Day Trips & Beyond: February Events Roundup

Celebrate Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s, and more in Texas

Riding the teakwood decks of the 141-year-old Elissa is the thrill of a lifetime. Tickets are now on sale for the public sailings out of Galveston in April. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Welcome aboard. Every year, the Official Tall Ship of Texas must go through her paces to maintain her seaworthy rating. This is a good time to use the Elissa as a training vessel and to give fans an opportunity to ride the wind. It’s a beautiful sight when the 1877 iron-hulled barque unfurls its sails. Tickets ($250/person) for some of the six-hour trips between April 8 and 22 have already sold out. So, if you’re interested in attending this annual event, you’d better act soon.

Maybe the trip on the Elissa doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, but you’d love to see the 144-year-old ship in action. The harbor tour vessel SEAGULL II offers two-hour cruises following the Elissa for $35 per person. The double-decker boat is limited to 45 guests and is the perfect platform for photographers.

Launched in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Elissa is one of the oldest hulls still sailing. Records show she visited Galveston in 1883 and 1886 hauling Texas cotton. An engine added to the three-mast sailing ship in 1918 extended her career. By 1969, she was rusting in a salvage yard until being rescued by the Galveston Historical Foundation in 1975. When moored at the Texas Seaport Museum, the Elissa is open for self-guided tours offering a unique view into the history of sailing ships.

The Elissa and the Texas Seaport Museum are at Pier 21 on Galveston’s Harborside Drive. The museum chronicles the city’s maritime history and offers boat tours of the harbor.
April 8-22, Elissa Day Sails, Galveston, 409/765-7834,

Desegregating the Little Rock Central High School was a seminal moment in American Civil Rights. The National Historic Site museum across the street from the high school offers an inspirational visit. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Black History Month. The journey of American Civil Rights has been long and arduous, and is one that has not been completed. Few Southern cities were more on the front lines of the struggle during the early days of the movement than Little Rock, Ark. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s efforts to break racial barriers and integrate the all-white Central High School in September 1957. The building remains an active school and part of the National Historic Site that includes a wonderful visitor center and museum.

The Arkansas capital city hosts six of the 100-plus sites on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. In addition the city’s historic attractions include the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.

While in the state’s largest city, you’ll want to try two of the area’s iconic restaurants. The Lassis Inn is the city’s oldest Black-owned eatery and was recently recognized with an American Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation. Famous for their fried catfish and buffalo fish ribs, the dining room was a regular meeting space for civil rights leaders. For barbecue head across town to Sims Bar-B-Que for their famous pork ribs.

Need help designing your personal livestock brand? The boards outside the courthouse in Gonzales showcases historic cattle brands. Maybe yours will be added in the future. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Branding news. There are lots of Texans who can be described as being “all hat and no cattle.” That doesn’t mean they can’t have bragging rights of owning a real Texas livestock brand. You don’t have to actually own any animals to register a brand. You can record a brand at any time, but any current brands must be re-registered by Feb. 28 regardless of when it was originally filed. (There is a six-month grace period.) The registration is good for 10 years and will expire Aug. 30, 2031.

The age-old process of registering Texas livestock and equine brands is relatively easy. County clerks handle the registration for their jurisdiction, and you can register a brand in multiple counties. Simply fill out a short form that includes a drawing of your personal mark and pay the registration fee. In Travis County the fee is $26, but cost varies by county.
Feb. 28, Brand Registration, County Clerk’s Office,

Travel Notes:

History on the edge. Hidden among our communities and neighborhoods around the state are many sites of historical, architectural, and cultural value. Early in January, Preservation Texas announced its 2021 list of Most Endangered Places in Texas. Among the nine places are the 1921 former Young County Jail in Graham, Old Fort Parker near Groesbeck, and Dunbar Historic District in San Marcos. Since 2004, more than 150 imperiled historical places have been identified on the nonprofit organization’s annual lists. Of these neglected properties, only 14 have disappeared, but many remain in jeopardy.

Cowboy cuisine. You might not have thought of Abilene as a foodie destination, but the West Texas town has more going on than you think. That’s what Rochelle White discovered, so she started her Abilene Food Tours to showcase the diversity of restaurants in her hometown. She offers four walking tours on a progressive meal to sample the food at eateries in downtown.

Mexico on a burro. After being closed for 20 months because of the coronavirus, the Boquillas Port of Entry has reopened. The tiny village surrounded by the Maderas del Carmen biosphere reserve and across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park is once again welcoming visitors. The border crossing is currently open Wednesday through Sunday. A valid passport or passport card is required as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. The 300 residents of Boquillas del Carmen depend on tourism for their livelihood, making the closure particularly difficult.

New central park. In late January officials in San Antonio broke ground on Civic Park, the first phase of redeveloping Hemisfair Park in downtown. The $27 million project will turn a 5-acre vacant lot at the corner of South Alamo and East Market streets into a large public green space. On the back side of the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center and across the street from the River Walk, the new park is a few blocks south of the Alamo complex, which is also currently under construction. When this phase of the redevelopment is completed in late 2023 it will include a large lawn and event space, a shaded promenade, water features, and charging stations.

Other February Events:

Birding Festival
Feb. 2-5, Laredo,

South Padre Island Kite Fest
Feb. 3-5, South Padre Island,

Frida: Immersive Dream
Feb. 3-April 17, Dallas,

“Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art”
Feb. 4-May 8, Corpus Christi,

Old Jail Exhibit
Feb. 5, Fredericksburg,

Lunar New Year Festival: Year of the Tiger
Feb. 5, Houston,

Lunar New Year
Feb. 5, Houston,

Titans of Tailgate
Feb. 5, San Antonio,

Wharton County Courthouse Tours
Feb. 5, Wharton,

Lunar New Year Houston
Feb. 5-6, Houston,

Kerrville Renaissance Festival
Feb. 5-6, Kerrville,

Wild Cave Tours
Feb. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, Burnet,

Behind-the-scenes Tour of Audubon Raptor & Education Center
Feb. 5, 26, Houston,

Buddy Holly’s 85th Birthday
Feb. 6, Lubbock,

San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
Feb. 10-27, San Antonio,

Railroad Museum Grand Opening
Feb. 11, Cleburne,

Cupid’s Bow Bash
Feb. 11, Fredericksburg,

Luckenbach Hug-In and Valentine Ball
Feb. 11-12, Luckenbach,

LaMardi Gras
Feb. 11-12, Rockport,

Todd Snider in Concert
Feb. 11-13, Fischer,

“Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth”
Feb. 11-May 8, San Antonio,

Valentine’s Day
Feb. 12, Bankersmith,

Three Tenors Perform Songs of Love
Feb. 12, Boerne,

Dairy Tours
Feb. 12, Gustine,

Museum Market
Feb. 12, San Antonio,

Market Days
Feb. 12-13, Boerne,

JooYoung Choi: Songs of Resilience from the Tapestry of Faith
Feb. 12-Sept. 4, Dallas,

Helen Lee Estates Daffodil Garden
Feb. 15-March 15, Gladewater,

Come and Taste It
Feb. 17, Gruene,

11th Street Cowboy Mardi Gras
Feb. 17-19, Bandera,

Free Third Thursdays
Feb. 17, Corpus Christi,

Frida: Immersive Dream
Feb. 17-April 17, Houston,

Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Feb. 18-19, Alpine,

Trade Days
Feb. 18-20, Fredericksburg,

Continental Ranch Roundup
Feb. 18-21, Del Rio,

Mardi Gras! Galveston
Feb. 18-March 1, Galveston,

Yachty Gras Grand Night Boat Parade
Feb. 19, Clear Lake,

Day of Remembrance
Feb. 19, Fredericksburg,

Cave Creek School Open House
Feb. 19, Gillespie County,

Market Day at Varner-Hogg Plantation
Feb. 19, West Columbia,

Old Gruene Market Days
Feb. 19-20, Gruene,

Charro Days
Feb. 19-27, Brownsville,

Lone Star Brass in Concert
Feb. 20, Fredericksburg,

Eastside Market
Feb. 20, Waco,

Bird Banding
Feb. 22, Lake Jackson,

Sculpting Sound: Twelve Musicians Encounter Bertoia
Feb. 22-27, Dallas,

Sombrero Festival
Feb. 24-26, Brownsville,

Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas
Feb. 24-27, Beaumont,

Whooping Crane Festival
Feb. 24-27, Port Aransas,

Annual Rock Art Rendezvous
Feb. 25-27, Comstock,

Mardi Gras Upriver
Feb. 25-27, Jefferson,

Granbury JazzFest
Feb. 26, Granbury,

Texas Mead Fest
Feb. 26, La Grange,

Battle of the Paddle
Feb. 26, San Antonio,

Texas Independence Day Celebration
Feb. 26-27, Washington,

Lienzo Charro de San Antonio
Feb. 26-27, San Antonio,

Buffalo Heritage Day
Feb. 27, San Angelo,

In search of more travel ideas? Visit our Out of Town listings.
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 and follow him on Facebook.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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