Day Trips & Beyond: April Events Roundup
Updates from around the state and things to look forward to
By Gerald E. McLeod,
3:00PM, Wed. Apr. 1, 2020
When this pandemic is over we’ll all be ready for a day trip.
Shelter-in-place and social-distancing orders have been necessary to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but have had a devastating effect on local economies. Artists, craftspeople, musicians, food service personnel, bartenders, vineyards, charitable organizations, venue owners, and more all have taken a hit by not being able to work. Many of the small-town fairs and festivals are run by volunteers who donate hours of planning and work to the events as fundraisers for local charitable organizations. It is not easy for them to arrange alternative dates and venues, and not always possible. Hopefully, when this pandemic is over and we can all go back to normal activities they will come back with renewed vigor and stronger than ever. There is going to be a lot of pent-up wanderlust that’s going to need to be released.
It was with great sadness that we learned of a death in Marble Falls. The Adult Soapbox Derby is no more at the tender age of 10 years old. Apparently the organizers wanted to grow the three-day festival of races, derby hat contests, and a street dance while the city wanted to constrict the space and time allotted to the races. The Marble Falls Soapbox Classic began in 2009 almost as a joke between two business owners and grew into one of the most popular events in the Highland Lakes region. The 2019 festival of crazy cars alone raised enough money to send 200 children in foster care to summer camp. However, ladies and gentlemen, don’t trash your homemade motorless vehicles yet. Harris Hill Raceway outside of San Marcos is considering holding an Adult Soapbox Derby on the last weekend of June and the Johnson County Soapbox Classic in Alvarado is planned for Oct. 27.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders on March 19 limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people until April 3, closing schools, prohibiting drinking in bars, limiting restaurants to take-out only, and banning visits to nursing homes. The executive orders do not prohibit people from visiting grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks. Domestic travel remains unrestricted, but it advised that residents limit travel to essential trips only. Many municipalities have bypassed state restrictions by limiting large groups through the end of April.
You can’t keep a good moon down and on Wed., April 8, the moon will shine in all its glory. One of three supermoons this year – one happened in March, the other happens on May 7 – the supermoon in April will be the closest to Earth, thusly appearing the largest of the year.
Most Texas State Parks are still open, but without public access to park headquarters, visitor centers, and park stores. Check the alert map for parks that are open to visitors. As part of these operational changes, parks will suspend all cash transactions where feasible. Visitors must purchase day-use passes and camping permits online before visiting a park. Other reduced services include the suspension of equipment rentals and interpretive programs. These changes will remain in effect until further notice. The public is encouraged to follow the department’s social media accounts and monitor its website for the most up-to-date information.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, may be temporarily closed, but they’re working to share inspiring MFAH experiences. Stay connected with #MFAHatHome via social media; access the MFAH art collections online; and check out MFAH.org/VirtualExperience for streaming films, artmaking activities, artist talks, and more. The museum also has a series of short Inside the MFAH videos that are fun and informative.
Meow Wolf, the home of interactive art experiences in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver, is one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies according to Fast Company. Just in time for “shelter in place,” the artists have put together a series of behind-the-scenes videos of Santa Fe’s House of Eternal Return.
The Old Settler's Music Festival outside of Lockhart in beautiful Tilmon is in the process of being rescheduled. No word yet on the new date, but it's possibly sometime this fall.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every year CASA of the Sabine Neches Region places pinwheels on the Orange County Courthouse lawn in Orange to remember the 235 Texas children who lost their lives to abuse and neglect. It is a sad and beautiful vigil as the spinning toys catch the breeze and light. Due to “shelter in place” orders, the display is being streamed online on the organization’s Facebook page.
According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, based on current occupancy estimates, 4 million total hotel and support jobs have been eliminated already or are on the verge of being lost in the next few weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In certain affected markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Boston, hotel occupancy rates are already down below 20 percent and individual hotels and major operators have already shut down operations. The association estimates that in Texas alone, 64,072 direct hotel jobs have been lost out of 145,617, plus 268,797 out of 658,637 support jobs have disappeared. Nationally, the hotel industry supports nearly 2.3 million jobs directly and over 8.3 million jobs total (direct hotel operations, guest spending, indirect supply-chain, and induced). Continued drastic declines in occupancy rates will lead to massive job losses for individuals across the industry.
The city of Tyler’s Mayor Martin Heines is asking all area businesses that have marquee signs or billboards to display messages of safe hygiene practices as part of the “Mayor’s Marquee Challenge.” Participating businesses can show their support for the campaign by sharing photos of their billboards on social media and tagging #spreadfactsnotfear and #marqueechallenge.
April Events That Have Been Rescheduled:
Only April events that have announced a new date are included on this list. It is always recommended that you check with the event before expending resources to attend.
April 22-27, Dallas, www.earthx.org
Scarborough Renaissance Festival
May 2-June 7, Waxahachie, www.srfestival.com
Texas Ladies Championship Chili Cook-off
Aug. 8, Seguin, www.tlscco.com
Oct. 2-4, Port Aransas, www.texassandfest.org
Oct. 3-5, Glen Rose, www.bluegrassheritage.org
Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival
Sept. 3-6, Fort Worth, www.mainstreetartsfest.org
Kerrville Folk Festival
Oct. 8-18, Kerrville, www.kerrvillefolkfestival.org
Tournament of Trucks Food Truck Festival
Oct. 18, Salado, www.facebook.com/events/amys-attics-festivals/tournament-of-trucks-food-truck-festival/432329724132840/
Red Poppy Festival
Oct. 23-25, Georgetown, www.poppy.georgetown.org
Fiesta San Antonio
Nov. 5-15, San Antonio, www.fiestasanantonio.org
Brew on the Bayou
Nov. 7, Lake Jackson, www.gcbo.org
Hill Country Comic Con
Nov. 28-29, New Braunfels, www.hillcountrycomicon.com
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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Day Trips, COVID-19, coronavirus, travel, Adult Soapbox Derby, supermoon, Texas State Parks, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Meow Wolf, Old Settler's Music Festival, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, American Hotel and Lodging Association