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Photo courtesy of Rodeo Austin

Bulls in the Ballpark, presented by Lone Star Ag Credit, will be returning to Dell Diamond for the third year in a row. The venue will transform from a baseball diamond into a rodeo arena for the two-night bull riding event, complete with fireworks to close out each day.

Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB

Lasso up a great getaway to Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World

On the Road

It’s known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” and Bandera — in the beautiful Texas Hill Country — lives up to that title.

Once the staging area for the last great cattle drives of the late 1800s, the town also boasts many National Rodeo Champions.

When you’re here, you’ll quickly see how the respect and authenticity of “cowboy culture” permeates every square inch of the town. What you’ll also notice is how Indian, Mexican, Polish, and Western cultures give Bandera a unique ambiance not found anywhere else in Texas.

So grab your hat and boots, channel your inner cowboy, and get set to lasso up a great little getaway in Bandera.

Find your home on the range
With a number of dude ranches in Bandera, each nestled into scenic surrounds, it’s easy to fully immerse yourself in that cowboy culture.

Each of the working ranches is its own unique experience. For example, at Flying L Ranch Resort you can stay in a cedar cabin or historic villa and take wagon rides, feed deer and antelope, get in on a chuckwagon dinner (during the summer only), sidle up to the campfire for s'mores, and maybe even catch some champion trick ropers and storytellers.

Situated on 725 acres, Dixie Dude Ranch goes back five generations to 1901, showing true Texas hospitality every step along the way.

Horseback riding, catch-and-release fishing, hiking, hayrides, campfire sing-alongs, dancing, and lots of Western fun are all on the docket here.

You can also check out the century-old barn and Range War Cemetery or, for a little R&R, the ranch offers massages, too.

Willow Creek Ranch is a family-owned and operated 40-acre horse farm where they rehabilitate and retrain rescue horses, too. You'll stay in the three-bedroom house surrounded by nature, horses, oak trees, a creek, and a pond.

Hit the trail
Even if you don’t stay at a dude ranch, you can still get in on horseback riding that ventures through the rolling green hills, wide-open pastures, and picturesque creeks.

Juniper Hill Stables and Cross-G Ranch both have one-of-a-kind trail rides through these rugged-cool landscapes.

Head to the rodeo
You can see some of the best barrel racers and mutton busters in Texas vie for the top prize at one of the many rodeos in town, including the Bandera ProRodeo Association's Memorial Day PRCA rodeo.

Celebrate Bandera Round-Up, held over Labor day weekend, features a longhorn cattle drive on Saturday morning followed by a market day with entertainment around the courthouse lawn Saturday and Sunday.

Bandera ProRodeo then produces a working cowboy Ranch Rodeo (no bull riding) on Saturday evening and an All Women’s Ranch Rodeo and Mutton Bustin’ on Sunday evening.

Schedule in a shootout
A shootout that’s straight out of a classic spaghetti western is what you’ll get at Cowboys on Main, a weekly event with gripping gunfights by historical re-enactors from the Bandera Cattle Company, along with chuck wagons and period costumes. Check the weekly entertainment guide here for the most up-to-date times.

Get your nature fix
Sure, dude ranch’ing it up and horseback riding will put you in touch with nature. But there’s plenty more to explore with Bandera as your home base.

Two of the most breathtaking natural areas in Texas are within easy driving distance. Surround yourself with limestone bluffs and hills covered in blooming wildflowers at the Hill Country State Natural Area, which is home to more than 40 miles of trails.

Meanwhile, Lost Maples State Natural Area — named for the park’s abundance of bigtooth maple trees that provide vibrant fall colors — is 2,100 acres of statement-making scenery, including limestone canyons, grasslands and wooded hills, and clear-water streams.

It’s also known as one of the best birding destinations, with the spotting of species like the black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, and green kingfisher.

Check out the museums
Browse the Frontier Times Museum’s 40,000-item collection of Western art and memorabilia with historical artifacts, photographs, and art that tell the story of Bandera County’s earliest days.

There’s also a gallery of paintings displayed on a natural rock wall to reflect the rugged landscape of the surrounding Hill Country.

The Bandera Natural History Museum is a true gem, with an extensive wildlife exhibit and a collection of Spanish art from 1521-early 1800s.

And with motorcycles from all over the world, ranging from 1910 to today, the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum is a fascinating look at the bike.

Tune into some live music
In addition to its Old West vibes, Bandera has a thriving music scene with jams just about every day of the week. One of the most popular venues in town is the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, a go-to spot for live country music and good beer.

Grab an ice-cream float
The Bandera General Store is really a must; it has one of the last remaining old-fashioned soda fountains in Texas (there are only 11 of them!). There, you can also shop for cowboy boots, hats, and more.

See more of what Bandera has to offer here.

Flying L Ranch is one of the dude ranches where you can stay in Bandera.

Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB
Flying L Ranch is one of the dude ranches where you can stay in Bandera.
Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB

Saddle up for a summer of rodeo fun in Bandera, the Cowboy Capital

It's Rodeo Season

Sick of the hustle and bustle of modern city life? Then the “Cowboy Capital of the World” is calling your name.

Put a weekend trip to Bandera, Texas, on your calendar. There’s plenty of authentic Texas fun to be found in this little town, located just an hour northeast of San Antonio.

Saddle up
Rodeo has been the heart of this little Texas town for nearly a century, and Bandera’s biggest rodeo of the year is just a few days away: the Memorial Day Weekend Stampede Pro Rodeo.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, cowboys and cowgirls will be showing off their finest skills at the Mansfield Park Arena. All seven pro rodeo events — bareback riding, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, and bull riding — will be shown all three nights.

Gates to the arena open at 6 pm and the Grand Entry starts right at 8 pm, with tickets available at the gate or online.

Ready to two-step? Grab a partner, because 11th Street Cowboy Bar will be providing the dance on Friday and Saturday nights at Mansfield Park.

The weekend will be jam-packed with rodeo fun, so make sure to wander Main Street during the day.

For Memorial Day, horseback riders will parade down Main Street in honor of those lost in service on Saturday at 11 am.

Courthouse Square in downtown Bandera will be packed with vendors all weekend for the Memorial Day Arts and Crafts show. While you’re there, be sure to check out the bronze monument on the courthouse lawn that honors the many past National Rodeo Champions from Bandera.

The Bandera Cattle Company will be performing a special three-show edition of their weekly gunfights on Saturday at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm

If you can’t swing the trip this weekend, Bandera’s rodeo season will be proudly roaring all summer long.

Rodeos at Mansfield Park will continue on Friday nights through August 5, and barrel racing and mini bull riding events will be held monthly on Saturdays through October.

Make it a weekend
Once the staging area for the Great Western Cattle Trail, Bandera’s authentic cowboy roots are still going strong.

For the true cowboy experience, stay at one of Bandera’s iconic dude ranches. Definitely plan for a long drive or bike ride along Highway 16 and take in the Texas Hill Country’s unique and unforgettable vistas.

Cool off by the Medina or Sabinal rivers or boat, fish, or picnic at Medina Lake. And at night, two-step or waltz the night away at a local honky-tonk with live music.

Check out all that Bandera has to offer, and start planning your getaway, here.

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of rodeo season.

Photo courtesy of Bandera CVB
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of rodeo season.
Photo courtesy of PBR

Austin's new Professional Bull Riding team gallops into the Moody Center

Giddy up!

Saddle up, folks. A team from a new Professional Bull Riding league is riding into Austin.

Central Texans will get a chance to see the Austin Gamblers in action from August 26-28 during a PBR Team Series event at the University of Texas’ new Moody Center. Over 500 bull riders compete each year in more than 200 PBR events, including the new PBR Team Series.

Texas natives Egon and Abby Durban own the Gamblers. They’ve tapped longtime sports executive JJ Gottsch as CEO of the Gamblers. Gottsch is the former chief operating officer of the business that owns the Round Rock Express minor league baseball team. He’s also chairman of the Austin Sports Commission.

“JJ’s success in developing [premier] sports programs and entertainment in Austin and beyond makes him the ideal partner to grow and lead the Austin Gamblers,” the Durbans say in a news release. “This new professional team sport will bring the excitement and energy of bull riding to Moody Center in Austin and will feature the most elite bull riders in the world — real-life action heroes who deliver authentic and thrilling entertainment to both longtime fans and new ones.”

Gottsch says the Gamblers represent a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to introduce Central Texans to a sport of “grit, dedication, and Texan-style entertainment.”

PBR legend Michael Gaffney, who lives in Central Texas, is the Gamblers’ first-ever head coach. He is a co-founder of PBR and won the sport’s 1997 world championship.

Egon Durban is co-CEO of Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm based in Silicon Valley. The firm’s sports portfolio includes PBR’s parent company, City Football Group (owner of the Manchester City Football Club and New York City FC soccer club), and the UFC (through Endeavor). Durban sits on the boards of a number of companies, including Round Rock-based Dell Technologies.

Austin is one of eight U.S. cities picked in January to join the inaugural PBR Team Series. The league launches this year, with team competitions kicking off in July. Each team’s roster will include seven riders and three practice squad members. The Gamblers hold the top pick in the PBR Team Series’ first draft, set for May 23 in Arlington.

Each of the eight teams will host an annual bull riding and Western lifestyle event, with Austin’s activities scheduled for August 26-28.

Tickets for the inaugural 2022 PBR Team Series will go on sale March 21 at pbr.com, ticketmaster.com, and moodycenteratx.com.

Texas hosts one other PBR team: the Ariat Texas Rattlers in Fort Worth. The other teams are in Glendale, Arizona (a Phoenix suburb); Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Ridgedale, Missouri (near Branson); Nashville; and Oklahoma City.

The new Professional Bull Riding league is guaranteed to be a wild ride.

Photo courtesy of PBR
The new Professional Bull Riding league is guaranteed to be a wild ride.
Photo by YOLO Texas

Spend your Labor Day weekend in the Cowboy Capital of the World

Yee-Haw!

A blend of Indian, Mexican, Polish, and Western cultures gives Bandera a unique ambiance you won't find anywhere else in Texas.

Located about two-and-a-half hours from Austin, the "Cowboy Capital of the World" was a staging area for the last great cattle drives of the late 1800s. In fact, a bronze monument honoring the many National Rodeo Champions who call Bandera home stands on the courthouse lawn.

So it makes perfect sense that Bandera is the spot for all types of Western fun, especially September 4-5.

The Celebrate Bandera Roundup Labor Day Weekend is two days of nonstop cowboy entertainment, beginning with the Longhorn Cattle Drive & Parade at 11 am on September 4.

Later that night, saddle up for Bandera ProRodeo's Ranch Rodeo, produced by Triple R Rodeo and held at Mansfield Park Rodeo Arena. In addition to the best ranch rodeo teams in the area and a performance by True Women Drill Team, you can enjoy muggin’ (steer roping), wild cow milking, and so much more.

Mutton Bustin’ starts at 6 pm, and the fee is $20 and limited to 20 entries. Tickets to the rodeo are $10 for adults (13 years and up) and kids 12 and under are free.

During the day on both Saturday and Sunday, stroll through the Cowboy Market on the historic Bandera Courthouse Square grounds to see live gunfighter shows, enjoy outstanding live musical artists and storytellers, and shop many Western-themed vendor booths for cowboy gear and much more. And hey, it's free to attend.

The weekend's grand finale is the sensational Women’s Ranch Rodeo and Kid’s Mutton Bustin', presented by the Bandera ProRodeo Association on the evening of September 5.

Kids' registration for Mutton Bustin' begins at 6:30 pm, with a $20 fee. Take note that there is a weight limit.

The Women’s Ranch Rodeo begins at 8 pm and features Pony Express race, rescue race, the cowhide race, muggin’, trailer loading, and steer branding, plus a performance by the True Women Drill Team.

Conveniently, the 11th Street Cowboy Bar's Western Music Festival is also that weekend, from September 3-5.

A $100 weekend pass will get you in to all 10 shows, or you can purchase per day. Hear tunes from Wades Hayes, Jake Hooker and the Outsiders, TG Shepperd, Vince Moreno, Johnny Rodriguez, and many more, all performing at the historic bar.

And since Bandera loves a good festival, mark your calendar to return for the Medina Lake Cajun Festival on September 25. This full day of authentic Cajun food is celebrating its 40th anniversary, meaning gumbo, crawfish, and other delicacies that have been perfected over the years, plus two stages of continuous entertainment featuring top Cajun and Zydeco bands.

To see all that's coming up in Bandera, check out the events calendar online.

Rustle up some cowboy flair in Bandera.

Photo by YOLO Texas
Rustle up some cowboy flair in Bandera.
Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com

George Strait returns to Texas stage with big new show worth a road trip

all hail the king!

It’s time to rally all those exes who live in Texas and mark those calendars. The King of Country, George Strait, is returning to the Texas stage, closing out RodeoHouston’s 90th anniversary season on March 20, 2022.

The full-length evening concert will be held in Houston's NRG Stadium on the final night of the 2022 Rodeo, which runs for 21 days February 28-March 20, 2022, organizers announced May 18.

Individual tickets for Strait’s concert-only performance go on sale to the public Thursday, June 24. (Tix are limited to four per person). The rodeo promises a full entertainer lineup announcement once available.

“What better way to celebrate the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s 90th anniversary than with a special, concert-only performance by the King of Country music himself,” rodeo president and CEO Chris Boleman noted in a statement. “After a couple of particularly challenging years, our thousands of dedicated volunteers simply can’t wait to welcome everyone back to the Rodeo grounds for a Texas-sized celebration of Western heritage that will be well worth the wait.”

Next year’s performance marks Strait’s 31st rodeo performance in Houston; his first was in 1983.

By the numbers, Strait has entertained more than 1.7 million rodeo fans through the years. To date, Strait boasts 33 platinum or multi-platinum-selling albums and 60 No. 1 singles — the most of any artist of any music genre in history — plus, a Grammy for his album, Troubadour. Not surprisingly, he is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the rodeo's website.

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Austin-based 3D printing company tapped by NASA to build on the moon

To infinity and beyond

The Austin-based builder of 3D-printed homes, ICON, is making one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind by signing a $57 million contract with NASA to build on the moon.

According to a release from ICON, the company will soon venture into a new frontier of space dimensions. The contract, announced on November 29, was awarded to the company under NASA's Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program allows ICON to use the $57 million award to build their Olympus system, which adds to previous construction done by both NASA and the Department of Defense for exploration of the moon and beyond.

"ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence," the release stated.

The project will work in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program, which launched its first rocket in 50 years on November 15. ICON will work with the program to:

  • Use lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions, in addition to other regolith simulants, to see their mechanical behavior in lunar gravity.
  • Bring advanced hardware and software into space through a lunar gravity simulation flight.
  • Create results to inform future lunar construction approaches for the space community.
  • Establish critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy and habitation.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.

"It's a construction system we call Olympus system that will allow us to use the local materials of the moon to build all the elements of infrastructure necessary for a lunar outpost and ultimately a moon base ... launch and landing pads, roadways, habitats, you name it, all the things on the moon," said Ballard.

He added that they hope to start building on the moon by 2026, starting with a launch and landing pad.

In addition to the grant, ICON was awarded a subcontract in 2021 to support NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate to create the world's first and only simulated 3D-printed Mars surface habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, it is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center and is assisting in long-duration science missions.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Austin Pets Alive and Austin Animal Center launch $31 pet adoptions for the holidays

New home for the holidays

Two Austin organizations are looking to get local pets into their "furever" homes this holiday season. In a special December promotion, Austin Pets Alive! (APA) and Austin Animal Center are working to get as many animals out of the shelter as possible, by making all adoption fees a flat $31.

The promotion runs December 1-31. According to a release, APA's director of lifesaving operations, Stephanie Bilbro, sees this as a great opportunity to clear out the shelters and make a great impact heading into 2023.

“The holidays are a great time for the Austin community to come together and add to their families. We have so many precious kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs just waiting for their turn to find a family,” said Bilbro. “We hope this is a chance for any family who’s been looking to add a pet to theirs to do so right in the middle of the holiday season. We know Austin is in the upper echelon when it comes to animal welfare. We hope this promo sets us and AAC up for a successful end to 2022 and a fast start going into 2023.”

Both shelters are also seeking fosters and volunteers throughout the holiday season, for Austinites looking to help the shelters without making a long-term commitment.

APA has two locations, one at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., and one in Tarrytown (3118 Windsor Rd.). Both locations operate 12-6 pm daily, except Christmas Eve (12-4 pm), Christmas Day (closed), and New Year’s Eve (12-4 pm). The Austin Animal Center is located at 7201 Levander Loop and is open every day from 11 am-7 pm for adoptions. For holiday hours, AAC will be closing at 5 pm on December 23 and will be closed December 24-26.

'Famous' rooftop igloos return to Austin hot spot for the coolest experience this winter

Stay Cool

There aren’t so many winter wonderlands in Austin during the holiday season, but things get colder at higher elevations. The Hotel Van Zandt fourth-floor rooftop may not be high enough to change the weather, but visitors throughout December are invited to hang out in its self-proclaimed "famous" all-weather igloos, snacking on bites from inside and themed cocktails after the sun goes down.

Each private, six-seat igloo at the “South Pole” contains a Christmas tree, board and card games, festive records, and other cozy holiday decorations. It’s as private as Austin dining gets without completely breaking the bank, but the poolside mini-village of transparent igloos creates a warm feeling of togetherness. And in case it actually does get cold (a Christmas miracle!), the vinyl globes are heated.

It's not just a fun gimmick — as cute as the igloos are, Geraldine's is a great foodie destination. Visitors can expect (strong) drinks like the “Dandy Andes,” a minty chocolate mix of Grey Goose vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and matcha tea. “Santa on a Beach” combines tropical flavors with cinnamon, and other drinks include unusual ingredients like Chartreuse whipped cream, pistachio, and chocolate mole bitters.

Geraldine’s menu focuses on classic Southern cuisine without getting weighed down by tradition; that means a roster of semi-adventurous gourmet comfort foods, like mole birria short ribs, smoked carrots, and salty Brussels sprouts with serranos and mint. Shareables are a good idea, since the igloos are intimate (read: not especially convenient unless you like balancing a dinner plate on the couch).

Two rounds of two-hour seating will be available every night, and reservations will go very fast. As of December 5, there are only a few dates left. Reservations ($100 upfront) entail a $200 minimum on food and beverage, plus a 20 percent service charge. Book on Eventbrite.