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Llano Turns Over A New LEAF

The World Rock Stacking Championships return to Llano for the Llano Earth Art Festival, March 10-13 at Grenwelge Park. Staff photo by Jared Fields
Terry Schroth | Special to 101HighlandLakes.com

Take a short stroll beside the lazy Llano River the second weekend of March, and you'll find yourself surrounded by some of the coolest rock art since Pharaoh Khufu started stacking his own rock sculptures alongside the Nile 4,000 years ago.

The often sleepy cow town of Llano is turning over a new “LEAF.”

Since Llano itself has such a "rocky" history -- its early claim to fame was due to its numerous granite quarries, and the great Enchanted Rock is only 20 minutes away -- it seems only natural that Llano host the World Rock Stacking Championships. What, you ask, is rock stacking and why haven't I heard of it? Is it on ESPN? No. Not yet. We'll let the photographs provide the thousand words for that answer and move along to the details of the competition.

Basically, there is an art to the act of rock balancing sans sticky stuff (no adhesives allowed!) and some people really excel at it.

Noting the work of local rockstackers along the shores of the scenic Llano, (and subsequently some amazing photos posted on social media by rockstackers around the world) the Llano Earth Art Festival was imagined into existence by Llano innovator Binky LaFaye Morgan as a way to bring together artists and audiences in a beautiful location. With the help of like-minded local artists and volunteers it has evolved into a friendly competition, providing exposure for the art form and its seasoned stackers while inspiring others to participate in the celebration of nature in this delicate balance of Earth and art.

Dozens of rock stacks can be found on the shores of the Llano River at Grenwelge Park during the Llano Earth Art Festival. Staff photo by Jared Fields


Growing steadily in popularity, LEAF returns to Llano March 10-13, drawing champion rock stackers from across the country (New York to Los Angeles) and around the world (France, Italy, Scotland) to compete in four categories of events: Tallest Stack, Best Balancing Act, Most Amazing Arch, and Best Artistic Design. Open to professionals and amateurs alike, it has escalated into the event of the year for Llano artists and anyone else interested in practicing the concept of balancing nature with art -- or just being mesmerized by it.

Sound like a good way to spend a weekend? Want to give it a try yourself? Sign up on the webpage: http://www.llanoearthartfest.org, then pack your waders and join in the celebration of the perfect combination of Earth and art. If you aren't up for the competition and prefer to play in the sand and stack a few rocks with your kids, that's OK too. Just don't forget your camera because that's the only way to preserve these works of art.

The Rockstars at LEAF aren't just the stackers. Though the Rolling Stones have previous obligations, the stage will absolutely ROCK all weekend with a variety of amazing musicians. Headliner Jon Dee Graham performs on Friday night and on Saturday night Grace Park and the Deer will ‘leaf’ you wanting more. Come back on Sunday afternoon for a little EmiSunshine! Stay tuned to the website for all the new performance updates.

Thousands are expected at this year's Llano Earth Art Festival at Grenwelge Park on the Llano River. Saturday's rock stacking competitions are the most popular attraction. Staff photo by Jared Fields


If you're not a rock stacker or rock star, don't worry because there are plenty of other diversions. As one might expect at such an occasion, the surrounding area is sprinkled with Earth Art vendors offering a wide variety of homemade earth-centered products and yummies for the tummy. For those interested in expanding their Earth/Art awareness there are a variety of workshops which include such earthy topics as Native American Shamanism: A Study of Medicinal Plants; Permaculture: the system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems; FireStarter: the lost art of starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together; and various arts and crafts workshops. Keep an eye on the website for any last-minute additions.

Like any picnic in the park, where there's a leaf, there're bugs. So appropriately, at LEAF, it's love bugs. Reminiscent of the chuck wagon cook-off in October, the Free Flow Volkswagen Show also pays homage to the travel wagon and celebrates the evolution of the tailgate party! Circle the Wagons and Let it Flow!

Not to be outdone by a bunch of bugs, the Fashion Circus comes to town this weekend as well. Another feast for the eyes, witness the results when that creative fashion-mayhem gene which lies dormant all through the winter springs joyfully to life at LEAF -- revealing the fashion diva in all of us. Enjoy the parade of wacky wardrobe creations that fall somewhere between The Jolly Green Giant and Burning Man.

Not to be misconstrued as one of the above, keep an eye out for the Walking Tree of Life. While he looks like he may have escaped from that forest in Oz, this tree won't be hurling apples -- in fact, it might even give you a hug -- a real tree-hugger! Did I mention you should bring a camera?

LEAF just gets bigger and better every year, so don't wait until the last minute to make a reservation at one of Llano's local B&B's. You'll be glad you did.


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