., promising a brilliant display easily viewed from anywhere within the park and the surrounding areas. Free parking is available throughout the park, making access easy and convenient for all attendees.

It’s important for everyone to remember that there is a no smoking policy in all city parks, and personal fireworks are strictly prohibited within city limits to ensure safety for all. This event is a fantastic opportunity for families and friends to gather and celebrate Independence Day in a festive and safe environment.


The City of Killeen will be hosting its Red, White and Blue Music Festival on July 6 in historic downtown Killeen. Info was not available at press time, but visit www.killeentexas.gov for details closer to the event.





Experience the vibrance of Temple, Texas – where adventure meets hospitality. Nestled in the heart of Central Texas along the I-35 corridor, Temple offers a range of unique attractions, a welcoming community, culinary delights, and one-of-a-kind local adventures. From exploring the historic downtown area to visiting the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum, visitors of all interests and backgrounds can find something to enjoy in our destination.

Food lovers will appreciate the culinary delights, with a diverse range of restaurants serving everything from classic Texas BBQ to Indian and Asian cuisines. There is no shortage of delicious eats.

Temple isn’t just about attractions and food—it’s about community. Feel at home among our warm and welcoming locals, whether you’re here for a road trip or seeking a new place to call home.


Temple, Texas is a must-visit destination for beer enthusiasts. The city is home to several incredible breweries offering various flavors and catchy names. You can indulge in Czech lagers, pale ales, sparkling ciders, and crisp hops, and savor the unique taste of local brews.

Bold Republic Brewing, located in West Temple, offers an impressive selection of brews in an inviting

atmosphere. Tanglefoot Brewing takes pride in its Czech lagers, reflecting Temple’s rich history of Czech settlers. Meanwhile, Bird Creek Brewing in Downtown Temple is one of the area’s most notable businesses, offering a rotating selection of brews, live music, and entertainment. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect brew to satisfy your taste buds.


Discover the beauty of a sunlit stroll through a local vineyard. Sample decadent wines of all varieties and satisfy your senses with the aromatic smell of aged wine. Each sip provides a delightful symphony of flavors only Temple, Texas, can offer. 3 Texans Winery, a womenowned local business, features a stunning vineyard and patio seating where guests can settle in and enjoy live music and events. The peaceful atmosphere and the perfect blend of entertainment and wine ensure an unforgettable experience.

For a unique taste, Walker Honey Farm, just a short drive away, specializes in honey wines. These sweet and decadent wines are crafted from locally produced honey and bees.

Whether you prefer mead, dry white wine, or divine red, you can find an array of incredible options here in our destination. Experience the essence of a Central Texas vineyard and indulge in the finest wines this region offers.



Savor the flavors of Temple’s culinary landscape where every bite tells a story. Temple boasts an extensive culinary scene that offers a variety of dishes to satisfy your taste buds. Indulge in an elegant dining experience at Pignetti’s, an Italian restaurant that prides itself on its sophisticated wine cellar and culinary excellence. Alternatively, savor rich, flavorful steaks in the opulent setting of Cheeves Bros. Steakhouse. In addition to the popular Italian and hearty steakhouses, you can find Indian entrees, Vietnamese Bahn Mi, or American classics. Our local chefs bring a blend of tastes and skills that will leave you wanting more. In Temple, Texas, you can experience fine dining, casual outdoor meals with friends, and inviting restaurants that cater to groups of all sizes. Don’t forget to save room for dessert as you indulge in flavorful meals at local restaurants.


Temple, Texas, provides many opportunities for adventure, especially with its outdoor recreation and natural landscapes. One of the most popular attractions is Lake Belton, where visitors can spend a day boating or lounging on the shore. The calm waters of Lake Belton offer the perfect retreat to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors.

The destination is also home to over sixty-six parks to explore, including the scenic beauty of Miller Springs and the hidden waterfall of Chalk Ridge Falls. Central Texas is filled with breathtaking views waiting to be discovered. If you need a break from the Texas heat, there are many great indoor attractions., such as adventure parks, batting cages, arcade games, shopping, and a favorite tourist attraction - Buc-ee’s.


Downtown Temple is a vibrant and dynamic district of Temple, Texas that is constantly evolving. Each new business that opens its doors contributes to the growth and development of the area. Downtown Temple offers a variety of experiences for visitors, including shopping, dining, attractions, museums, and other exciting activities. You can spend an entire day exploring and discovering what downtown Temple is all about.


Don’t miss out on the excitement downtown Temple offers on the first Friday of each month. The community comes alive with the vibrancy and enthusiasm of locals who head downtown for a delicious meal, live entertainment, and to support small businesses. You won’t want to miss the must-see happenings on the First Fridays of downtown Temple.



Temple, Texas, is home to an operating Amtrak station, allowing visitors to come from all over to experience what Temple has to offer. Enjoy a train ride to and from Temple. Conveniently located in downtown Temple, in the Santa Fe Depot, the Amtrak station makes it easy and accessible for visitors and locals to travel back and forth to destinations and stops along the way. From Temple, the journey begins here.


Feast your eyes – and your taste buds – on the satisfying flavors and meals waiting for you in downtown Temple. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary scene of downtown Temple, which offers a diverse range of cuisines and culinary experiences. With each meal, you can explore something new and exciting, from the rich flavors of Vietnamese cuisine to the bold spices of Latin dishes and the comforting familiarity of American favorites. Indulge in a refreshing boba tea or sample authentic Mexican fare, all while enjoying the unique ambiance of downtown Temple. With so many local businesses to choose from, each offering its own unique twist on culinary delights, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste and satisfies your cravings.


Temple, Texas is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene. Many local artists and creatives call this place home. Visitors can explore the talent of these artists by visiting art galleries, studios, museums, and shops that are in the downtown district. There are many exciting things to do in Temple. You can take a break and release some steam at The Wreck Center. Or you can indulge in candle-making at the Wick & Burn. The Art Dept. is another place to visit and marvel at the art gallery. You can also check out local artists and their work at various events and gatherings.

Downtown Temple offers a unique experience where you can witness the art train program, murals, and art displays throughout the district. The art trains depict the stories of local businesses, Temple’s history, and much more. You can also find murals and selfie-worthy photo opportunities throughout downtown Temple. The art can be seen on the sides of buildings and inside local shops. Temple, Texas is a place that provides ample opportunities for creatives and visitors who support them.

Experience Temple, Texas – where adventure, flavor, and culture converge in an unforgettable journey. Your next great adventure awaits in Temple!


SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/what-minerals-produce-colors-fireworks


Mineral elements provide the color in fireworks. Barium produces bright greens; strontium yields deep reds; copper produces blues; and sodium yields yellow. Other colors can be made by mixing elements: strontium and sodium produce brilliant orange; titanium, zirconium, and magnesium alloys make silvery white; copper and strontium make lavender. Gold sparks are produced by iron filings and small pieces of charcoal. Bright flashes and loud bangs come from aluminum powder.


Fireworks, a spectacle of light and sound, have captivated audiences around the world for centuries. Not only are they fun to watch; they're a clever mix of science and engineering. It takes a combination of gunpowder and various chemicals, all arranged just right, to create the amazing colors and effects we see in the sky. Let’s take a look at how fireworks work.

Each firework has a slow burning fuse which is lit before the firework is launched from a tube called a mortar. The slow burning fuse gives the firework time to get high in the sky before exploding.

After the firework is launched, the fuse keeps burning until it ignites the gunpowder inside the shell, sending it even higher. Next, the fuse will reach the bursting charge, causing it to explode into the beautiful colors and designs we all know and love.

The colors come from different metal salts that burn when the firework explodes. For example, strontium makes red, copper makes blue, sodium makes yellow, and barium makes green. Each of these metals burns in its specific wavelength of light to create bright colors that light up the night sky.

So, when you’re watching the fireworks this year, remember the combination of science and creativity behind the dazzling show in the sky!


Old-Fashioned Fun



Make the best of these long summer days with non-fussy and inexpensive ideas and activities, without breaking the bank. The fun tried-and-true suggestions below will help banish summer boredom. Psst! Don’t tell the kids, but they just might even learn something new and fun this summer.

First, check out the obvious in your garage. Dust off the bikes, Rollerblades, skateboards and even the ping-pong table, if needed. Air up tires, grab helmets, and go on an old-fashioned family bike ride. Play the game, I Spy, while riding, and try and come up with a challenging subject such as spying a white cat lying in the neighbor’s bush. Listen to the kids give a white house, white car or even a mailbox as an answer. Hey, there’s no rule that says a parent can’t win at I Spy.

Shoot hoops in the driveway and see who wins at H-O-R-S-E. Got a swing set or trampoline that hasn’t seen kids in a while due to a crazy school schedule? Time for some easy outside play on these items. If you have a nice spot of dirt, give the kids some plastic tubs or aluminum pans and plastic ware, then turn on the water and let them make mud pies. Yes, they’ll get muddy, but at least they can hose themselves off before they’re told to do so. Hula hoops and jump ropes are always fun. Perhaps you will want to challenge your offspring to a hooping or jump roping contest. The winner gets to pick dessert that night after dinner.

Take advantage of the many local parks that have hiking and bike trails. Does your neighbor or relative have a backyard pool they wouldn’t mind the kids using occasionally? If so, teach the kids to play Marco Polo. Also, have them dive for dimes. You’ll get more mileage having them use a dime because they can be harder to find due to their size and sunny rays hitting the water make finding that small silver coin challenging. Never, under any circumstances, leave children unattended around any body of water, and always have non-swimmers wear life jackets. If you can swing it financially, now would be a good time for kids to take swimming lessons. Check local public pools and the YMCA for lesson information.

Many churches offer free Vacation Bible School programs which are held in the evening or morning hours, depending on the church, over a four or five

day period. Common themes of these programs may be learning about God’s creation or learning about the Bible during a Bible scavenger hunt. It’s a fun time for Bible learning, singing, outdoor games, snacks and more.

Stalwarts of old-fashioned summer fun include, but aren’t limited to crayons, colored chalk, drawing, painting and modeling clay. Need a refill on these items? Head to your local dollar store and let the kids pick out some of their above favorites. After all, who doesn’t love a new box of crayons or a new container of bubbles with the big wand? If you have older kids, they can help the younger



ones with creative ideas, such as driveway chalking. Encourage the kids to chalk a fun Father’s Day message, Fourth of July fireworks, or even birthday messages.

Check for online coupons to your big box hobby store to receive great deals on items such as jewelry making, paint-by-number kits and more. Also, the store has fun puzzles for all ages. Set up a card table and put out a puzzle, work on it together as a family as well and everyone can add a few pieces whenever they walk by. For older kids, use the coupon for a fun model such as an antique car or even a World War II aircraft carrier.

If you know someone with a garden, ask them if you can bring the kids out to help gather fruits and veggies. Picking fragrant strawberries and ruby red tomatoes might encourage kids to try new foods. Perhaps they can select recipes and help with meal preparation using their fresh garden pickings. If you have an area for a garden, let the kids work and prepare the soil for planting seeds. Research with them what would best grow in your own yard, how much watering would be needed, fertilizing and more. Kids feel accomplished and excited when they see those little shoots sprout up.

Keep kids reading this summer by signing them up for the summer reading club at your local library where they’ll earn prizes for reading books. Whether your kid is interested in dinosaurs, being a nurse, or marketing their lemonade stand, the library can put them on the right path. Libraries also offer story times for infants and toddlers, craft times for different ages and much more. Some libraries even offer summer sewing sessions for kids. Teens can also take part in the summer reading club and some libraries offer teen evening activities. Library cards are free, so contact your local library’s website for specific details on card sign-ups, activities and more.

Need a particularly low-key activity? Dig out family wedding photos or videos of special family times such as reunions, graduations and more. Kids love seeing parents and grandparents when they were young or doing fun things. Designate Friday night as pizza night. It’s never too early to plan for holidays, so perhaps the kids can start making arts and crafts for gifts. Print some online Thanksgiving place mats off and let the kids color and decorate them. The family will admire and love the creativity come November during the big meal.

Depending on children’s ages and general maturity levels, help them explore simple chores or odd jobs where they can make a bit of money, such as taking care of neighborhood pets while owners are away.

Lastly, remember kids grow up fast, so create special summer memories that will outlast long hot days and sultry sunsets.


Beat the Heat


Texas is nothing if not hot, and staying cool is of the utmost importance during the summer months. Luckily, there are countless ways to do just that while still having fun, whether that’s by spending a day at a water park, going for a swim, visiting a museum, or staying home and making some yummy summer snacks.


One of the best ways to stay cool is by swimming, and Texas has plenty of water parks to choose from. Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels is one of the most iconic water parks in Texas — it’s even been named the number one water park in the world for 24 years in a row. But if you’ve already been to Schlitterbahn, there are hidden gems that are just as fun (and much less crowded) closer to home. Lions Junction Family Water Park in Temple, Summer Fun Water Park in Belton, Lions Water Park in Killeen. Rock ‘N River Water Park in Round Rock, Typhoon Texas in Pflugerville, and Hawaiian Falls Water Park in Waco are also great options.

If you love swimming but don’t like the price tag that comes with water parks, Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow both have swimming beaches. You will even find people soaking in the refreshing waters of Nolan Creek in downtown Belton and Salado Creek in downtown Salado. For those in the Austin area, Barton Springs is a natural spring-fed pool located in Zilker Park. The pool measures about 3-acres and is always around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it perfect for cooling off on a hot day. If you are looking for more of a magical experience while swimming, check out the Hamilton Pool Preserve, located in Dripping Springs. This natural pool is in a canyon surrounded by a grotto and sits below a 50-foot waterfall.

You could also grab some floats or a raft and spend an entire day floating down the river in San Marcos, Austin or even in Nolan Creek or Leon River in downtown Belton.




Some days are just too hot to spend outdoors, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fun to be had. Central Texas has countless museums and aquariums that are sure to keep kids and adults entertained for hours.

The Railroad & Heritage Museum, Czech Heritage Museum and Cultural Activities Center are all great options in Temple. The Musick Alumni Center and Museum is located on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus. The Bell County Museum in downtown Belton has more than 12,000 historical items in its collection. The Mayborn Science Theater, located on the Central Texas College campus in Killeen, is the only planetarium in a 60-mile radius and includes a 30 meter dome to project movies. For those interested in military history, the National Mounted Warrior Museum includes more than 12,000 square feet of permanent display space and 1,000 feet of temporary display space.

To continue with fun and educational experiences, Central Texas boasts an impressive number of museums. Some of the most fun and unique are the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, the Blanton Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Weird, both in Austin.

The Austin Aquarium features tons of Continued


creatures from both the land and sea, and guests are allowed to participate in feeding stingrays, sharks, iguanas and more. This aquarium is also one of only two facilities in the country that allows guests to pet lemurs, which is an unforgettable experience.

The Dallas World Aquarium is large enough to spend an entire day without being bored. The five-story downtown building is an indoor tropical rainforest. One could probably explore all day and not see everything the aquarium has to offer.


Sometimes, staying home can be just as fun as heading out to a water park or a museum (and it’s definitely cheaper). There are countless ways to have summer fun in your backyard, including setting up a few sprinklers or filling a cheap baby pool to dip your toes in. To keep the kids busy, you could create your own Slip and Slide with a plastic sheet and some liquid soap, have a water gun fight or you could play a game of water limbo by using the stream from the water hose as a makeshift limbo stick.

Spending time outside in the heat can be exhausting, and it’s important to remember to stay nourished and hydrated.

Watermelon slices are a yummy and healthy snack that also provide hydration, while frozen grapes soaked in lime juice and covered in Jell-O packets taste just like Sour Patch Kids! Some more deceptively healthy snacks that are sure to cool you off are frozen fruit pops or frozen yogurt bites.

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Bell County has long been known as home to massive medical and military communities, and both bring a large number of folks to the area every year. But one of the biggest attractions for visitors is world-class fishing at two local lakes — Belton and Stillhouse Hollow.

The fishing in Bell County is excellent, and thousands of anglers flock to the area each year in pursuit of trophy white and hybrid striped bass.

“The fishing here is excellent,” said local guide Bob Maindelle, owner of Holding the Line Guide Service. “I’ve been fishing Stillhouse and Lake Belton for more than 30 years. Occasionally I get a client who wants to fish Georgetown or one of the Austin-area lakes, but most of my trips are here in Bell County.”

“There’s really no reason to go anywhere else,” Maindelle said. “We focus on white bass on Stillhouse, and on whites and striped bass on Belton. The hybrids are a sterile fish and can’t reproduce, so they have to be restocked. Belton is one of the lakes Texas Parks & Wildlife uses to invest their hybrid sources.”

thousands of fish from the state’s Lone Star program.

“We are stocking 1.5 inch fingerlings in these Central Texas lakes,” Kittel said. “The fingerlings aren’t planned for a specific date, but will be stocked throughout the year as they are produced.”

In the past two years, millions of Sunshine and Palmetto bass have been released into Lake Belton waters. In 2022, TPWD introduced 2.2 million Sunshine bass into the lake, and in 2023, 400,812 Palmetto and 687,307 Sunshine bass were released.

According to Carl Kittel, program director of Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Region I Hatchery, this year’s stockings at Belton and Stillhouse include

“Lake Belton will receive about 100,000 Lone Stars, and Stillhouse will get approximately 56,000,” he added.

In addition to the Lone Star bass, Lake Belton also will receive a whopping 780,000 Sunshine bass fingerlings and about 150,000 smallmouth, Kittel said.

“Lone Star bass fingerlings are secondgeneration offspring of pure Florida strain ShareLunker largemouth bass that were at least 13 pounds,” Michael Baird, district supervisor for the Waco Inland Fisheries District of Texas Parks & Wildlife, said. “They have taken the place of Florida largemouth in our hatcheries and are being stocked statewide.”

Baird added that smallmouth stockings are common in Belton Lake.

“Lake Belton is a smallmouth bass brood fish source for our state hatcheries, and it consistently gets smallmouth stocked, mainly for that purpose,” he explained. “But it is one of the best smallmouth reservoirs in Texas for angling.”

Sunshine and Palmetto bass are crosses of



white and striped bass. Sunshine bass are a hybrid of female white bass and male stripers, and the Palmetto bass are the opposite — a hybrid cross between a male white bass and a female striper.

While falling water levels on Belton and Stillhouse continue to be of great concern — spring rains definitely have helped — fish are still biting.

Maindelle said his clients caught more than 33,000 fish in the past two years, including 14,611 during 2023. Every fish caught on Maindelle’s fishing boat is returned to lake waters.

“I conducted a total of 160 trips last year, so that’s an average of 91.3 fish per trip,” Maindelle said. “That’s a lot of fish.”

While Bob and his clients caught fish every month during 2023, the biggest hauls were made in the spring and in November. The top bassproducing month at Belton and Stillhouse lakes was March with 2,375 fish, followed by April with 2,131 and November with 2,155.

According to Maindelle, the average fishing trip by Holding the Line clients in April 2023 produced 125.4 fish, which was just ahead of November’s 119.7.

Fishing licenses are not required for people under 17 years.

For additional information, visit https://tpwd. texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/ fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages.



While fishing is huge, both lakes offer other activities that bring in visitors. The area’s around Stillhouse are known for outstanding hiking opportunities, especially at Dana Peak Park and Chalk Ridge Falls. Hiking also is big at Miller Springs Nature Area, just below the dam on Lake Belton.

A growing number of visitors are taking advantage of the lake’s paddling opportunities, especially the 12-mile Morgan’s Point Resort Paddling Trail. It’s one of more than 80 official state paddling trails that explore Texas’ rivers, creeks, lakes, bays and bayous.

The Morgan’s Point Resort trail was designated

by Texas Parks & Wildlife in 2013 and is steeped in history. In addition to kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing, it’s also known for fishing and birdwatching.

“There are three main launches to the trail, and we’re working on getting a state grant that would add an ADA-accessible canoe and kayak launch,” said Uryan Nelson, interim city manager for Morgan’s Point Resort.

If a grant is obtained — it was denied a year ago but city officials are reapplying — it would be the only ADA launch at Lake Belton. Existing launches that serve the paddling trail can be found at Morgan’s Point Marina, the Community Center at Kleypas Park and at Rogers Park.


Making Friends



t’s very fun to be at Ralph Wilson because you can make friends and be lifelong friends,” said 10-year-old Penelope Olivencia. “I’ve been going here since I was five years old!”

Ralph Wilson Youth Club in Temple is just that kind of place.

“What makes Ralph Wilson Youth Club so unique is the fact that so many of our parents and employees attended the youth club as children. As a result, they have a truly personal connection with the youth club,” Brett Williams, executive director of RWYC, explained. “In addition, in many


cases, our youth are second and third generation members of the youth club. Ralph Wilson Youth Club embraces the fact that we are expected to be the best and we deliver on providing the absolute best experience for our youth.”

During the summer, 600-650 elementary school aged children stream through the doors every weekday, eager to see their friends and the RWYC staff. Students are greeted individually at the door and start their day with a smile. The club’s 47,000-square-foot facility includes an art room, a fine arts studio, a kitchen, three full gyms, a computer lab, library, video game room, movie room and other play areas with traditional games like pool, ping-pong and foosball. Daily fun also includes planned activities such as cooking, arts and crafts, and games. In addition, local groups such as Altrusa, Cub Scouts, University of Mary

Hardin-Baylor, Temple College and the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes come in and do special programming for the RWYC summer participants.

“The youth club provides a middle school-like experience, even for the younger children, as to how they transition from area to area,” Williams said. “Our kids are more prepared for school because they learn to transition through different environments and learn the expectations of each. For example, the art room is always quiet.”

Outside, students have access to a covered playground, a large grassy play area and covered basketball courts. And besides keeping kids busy and active, RWYC partners with Temple Independent School District’s food program to provide free breakfast and lunch to all summer



program students. However, students are welcome to bring their own meals and a snack bar is also available where children can purchase items such as hot dogs, chips or granola bars.

Students attending the summer program also take 50 field trips to various attractions in the Central Texas area, such as Inner Space Caverns, Temple Mall’s Xtreme Jump, or the Cameron Park Zoo.

“My favorite field trip is to Xtreme Jump! We can do all kinds of activities there and it’s fun to be there with all my friends,” Penelope said. “And at the club, I like it because the staff plays games with us like ping pong or pool.”

For the summer program, RWYC employs 40-50 full-time staff members, mainly comprised of UMHB and Temple College students. And the staff is the heart of the club, according to Williams.

“You can’t just like kids to work here. You have to love kids,” he said. “We’re all about relationships and if we do things right, the kids will remember the club, yes, but what they will really remember is the staff and the relationships.”

Ralph Wilson Youth Club's mission is to offer an organized and supervised environment which provides boys and girls of Temple and surrounding areas the opportunity to share social, educational, and recreational experiences regardless of race, color, or creed, as they develop their capacity to be self-sufficient and responsible members of the community. The youth club takes pride in creating

life-changing experiences and relationships with our youth. Being a member of Ralph Wilson Youth Club gives every youth a sense of belonging.


Address: 1515 S. 25th St., Temple

Phone: 254-773-9001

Website: www.rwyckids.org

Facebook: facebook.com/rwyckids


1914 Coffee House


Inside a quaint coffee house nestled on the corner of Avenue R and South 33rd Street in Temple, the air is thick with the rich aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and steamed milk. Soft, Christian music plays in the background, mingling with the soft buzz of conversation from patrons lounging in cozy armchairs or studying together at small, charming tables. As a customer approaches the counter to retrieve his Chai Tea Latte, the wooden floorboards emit a soft creak, adding to the cozy atmosphere of the charming shop.

For Greg and Sonya Burnett, the journey to opening 1914 Coffee House was guided by a profound sense of purpose and a desire to create a space where their Christian values could flourish. It was more than just a business venture; it was their ministry — a calling to share their faith and extend hospitality to all who enter.

"If you had told me ten years ago, I'd be running a coffee shop, I would have said you're crazy," Greg says.

The genesis of this creation began in June of 2019, long before Temple saw the rise of Dutch Bros and Black Rifle Coffee shops. The Burnetts, driven by their vision, embarked on a mission to find the perfect location for their venture. Fate led them to a corner lot with an old farmhouse steeped in history, where it once stood proudly on a dairy farm. They composed a letter to the property owner, a retired VA surgeon, who, despite declining similar offers in the past, felt a compelling pull to support their endeavor.

Their journey wasn't without its challenges. Greg, with his day job of overseeing IT at RVOS Insurance, and Continued


Sonya, a former teacher at CTCS, had no prior experience in the world of coffee. But armed with determination and a thirst for knowledge, they delved into the craft, immersing themselves in the culture of coffee shops, devouring books, and honing their skills through practice.

The name "1914" holds both historical significance and personal meaning for the Burnetts. It pays homage to the year the farmhouse was built, but more importantly, it embodies Sonya's favorite Bible verse, Psalm 19:14 — a guiding light that has illuminated her path throughout life.

Beyond its offerings of specialty drinks like the popular "1914" cold brew with “shugie” shots and energizing Lotus drinks, 1914 Coffee House is a hub of culinary delights. From decadent “cruffins” — croissant-shaped muffins stuffed with savory or sweet fillings — to homemade chocolate chip cookies and “munchables” for on-the-go, every bite is a testament to their commitment to quality and creativity.

But 1914 Coffee House is more than just a place to grab a coffee. It's a community hub, complete with a playground for kids and a cozy back deck where parents can relax while their little ones play. Greg and Sonya have big plans for the future, including an expansion into the upstairs space, but their commitment to faith and community will always be at the heart of everything they do.

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Since opening its doors in Killeen, Texas 37 years ago, OG’S SCHOOL OF HAIR DESIGN (OG’s) has been educating, training, and graduating dozens of experienced barbers, while also serving the community. “OG’s wants to support the Central Texas community by providing the highest standard of services at affordable prices,” says Kevin Lane, owner, and retired veteran, who has over 30 years of experience in the barber and beauty industry. “We always keep our hands and hearts aligned with the pulse of the community,” he says. In 2002, Lane purchased OG’s, which was incorporated in 1987 by Ollie Weaver and Gilbert Torres. The barber school started with one student. Now, approximately 75 students graduate every year. “We provide a learning environment that meets the needs of a diverse group of students,” Lane says. “We want to make sure the students succeed by requiring that they achieve and maintain ‘A Standard of Excellence’ that will aid them in passing the State Board examination, and ultimately succeed in the workplace.” Services provided at OG’s include haircuts, beard trims, shaves, hair color, facials, and more. The cleanliness, professionalism, relaxed atmosphere, affordability, and old school music, is what clients look forward to at OG’s.

We’re only as strong as the weakest link.

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Summer is heating up, but it’s never too early to start spreading holiday cheer. Hosted by Grace Presbyterian Church and organized by Norman Northen, Christmas in July is a fundraiser for Feed My Sheep, a nonprofit organization that feeds those in the community in need.

Northen said he came up with the idea a few years ago to organize a Christmas fundraiser. He approached Feed My Sheep, who asked him to do a Christmas in July event to help kick off their fundraising efforts in the middle of the year. After approval from the Grace Presbyterian Church board, Christmas in July was born.

During last year’s inaugural event, Northen, a florist for nearly 50 years, created floral arrangements that would be the centerpieces of the fundraiser.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said, “to use your

talents to give back.”

The theme for this year’s event is “Prayers for the Seasons of Life.” Northen said there will be 14 arrangements, prayers and songs focused on the various stages of life — birth to death. He said the arrangements made this year will be things people can place in their house year round.

“Last year we did 12 musical numbers with a floral arrangement that coordinated with that particular song and sold those arrangements,” he explained.

This year’s event will kick off with a silent auction. Photos of silent auction items will be posted on the Feed My Sheep site for people to bid on, as well as live at the Christmas in July event. The event is free and will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m. July 21.

“It’s such a blessing to go to,” Northen said about the event.



From its humble beginnings on the dusty Central Texas landscape 100 years ago, Belton’s Fourth of July Rodeo has evolved into a premier event, attracting competitors and spectators from around the world.

“We are excited to celebrate 100 years of the Belton Fourth of July Rodeo this year,” said Randy Pittenger, president of the Belton Chamber of Commerce. “Whether you’ve been dozens of times, or this will be your first rodeo, you don’t want to miss the 100th Belton Fourth of July Rodeo.”

Belton’s rodeo was the brainchild of Ellis White Holland Sr., a rancher and local businessman who reportedly leased bucking horses from the Texas State Penitentiary in the early years of the rodeo and allowed aspiring cowboys their chance to make their dreams a reality. Situated at the top of Penelope Street Hill in a dry, open arena, the Belton Fourth of July Rodeo was a huge success. Holland continued working on the rodeo committee until 1940, when he handed the reins to younger men to continue the work. He is now an honorary member of the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.

In the 1930s, Belton began hosting some of the first ever nighttime rodeos, which were so popular they lasted well after midnight. Following World War II, the rodeo was becoming so popular it outgrew the dusty field. After building an arena with wooden bleachers, stock pens and chutes, the rodeo moved to what is now Liberty Park. With the inclusion of the arena, the rodeo began to draw top professional cowboys and

the crowds continued to increase in size.

The Belton Fourth of July Rodeo had long outgrown its outdoor arena and eventually moved to the Bell County Expo Center (now known as the Cadence Bank Center) in the 1980s. Besides classic rodeo events, such as bronc riding, bull riding, roping and wrestling, the rodeo also added events for children. Mutton bustin’ quickly became a fan favorite, as well as the stick horse stampede.

Situated in close proximity to Fort Cavazos, which trains Army, Air Force and international military personnel, the rodeo also became the first rodeo experience to many people around the world.

“We always have first time

attendees who marvel at the athleticism and entertainment value that the rodeo provides,” Pittenger said. “We often hear people comment about how they had no idea how fun rodeo can be. It is designed to be family friendly, with traditional rodeo events showcasing the cowboys and animals, but also including entertainment from the rodeo clowns and other acts.”

The chamber president said the city played host to representatives from Belton’s sister city, Ebino, Japan, several years ago, who were treated to the unique rodeo experience they had probably only heard about on television or movies. Last year, visitors from Great Britain planned their trip

Situated at the top of Penelope Street Hill in a dry, open arena, the first Belton Fourth of July Rodeo was a huge success.

4th of July


to the United States so they could experience the rodeo in Belton.

“It’s athletic, daring, challenging, and at times dangerous, so peaks the interest of those in attendance,” Pittenger said. “It’s different from what most people experience regularly, or might see on television, so it is special.”

One thing he is never tired of hearing is “This might be my first rodeo, but it won’t be my last.”

As the centennial festivities approach, anticipation is running high in Belton. The theme for Belton’s annual Fourth of July Rodeo is “Celebrating 100 Years of Rodeo.” Pittenger said people should expect parade entries to feature historical aspects of the rodeo. Charlie Throckmorton, known by many in Texas as the “Voice of the Rodeo” will serve as the grand marshal.

The centennial celebration kicks off June 29 at a Downtown Belton Street Party, with live music by Tejano artists Grupo Pression and Texas Dancehall Music performers Kenny Orts & No Chance. The rodeo is July 4-6. The rodeo committee is planning some special activities and recognitions to celebrate a century of rodeo.

“It’s family-friendly entertainment, providing opportunities to see

athletes and animals perform and compete at a high level,” Pittenger said. “Multigenerational families will come to the rodeo together to enjoy an evening of fun entertainment.”

For many, the rodeo is a chance to relive cherished memories and celebrate the enduring spirit of the Wild West.

“Many people who came to the rodeo as children, now bring their children and grandchildren to experience the thrill of the events, and make new memories together,” Pittenger said. “This is a tradition built over generations that is valued throughout our community by families.”

5:30 PM Saturday, June 29th GRUPO PRESSION KENNY ORTS & NO CHANCE JULY 4TH - MILITARY APPRECIATION JULY 5TH - HOMETOWN HEROES JULY 6TH - FAMILY NIGHT Liberty Park - 700 Veterans Way Bell County Courthouse 101 E Central Ave. | Belton Begins - UMHB (10th Ave. & Main St.) Ends - Police Memorial (Birdwell St.) Patriotic Program - 8 AM Parade - 9 AM Festival - 10 AM Schoepf’s BBQ - 702 E Central Ave. Concert featuring Sprung & Fireworks Backyard Party at Schoepf’s - 7 PM
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Addison’s inspiring journey

Nine-year-old girl recovers from pioneering procedure with courage and community

In June 2023, nine-year-old Addison Bowman’s hospital room looked more like a vibrantly decorated college dormitory than a clinical setting for a child recovering from a life-altering surgery.

adults but rarely on children and never before at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center.

“The medical team put my daughter first, as a whole person.”

“Taking care of a patient with this complex of a problem requires a team. When we come together, we’re as good as anybody in the world.” said

MD, BSW McLane Medical Director of Trauma Surgery.

While in recovery, Addison and her mom made droves of friendship bracelets inspired by the lyrics of a popular song, which they offered to visitors.

The bracelets became ubiquitous. Everyone from Addison’s

“I had the best room on the floor, ever,” she said, recalling visitors’ amazement upon entering her hospital room.

But the diagnosis that brought Addison to the hospital was more unexpected than the decor. Doctors had diagnosed her with a very rare condition a cancerous tumor at the head of her pancreas, estimated to affect fewer than 14 U.S. children per year.

Removing the tumor would require a procedure regularly performed on

The complex surgery, called a Whipple Procedure, removes the patient’s tumor and gallbladder while reconstructing drainage of the liver, pancreas and stomach.

While other hospitals could have done the surgery, Addison’s mother, Amanda Bowman, said it was the emotional support that made BSW McLane feel like the right choice.

“She wasn’t being treated like she was some fancy new experimental procedure,” Amanda remembered.

surgical team to food services employees would wear one when visiting Addison. It’s part of the reason why Addison said she remembers her hospital stay as a happy time–despite the pain and fear.

And she has a message for any other child going through a similar trial.

“Just know, it gets better.”
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