Mineral Wells Index
— By LIBBY CLUETT
With spring here, at least according to the calendar, there are many garden, historical and outdoor activities around the corner.
Mark your calendars and plan for some local, uniquely Palo Pinto County (and Parker County) activities.
Whether residents have a green thumb, need their taste buds spiced up or want to exert some energy, here's some of what's in store in April:
• April 5-6, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2399, in Mineral Wells, will host its sixth annual “A Spring Thing Chili Cook-off.”
Participants are encouraged to enter their best: barbecue brisket, pork butt, pork ribs, chicken, pinto beans, dutch oven (main dish, dessert and bread), salsa, ice cream, margarita, bloody mary and Frank Tolbert sanctioned chili. There will be awards for first through fifth place and a silent auction.
The chili cook-off takes place at the VFW Post, located at 1400 S.E. Veterans of Foreign Wars Street, Mineral Wells. For cook-off information, call (940) 452-6374 or (940) 325-1470. For category details, visit www.vfwpost2399.org.
• On April 6, 9 a.m. to noon, the Palo Pinto County Master Gardener's Association will present its “Spring Gardening Workshop” at the County Agrilife Extension office. This group of master gardeners – who know, hands-on, what grows well throughout the county – will address several topics, including drought-tolerant plants, rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation. The cost for the workshop is $10. For more information, call the County Extension Office at (940) 659-1228. The extension office is located at 221 S. 5th Ave. in Palo Pinto. Participants will not only learn valuable gardening information, but will leave with handouts and, possibly, with garden-related door prizes.
• Also on April 6 is the “First Annual Day of Fun” at Mineral Wells High School, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. This event is presented by the MWHS Choir Booster Club to help choir students cover expenses, including garment bags, food on trips, uniforms and travel, including performing in New York City this June.
The community can help students get to NYC by attending and participating in the Day of Fun, which includes vendors, concessions, train rides, a mechanical bull, an 82-obstacle course and more.
Many local citizens will be featured on stage in a talent show. Categories include music, theatre, comedy, dance, gymnastics and miscellaneous. There is no age limit on participating in the talent show. To participate, help with the Day of Fun or for more information about the event, call (940) 445-3057.
• On April 13, Community Animal Rescue Effort, also known as CARE, will host “Run 4 The Rescue,” a fun run for runners, dog walkers, fitness junkies and anyone else who loves animals. Run/walk distances are 5 kilometers, 10K or 1-mile and will be chip timed. The event takes place in Gordon.
Organizers encourage participants to enjoy the 1-mile fun run, with kids or a leashed dog, or compete for cash prizes in the 5K and 10K events. No pollution, no traffic in the peaceful Texas countryside in and around the historic town of Gordon. The 5K and 10K routes follow a small country road amidst fields of cows, green grass and an old pecan orchard.
After the running/walking events, participants can enjoy live music, stroll through the Gordon Farmer’s Market or watch the awards ceremony for top finishers.
To register online, visit www.Active.com or mail in a downloadable entry form from www.care4rescue.com. All race-day details are also available on those sites. Save money with early registration, which closes April 6. Same-day registration will be available, 7-8 a.m. on race day.
Sponsored by Millsap Veterinary Clinic, the event will help CARE with its mission to aid abandoned, abused and neglected animals in Palo Pinto County. Proceeds from this event will also help fund a low-cost spay, neuter and vaccination clinic located in Mingus. The clinic will help reduce the number of unwanted animals in the rural towns of Gordon, Mingus, Palo Pinto, Strawn and Santo, where the closest animal services are anywhere from 30-40 miles away.
• The weekend of April 13-14 brings Clark Gardens Botanical Park's Fifth Annual Spring Festival. Organizers call this event a weekend of fun, food and entertainment for all ages. The festival features: art; music; Texas wine and cheese; and, on Saturday, a classic car and motorcycle show. There will also be gardening demonstrations, vendors, educational stations and a model train show.
General admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-12 and free for children under 4 years old. Some festival activities have an additional fee.
Clark Gardens is located in western Parker County, east of Mineral Wells, at 567 Maddux Road (76088). For information, email email@example.com or call (940) 682-4856.
• Also on April 13, 1-5 p.m., is the 33rd Annual Shaw-Kemp Open House. Free to the public, this event gives a look back into the history of Parker County and its early log cabins, dating back to the mid 1800s. The open house features live music, tours and lots of bluebonnets. The Shaw-Kemp Ranch is located at 220 Kemp Rd., south of Weatherford on Hwy. 51, heading towards Granbury. Those planning to attend are invited to bring their own food, non-alcoholic drink and chair. For more information, call (817) 594-6837.
• On the last Saturday in April is another look at local history and wildflowers, on the Palo Pinto County Historic and Wildflower Tour. The tour, on April 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., features eight historical sites – many open just for this event – in Palo Pinto, Gordon, Strawn and near Possum Kingdom Lake. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $2 for children, ages 6-15; advance tickets are available at the Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce or the Old Jail Museum in Palo Pinto.
This is a self-paced driving tour in which participants visit all or some of the sites in any order. Tickets will be available at all eight locations on the day of the tour.
Sites include the Old Jail Museum, Lover’s Retreat, Johnson League Ranch, Belding Ranch and, in Strawn, the restored Opal Guest Chapel (the former Presbyterian Church), the Stuart Estate, Strawn Museum and Palo Pinto Mountains State Park – the state's newest park.
For information, visit the Palo Pinto County Historic Commission’s Facebook page or website at www.palopintohistory.com.
• April 26-27, Texas Frontier Trails will host its annual Chuckwagon Cook-Off.
On Friday night, there will be a street dance in Western Heritage Park, with the Taylor Hickey Band.
On Saturday, beginning about noon, the public is invited to come watch the chuck wagon contestants prepare their meals. There will be lots of other activities, including a dutch oven cooking demonstration. Eating will begin around 4:30 p.m.
Admission is $5 per person to Friday's dance or $20 for the whole weekend event – Friday dance and Saturday chuck wagon meal.
Western Heritage Park, formerly Pollard Park, is located at 3099 N. Oak Ave., in Mineral Wells.