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Burnet Bluebonnet Festival Flowers Over the Years

The Mighty Thomas Carnival kicks off the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival on Thursday, April 6, from 5-10 p.m. File photo

BURNET — In 1981, the Texas Legislature officially designated Burnet the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.” Two years later, taking advantage of the new moniker and the carpet of blue the sprung up every spring, a trio of residents came up with a family-friendly event: the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival.

Cary Johnson, Sherri Wisner, and the late Pat Riddell envisioned families, friends, neighbors, and visitors enjoying the outdoors and the wildflowers as well as a carnival and food.

In 34 years, the Bluebonnet Festival has grown significantly, but the original vision remains: provide wholesome, family fun.

“(Johnson) is very pleased with the direction it’s gone,” said Bluebonnet Festival co-chairwoman Suzanne Brown about one of founding committee members

She noted the festival should bring about 30,000 to the city this year.

Back then, Johnson, Wisner, and Riddell weren’t just the main organizers; they also served as the cleanup crew.

“They were the trash pickup crew,” co-chairwoman Angela Moore said with a grin. “They did everything, and it was a one-day thing.”

Today, the Bluebonnet Festival spans several days — this year from April 6-9 — because there’s no way all that fun could be squashed into a 24-hour period.

It starts off with family night at the Mighty Thomas Carnival from 5-10 p.m. Thursday on the corner of Boundary and League streets.

“When that carnival pops up on Thursday, kids are so excited,” Brown said.


The festival continues Friday with the Kiwanis Club’s all-you-can-eat pancakes from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 311 S. Main St.

From 2-5 p.m., the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Show sets up at the Herman Brown Free Library, 100 E. Washington St. It continues 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Also on Friday, arts and crafts vendors are open for business from 2-6 p.m. on the square. KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune will be broadcasting live from the event from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Look for the tent.

The carnival is open from 5-11 p.m., and the festival’s opening ceremonies are 5:30-6:30 p.m. with a flyover by the Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.

A pet parade around the square starts at 5:45 p.m. with signup at 5 p.m.

Then, it’s time for boot scootin’ from 8:30-11 p.m. during a street dance on the square featuring Josh Ward.

(Due to festival parking, the Burnet County Courthouse and the Herman Brown Free Library will be closed all day Friday.)


On Saturday, there’s the YMCA of the Highland Lakes at Galloway-Hammond’s 5K and 10K at 7:45 a.m. (signup from 6:30-7:30 a.m.) as well as a kids 5K at 8 a.m., both starting at the main stage area on the square.

At 9 a.m., the Lake Area Rods and Classics Car Show parks itself on Jackson Street.

Children’s activities including the fun run, sack races, spoon races, and dashes, start at 9:30 a.m. on the north side of the square. Bring your bikes for the bicycle decorating contest at 10 a.m.

The grand parade and the carnival start at 11 a.m. with the Fort Hood Mounted First Calvary demonstration immediately following the parade at noon at Wallace Riddell Park, located at Texas 29 and Rhomberg Street.

The calvary will lead the grand parade, which has more than 100 entries, including the Burnet High School Esprit De Corps and the Night Mares roller derby team.

At 12:30 p.m., the Rubber Ducky Race sponsored by Literacy Highland Lakes hits the water at Hamilton Creek. The event raises money for the organization.

The Burnet Gunfighters put on Wild West Shows at 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Old West Town on League Street.

The live music continues on the main stage with Ben Watson and the Hired Guns at 12:30 p.m., Big Anton and the Alley Cats at 2:15 p.m., and Cody Beyer at 4 p.m.

On the Jackson Street stage is Shane Shillings at 1 p.m., followed by Andrew Ham at 2:30 p.m., and Texas Crossing at 4:30 p.m.

From 6-8 p.m. is the Destruction Derby at the Burnet County Fairgrounds, 1208 Houston Clinton Drive.

JB and The Moonshine Band kick off the evening concerts at 8:30 p.m. on the main stage with headliner Sam Riggs closing the show and providing the music for the street dance at 10:15 p.m. There will be a $10 cover charge and a $5 cooler charge for the evening performances.


A contemporary praise and worship service opens the main stage at 10 a.m. Sunday with arts and crafts vendors manning booths from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The carnival is noon-5 p.m., and Texas Crossings takes the Jackson Street stage at noon.

Registration for the wiener dog race is noon with the race beginning at 1 p.m.

Brown said it takes the hard work of many people to ensure the Bluebonnet Festival is successful each year.

“We couldn’t pull this off without our sponsors and volunteers,” she said. “They work many, many hours. It’s the most exciting small-town festival in the state.”

What makes those hours worthwhile?

“I think when we see everyone’s reaction and how much fun everyone is having,” Moore said. “It’s like a family reunion.”

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