Toes in the Water: a beach bound weekend

This past weekend I took my daughter and a couple of her friends to Corpus Christi and Port Aransas. The girls wanted to have a “girls’ weekend” after graduation. So we loaded up the “Red Rocket” (my minivan that has now been traded for a SUV) and headed 2 hours or so south. We checked in to the Hilton Garden Inn in Corpus (http://www.hilton.com/Garden_Inn/Corpus_Christi ) and got ourselves settled and cleaned up. My expectations for the hotel were a little higher than what we actually got, but it was still a nice place to stay and I would stay there again. The room was a decent size and fit the 4 of us perfectly. The beds were comfortable but the pillows, oh man, they left a lot to be desired. I’ve never been so disappointed in a hotel pillow before. We stayed at the Hilton for 2 nights so we got to have breakfast two mornings. Full breakfast was available plus fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc.

Since we did not get to Corpus until after 5, we rested, cleaned up, then headed to Blackbeard’s on the Beach (https://www.facebook.com/Blackbeards-on-the-Beach-107772772633472/) . We had to wait for about an hour for a table, so we killed some time in the shops and taking pictures during what the girls called the “golden hour” (apparently the perfect time to take a picture since it makes you look like you have a golden tan or something like that, at least according to teenage girls). Not sure that the “golden hour” did anything to our super white legs, LOL.

After our long wait for the table (we did have a group of 7 since a couple of the moms and a sister joined us for one of the days) we finally got seated. I swear, we had at least 4 different servers introducing themselves as our server. I still don’t know who was ACTUALLY our server. We got our drinks and chips and queso fairly quick, but it took FOREVER to get our dinner. We were pretty disappointed with the service. I understand that restaurants get busy and it can take time, but this was ridiculous. There were several groups that were seated AFTER us that got their food before us. In fact, one table actually finished their food before we even got ours. It’s not like anyone ordered anything extravagant (a couple salads, some fried shrimp and chicken, and some burgers). Blackbeard’s is NOT a place I want to eat at again.

Sunday we loaded up waters, sunblock, swimsuits, and snacks and headed to the beach in Port Aransas (also known as Mustang Island). We stayed at the beach located off of Beach Access Road 1A. This was a great location for us. We had restrooms nearby (actually, port-a-potties, but at least there was something) and showers for after we finished at the beach. We arrived before the beach filled up. Got ourselves settled in and sunblocked up (though, come to find out, I didn’t apply it enough times throughout the day).

One of the things I like about the water in Port A is that it is warmer than the Pacific Ocean. You can actually get in the water and not freeze. We did have to pay attention and be a little careful since it was a red flag warning for the riptides. Besides swimming, I spent some time looking for shells and checking out the clouds while I laid in the sun.

We only spent a few hours on the beach due to the heat and us realizing that our sunblock wasn’t doing its job like it should. As I said earlier, we had showers right by us, so after we loaded up the van we got to get the sand and salt washed off of us. From there we spent some time exploring Port Aransas. We found a cool ice cream shop where we had some fruit smoothies. The shop had some interesting decorations. Each wall had a different theme: dogs, Oriental, puppets, and others. The girls played foosball while we cooled off.

We took the ferry to head back to Corpus where I was hoping to get pictures of the sunset, but it’s kinda hard to get shots when the sun sets in the west and the beach faces south/southeast. We did find a place to stop to get a few shots that had a little of the “golden hour” color that the girls were trying to get the night before. I also saw some bird that I enjoyed snapping a few pictures of.

From there we headed to see the Selena Memorial for a bit. I had always heard that the memorial was crowded, but we were fortunate and didn’t have to deal with the crowds.

Since we all were a little red (and by a little, I mean a lot and with some crazy patterns) we decided to spend the few hours on Monday that we had in Corpus at the mall. The girls found a couple of murals to pose in front of (nothing new there).

While the trip was a short getaway, we had fun having a girls’ time. I have spent the last four years with these girls during the millions of cheer events we attended. I am glad to see that they graduated and will be going off to college, but I am sad to have the time with them over. I’ve been “Mama Wimer” to them and have heard all sorts of interesting stories and have some great memories. I will forever be grateful to have this time with the girls.

A reason to visit Boerne: The Farmers Market at the Cibolo

Sometime back we visited Boerne, TX and found that it did not live up to it’s hype. This weekend we found a reason to visit Boerne, and will actually go back more often. We ventured to The Farmers Market at the Cibolo https://www.cibolo.org/herfffarm/farmersmarket.html. It is located at the Cibolo Nature Center and Farm (Herff Farm). The farmers market is less than a mile off the main road in Boerne outside the Historic District. Be sure to visit the website to learn more about the Cibolo Nature Center and Herff Farm. You will find out about the history and and plans for the farm and nature center.

The farm is located at 33 Herff Road, Boerne. It is open every Saturday from March to December from 9-1. Admission is free (love when I find a free place 😀❤️). While it is not a large market, it does have some great products to choose from at reasonable prices and live music.

We ended up walking out with a couple jars of homemade pickles, a couple jars of homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam, cake pops for the kids, coffee, homemade granola, and some delicious Mediterranean-style desserts.

Zoozoo’s Sweet Treats (and more) had some delicious homemade baklava and lemon tarts. I would definitely recommend that you visit their tent when you go to the farmers market. They are there every Saturday. But if you get a hankering to try some of their goodies before a Saturday, you can contact the owner, Azza Mohamed at zoozoos.sweet.treats@gmail.com. She does live in San Antonio so you would not have to worry about the Boerne traffic to get some homemade Mediterranean desserts.

Other vendors included fresh eggs, produce, meats, homemade salsas, plants, and baked goods.

The historic home on the farm has been restored and information about the well and rain harvesting system can be found near the watershed and rainwater tank.

We also found some trails to walk through. To my delight the trails had wildflowers to enjoy and photograph. We were not able to spend too much time walking through the trails, so we will definitely be making another trip out there.

I would love to see how this place looks in the spring with all the amazing colors that Texas wildflowers provide. While the actual historic district of Boerne is not my cup of tea, there are definitely some hidden places in Boerne to check out, the farmers market is one of those places!

What?! No travel this weekend?!

So this weekend we were not able to travel. We had a super important event that took place; our daughter, Grace, graduated from high school.

Grace has attended The Christian School at Castle Hills for her high school years. She graduated with an honors diploma and summa cum laude. So we had to take a break from travel this weekend, but we will be back at it next weekend.

Also, a big shout out to Country Sweets Bakery in Bandera for making an amazing cake. It was a hit among our guests at the grad party. A while back I shared a post about this awesome bakery. They did not disappoint with the cake. BTW: we enjoyed some delicious pastries while we waited for the cake to be finished. I highly recommend the apple fritter!

Look for the new post next week!

Luckenbach, Texas: a small town with country charm

We woke up this Saturday thinking we were going to visit some local caverns, but all the rain we have had lately had us re-thinking that plan. So while we were brainstorming places to visit today that our crazy, bipolar weather we have had lately wouldn’t be an issue, Chuck threw out the idea of visiting Luckenbach, TX. At first I thought he was a little nuts. For some odd reason I thought Luckenbach was somewhere in North Texas. Google proved me wrong. So we headed out.

At the entrance to the tiny town of Luckenbach, TX

Luckenbach is just a little over an hour from San Antonio. After getting off of I10, the rest of the drive is great. Once again we were surrounded by flowers on the side of the road as we drove (if you have read my previous entries, you would know that I love taking pictures of flowers). The drive is along a two lane road through the Hill Country. As you get close to the “town”, be careful to pay attention to where to turn. Once you get to the Luckenbach Town Loop, you will drive along a dirt road for just a minute or two. Parts of the road are bumpy, so be careful with your car.

So as most of you know, there is a song called “Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. The fact that this teeny, tiny town became the subject of a hit song amazes me. While I enjoyed visiting Luckenbach (and would go back), it is definitely NOT what I had imagined (I had something more like Bandera in my mind). If you are expecting to visit a town that has multiple shops and restaurants, you will be surprised to know that this tourist attraction has just a couple little buildings. There is a dancehall, post office/general store/saloon, Feed Lot, and outdoor stage.

There is also a cute little Kissing Booth right when you walk through the property. We took advantage of this booth to make Matthew take a picture of us (if anyone knows Matthew, you know just how DISGUSTED he gets when he sees anyone kissing; typical 9 year-old).

Kissing booth in Luckenbach, TX

The general store has all sorts of items to browse though and buy. You will find tee shirts, hats, candles, mugs, magnets, CD’s, wine, and much more. Definitely items for the “tourist” to purchase. We did wind up getting a couple of small things. I couldn’t pass up the magnet photo frame.

Just out the back of the store is the saloon. The walls of the saloon are covered in pictures of different people ranging from Waylon and Willie, to the previous owners of the town, and lots of other people I couldn’t even name.

Outside the store/saloon is the outdoor stage and seating area. Live music is scheduled for every day of the week (sometimes in the dancehall, sometimes at the outdoor stage). There is a charge for some of the shows (like when Aaron Watson plays on June 1), but most days the visit is free for the whole family. Be sure to check the website at http://www.luckenbachtexas.com to verify that there are no private parties booked or to check on shows that might require a paid ticket.

There are picnic tables to sit on and enjoy the music while grabbing a bite to eat. While we were there we had the opportunity to hear The Strayhearts (https://www.facebook.com/thestrayheartsband/). They were a great band to listen to while having our lunch. The Feed Lot has a selection of food that includes Frito pie, corn dogs, sausage wraps, hamburgers, fries, funnel cake, and more. Trees surround the area that provide shade on a hot day (though today was definitely not a hot day, crazy that our weather actually required us to have sweaters/long sleeves).

I would love to go back to Luckenbach in the evening/night to take in a show, sit around the fire pit, and do some dancing in the dancehall (which we didn’t check out while we were there).

So while Luckenbach, Texas is not quite what I had expected, and is MUCH smaller than one would think about a town that inspired a song, it is still a trip that is family friendly/budget friendly. Be sure to add Luckenbach to your list of places to visit in Texas, even if it’s just to say that you were there.

Cornyval: an annual festival in Helotes, TX

This weekend I took the kids to Cornyval, an annual festival in Helotes that began in 1966. Fortunately for us, the big thunderstorm we had the night before cleared out and though the ground was a bit muddy, we had great weather. This year Cornyval was held from May 2nd- May 5th. Admission was $10 a person (Sunday was free admission), but children under 12 were free all weekend. Each day had special prices for carnival rides. Thursday was $20 wristbands for unlimited rides. Friday was $1 day (all rides were $1). Saturday was 2 for 1 rides. Sunday was $20 wristbands. We went Saturday, and arrived just after the parade ended but before the crowds hit the festival. Additional information can be found at https://cornyval.org/

Entrance to Cornyval

Before we spent time on the carnival rides, we roamed the grounds to check out the various vendors and food stands. We just wanted to get an idea of what to plan for our lunch and see if there was anything of interest to buy. I did find things that I liked, but I was sticking to my budget for the weekend.

Some of the booths we found were Scentsy candles, engraved wooden cutting boards, hats, jewelry, toe rings, clothes, face painting, henna tattoos, petting zoo, pony rides, and more. Some of these vendors are also found at the Helotes Market that is held the first Saturday of each month.

We decided to hit the rides before getting food (and boy am I glad we waited…..). The majority of the rides are designed for young children. This makes Cornyval a perfect place for families with toddlers/preschoolers/young elementary students. I loved the fact that they had a Mini Himalaya for younger kids (I love the regular Himalaya ride).


The Mini Himalaya

There are a few rides that older children and teens would enjoy. The first ride we did was the Ferris Wheel. The four of us (the kids, Grace’s friend, and me) were able to ride in one car for the ride. This ride was pretty high up, which gave me the chance to get some pictures of the grounds from way up high. I actually enjoyed this ride. I wish it could have been a little longer. We went around 2 times before getting off. However, I am VERY glad we did not stop at the very top. I am not so sure I would have enjoyed that too much.

After the Ferris Wheel, I convinced Matthew to go on the Beach Party ride. He had been on this ride when we were at the Strawberry Festival, but didn’t enjoy it much. I figure it was because he was on the ride by himself. Anyways, the four of us finally got on this vomit inducing ride. I am not sure what on earth I was thinking when I convinced Matthew to go on it. It started off fun. But then it got a little too crazy for my liking. There was a lot of up and down, spinning, and turning. The spinning was FAST (fast enough to make your face feel as though it is being pulled back). If this thing had gone on any longer, I think I would have hurled. By the time the ride ended, my world was spinning. I literally had to sit in our cart for a few minutes to get my bearings again, get my stomach to settle down, and to keep myself from losing my breakfast. I kid you not, it took most of the day for me to begin to feel normal again.

Beach Party

After that ride, I was DONE with joining the kids on any other rides. Fortunately, the few other older kid rides that were available, Matthew didn’t feel like riding. Instead, he went through the Magic Maze with Caitlyn and Big Bamboo with Grace.

After rides we headed over for food. Besides the regular food one can find at a carnival, there were plenty of food booths from local vendors. We decided to get our lunch for one of them. Picking from chicken on a stick, turkey legs, steak kabobs, fajitas, sausage, chicken and waffles, fruit, fried donut holes, and much more, we had a big decision to make. I wound up getting a steak kabob that I shared with Matthew. Grace got chicken and waffles (no surprise there). Caitlyn got sausage with sauerkraut. We all got some amazing fruit cups. The fruit was fresh and sweet! Exactly what we needed. We enjoyed our food under the covered pavilion listening to live music. And of course, we had to get some kettle corn to take home.

We finished up our day watching pig races. The host of the races was quite humorous. Watching these little pigs race around the “track” to get an Oreo at the end was fun to watch. We watched 3 different races, but not once did the pigs our section was supposed to cheer for win.

Cornyval was a fun way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. We didn’t attend all events at the festival. There is a rodeo each night, a 5K run, a pageant, mutton bustin, live music, and more. Plus there is the parade on Saturday. I am sure that in the evenings Cornyval is much more crowded. It is just large enough to be able to spend a couple of hours and enjoy different events, but just small enough to be able to have your fun and head home knowing you still have time to do other things. Be sure to check out Cornyval next year!

Hanging out on the Ferris Wheel

Beautiful flowers found at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, TX

Last weekend we visited Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg http://www.wildseedfarms.com and while it was not exactly what I had pictured in my mind when it came to fields of wildflowers, it was still worth the visit.

Fields of Red Corn Poppies can be seen from the road.

Wildseed Farms grows fields of wildflowers for the production of seed. They have over 200 acres in Fredericksburg. There is no charge for admission and they are open year round, 7 days a week, 9:30-6:00pm. The walking trails are open from 9:30-5:30

Walking trails at Wildseed Farms
Walking trails at Wildseed Farms

Getting up close to the flowers for pictures can only be done in limited areas. The fenced areas keep guests from walking through the flowers, but can still get great pictures with the fields in the background. We did find a couple of open fields that we could actually be in the flowers and get some great shots.

Wildseed Farms is a perfect place for photo shoots for all sorts of events. Depending on the time of year you visit the farm you could see poppies, sunflowers, bluebonnets, Rocket Larkspur, cosmos, and more. I am looking forward to going back at different seasons, especially when the sunflowers bloom!

Of course the name does indicate the sale of seeds. There is a section in the large gift shop that is full of packets of seeds to purchase. You will find everything from bluebonnets to sunflowers to Indian Paintbrush, poppies, daisies, primrose, and more. Packets of seeds start at $2.89. If I had a green thumb, I would have loved to plant these seeds so that I had lots of color in my yard. Unfortunately, I can’t even keep a bamboo plant alive.

Besides seeds, you can also purchase various types of plants that you can plant at home. There is an awesome selection of yard decorations as well. Prices were pretty reasonable.

What’s cool about this place is that you can make the trip to the farm an all day event. There are plenty of shaded areas to rest and enjoy the views and are also photo opportunities. They have a seasonal butterfly garden as well.

The Brewbonnet Biergarten offers a place to sit and relax in the cool a/c. They have cold beer, snacks, and ice cream. There are also samples of jams, jellies, and salsas. Plus lots of jams and such to purchase.

The outside patio of the Biergarten offers shaded seating and live music. Since there is a vineyard and tasting room on the grounds, you can relax with a glass of wine and listen to the band.

Wildseed Farms was an enjoyable place to visit and gave me the opportunity to find additional flowers to take pictures of. If you get the chance, take the drive out to Fredericksburg and visit the farm. You will enjoy this day trip.

Fredericksburg, TX: an old German town in the Hill Country

About an hour outside of San Antonio is the old German town of Fredericksburg, a pet-friendly town with shopping, wineries, wildflowers, and much more. Fredericksburg is well known for the peaches grown there. This weekend we took a drive out there, something we should have done before now. First, the drive is another relaxing, scenic drive. Wildflowers bloom along the roadside and the median of I10. If we could have stopped in the middle of the highway to take pictures, we definitely would have. But alas, that is not safe to do.

Once we arrived in Fredericksburg we headed straight to Wildseed Farms. I was looking forward to seeing more flowers. For some reason I have been all about taking pictures of flowers lately. Wildseed Farms is much more than just a farm full of wildflowers, but to find out more about this place, you will have to read the future blog post about Wildseed Farms. For now, enjoy the teasers below.

In front of a field of poppies, Indian Paintbrushes, and more.
Poppies are in full bloom at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, TX.

After spending some time enjoying the flowers, we headed to eat. Chuck wanted to try out West End Pizza Co. A brick oven pizza place that we found to be super delicious (very much reminds me of our favorite brick oven pizza restaurant in Crested Butte, CO.). Even Grace, who is not a pizza fan, loved their pizza. This place makes their own pizza dough and bread dough. As we pulled apart the garlic knots, you could easily see that the dough was not from something frozen. Chuck decided to try their meatball parmesan sandwich. The bread was flaky and soft. Chuck loved his meal! Besides pizza, they offer calzones, Stromboli, baked ziti, lasagna, ravioli, salads, soups, and more. The prices are very reasonable and portion sizes are great.

Patio outside West End Pizza Co.

Since the weather was perfect, we decided to eat on the patio. Here in South Texas, we have learned to take advantage of any day that we can eat outside without being eaten up by mosquitos or getting drenched due to the humidity. The patio has a relaxing atmosphere and the service was great. There is live music in the evenings on the weekends, so we didn’t get to enjoy that. Hopefully Chuck will get the chance to play there soon. The menu advertises a game room for kids. However, when Chuck an Matthew investigated, they found that the room does not quite live up to what was advertised. Despite that one let down, the overall experience was great. Definitely a place we will eat at again. Check out their website for hours and the menu http://www.westendpizzacompany.com/

After getting some food, we spent the next couple of hours wandering the streets of Fredericksburg. Something we have found that we enjoy doing is the window shopping that takes places on our travels. We don’t often find something that we really want to buy, so that helps us keep to our budget. On this trip we found some magnets that say “I love my border collie” and “I love my pitt mix” that the kids wanted from Dogologie, a large pet store. They do have website if you wanted to check out some of their merchandise. We really like that they have lots of breed specific items. https://dogologie.com/

Streets of Fredericksburg
Streets of Fredericksburg

Other than the magnets and some chocolate bars from a local chocolate shop, we just wandered. It was quite busy in Fredericksburg. I’m not sure if it is always like this, or if it was because of the holiday weekend. Regardless, we did enjoy the visit.

One of the things I didn’t expect was the LARGE number of wineries/wine bars. I knew that Fredericksburg was a producer of wine, but I didn’t expect that just about every other shop would be full of wine/wine tasting. I was also surprised to see the number of people walking around the streets with their glasses of wine. I would like to stay at one of the local bed and breakfasts and experience some of the wine bars.

We stumbled across part of the National Museum of the Pacific War. The part we visited was the outdoor memorial courtyard and the Japanese Garden of Peace. It was a quiet area that didn’t have many visitors. The wall plaques in the memorial have the names of individuals, ships, and units that fought in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The Japanese Garden of Peace was a gift from the people of Japan to symbolize peace and friendship.

On the way home we stopped at Das Peach Haus. I had no clue what to expect from this place, but we thought it was worth the stop. They are a big jam and jelly store. But they also have a small culinary school, a wine tasting room, and a wedding venue. The lake outside is a peaceful area to just sit and relax. It would be neat to take a picnic lunch out there and enjoy the view.

Fredericksburg is definitely a place we will visit again. There are multiple restaurants that looked appealing to us. My hope is that next time we can stay at a bed and breakfast. There is a lot of Fredericksburg we did not get to see (Enchanted Rock, Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, Fort Martin Scott Historic Site, and more). You would definitely need more than one day to explore Fredericksburg fully.

What’s poppin’ in Castroville: the Poppy House

Poppies outside the last original free standing one room cabin in Castroville.

At the end of a dead end road in the small town of Castroville, TX is this historic home that has a yard full of poppies. If you want to see “fields” of poppies, the Castroville Poppy House is the place to go. It is located at 602 Florence in Castroville. When you pull up to the house, you see poppies all along the fence line and of course a yard covered in poppies. The owners, Sally Coyle and Lloyd Ross, began planting poppies several years back to help control the dust. The grass had died during a drought and they found that the poppies could still survive.

Poppies surround the cistern and windmill at the Castroville Poppy House.
Lloyd, Sally, and Jaimie

The land has several structures on it. The actual residence was built in the 1850’s and has been recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior and has also received the Pioneer Castroville Home marker. The land also has the last remaining original free standing one room log cabin in Castroville. Lloyd would like to restore the cabin to protect it from deteriorating more. Due to the extensive nature of the work, Lloyd has been trying, unsuccessfully, to find assistance from various government agencies to help with the expensive process.

In addition to the home and cabin, there is also a barn that was built several years ago that Lloyd gave a distressed look to take on the “historic” look in order to make it look more authentic on the land. Lloyd shares this information as he gives a little history lesson of the buildings as you prepare to walk through the property.

But of course, the main reason we were out there today was to see the poppies. One of the awesome things about living in San Antonio is the opportunities we have to see different wildflowers (you can read my blog entry on the wildflowers in Poteet). We had not yet ventured out to see the poppies before, but I am so glad we did, and that we made it in time to see them before the Texas heat arrives and kills them off.

I enjoyed strolling through the huge yard admiring the different poppies at their different stages of growth. The wind made it difficult at times to get some close up pictures of the poppies, but my patience paid off.

This 25-30 minute drive west of San Antonio was well worth the trip. I was able to take all the time I wanted to photograph these beautiful flowers. Even though there were several other families present, the area is plenty large enough to feel like you are alone. Lloyd and Sally charge $5 a person (using just a phone or small camera to take pictures) to spend time on the land. The money they raise this year will go towards purchasing a new cistern with a spigot to make well water available to anyone who wants it while visiting. There are additional charges for professional photography or videography to be done. Be sure to contact them at 210-627-1298 about those fees. Check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CastrovillePoppyHouse/ for updates. The end of March and beginning of April is the best time to see them in full bloom.

Poteet Strawberry Festival

This weekend we took another drive out to Poteet, but this time it was to attend the annual Strawberry Festival. It started out as a drizzly, grey day, but it slowly began to dry up and with it, the humidity arrived. But we made the best of the it with the bipolar weather South Texas has. Besides, I was on another mission to purchase more strawberries from Anachey Strawberries, which was one of the first things we did.

So glad Anachey Strawberries were at the festival. Stocked up on strawberries for the next week.

Anyways, back to the festival….. This annual festival is held in the heart of Poteet, a small town outside of San Antonio. This year it was held from April 5-7. If you purchase tickets online, they are $15 per person, $20 at the gate. Children under 13, military (active, reserve, national guard, and retired with a valid I.D.) are free. Carnival wristbands are available for $35. Grounds parking is free (though there are some off grounds places that do charge for parking, but trust me, there is plenty of grounds parking).

Besides the carnival, and of course being able to purchase some delicious strawberries (we purchased some from Anachey Strawberries a couple of weeks ago, check out the blog on that trip) there are many other fun things to do and see during your time at the festival.

Since we spent the day out there with Matthew, we did spend most our time at the carnival. Most carnival rides were between 4 and 6 tickets. Tickets are $1 a piece. We just bought a couple of sheets of 20. All food and rides require tickets.

Speaking of food, you will find the typical carnival foods. And while they are not at all good for you, they sure are good to eat. Throughout the day we had strawberry nachos (cinnamon chips with strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and almonds), funnel cakes, fajita tacos, and of course Chuck had a corn dog. Sure hope walking around the grounds today helped with burning off some of the calories.

After Matthew rode some rides we took in some of the various shows found throughout the grounds. We really enjoyed watching an illusionist/comedian. He did some great slight of hand tricks and kept the audience laughing. He included a lot of the children from the audience in his act. Matthew was given the opportunity to check out the rings to make sure there were no cuts or cracks. He was fascinated with the many tricks. I am sure he will try to attempt some at home.

There are also plenty of vendors to shop at. You can find everything from wooden furniture, to toys, to jewelry, to local honey, and much more. You can find something for just about anyone. In addition to shopping, food, carnivals, and such, there are also several concerts throughout the day. We had hoped to watch Aaron Watson, but we got tired of the humidity and left. But the fact that the concerts are included in the $15 ticket fee is pretty awesome.

Strawberry wine and baked goods can be purchased here. The strawberry nachos are yummy!

Now for your history lesson: According to the StrawberryFestival.com website, the festival began in 1948 when the Poteet Rotary Club organized the event to provide returning World War II veterans a reason to return to the farms. The club also wanted to improve the pack of berries for buyers.

The purpose of the festival has changed over the years. Because strawberries are an endangered crop, the festivals main purpose now is to promote the strawberries grown in Poteet. The festival also awards scholarships to students in Poteet with the festival proceeds. Because the festival is now a tourist attraction, the local Poteet economy is boosted during festival time.

The nice thing about the festival is that you can spend as little or as much money as you want. It can be a tight budget event by just paying the ticket fee and maybe getting some water. Food and carnival rides don’t have to be purchased. There are plenty of shows and places to window shop that money isn’t necessary. If your budget is a little more, getting some tickets to ride some of the rides and get some carnival food can add to your experience.

We enjoyed the day at the Strawberry Festival and would definitely recommend that you attend it next year! Make plans for the first or second weekend in April to spend the day out there.

Country Sweets Bakery: A hidden gem in Bandera

Eclairs, croissants, long johns, oh my! Trying to choose the pastry I wanted was a difficult decision. Fortunately, with four of us buying, we all picked out something different and I could try a bite of everyone’s!

Pastries made fresh in-house.
Great selection of cookies!
For the gluten free customers, they have peanut butter cookies available every day that are gluten free.

As we wandered through Bandera, TX, we came across an amazing little bakery. This veteran owned bakery had so many choices of freshly baked Artisan pastries and cookies. And the prices were super reasonable (for our 1 long john, 1 éclair, 1 apple pie-pocket, 1 blackberry fan and 2 extra large cranberry/white chocolate chip cookies, we spent right around $14.00). Baked goods are not the only things served though. Salads, wraps, and sandwiches are a part of the daily lunch menu. In addition, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, lunch specials of comfort foods, such as meatloaf sandwiches, are available. In the winter, soup is available Monday-Friday.

Since it was close to closing time, we had an opportunity to chat with the owners, Rhonda and April. These sisters opened the bakery about 4 years ago. Country Sweets Bakery is the only bakery in Bandera, and only one of 3 located on Highway 16 between Bandera and Kerrville. They are open Monday-Friday from 7am-3pm and on Saturdays from 8am-1pm. Occasionally, they are closed on Saturdays for weddings.

April and Rhonda, owners of Country Sweets Bakery.
Their mission: “Two sisters who want to bring a little sweetness to your life.”

Speaking of weddings, the cakes they make for weddings look AMAZING and based on the pastries we had, have to taste awesome! Wedding cakes range from $175-$525 (that was for an all gluten free cake).

This particular wedding cake was $385. We actually ordered Grace’s graduation cake from here that was based on this cake.

This family owned shop (they have one employee) does many special orders. Of course wedding cakes keep them busy. In addition to wedding cakes, you can special order cookies and other cakes. For specialty order iced cookies, you can expect to pay $2.50 a cookie (great price for special orders!). Gluten free cakes are available for special order as well. While we were there, we ordered Grace’s graduation cake. The drive to Bandera is worth it for this cake.

Rhonda and April are dedicated to the local community. In fact, they consider the community a part of their family. The sisters enjoy chatting with their customers and getting to know them. In addition, they help with many events in the area by donating cookies, pastries, and cakes. One of the organizations they support is Wounded Warriors. They donate baked goods and other items to them.

Bandera is a neat little town that I enjoy spending time walking through (the post on the whole trip will be coming soon). Finding Country Sweets Bakery is just icing on the cake (pun intended) and we will definitely visit this bakery again!