Day Trips & Beyond: July Events Roundup

Shakespeare, sandcastles, and celebrations all over Texas

Summer fun is really heating up, from a historic merry-go-round to the reopening of a popular state park.

Historic merry-go-round. The painted ponies are a little worse for the wear and only come out to work twice a year these days – during the Lee County Fair in May and the Fireman’s Fourth of July Celebration. (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Built around 1915 by the C.W. Parker Company, the Giddings carousel only allows children to ride the horses. Adults can ride sitting on the benches or standing.

The story goes that the city acquired the merry-go-round in 1920 when a traveling carnival couldn’t pay its bills. They left the carnival ride as collateral and never returned. The carousel is owned by the Giddings Volunteer Fire Department, and has been the recipient of several community service projects to enclose it in a wooden round house and refurbish the ponies.

Rare C.W. Parker Company wooden horses (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

The painted ponies come out of semi-retirement on the Fourth of July. The day is a major fundraiser for the Giddings Volunteer Fire Department and major fun. There’ll be games, an auction, and arts and crafts vendors. The centerpiece is the Fireman’s Feast – an all-day barbecue in Fireman’s Park at Lee County Fairgrounds. A fireworks display happens as soon as the sun goes down.
July 4, Fireman’s Fourth of July Celebration, Giddings, 979/542-3455,

The theatre in a barn at Winedale Historical Center (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Bard in a Barn. One of the iconic events of summer in Central Texas is Shakespeare at Winedale outside of Round Top. This year the student actors present Much Ado About Nothing, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and The Winter's Tale on alternating nights. Tickets are available for a very affordable $10 and it’s much cooler in the barn at Winedale Historical Center than you might expect.
July 22-August 14, Shakespeare at Winedale, Round Top, 512/471-4726,

Travel Notes:

Castles in the sand. Up your game when it comes to building sandcastles with free lessons from a professional at East Beach in Galveston. Every Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day someone will be at the water’s edge down from the pavilion showing the basic finer points of building sandcastles. No reservation is needed, and the lessons happen at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.

Polly in quarantine. All of the parrots at the South Texas Botanical Gardens have been removed from public display because of confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Texas. That means the macaw named “Tequila” will have to celebrate his birthday in private on July 24, which also happens to be National Tequila Day. There are still lots of things to see and do at the Corpus Christi park like the hummingbird garden and the “Rep-Tales” on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30.

Beach camping. Late last month the portion of Galveston Island State Park facing the beach reopened to visitors. The renovations to the 2,000-acre park include a new headquarters, additional and renovated restrooms, new roads, 95 new beachside campsites, 20 new beach shade shelters, and a seasonal equestrian day-use area. The improvements also added more hiking and biking trails, a remodeled nature center, two observation towers, three kayak launch sites, and three new group-use pavilions. The bay-side half of the park never closed for an extended period, but the beach-side was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Redevelopment of the beach area began in 2019 with $10.6 million in Deepwater Horizon Natural Resources Damage Assessment funds and other money.

Other July Events:

Summer Public Ranch Tour
July 2, Fredericksburg,

Jeffrey Neel McDaniel designed the poster for this year's Rockport Art Festival.

Art Festival
July 2-3, Rockport,

Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing
July 2-3, 16-17, Fredericksburg,

Crape Myrtle Festival and Parade
July 3-4, Waxahachie,

Fireman’s Fourth of July Celebration
July 4, Giddings,

Robert Earl Keen’s Fourth on the River
July 4, Kerrville,

Tuesday Swing Dance Lessons
July 5, 12, 19, 26, Gruene,

Balloon Fest
July 8-9, Canton,

Roundup Rodeo, Parade, and Festival
July 8-9, Mason,

Gault Archaeology Site Tour
July 9, Florence,

Folk Festival
July 9, New Braunfels,

Parker County Peach Festival
July 9, Weatherford,

Fun for the whole family at Houston's Comicpalooza

July 15-17, Houston,

International Sister Cities Festival
July 15-17, Laredo,

Shakespeare at Winedale
July 15-17, 22-Aug. 14, Winedale,

Wrede Historic School Open House
July 16, Fredericksburg,

Deep in the Heart Film Festival
July 21-24, Waco,

National Day of the American Cowboy
July 23, Bandera,

National Day of the American Cowboy
July 23, San Angelo,

“Salado Legends”
July 23, 30, Aug. 6, Salado,

Viva Big Bend
July 27-31, Alpine,

Buffalo Soldier Anniversary Date
July 28, San Angelo,

Alpha Capricornid Meteor Shower
July 30-31, Night Sky,

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article included an outdated lineup for Shakespeare at Winedale. It's been updated with the current offerings, and we apologize for the error.
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.

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Day Trips, Fourth of July, Giddings, Shakespeare at Winedale, Galveston, South Texas Botanical Gardens, Fireman's Feast, Rockport Art Festival, Lee County Fair

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