Sweetwater: Home To Rattlesnake Roundup

Sweetwater, TXEach year, on the second weekend in March, the small town of Sweetwater, Texas begins to rattle and hum. Literally. Over the course of four days, Sweetwater is home to the Rattlesnake Roundup, the world’s largest event devoted to the venomous snake. Snake aficionados enjoy guided snake hunts, snake-handling demonstrations, and even eating fried rattlesnake! Folks less fond of the slithering creatures still find time for the Miss Snakecharmer Pageant, food booths, games, and other family-friendly events.


Initiated in 1958 by ranchers wanting to control the rattlesnake population in this area just west of Abilene, the Rattlesnake Roundup now draws over 40,000 people a year. People arrive early in the day to view the weigh-in for the World’s Largest Rattlesnake competition. Mid-day, they might join a rattlesnake tour run by the Sweetwater Jayvees, the event’s sponsor. Finally when hunger creeps up, they can enjoy some classic smoked meats as this event has one of the largest barbecue cook-offs in a state synonymous with cooking competitions. Make your plans to attend. It is never boring come March in Sweetwater.


Paddling Texas Rivers

Texas, with its extensive river system, stunning lakes, and lengthy coastline, offers plenty of opportunities for kayakers, canoe owners, and other water enthusiasts. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a program, called Texas Paddling Trails, designed to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails. The network of trails, supported with maps, signage, and other information, provide paddlers of all levels the structure necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing. Additionally, the trails are free to the public.

Texas Kayaking

There are over a million paddlers in Texas alone, and demand for trails is high. Texas Parks and Wildlife often works with partners to develop new trails. For example, in February 2013, as part of World Wetlands Day, Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with local community groups to launch ten paddling trails along the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in east Texas. With these ten new trails there are close to 50 inland and coastal paddling trails documented by the state. Each trail is fully documented, complete with notes on getting to the launch site, what to expect while on the trip, and other things to do in the area. To view more about the paddling trips, visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/

Texas offers plenty of options for the outdoor enthusiastic. The paddling opportunities developed by Texas Parks and Wildlife complement the extensive off-road biking, hiking, and camping options. Combine two or more of these activities to create an action-packed outdoor adventure vacation.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Property Tax Loans In Texas

Many parts of Texas have been fortunate to not be hit as hard by the down economy compared to the rest of the country. That said, Texas residents haven’t been exempt from the economic downturn. Many individuals in the Texas area have had difficulty paying their property tax bills due to a lagging economic climate. Property tax loans can cause distress and confusion when people first encounter them. Switching from one type of debt to another to cover their taxes on real estate might seem like an atypical approach, however property tax loans can be a great option for many individuals.

Property Tax Loan CoupleIf you find yourself in between a rock and a hard place with your property taxes, or even if you are to the point where your house might be foreclosed on, you should really consider a property tax loan. In Texas, you can get a property tax loan for a variety of property types, from land properties to residential or commercial. Property tax loans function as a lump sum payment to the original loaner, which then allow you to pay off the balance month to month.

In Texas, you can get a property tax loan quickly and easily. Most people will qualify for one as the barrier to entry is quite low, and people with poor credit can still readily attain them. Additionally, they’re quite a bit cheaper than the penalties you could run into with a tax assessor, and they guard you against running into further penalties. The best thing about them is that they pay off all of your initial loan, interest, and any penalties you have in one swoop.

For more information on property tax loans in Texas, please visit Hunter Kelsey.

Theatre in Austin

When you think of Texas Theatre, you probably think about that big ol’ production in Palo Duro Canyon with horses and cowboys or maybe you think about the stars who’ve risen from their native caliche laced soil like Farrah Fawcett and Larry Hagman. But Texas boasts some \ well respected theatre companies throughout this great state and none with a greater track record than The Paramount and Esther’s Follies in Austin, Texas.

Esther's Follies

Two short years after Saturday Night Live premiered television, Austin, Texas got it’s own modern day vaudeville company: Esther’s Follies. Located on the now famous 6th street, the 1977 iteration was less hospitable and consequently far less frequented by local revelers. The name Esther’s Follies refers to homage paid to Esther Williams, the queen of aquatic ballet, who has nothing to do with Austin or the location of the facility the company sits on. The venue is festooned with whimsical tromp loiel paintings of of creatures of the deep as well as the image of the star in all her bathing beauty glory. Every weekend for 35 years, Esther’s Follies has entertained her audiences with magic, satire and music. Austin now supports several comedy clubs but Esther’s is the reigning grand dame, of them all. Thursday- Sunday, Esther’s is open to the public, Sunday- Wednesday they’re available for private parties and corporate events.


The Paramount Theatre has stood on the same street for about 100 years. Which is a feat in and of itself given the changes that have taken place in the capitol city over the last 20 years. It opened in 1915 as a Vaudeville house and has continued to entertain Austinites ever since. It operates as a nonprofit, 501-3C these days with the mission to make performing arts accessible and available to as many people as possible. It participates in SXSW music and film festivals as well as The Austin Film Festival. The paramount also serves to bring in children from all over Austin to experience theatre and ballet in this site that has been restored to its 1915 grandeur. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains one of the few theatres in the United States using ropes and sandbags! Whether you like film, book readings or rock n roll, The Paramount Theatre has something for everybody.


Xeriscaping: Creating Balance

Xeriscaping typically refers to landscaping an environment in a manner that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental irrigation. What comprises a xeriscaped garden will depend upon its specific xeriscapinggeographic location. However, most xeriscaping adheres to the principles of planning/design; appropriate plant selection; efficient irrigation; practical turf areas; mulching; and maintenance

In Central Texas, and especially Austin, residential garden design traditionally included a large lawn, with border hedges and flowering beds. With this design has come the introduction of many non-native plants and St. Augustine lawn which requires significant water to maintain. The exploding population and catastrophic drought have led many people to rethink their garden and landscaping decisions. Into this mix has arisen xeriscaping which tends to favor the replacement of non-native species with local flora that is drought and disease tolerant. This can include the reduction or elimination of a lawn.

Xeriscaping will not eliminate the beauty of your garden. It will require thought and planning as well as regular maintenance. The joy and reward comes from learning about local plants and reducing your reliance of expensive and precious water resources. If you are considering landscaping your property, give some consideration to xeriscaping.

Source: Xeriscape Austin

Cinco de Mayo in Texas

Cinco de MayoThis spring, Texans all over the state are celebrating Mexico’s defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla. This battle, fought on May 5th, 1862, marked the final attempt of Europe, to control Mexico. So, you wonder why Texans are celebrating? Well Texas was Mexico at one point, in fact the General who won that famous battle, General Zaragosa, was born in Goliad! The history of Texas is deeply tied to Mexico’s. Things we think are part n parcel of being a Texan, like barbecue or chili, actually originated in Mexico. So, consider participating in some Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which often include Mariachi music and folkloric dancing as well as lots of delicious food.
Check out the following list for Cinco de Mayo celebrations near you!

• Austin will host their 8th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at the lovely Fiesta Gardens, On the 4th and 5th of May. This is located on Lady Bird Lake just minutes from downtown. They’ll provide good food, Tejano music, and flamenco dancing as part of their celebration.
• Goliad honors its native son, Gen. Zaragoza, who fought the battle of Puebla. They celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an annual fiesta on the weekend closest to Cinco de Mayo. The local Zaragoza Society coordinates the celebration, which includes Mexican food and music.
• San Antonio devotes three days to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.
• Alpine schedules an annual Cabrito Cookoff on a weekend for their Cinco de Mayo celebration.
• Dallas’ Cinco de Mayo celebration usually includes a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Gen. Zaragoza in Jaycee Zaragoza Park in West Dallas. Various neighborhoods hold fiestas throughout the city.
• Falfurrias holds its annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations each year at Lasater Park.
• Fort Stockton has an annual observance the Saturday following the 5th of May.
• Fort Worth marks Cinco de Mayo the last weekend of April.
• Freeport celebrates Cinco de Mayo each May.
• Grand Prairie in North Texas has a Cinco de Mayo art contest for area children. A parade, usually on the Saturday nearest May 5, starts at 14th and Main and includes the city’s school bands, and ballet folklorico groups, as well as speeches and mariachi music.
• Uvalde opens Cinco de Mayo with the raising of the U.S. flag at the Jardin de los Heros (Garden of the Heroes) Park. The cultural celebrations have been used to raise money by the American Legion for more than 25 years.

Discover African Cuisine

Given Austin’s emerging reputation as a food lover’s paradise, with its dazzling array of restaurants, food trailers, and specialty markets, it is little wonder that the town hosts a small number of excellent eateries focusing on the cuisine of Africa. A quick summary of these surprising places will whet your appetite for some adventuresome dining.

Ethiopian FoodFirst up is Aster Kassaye, who has lived and cooked in Austin since 1985. She is the owner of Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant, centrally located near the University of Texas campus and IH-35. They serve meat and vegetable dishes as well as offering an excellent lunch buffet. Be sure to try the plentiful Fasolia Wott Platter, a mix of collard greens, lentils, and stewed potatoes served on the Ethiopian fermented bread called injera. You tear the injera into small pieces and use it to scoop the delicious food into your mouth.
Information: 2804 N. IH-35 / http://www.astersethiopian.com / 512-469-5966.

Tucked in the back of the CTC Garden on East Cesar Chavez Street sits the inviting lunch-oriented Cazamance Café, serving Senegalese food, sometimes with a Moroccan touch! Owner Iba Thiam opened his cafe in 2010 and it’s already a hit, being picked by renowned chef Paul Qui as one of the best in Austin. Try the Lamb Burger, served in a hollowed-out baguette and topped with tomato relist, cucumbers, and brie.
Information: 1102 E Cesar Chavez St. / http://www.cazamance.com / 512-487-7222.

Another recent addition to the African food scene is Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant, located near 290 and N. IH-35. Their Ethiopian specialties include the delectable sambusa: fried pastries filled with seasoned beef and served with a tangy green sauce. Delicious!
Information: 6019 N. IH-35 / http://www.habesha-austin.com / 512-358-6839.

If Nigerian cuisine is what you are after then Wasota African Cuisine is your place. Owned by the same folks who ran the much loved World Beat Cafe, Wasota menu includes meat dishes and a surprising array vegan options. Fried plantains, black-eyed peas, and sautéed spinach in spicy tomato sauce is a favorite.
Information: 1209 South First St. / http://www.wasotaafricancuisine.com / 512-565-3864.

At first mention, African food may seem unusual, but try one of the above places out and discover the rich and flavorful traditions.

Source: Austin 360