Day Trips & Beyond: August Events Roundup

Texas fun is heating up with grape stomps, outlaw festivals, and rodeos

It’s harvest time in vineyards around the state, and that means there are grapes that need to be stomped. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

For the 394 wineries in Texas, the 2018 crop is looking like a banner year for the wine grape industry. Producers are looking to surpass last year’s record 1.8 million cases of wine. With the optimistic outlook for this year’s harvest, several wineries are inviting visitors to come out and experience the ancient art of grape stomping. Tips for grape stomping: Most wineries require a reservation to participate, wear slip-on shoes or sandals, bring bug spray, dress to get sweaty and dirty, and be prepared to have a really good time. Check out the grape stomping events at these wineries:

The historic Concordia Cemetery is the final resting place of John Wesley Hardin and many other El Paso pioneers. The boot hill opens daily to visitors from dawn to dusk. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The notorious outlaw John Wesley Hardin was known as a hard man. He reputedly put the first notch on his six shooter at age 15. He claimed to have killed 42 men before he fell victim to the business end of revolver. After paying his debt to society with 25 years in the state penitentiary, Hardin moved to El Paso a changed man with a law license and his quick temper intact. On Aug. 19, 1895, Constable John Selman entered the Acme Saloon in El Paso and shot Hardin in the back. The John Wesley Hardin “Secret Society” commemorates Hardin’s life and death with reenactments of that fateful day, a graveside ceremony, toasts to the outlaw, and cemetery ghost tours.
Sat., Aug. 18, 6-9pm, Annual Meeting of the John Wesley Hardin “Secret Society,” Concordia Cemetery, El Paso, 915/581-7920,

Travel Notes:

August is the best time of the year to wish upon a shooting star. The Perseid meteor shower is predicted to peak between August 11 and 13. The annual event will happen during a waxing crescent moon making for a dark sky. While the best viewing time will be in the predawn hours, there is a good chance you’ll spot a meteor any time after the sun goes down and the moon sets in the weeks leading up to the peak.

For more than three decades the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architecture has persuaded their members and others to make the trip to East Beach in Galveston to test their skills at making sandcastles. Sculptures in the AIA Sandcastle Competition on August 25 are judged on their originality, execution, technical difficulty, and techniques.

I’ve often thought that the big empty lot next the Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston would make a great softball field for Houston vs. Austin tournaments. What better place to play softball than next to a brewery? Instead the state’s oldest continuously operated craft brewer decided to open a large beer garden and restaurant. According to the brewery’s social media announcement, the new meeting space does not replace the indoor beer hall (open on Saturdays), and “combine[s] beer, food, architecture, art, and a view of downtown to create a destination...” The beer garden opens daily 11am to 10pm, 11pm on weekends. While you’re there, don’t forget that tours happen every day at 1, 3, 5, and 7pm.

Here’s a twist on craft beer tourism: Ales to Rails on the Verde Canyon Railroad. The four-hour scenic train ride through the wilderness outside of Sedona, Ariz., will feature locally made beers in the train’s bar car from Sept. 18 through Oct. 31. You could call it a rolling Oktoberfest.

The Star of the Republic Museum has added a new thrill to learning Texas history. This summer the Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site museum has added a “Runaway Scrape Escape.” The escape room will challenge groups to solve a series of logic games based on historic events to “unlock” the door ahead of Santa Anna's approaching army. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ups will be accommodated as space allows.

August 15 is National Relaxation Day. A good excuse to take a mental health day and a day trip.

Other August Events:

XIT Rodeo & Reunion
Aug. 2-4, Dalhart,

Shakespeare at Winedale
Aug. 2-5, 9-12, Round Top,

Hill Country Rally for Kids Barbecue Kickoff
Aug. 3-4, Driftwood,

Schulenburg Festival
Aug. 3-5, Schulenburg,

Lone Star Gourd Festival
Aug. 3-5, New Braunfels,

Texas Ranger Day
Aug. 4, Fredericksburg,

Neches Wilderness Canoe Race
Aug. 4, Palestine,

“Salado Legends”
Aug. 4, Salado,

Harvest Festival
Aug. 4, 11, 18, Bryan,

Crush for Fun
Aug. 4-5, 11-12, Brenham,

Grape Stomp 2018
Aug. 4, 11, New Braunfels,

Live Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing
Aug. 7-8, 25-26, Fredericksburg,

De Leon Peach & Melon Festival
Aug. 7-11, De Leon,

Gallup Native Arts Market
Aug. 9-11, Gallup, N.M.,

El Camino Real de SUP
Aug. 11, Bastrop,

Harvest Fiesta & Grape Stomp
Aug. 11, Burleson,

Asia Society Texas Center Architecture Tours
Aug. 11, Houston,

Victoria Faire
Aug. 11-12, Victoria,

Grape Stomp at Pedernales Cellars
Aug. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Stonewall,

India’s 72nd Independence Day Celebration
Aug. 15, Irving,

Prazka Pout Picnic
Aug. 15, Praha,

Cherry on Top
Aug. 16-19, Marfa,

Highland Village Balloon Festival
Aug. 17-19, Highland Village,

Fayette County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo
Aug. 17-18, La Grange,

North Texas Fair & Rodeo
Aug. 17-25, Denton,

Smokey the Bear’s Birthday Party
Aug. 18, Beaumont,

John Wesley Hardin “Secret Society” Annual Meeting
Aug. 18, El Paso,

Come and Taste It
Aug. 18, Gruene,

Living History Saturday
Aug. 18, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, Brenham,

Grape Punch
Aug. 18-19, 25-26, Hye,

Gillespie County Fair
Aug. 23-26, Fredericksburg,

Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred
Aug. 23-26, Wichita Falls,

Harvest Festival
Aug. 24-25, Fredericksburg,

Annual Grape Stomp
Aug. 25-26, Sept. 1-2, Stonewall,

Margarita & Salsa Festival
Aug. 25, Waco,

Texas Rose Horse Breed Show
Aug. 25-26, Tyler,

AIA Sandcastle Competition
Aug. 25, Galveston,

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 110th Birthday
Aug. 27, Stonewall,

Oatmeal Festival
Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Bertram,

Kerrville Fall Music Festival
Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Kerrville,

Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival
Aug. 31-Sept. 2, Galveston,

Gerald McLeod has been traveling around Texas and beyond for his "Day Trips" column for more than 25 years. Keep up to date with his journeys on his archive page.

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