Commentary

Thu
21
Aug

Gillespie County Fair: 126 years of festivities


Then, just as now, the grandstands at the fair grounds were crowded with visitors gathered to watch the horse races. Around the turn of the century, it was common for the women to sit upstairs in the stands, while the men gathered in the area beneath. Daily musical entertainment was provided by a band that played from the platform extending from the upper story. — Standard-Radio Post historical file photo

A sure sign that autumn is just around the corner arrives tomorrow when the 126th Gillespie County Fair gets underway for a four-day run at the fair grounds on Texas Highway 16 South.

The Gillespie County Fair is the oldest county fair in Texas. It’s hard to believe that this year’s exposition is already the 39th year for the event to be held at the “new” fair grounds dedicated during the nation’s bicentennial on July 4, 1976.
Probably one of the most-often-asked questions is why is the fair not called an “annual” event, such as … the 126th annual fair?

Looking back at history, during the “war years” of World War II, the fair was cancelled in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945, and was resumed in 1946 when Fredericksburg celebrated its centennial.

Therefore, the fair is touted as the “oldest” and not “oldest annual” county fair in Texas.

Wed
13
Aug

Home is definitely where the heart is

By Richard Zowie —

It’s been one full year since I returned home after nearly nine years of “living abroad” in Michigan.

My sons and I made it in one piece to Fredericksburg on Aug. 7, 2013, despite getting lost briefly in Memphis.

Before long, it felt normal again to deal with the scorching summer heat, mild winters and, though I have yet to see one, scorpions.

I actually prefer cold weather, but I hate driving in it. Thank you, Great Lakes State, but you can have your icy roads, and your crazies who drive fast even in a blinding snowstorm. I don’t miss losing control of a car and sliding into a ditch.

Last Labor Day weekend, my sons and I traveled to Beeville to visit with my family and to see the hometown. That Saturday, I grew nostalgic and drove them all over Beeville to give them a tour.

Wed
13
Aug

Gillespie schools make the grades

State accountability ratings released Friday showed that Fredericksburg Independent School District’s students are in good hands.

Only two scores were given this year’s ratings from the Texas Education Agency: either “met the standard” or “improvement required.” These are rated on standardized testing (STAAR tests), student progress, closing performance gaps and “post-secondary readiness” or graduation statistics, such as how many enrolled in dual-credit courses or career tech.

Every FISD campus met the mark for academic performance. And while the legislature will consider the value and wisdom of constant standardized testing, we are proud that FISD has “made the grade” in every aspect. Harper ISD also met all standards, as did Doss Common Consolidated School District, so Gillespie public schools still give a value to parents and their child’s education.

Wed
13
Aug

Dark skies are important

We congratulate Enchanted Rock State Natural Area for receiving its Dark Sky Park designation by the International Dark Sky Association. It is an achievement that bears recognition, and we hope it spurs continued interest for municipal efforts.

Dark sky programs are important in that they keep our nights starry, but more than that, they save money through efficiency and lower costs. And when lights are pointed properly, they light better as less light is pointed skyward.

On a macro level, dark skies help us continue to dream and explore and realize we still are pioneers on the space frontier.

Congratulations to ERSNA and all who helped with the application. Dark skies are an important issue for us all.

Wed
06
Aug

Day at the beach is summer's last call

    We like the things

 that summer brings.

 It brings the sun.

 It brings the heat.

 It brings the things

 we like to eat.”

   --  From the children’s book “Summer,” by Alice Low

Wed
06
Aug

Water conservation is top local concern

Drought roars back in July; city will partner to offer educational programs

By Ken Esten Cooke— While it looked like the drought was breaking in May, it has roared back with a vengeance. July rainfall, at just half an inch, was the lowest in the past 15 years.

Rainfall measurements at the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park Weather Station (from where we receive our front-page readings) has totaled just 9.9 inches this year, barely a third of the expected annual average of 29 inches.

So, the City of Fredericksburg will partner with the sustainability group Fredericksburg Shines and the Fredericksburg Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas to educate and promote water conservation.

Wed
06
Aug

Outlook for theater: Excellent

FTC, FISD starting them young, putting on first-class productions

By Ken Esten Cooke— The announcement that a community theater company was going to produce “Les Misérables” over the summer was met with no small amount of disbelief. But the staging of that fabulous production showed that desire to have a first-class production far outpaced any cynicism.

Fredericksburg Theater Company has no plans of slowing down, as witnessed by its children’s production of “The Jungle Book” and this weekend’s addition of “The Fantasticks” to its repertoire. (As an added bonus, Harvey Schmidt, composer of the music, will be in town on Thursday for the opening — something extra special for a small town theater company. See our feature elsewhere in this edition.)

Wed
06
Aug

Outlook for theater: Excellent

FTC, FISD starting them young, putting on first-class productions

By Ken Esten Cooke— The announcement that a community theater company was going to produce “Les Misérables” over the summer was met with no small amount of disbelief. But the staging of that fabulous production showed that desire to have a first-class production far outpaced any cynicism.

Fredericksburg Theater Company has no plans of slowing down, as witnessed by its children’s production of “The Jungle Book” and this weekend’s addition of “The Fantasticks” to its repertoire. (As an added bonus, Harvey Schmidt, composer of the music, will be in town on Thursday for the opening — something extra special for a small town theater company. See our feature elsewhere in this edition.)

Wed
30
Jul

Wanderer's travels inspire admiration


Bryan Brant stopped in downtown Fredericksburg and drew plenty of attention. Brant's cross-country journey is one of renewal for both his body and spirit. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

“Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars….” – Jack Kerouac

Like a lot of 20-year-olds, I was taken with Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” when I read it in college. It’s an ebullient ode to experiencing life to the fullest, and I sought to spread my wings and see parts of this place we call Planet Earth.

Fortunately, I was able to join some other wayward minstrels and do that for a while. There is no education like travel, and it was good for this small-town boy to get out and put some mileage under my boots.

Wed
30
Jul

As market grows, so does its price tag

Nothing is certain, they say, but death and taxes. And it seems certain that property taxes, driven by a rise in popularity of this area, will certainly continue to rise.

Final appraised values showed Gillespie County properties again hitting the $7 billion mark, after being hit by the national recession for the past five years.

While Fredericksburg never suffered the debilitating real estate situations of other locales, sales activity did slow considerably. But the market for both residential and commercial property has heated up again considerably.

The average home value has risen to $216,000, up around $10,000 in the past five years. That’s slightly higher than the median home price in Texas ($212,000), though that includes every property from Alvin to Austin. And while we’re comparable to some parts of Austin, Fredericksburg is certainly not valued as high as the capital city’s high-rent districts.

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