Day Trips & Beyond: August Events Roundup

Tons of Texas travel news for the dog days of summer

Rodeo season is heating up as well as the grape harvest around the state.

The Texas State Railroad runs steam and diesel engines on the 25-mile, four-hour round-trip through the Piney Woods. A lucky few get to ride in the engine with the engineer. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

You can be a railroad engineer for a day and ride in the cab of the Texas State Railroad between the engineer and conductor. Participants help prepare the train and drive it between Palestine and Rusk from the best seat on the train. Advanced reservations and background checks are required as well as some clothing restrictions.
Thu.-Sat., Aug. 1-31, Engine Ride Along, Palestine,

The Maverick name is again making headlines in San Antonio. Descendants of Sam Maverick, the Texas iconoclast who refused to brand his cattle, have opened a new distillery, brewery, and restaurant a few blocks from the Alamo. Housed in the historic Lockwood Bank Building, Maverick Distillery is the brainchild of Ken Maverick, a descendant of the signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The establishment that opened in late July currently offers a light whiskey and a dry gin, with a barrel-aged spirit resting in the warehouse. The first brews lean toward ales with more in the works. Lunch and dinner menus offer upscale bites with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and recipe influences from the family’s roots in the Deep South. Tours and tastings happen Tuesday through Saturday at 2pm and 5pm.
Maverick Distillery and Brewery, 115 Broadway, San Antonio, 210/447-7010,

Travel Notes:

It only happens for a short time during the year when The Nature Conservancy’s Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve is open to the public. Southwest of Mason, the preserve is home to approximately 4 million bats. The nightly emergences create a dark “bat tornado” as they stream into the night sky. The preserve is open to the public on August 3, 10, 17, and 24. For updates on flight activity, call the Bat Hotline at 325/347-5970.

Dogs are always welcome at Canyon of the Eagles, but during the dog days of summer in August they stay for free. The lodge on Lake Buchanan offer’s a midweek rate of $139 with pet fees waived.

Reservations for lodging and camping spots are filling up for the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love. The annual Marfa version of Woodstock offers a variety of accommodations from rugged camping spots to luxury Airstream trailers. Music, workshops, and sandlot baseball are all part of the celebration on Sept. 26-29.

Following the Texans' victory at San Jacinto, two other Mexican armies could have attacked Sam Houston’s smaller force, but were defeated by the weather. A new exhibit at the San Felipe de Austin Historic Site displays artifacts left behind by the Mexicans as they crossed El Mar de Lodo or Sea of Mud between branches of the rain-swollen San Bernard River. Buried in the muck and mire for 160 years, the artifacts will be on display through Sept. 2.

Following the Civil War, African American families pursued land ownership as a way to assert their newly won independence. Many created settlements around a central church or businesses. Now 150 years later, Dr. Andrea Roberts is looking for these lost communities. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project started as her dissertation at UT in 2014 and has grown into an atlas and documentation of the settlements. The project has data on more than 557 settlements and mapped 357 of them. Citizen archeologists, day trippers, and descendants can locate the historic black settlements and add their research.

Galveston Island State Park continues to be open through the summer. The beach and campground are accessible as the park prepares for a two-year redevelopment project that begins the day after Labor Day.

Before heading to the Texas coast, you can check to find up-to-date information on bacteria counts at popular beaches. Out of 167 beach sites sampled, 141 were potentially unsafe for at least one day in 2018. A sampling site at Cole Park in Nueces County was potentially unsafe for 52 days, more than any other site in the state, according to a report released by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. The report says that bacterial contamination can come from a number of sources. The cleanest beaches appear to be off South Padre Island, while Nueces County beaches had the highest number of potentially unsafe days.

The Great Texas Birding Classic has awarded $39,000 in grants to conservation projects around the state. The month-long birding competition held in mid-April to mid-May had 850 participants in 2019. Teams spotted 411 species of birds along the Texas coast. The largest grant went to Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve on Galveston Island to purchase a 68-acre wetland. Texas Parks & Wildlife, organizer of the largest and longest bird-watching competition in the U.S., has published a complete list of recipients.

A limited number of tickets are on sale for the Park City Songwriters Festival. The gathering in the Utah ski-resort on Sept. 13-14 attracts top-name tunesmiths to five intimate music venues on Main Street. The two-day event features nightly concerts, songwriters in the round, panels, and workshops. Among the headliners are the North Mississippi Allstars and Anders Osborne.

The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn. presents Kacey Musgraves: All the Colors, a new exhibit on the songbird from Golden, Texas. On view through June 7, 2020, the show includes artifacts from when she performed in the yodeling duo Texas Two Bits and handwritten song lyrics.

Other August Events:

Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters
Aug. 1, Gruene,

XIT Rodeo and Reunion
Aug. 1-3, Dalhart,

Antony and Cleopatra
Aug. 1-3, 5-10, Wimberley,

Shakespeare at Winedale
Aug. 1-11, Round Top,

Hatchling Releases of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles
Aug. 1-17, Corpus Christi,

Harvest Grape Stomp
Aug. 1-Sept. 1, Brenham,

Balcones Heights Jazz Festival
Aug. 2, San Antonio,

Lone Star Gourd Festival
Aug. 2-4, New Braunfels,

Schulenburg Festival
Aug. 2-4, Schulenburg,

Harvest Fiesta & Grape Stomp
Aug. 3, Burleson,

World’s Largest Free Barbecue
Aug. 3, Dalhart,

Shake Russell & Michael Hearne Haus Concert
Aug. 3, Fischer,

Texas Ranger Day
Aug. 3, Fredericksburg,

“Salado Legends”
Aug. 3, Salado,

Dig It! Archaeology Day
Aug. 3, Temple,

The Grape Capital of Texas Vineyard Festival
Aug. 3-4, Brownfield,

Grape Stomp
Aug. 3, 10, New Braunfels,

Day Time Harvest Festival
Aug. 3, 10, 17, Bryan,

Eckert James River Bat Cave
Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24, Mason,

Brazos Wood Open Preserve Day
Aug. 5, West Columbia,

DeLeon Peach and Melon Festival
Aug. 5-10, DeLeon,

Kayak the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve
Aug. 7, Galveston,

S.P.O.T.C. Dog Agility Trials
Aug. 7-11, Levelland,

Texas City Prairie Preserve Volunteer Day
Aug. 9, Texas City,

Open Weekend at Davis Mountains Preserve
Aug. 9-11, Fort Davis,

Chappell Hill Wine and Lavender Festival
Aug. 10, Brenham,

Moonlight Harvest Festival
Aug. 10, Bryan,

Art Center Market
Aug. 10, Rockport,

Bubble Fest
Aug. 10, San Marcos,

Sunset Cruises on Armand Bayou
Aug. 10, 17, 24, 31, Pasadena,

Live Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing
Aug. 10-11, 24-25, Fredericksburg,

Photographs by Vicky Roy
Aug. 10-Oct. 20, Houston,

Gospel Brunch with a Texas Twist
Aug. 11, Gruene,

Perseids Meteor Shower
Aug. 11-13, Northern Hemisphere,

Majestic Theatre Happy Hour Tours
Aug. 12, 26, San Antonio,

Mandala Sand Painting by the Mystical Arts of Tibet
Aug. 14-18, Houston,

Thirst for Nature
Aug. 15, Boerne,

Come and Taste It
Aug. 15, Gruene,

Praha Pout (Picnic)
Aug. 15, Praha,

Feathered Fridays
Aug. 16, Mad Island Marsh Preserve, Matagorda,

Aug. 16-17, Hutto,

Meow Wolf Taos Vortex Immersive Weekend Experience
Aug. 16-18, Taos, N.M.,

North Texas Fair and Rodeo
Aug. 16-26, Denton,

The Day John Wesley Hardin Died
Aug. 17, El Paso,

Luckenbach Historic School Open House
Aug. 17, Fredericksburg,

Bird Banding
Aug. 17, Lake Jackson,

Indian Market
Aug. 17-18, Santa Fe, N.M.,

Grape Stomp at Pedernales Cellars
Aug. 17-18, 24-25, Stonewall,

Grape Punch
Aug. 17, 24, 25, Hye,

Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration
Aug. 22-23, Fort Davis,

Gillespie County Fair
Aug. 22-25, Fredericksburg,

Hotter’N Hell Hundred
Aug. 22-25, Wichita Falls,

Boogie Back to Bastrop – Country and Western Swing Festival
Aug. 23-24, Bastrop,

Hill Country Harvest Festival
Aug. 23-24, Fredericksburg,

Wood & Wire Haus Concert
Aug. 24, Fischer,

Margarita and Salsa Festival
Aug. 24, Waco,

Grape Stomp at Becker Vineyards
Aug. 24-25, 31, Sept. 1, Stonewall,

Frontier Times Jamboree
Aug. 25, Bandera,

Free NPS Entrance Day
Aug. 25, Various locations,

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s 111th Birthday
Aug. 27, Stonewall,

Kendall County Fair and Rodeo
Aug. 29-Sept. 1, Boerne,

Fayette County Fair
Aug. 29-Sept. 1, LaGrange,

Chicago Jazz Festival
Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Chicago, Ill.,

Concert in the Cave
Aug. 31, Boerne,

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Rodeo
Aug. 31, Boys Ranch,

VFD Benefit Fish Fry
Aug. 31, Doss,

Grape Stomp
Aug. 31, Fredericksburg,

Labor Day Backyard Barbecue
Aug. 31, Richmond,

Gerald E. 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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