Christmas in Georgetown!

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It’s that time of year when “The Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas” gets a big dose of Christmas cheer. Walking down the busy Georgetown sidewalks surrounded by wonder and lights feels like stepping into a classic Christmas carol, and at the top of every hour, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear silver bells ringing in the distance.

Every building of the Square is dazzling with hundreds of lights, wreaths and bows, transforming it into a magical Christmas wonderland. In the center of it all, the Courthouse glows with red and green lights, as well as 5 Christmas trees. It’s the ideal family photo-op. While exploring the lawn, you’ll find that even Mr. Dan Moody’s statue has a scarf to help him feel festive!

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The canopies of trees over each walkway are wrapped with twinkling lights, and the sidewalks gleam in the light of old-fashioned street lamps donning Holiday wreaths. It’s like jumping straight into a Currier and Ives postcard — the only thing missing is a blanket of snow! (And as you know, we don’t get that much in Texas…)

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The window displays in each store are like something out of a storybook. You’ll find the wildly decorated Gumbo’s with cheetah-print wrapped columns and giant Nutcracker soldiers. Look in the windows of the restaurant to find extravagant Christmas trees with little gifts underneath!

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The window art at All Things Kids celebrates Georgetown’s new green energy initiative with the downtown Georgetown skyline painted in green. Each building even has it’s own little sign!

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The extravagant Christmas display in Diva’s windows are just a taste of what awaits inside. Every inch of the showroom has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland with ornaments and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and every color of Christmas tree decorating the store. Yule love their Christmas decor!

diva_1Pop by Pink Poppy, which is decked out in funky snowflakes and fabulous sparkly trees, to see the Christmas Pig riding his bike — he’s gotta get to the North Pole to help Santa with all those gifts!

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On your Christmas journey, you can grab some chocolate treats at Sweet Serendipity and see the Christmas Eve scene in their windows.  While you’re there, say “hello” to Three-Legged Willie who’s hanging out in front of the Williamson Museum.

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If you find yourself getting chilly on your stroll through the Square, stop at Cianfrani Coffee Company, a favorite local hangout, for a cup of hot cocoa or a toasty chai latte. At Mikey V’s Hot Sauce Shop, you can thaw out with taste bud-kickin’ hot sauces that’ll keep you nice and warm!

Georgetown is an amazing place to have holiday fun with your family this season. Catch a Christmas performance at the Palace Theater, admire the entries in the town’s Annual Gingerbread House Competition at the Georgetown Public Library, and have an Instagram-worthy photoshoot at the Visitor’s Center photo booth complete with Santa beards, Christmas hats and more!

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The magic of Christmas is waiting for you in Georgetown! Click here for the Upcoming Events in Georgetown like Breakfast with Santa, Historic Homes tours and more!

 

Texas Has 39 Grammy Nominations

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Y’all, here’s another reason why TEXAS IS THE BEST!  The 59th Annual Grammy nominations are out and we’ve got a ton of Texans reppin’ the Lone Star State out there in the music world. That’s right, 25 Texas born-or-based musicians have received a total of 39 Grammy nominations! Below is a list of your fellow Texans making us all proud.

Beyoncé (Houston)
Record Of The Year for Formation
Album Of The Year for Lemonade
Song Of The Year for Formation
Best Pop Solo Performance for Hold Up
Best Rock Performance for Don’t Hurt Yourself (featuring Jack White)
Best Urban Contemporary Album for Lemonade
Best Rap/Sung Performance for Freedom
Best Music Video for Formation
Best Music Film for Lemonade

Tchad Blake (Baytown)
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for Andrew Bird – Are You Serious

Edie Brickell (Dallas)
Best Musical Theater Album for Bright Star (with Steve Martin)

Leon Bridges (Fort Worth)
Best Music Video for River

Carol Burnett (San Antonio)
Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling) for In Such Good Company: Eleven Years Of Laughter, Mayhem, And Fun In The Sandbox

Kelly Clarkson (Burleson)
Best Pop Solo Performance for Piece By Piece (Idol Version)

Crowder (Texarkana)
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for American Prodigal

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (Austin)
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media for Stranger Things Volume 1
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media for Stranger Things Volume 2

Sarah Dodds & Shauna Dodds (Austin)
Best Recording Package for Sunset Motel by Reckless Kelly

Kirk Franklin (Fort Worth)
Best Gospel Performance/Song for God Provides (with Tamela Mann)
Best Gospel Album for Losing My Religion

Best Rap/Sung Performance for Ultralight Beam (with Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, & The-Dream)
Best Rap Song for Ultralight Beam (with Chancelor Bennett, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Kirk Franklin, Noah Goldstein, Samuel Griesemer, Terius Nash, Jerome Potter, Kelly Price, Nico “Donnie Trumpet” Segal, Derek Watkins, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, & The-Dream)

Sarah Jarosz (Wimberley)
Best American Roots Performance for House Of Mercy
Best Folk Album for Undercurrent

Kris Kristofferson (Brownsville)
Best Americana Album for The Cedar Creek Sessions

La Maquinaria Norteña (Dallas)
Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) for Generación Maquinaria Est. 2006

Miranda Lambert (Lindale)
Best Country Solo Performance for Vice
Best Country Song for Vice (with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne)

Demi Lovato (Dallas)
Best Pop Vocal Album for Confident

Tamela Mann (Mansfield)
Best Gospel Performance/Song for God Provides (with Kirk Franklin)

Steve Martin (Waco)
Best Musical Theater Album for Bright Star (with Edie Brickell)

Shane McAnally
 (Mineral Wells)
Best Country Song for Vice (with Miranda Lambert and Josh Osborne)

Maren Morris (Arlington)
Best New Artist 
Best Country Solo Performance for My Church
Best Country Song for My Church
Best Country Album for Hero

Willie Nelson (Austin)
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin

Pentatonix (Arlington)
Best Country Duo Group Performance for Jolene ( with Dolly Parton)

Andrew Savage (Dallas)
Best Recording Package for Parquet Courts – Human Performance 

Snarky Puppy (Denton)
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Culcha Vulcha

Solange (Houston)
Best R&B Performance for Cranes In The Sky

Christopher Theofanidis 
(Dallas)
Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Theofanidis: Bassoon Concerto

Catch the 59th Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2017 to watch as Texas TAKES IT ALL at the Grammy Awards!

15 Spectacular Christmas Festivals!

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It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas in Texas. Across the state, lights are twinkling in the trees, wreaths deck the front doors of every home and storefront, and you can find a Christmas tree on just about every corner. If you’re having trouble getting in the Christmas spirit, no problem! We’ve gathered 15 of the holliest and jolliest festivals and lights shows happening across the state, so you can experience as much Christmas Cheer this holiday season as possible!

Georgetown Christmas Stroll – Dec. 2-3

http://www.toddwhite.org

Picture by Todd White.

Head to the Georgetown Square to walk through a Winter Wonderland! During the free 36th Annual Christmas Stroll, the Square transforms into a magical place complete with a Who-Village where the Grinch waits to greet you and a Bethlehem Village where you can explore the town where Christ was born. On Saturday, there will be a Christmas Parade and Santa will be stopping by this weekend to hear all your Christmas wishes!

Main Street Bethlehem - Dec. 2-4, 9-11

Picture by John Hallowell.

Picture by John Hallowell.

The First Baptist Church of Burnet has recreated the holy night that Jesus was born at Main Street Bethlehem. More than just a live nativity scene, you will find yourself transported back to the streets of ancient Bethlehem as you find your way through crowds of peddlers and animals on the outskirts of town, and peruse through the bustling marketplace in the heart of the village. You’ll search for the inn, only to find it’s already full. Finally, you’ll find solace with Mary and Joseph in a cave surrounded by animals as Christ is born in a manger. The event is from 6-9 p.m. each night and admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Austin Trail of Lights – Dec. 10-23

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Picture by Dear Wesleyann Photography

Make your Holiday Season extra bright by walking through the 2 million lights strung across the 300+ acres of Zilker Park. Along a trail of 1.25 miles, you’ll find lights galore, gourmet food vendors, live performances and more! You can stop by Candy Cane Lane and the North Pole to say “hello” to Santa and take some epic selfies with the giant Zilker Tree! Find ticket information here.

Concho Christmas Celebration – Dec. 2-31

Picture by Don Treadwell Photography.

Picture by Don Treadwell Photography.

Along the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo you’ll find a 2.5 mile Tour of Lights with giant Christmas cards and Holiday scenes galore! The twinkling lights along the trail depict The Twelve Days of Christmas, a nativity scene, poinsettias and more at the Concho Christmas Celebration! Admission is free, but a donation of $5 per car is suggested.

Christmas in the Gardens – Nightly until Dec. 23

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Picture by the Amarillo Botanical Gardens.

In Amarillo  during the Christmas season, the Amarillo Botanical Gardens become a 4-acre dazzling display of twinkling lights and beautiful flowers and foliage as over 200,000 lights are strung across the garden. Stop by Christmas in the Gardens to watch the plant life glow. Admission is free, and donations are accepted. Each night, the festivities last from 6-8 p.m.

Rail of Lights – Thurs. – Sun. until Dec. 24

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Forget the Polar Express, this railroad in Jefferson is all you’ll be needing this Christmas! Hop aboard the 1964 Christmas Train steam engine where you’ll ride past a life-size nativity scene, the German Markets, a Teddy Bear tree, Jerusalem and so much more! Find more information and purchase your tickets here.

EmilyAnn Trail of Lights – Nightly until Dec. 29

Picture by Scot Brinkley

Picture by Scot Brinkley

Visit Wimberley for all the Christmas fun you could possibly imagine at the EmilyAnn Trail of Lights! Not only can you walk through 8-acres of lights and explore a musical garden, but you can visit Santa, hop on the Jingle Bell Express and even meet a few Disney Princesses! At the event, there will also be raffle prizes and all kinds of sweets and snacks. Admission is free, and donations are accepted.

Gift of Lights – Nightly until Dec. 30

Picture by Roderick Cordova Photography.
Picture by Roderick Cordova Photography.

Race on over to the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for lots of lights and tons of fun – and it benefits FIVE local charities! The Gift of Lights trail will lead you through archways of light and Christmas figurines, and you may even find yourself on the inner track of the largest Speedway in Texas! And while you’re there, stop by Santa’s Village to share a cup of hot cocoa with the big man in red, himself, and even see a few retired race cars! You can save $5 on tickets if you bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. Find more information here.

Wonderland of Lights – Wed.-Sat. until Dec. 31

Picture by the Marshall News Messenger.

Picture by the Marshall News Messenger.

Visit Marshall, TX, where the heart of downtown is decked out from top to bottom in Christmas cheer and dazzling decorations at the Wonderland of Lights. Glide on the outdoor skating rink, decorate cookies, take photos with Santa in his workshop, and hop on the carousel, horse-drawn carriages or Wonderland Express for a truly festive view of the glowing Square.

Santa’s Wonderland – Daily until Jan. 1

Picture by Santaland.

Picture by Santa’s Wonderland

In College Station, you can wander through an entire village of Christmas fun and Holiday festivities! Take a carriage ride through archways of dazzling light, cozy up by a crackling fire, climb to the top of West Pole Mountain Adventure to slide down the Texas-sized slide or visit with Santa. To make the whole experience even more magical, it snows every night at Santa’s Wonderland. 

Prairie Lights – Nightly until Jan. 1

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Take an enchanted journey through 4 million lights in Grand Prairie at the Prairie Lights. You’ll enjoy driving through archways of dancing lights and seeing fun Christmas scenes from the comfort of your warm car. Halfway through, you can stop by the Holiday Village for hot chocolate, fun with Santa, a Magical Forest and more!

SantaLand - Nightly until Jan. 4

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When Santa’s not at the North Pole prepping for Christmas, he likes to spend time in Tyler, and he’d love for YOU to visit him! This 24-acre park is filled with Christmas Cheer from giant dancing trees and marshmallow monsters to tractor trailer rides and Christmas Tree Lane. And until Dec. 24, you can visit old Kris Kringle at Santa’s Igloo! Click here for ticket information.

Magic of Christmas Light Show - Daily until Jan. 8

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Pictures by the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau.

If you’re looking for the Christmas Spirit, look no further than Grapevine, the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” Each night, as you’re exploring Main Street, which is decked out in Holiday lights and decorations, be sure to catch the Magic of Christmas Light Show that plays continuously from 6-11 p.m. This town is as packed with seasonal festivities as Santa’s bag is filled with toys on Christmas Eve. Check out our Holiday fun in Grapevine here.

Magical Winter Lights – Daily until Jan. 8

Picture by Magical Winter Lights.

Picture by Magical Winter Lights.

Modeled after Chinese Lantern Festivals that date back to about 2,000 years ago, this festival in La Marque is sure to be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. The park is divided into different sections, but no matter where you start, you’re sure to be amazed. Walk through giant Dinosaurs, furnished castles, Christmas trees and even landmarks of the world — all formed out of multicolored, glowing lanterns. At the festival, you’ll also find an epic carnival and cultural performances.

Holiday Lights on the River Walk – Nightly until Jan. 16

Picture by J. Michael Short and the Paseo del Rio Association.

Picture by J. Michael Short and the Paseo del Rio Association.

Visit the San Antonio River Walk during the Holidays to see the river dressed up for Christmas. Not only are hundreds of lights strung along the historic architecture of the river walk, but as you wander up and down the water, you’ll find all sorts of Christmas festivities, from Holiday Boat Caroling to traditional Mexican Christmas luminary lanterns strung along the water. Click here for coupons that you can use along the River Walk provided by Rio Magazine. Find the complete schedule of activities here.

Spring 2017 Intern Wanted

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Ever wanted to work for the strangest travel show in Texas? Looking to gain experience in production, editing, marketing, journalism, and being on set of a TV show?  Well then listen up!

We are currently looking for our next intern for the SPRING OF 2017.  Here is the criteria:

  • Must be currently enrolled in college and seeking credit for the internship
  • Must show interest in aspects of television production (filming, editing, writing, marketing, etc.)
  • Knowledge and/or experience with non-linear editing preferred (Premiere, Avid, FCPX)
  • Must be available to work for 15-20 hours/week at our offices in Georgetown, TX

This is a PAID internship at $8/hour.  If you are attending one the following schools, apply through the links below. All others, please send your resume to tosha (at) hogaboomroad.com.

University of Texas - https://moody-utexas-csm.symplicity.com/
Austin Community College - http://sites.austincc.edu/jobs/
Southwestern University - https://southwestern-csm.symplicity.com/

Keep on Trippin’

“Dia de Rudy’s” in DFW, Nov. 12

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Okay, Dallas/Fort Worth it’s your turn for a day of barbecue! We had tons of fun at the Dia de Rudy’s in Houston and now we can’t wait to party WITH YOU!!! We’ll be making our way through all FIVE Rudy’s locations in the Metroplex on November 12! It’s a meaty job, but someone’s gotta do it and we’d love for you to join us! We’ll start with a barbecue breakfast at the Arlington, TX location and end our meaty journey through town at the Allen, TX location. If you can’t make it through all of them, join us at one or more — but just so you know, there will be awesome PRIZES for anyone who makes it to all 5!

TIMES AND RUDY’S LOCATIONS

9:00 a.m. —  Arlington, TX location (451 Interstate 20) How about some barbecue breakfast tacos to start off the day?

10:30 a.m. — Fort Worth, TX location (6800 N Freeway Service Road E) Who doesn’t love a brunch of pecan pie and jalapeno sausage?

11:45 a.m. — Denton, TX location (520 I-35 Frontage Rd.) Time for a lunch of brisket by the pound!

1:15 p.m. — Frisco, TX location (9828 Dallas Pkwy.) Oh boy! An afternoon snack of ribs and pulled pork!

2:30 p.m. – Allen, TX location (1790 N Central Expy) To end the day, how about an early dinner of prime rib?

Of course, eating TONS of BBQ in one day will be awesome, but the fun doesn’t stop there! At each location, we will be handing out a playing card and at the end of the day, all card-holders will play a game of 5-card stud for the chance to win a $250 Rudy’s gift card.

Throughout the day, participants will be given a BINGO card to play on for an all-day contest. Winners will receive awesome Rudy’s swag.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! Each participant that completes the challenge of eating at all 5 locations on November 12 will win a $50 gift card to Rudy’s!

Click here to see our Facebook Events Page! 

So join us for a day of fantastic BBQ, fun games and sweet prizes!

Indescribably Uvalde

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Since Chet and I have started writing a Hill Country travel book, I’ve traveled to a ton of cities across the area (from Belton to Gruene, and beyond!) I fancied myself an expert on all things Hill Country, and when I headed to Uvalde I thought I knew exactly what I’d find.

But upon my arrival in Uvalde, I instantly understood why the town’s motto is “a whole other Hill Country” — it was like I had entered a different world. It was larger than I’d thought it’d be, flatter than the tremendously hilly areas around and I even saw a few palm trees… Yet that’s not all that made it unique. You can’t compare this town to the other cities in the Hill Country, but to be fair, you can’t quite compare it to any other Texas town, either. Uvalde is filled with an interest and intrigue unlike any other city.

After learning about the town’s history at the museum in the El Progreso Memorial Library, I stopped by the First State Bank of Uvalde, the town’s understated crown jewel. Decorating the walls of this bank is the incredible art and antique collection of Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe and his wife, Janey. I was shocked to find priceless pieces from around the world like two original Rembrandt etchings from the 1600s and a gold-encrusted mirror that belonged to the 4th Earl of Sandwich just inconspicuously hanging on the walls of this little bank!

My lunch was equally surprising. Before arriving, I had learned that Live Oak Gorditas was the local foodie spot. There’s a long list of celebrities who have visited, and every single person I spoke to in town pointed me there for lunch. I was pumped to go — even though I had no idea what a gordita was.

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I must admit, my confidence in it was shaken when I arrived at the little wooden shack. Yet, I uneasily opened the door and stepped into the screened-in dining room. My apprehension didn’t lessen as I stepped up to the menu and saw that it didn’t provide anymore clues as to what a gordita was, and that only meats were listed. Of course, I chose brisket.

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I took my homemade meat pie to the Square and bravely took a bite. What followed can only be described as an angelic symphony of separately exquisite flavors (marinated, moist brisket, homemade guacamole and fresh, spicy jalapenos) melding into the best thing to have ever passed through my lips. I quickly devoured the wondrous gordita and instantly regretted that I’d only ordered one.

A photo posted by Linsey T. (@linseylouu) on

Nearby I admired the powder blue Janey Slaughter Briscoe Opera House that was built in 1891, and even peeked in the windows to see if I could spot a Phantom lurking in the shadows. No such luck.

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The rest of my day was spent learning about the Briscoe’s and Vice President John “Cactus Jack” Garner at the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Cactus Jack’s old home. It showcased relics like Briscoe’s high school diploma, Mrs. Garner’s dress from Inauguration Day in 1933 and even Cactus Jack’s old gavels from his days as Speaker of the House in the 1930s. And look, John Garner was also known for wearing a Stetson, just like another Garner we all know….

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I walked through memorabilia of WWII flights at the Aviation Museum of Texas At Garner Field. In the back of the museum, I stumbled upon the moon boot prints of astronaut Charles Conrad of Apollo 12, third man to walk on the moon. I couldn’t believe that the prints made by the boots Conrad actually wore on the moon were in this little museum in Uvalde!

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To end the day, I ate at Vasquez Restaurant, which is as unique as the city, itself.  It’s opened so sporadically that even the locals don’t know the actual hours - but they always seem to know when to show up for homemade Tex-Mex – and the walls are plastered with pictures of owner Enrique’s celeb customers (next to my booth was a picture of famous Uvalde native Matthew Mcconaughey’s shirtless father holding a fish.)

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As soon as I sat down, the eclectic owner Enrique immediately introduced himself to me. While I silently enjoyed my taco dinner complete with homemade white corn tortillas and chips with fresh salsa, Enrique pulled up a chair and told me his life story speckled with tall tales of a young man rising the ranks in the army despite being illiterate and his long quest around the world in search of the perfect snow cone machine.

And, oddly enough, it was the perfect ending to my crazy, extraordinary and, at times, random day in Uvalde! Though it’s quite different from the towns that surround it, it’s full of significant history, fantastic homemade food and some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet! It’s hard to explain what makes this town so extraordinary, but once you visit, you’ll instantly know why this town is so indescribably fascinating!

13 Bone-Chillling Haunts in Texas

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As Halloween gets closer, the ghosts come out to play each night. So to make sure you get your fill of Texas-sized thrills, visit these 13 spots in each part of the state where you’re sure to see something that’ll make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and send chills down your spine. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you’re in for a screaming good time!

Ghost Road - Saratoga, TX

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Deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, you’ll find this creepy road off FM 787, that was once called Bragg Road, but is now officially “Ghost Road” due to its mysterious happenings. Travel down it in the dead of night and once you turn off your headlights you’ll spot a eerie glowing ball of light down the road that appears and disappears randomly. Many have traveled this road, and no one can find an explanation for the lights. The most popular legend about the Saratoga Lights holds that a man was decapitated by a train when the Santa Fe line ran through the road in the 1900s, and now searches for his head with a lantern through the night.

Monkey Bridge/ Fuller Park – Athens, TX

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Though Athens is full of fun and adventure, it also has a darker side that’ll make you go bananas… Legend has it that a circus train was traveling through town when it violently crashed under Thunder Bridge (or Monkey Bridge). The surviving monkeys escaped into the forest, but the ones who died in the accident supposedly still haunt the already-creepy overgrown bridge area (W College St.)  The legend goes on to say that the escaped monkeys were gathered up by Medford Fuller and kept in giant cages at Fuller Park, where he did unspeakable things and performed creepy rituals. The overgrown park is still there, where you can see the crumbling stone walls and — if you’re brave enough to explore the dark woods — even Mr. Fuller’s grave and the iron monkey cages.  It’s one freaky spot!

USS Lexington – Corpus Christi, TX

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Instead of Casper the friendly ghost, aboard the Lexington you might just find Charlie the friendly tour guide! Many folks have described meeting a very kind and handsome blue-eyed young man, dressed in uniform who happily gives tours of the lower decks. It’s not until these folks are informed that the Lexington doesn’t have tour guides that they are a little spooked. Charlie was an engine room operator who died in 1943 when a Japanese torpedo hit the ship, but even so his tours are “out of this world”…

Memphis Man – Lubbock, TX

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One icy morning in Lubbock, a man stood waiting for the bus to arrive on Memphis Street, When the bus finally came, it slipped on the ice and killed the man. People now say that when you drive north on Memphis Avenue in the dark of night, you can still see the figure of a man leaning against the light pole waiting for the bus at the corner of 66th St. and Memphis Ave. When you get closer, he disappears.

Marfa Lights – Marfa, TX

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The Marfa Lights are less creepy and more mystifying. Each night around sunset, out in the distance on the horizon of the Chinati Mountains, you’ll find these unexplained lights show up and disappear randomly. Like a sort of desert disco, they change colors, move around and flash on and off. They’ve been spotted since the 1880s, and explanations range from UFO’s to ghosts of Conquistadors in search of gold.

Check out our time watching the Marfa Lights here.

San Antonio Ghost Tracks – San Antonio, TX

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One rainy morning, a school bus full of children stalled as it was crossing these tracks. A train came speeding down the track and the bus was unable to move out of the way, causing a terrible crash and killing 10 children. Now, legend holds that the ghosts of those children push stalled cars out of the way to safety. Park about 50 ft. before these tracks on Shane Road, put the car in neutral and turn the engine off. Without touching the gas, your car will travel uphill over the tracks. If you cover the back bumper with baby powder before crossing the tracks, you’ll supposedly find baby fingerprints on the bumper afterwards.

Check out our spooky encounter here.

Anson Lights – Anson, TX

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Just outside of Abilene, you’ll find yet another creepy and unexplainable phenomenon of ghostly lights.  On a clear night, drive east on US 180 until you reach a cemetery. Take a right at the country road near the cemetery and drive until you reach a crossroad. Turn back around and face the way you came. Turn off the engine and flash your headlights three times and a strange glowing light will appear in the distance, where there was none before. Legend has it that the light belongs to the spirit of a woman searching for her lost children.

The Grove - Jefferson, TX

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While many know Jefferson as the “B&B capital of Texas”, it is also known as the “Most Haunted Small Town in Texas”. If you’re in town and looking for monsters, then look no further than The Grove. Built in 1861, it is now the most haunted home in Jefferson. Among many disturbances like moving furniture and strange noises, many who visit have reported seeing a Lady in White walking around the front porch and disappearing into the wall of the house.

Check out our haunted experience (and Chet in a dress…) here.

Catfish Plantation - Waxahachie, TX

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At this restaurant in Waxahachie, your delicious fried catfish comes served with a side of ghostly encounters (and that’s not including the friendly ghost decor if you visit in October…) Rumors go that this house built in 1895 is haunted by past residents including a young man who likes to flirt with the ladies by brushing their shoulders or knees, and a woman named “Caroline” who can often be seen staring out the front window. Things happen so often that a sign at the front says “If you have a ghostly experience, please tell us.”

Presido La Bahia - Goliad, TX

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If you’re really looking for a scream, sleep inside the old priests and officers’ quarters of Presido La Bahia, the spanish fort where over 300 men were massacred within and surrounding the fort’s walls. At night, when the fort is empty, you can hear infants screaming and you might just run into a ghostly friar chanting Latin prayers as he paces the Chapel. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a woman dressed in white wandering around the fort.

We tried staying a night in the fort, and you can watch us scream like little girls here.

Susanna Dickinson’s House – Austin, TX

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For a good dose of historical spook, visit the house-turned-museum of Susanna Dickinson, the only white female survivor of the Alamo. While on the grounds, folks have seen the curtains of the front windows part at the middle and even the spirit of Mrs. Dickinson, herself, wandering around the property.

Driskill Hotel – Austin, TX

With ancient wells underneath, stories of multiple bridal ghosts wandering through the hotel, and hallways that look like they’ve come straight out of The Shining, this 125 year-old hotel has plenty to keep you spooked. To truly experience a scare, stay in Rooms 525 or 429, which are rumored to be the most haunted spots in the hotel. People have even had encounters with Colonel Driskill, himself, who died in 1890 and now enjoys smoking cigars and watching traffic from “his room”.

La Carafe - Houston

As if visiting this dim, candle-lit tavern with towering mounds of wax everywhere weren’t creepy enough, you might just be served your drink by a ghostly figure. The bar, which was built in 1847, is known as Houston’s oldest building and tends to be “haunted” by old bartender, Carl Truscott, who died in the 1990. Folks often hear an eerie voice shout out “Last Call” at strange times, or see figures appearing in the front windows late at night. More humorously, many folks have also complained of having to wait forever for a bathroom that ends up being empty or someone brushing up against them in the tiny one room stalls. Guess these ghosts are really enjoying indoor plumbing.

Dying for more screams? Watch our Spooky, TX episode here!

We Won an EMMY!!

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This past Saturday night in Fort Worth, Chet Garner won the 2016 Lone Star Emmy Award for Outstanding Program Host / Moderator / Reporter. It is the show’s 7th Lone Star Emmy, and Chet’s 3rd win in this category. We are incredibly excited to share this news with all of you.

“While this may technically be an individual award, there’s simply no way I would look half as good on camera without my amazing crew. I owe this award to their hard work , to my wife’s support, and to God’s blessing. Trust me, I didn’t get here on my own.  I’m simply not that talented or lucky”

- Chet Garner 

 A huge “Gracias” to all of our fans, supporters, PBS stations and sponsors for making this show possible. Keep watching PBS this month so you don’t miss our new episodes for Season 8.

Also CONGRATS to all the other PBS winners across the state.

  • KLRU (Austin) – Human Interest Award for Arts in Context
  • KLRU (Austin) – Cultural Documentary Award for “El Despertar”
  • KLRU (Austin) – Topical Documentary Award for Arts in Context
  • KLRU (Austin) – Special Event Coverage Award for SXSW Flashback 2015
  • KUHT (Houston) – Director Live Newscast Award for HOU Decide
  • KUHT (Houston) – Arts/Entertainment Program Award for “Body Art”
  • KUHT (Houston) – Interview Program Award for Manor of Speaking
  • KTTZ (Lubbock) – Texas Heritage Program Award for “There Will Be No Bad Talk or Loud Talk in This Place.”

The Spookiest (& Kookiest) Texas Mansion

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It was a dark and foggy morning as I pulled into the driveway of the Munster Mansion. The ominous house seemed to spring up out of nowhere as I turned the corner of Brown Street. I parked, took a deep breath and walked through the towering iron gates. As I knocked on the antique door-knocker, my heart thumped louder and louder. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this creepy house…a witch? Frankenstein, himself? Would this be the last time I ever saw the light of day?

However, to my surprise, there was no monster on the other side of the door, just the warmly smiling (and definitely non-monster) Sandra McKee, owner of the Munster Mansion in Waxahachie, TX. “Come on in,” she beamed. At first, I was taken aback by the dragon peaking out at me from underneath the staircase, but then I realized Spot was just as friendly as anyone’s pet dog would be.

Spot This is a typical reaction for guests visiting Sandra McKee’s replica of the mansion on 1313 Mockingbird Lane from The Munsters, a 1960′s sitcom about a kooky family of monsters living an average life.

Since it was built in 2001, the Mansion has attracted fans and curious on-lookers, alike — which surprised Sandra.

“We just thought everyone would say, ‘Oh there’s just those weird people on the corner,’” she said. “But now we’ve been on tons of TV shows and have had fans travel all the way from Australia to see it.”

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Each year, the McKee’s host a huge event so fans can mingle and get a look at the house, and this year’s event is on Oct. 21-22 from 7 p.m. to midnight. Ticket sales benefit the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center.

At the event, you can tour the Mansion, peruse the Munster’s gift shop, play tons of games and ride the Ferris Wheel in their backyard. You can even meet Pat Priest, who played the Munster’s beautiful, non-monster niece Marilyn. There will also be performances by a magician and a fire-breather.

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The idea for the now-famous replica first started when Sandra and her husband, Charles, were looking for a home in 2001. After not finding the perfect house, she jokingly brought up the idea.

“I said to him, ‘You know, we could just build the Munster Mansion’ and to my surprise, he said okay,” Sandra said. “I just ran with it before he could change his mind.”

In 2001, the McKee’s began building their dream home. They didn’t have actual blueprints, so instead, Sandra meticulously watched episodes of the sitcom over and over again to get the house exactly right.

“I knew Lily [Munster] was about 5 ’4″, so I could tell by how many steps she took as to where to place things throughout the house,” she said.

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Furnishing the house has been an ongoing process to find the exact match for each piece of furniture. Every room is laid out exactly like in the show, whether it’s actual props from the show (like the items on the dining room table pictured above) or recreations (Sandra had the electric chair in the living room custom-made).

electric-chair As you roam through the cobweb-covered rooms of the Mansion, you’ll find Herman Munster reclining in the hazy living room watching reruns of his famous show.

livingroom2 Mrs. Lily Munster will show you around her eerily beautiful dining room, complete with tattered wallpaper and picture frames just barely hanging on the walls. But, careful, she’s just vacuumed (which she likes to do in reverse so the dust blows out and cakes the entire room…)

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And if you look closely in the entry hall, you’ll find the famous coffin-phone. Upstairs, you can stir up trouble with mad scientist Grandpa Munster in his lab…but be warned, you never know what kind of hair-brained potion he’ll concoct next. You can even hang out with werewolf son Eddie and his stuffed doll, Wolfie in his room — which is full of more pointy objects than should ever be allowed around a growing boy.

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You never know quite what you’ll find in this spooky and kooky mansion, so be sure and drop by on Oct. 21 and 22. The event is cash only and parking is at Finley Junior High, where shuttles will pick up and drop off visitors at the Mansion. Click here for more information.

Deep in the Heart of Brady

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Since Chet and I have started writing a Hill Country Travel guide, I’ve researched and visited pretty awesome towns like Gruene, Belton and Salado (which basically means going on adventures to see if they’re epic enough for y’all!)  I recently traveled to Brady and Melvin, and it’s become one of my favorite trips!

Brady is located in the geographic center of Texas, making it the “Heart of Texas.” But on my journey deep in the heart of Texas (cue the clap, clap, clap) I found that Brady is Texas’s heart for so many more reasons than just being in the exact center — the true essence of our great state pumps through every inch of this little town!

My first stop in town was the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum, and I gotta admit that I was expecting this museum to just be a little homage to a few Texas artists with a tiny collection of photographs and replicas of costumes — and boy was I wrong!

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Started by Tracy Pitcox, host of the internationally famous 1989 radio show “Hillbilly Hits,” this museum is filled with wacky and fun personal items from many country legends that were personally donated to Tracy by each artist.

You’ll find everything from handwritten notes by Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn to a brick from Hank William’s home and a bumper car ridden by the King, himself, Elvis Presley!  You can even tour Jim Reeves’ tour bus!

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After catching a glimpse of a different type of life on the road in Jim’s tour bus, I hopped in my own car and headed to the center of town to find the especially regal-looking McCulloch County Courthouse. The beautiful stone building almost looked like a castle built out of Legos! And right in front of the Courthouse, I found the selfie-worthy “Heart of Texas” marker, signifying that I was literally in the center of Texas!

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Next, it was time for lunch and I had been excited about where I was eating for quite a while. You see, I’d recently read an article in Texas Monthly raving about the inside-out burgers at Jacoby’s Cafe in neighboring town, Melvin. Yet, as I started the drive and my GPS lead me farther and farther from civilization into very flat farm lands… I started to get nervous. The growl of my stomach pushed me on.

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When I finally arrived at Jacoby’s (which is a small cafe right next to the Feed and Seed store and below two ominously towering grain elevators), I walked into the dark wooden room and sat at a little booth among friendly farmers who all knew each other and were catching up with the week’s gossip. When I ordered my burger and was asked if I wanted fries, onion rings or the heavenly choice of fried okra  – I knew I was in the right place and quickly ordered the okra!

As I waited on my food, I heard tidbits of conversations, my favorite being the man in the flannel shirt next to me saying to the waitress, “Well, you know I normally get the special, but I hear there’s a big to-do about one of your burgers, and I’m feeling left out cause I’ve never had it, so I’m gonna get that today.” And neither Mr. Flannel Shirt nor I were disappointed with our burgers.

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I bit into my inside-out burger (which hardly fit in my hands it was so big) expecting the cheese, peppers and onions stuffed into the patty to spill out in an overwhelming ooze — but was pleasantly surprised that it was not oozy at all! The inside-out burger had just the right amount of spice and the meat had the perfect amount of juiciness.

As I ate my burger with strangers all coming together over good homecookin’, in a small town cafe surrounded by wide expanses and deep blue skies, I realized that I’d never been anywhere that exemplified Texas quite like this. Looking back at my day in Brady, and the surrounding area, I understood exactly why it’s called “the Heart of Texas” — the kind folks, one of a kind museums and good eats are exactly what makes Texas so great!