Around the State
June—People, Places, Events, Attractions
As the REPUBLIC OF TEXAS BIKER RALLY gets under way for the eleventh year June 2–5, Austinites prepare once again for the low, eardrum-piercing rumble that thunders throughout the city like a doomsday alarm. Some 40,000 leather-clad, bandanna-armored easy riders will be contributing to the Doppler effect this year, with more-concentrated hog sounds on the winding roads of the Hill Country, downtown, and at the Travis County Expo Center. Rounding out this year’s activities: a free concert headlined by (who else?) George “Bad to the Bone” Thorogood, a Wall of Death motorcycle stunt show, a bike blessing religious service, and a monster truck exhibit. And since no Capital City event is complete without the requisite parade up Congress Avenue, the street will be shut down for the swarms the night of June 3. The scene is historically hassle-free, if surreal, and yet any smirking downtown workers rubbing elbows with tattooed visitors might be wise to remember Brando’s comment in The Wild One: “Anybody thinks they’re too good for me, I make sure I knock ’em over sometime.” Katy Vine
(For directions and more information, see Austin, Other Events)
48 HOURS | Forth Worth, June 10 through 12
Cowtown may be best known for two-stepping and cattle driving, but this month it’s the place to stop and smell the roses. Wander the primrose paths of five of the city’s most beautiful secret gardens June 11 and 12 on the Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth Tour, which unveils the dramatic terrace views, cascading pools, and elaborate boxwood parterres in the private backyards of Westover Hills. Follow a rippling creek that leads to an outdoor living room and fireplace, visit a garden temple, and fill your pocket full of posy-planting tips as you meander gravel walkways. And if you’re still in need of some landscaping inspiration, hit the Concerts in the Garden festival on any weekend evening for the Concerts in the Garden festival. What better way to end a day of flower frolicking than surrounded by Texas blooms and the music of Handel and Saint-Saëns. Jessica Norman Dupuy
(For directions and more information, see Fort Worth, Music/Dance and Other Events)
The 73-year-old country legend plays the Bass Performance Hall on June 10.
What’s your favorite song to perform? That’s a hard one. I always love to sing “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” because people’s reaction is wonderful. But I love “Why Baby Why” because it was my first hit, in 1955, and it’s always hard to top the first one. Different songs mean different things to me.
What are your Texas audiences like? Wild. They really love the kind of music I love: honky-tonk songs, drinkin’ and cheatin’ songs. They like to have a good time and are very vocal. And when they like you, there’s nothing like it.
We hear you’re a favorite on President Bush’s iPod. I’m honored and flattered. I’ve met him several times and also know his daddy; they’re both big country fans.
And these days you’re working on an album with Willie Nelson? Yes, and we’re having a great time. I think it means a lot to both of us. We’re going to have Merle [Haggard] do some songs with us. We’ve got one song that has a verse for me, Merle, Willie, and Jerry Lee Lewis. We were supposed to record it the day after the Grammy awards, but lots of little things happened, and I was the only one who showed up! Who’d believe that “No Show” was the one to show? Katharyn Rodemann
(For directions and more information, see Fort Worth, Music/Dance)
Quality (king-size beds, Frette linens, and claw-foot Jacuzzi tubs) trumps quantity (a mere 39 rooms) at the Ashton Hotel, originally the 1915 home of the Fort Worth Club. 610 Main, 866-327-4866.
Hit the Texas Motor Speedway on Friday for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ Chex 400. The IRL IndyCar weekend kicks off on Saturday with the season’s first night race, the Bombardier Learjet 500.
Esperanza’s Cafe and Bakery, the small, no-less- wonderful offshoot of the venerable Joe T. Garcia’s, is known for its robust salsas, tender cabrito, and fully loaded migas. 2122 N. Main, 817-626-5770.
Head to the Stockyards and watch as cowhands lead the Fort Worth herd on a daily cattle drive down Exchange Avenue. For the best view, perch on the observation deck of the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze.
Texas’s formative periods—from open range to oil boom to “urban ambivalence”—are captured in a series of forty photographs in “Becoming Texas Today,” on view at the Amon Carter Museum through June 26.
(For directions and more information, see Fort Worth: Sports, Points of Interest and Museums/Galleries)
GATHER ROUND | Fairs, fests, and other reasons to get together.
Texas Blueberry Festival
What’s the size of a marble and packs more fiber and antioxidants in one cup than your grandma’s prune juice? Why, that squishable, finger-staining pod known as the blueberry, of course. Pay homage to this season’s tiny jewel June 11 at the Texas Blueberry Festival, in Nacogdoches, which salutes the fruit with a blueberry pancake breakfast, blueberry farm tours, a blueberry-pie-eating contest, and such color-related events as an evening blues concert. Whether you go for a tasty short stack or just for a bushel of berries to bring back home, your celebration of the mighty blue orb will do your heart good—literally. Jessica Norman Dupuy
(For directions and more information, see Nacogdoches: Texas Blueberry Festival)
You Pick ’Em
Why buy a flat of pre-picked berries when you can do the plucking yourself? Select your own at the BLUEBERRY PLACE, a farm with two full acres devoted to three varieties of the luscious fruit. Sherrie Randall, who has tended the pesticide-free patch with her husband, Roger, for the past five years, shares her berry-pickin’ know-how.
9:00 a.m.: Catch the festival shuttle at Church and Commerce streets (it runs every half hour from 9 to 3). “Our regular pickers come in the morning or early evening, when the temperatures are cooler,” Randall says. “I think the blueberries are sweeter in the morning.” 9:15: At the farm, outfit yourself with a bucket and a harness: “Wear the harness like a backpack and clip the bucket to it, to free up both hands.” 9:30: Hit the patch to pick Tifblue, Climax, and Bluebell berries. Look for dark-blue fruit with a frosty bloom (any hint of red and it’s not ripe). A half hour of work yields about six pounds. 10:30: Weigh, bag, and pay for the fruits of your labor ($1 a pound) at the Pickers’ Porch and grab a copy of Randall’s blueberry cookbook ($4). “I love to take regular recipes and make them blueberry recipes,” she says. “My favorites are blueberry gingerbread and blueberry glaze over ice cream.” 11:00: Take your bounty home and freeze it or store it in the refrigerator for up to one week. Jordan Breal
Let Them Eat Pancake
The Nacogdoches Kiwanis Club serves some 2,400 blueberry flapjacks to about eight hundred people at its annual breakfast. Aron Kulhavy was last year’s pancake chair.
So how many blueberries is that? About ten gallons, donated by local farms. We pick them ourselves, usually in teams, over a couple of weekends.
What’s the plan of attack the day of the breakfast? Our crew—some 35 to 40 people—starts between five and five-thirty in the morning. Our goal is to have the first pancake off the grill at seven. There are batter mixers, stationed at the Fredonia Hotel, which lets us use its kitchen, and batter runners, who run the batter to the big gas griddle at the festival. Then there are the berry droppers, who add the blueberries when the bottom sides of the pancakes are brown. Also the money takers and the runners, who hit the grocery store when we run out of syrup.
I bet that’s a lot of syrup. We start out with about thirty bottles of syrup and forty bottles of butter, and on a good day we have to run out for more.
What makes your pancakes so great? We use a special recipe that uses regular pancake mix with some secret ingredients that spice ’em up. They’re big pancakes, too. Folks don’t go away hungry. Jordan Breal