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Burnet Bluebonnet Festival, Something for Everyone

Radney Foster headlines the 2018 Burnet Bluebonnet Festival on April 14. Tickets are $10. Photo from radneyfoster.com

BURNET — During the 35th annual Bluebonnet Festival on April 13-15 expect to see many unfamiliar faces who have driven far and wide from across the country for one reason.

Singer-songwriter Radney Foster is performing Saturday on the courthouse square. Tickets are $10 each.

Foster’s hits include “Nobody Wins,” “Everyday Angel,” “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “Labor of Love,” “If It Were Me,” and “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams),” a duet he sang with Emmylou Harris.

When word spread that Foster was performing in Burnet, the city’s chamber of commerce was inundated with phone calls.

Chamber Executive Director Kim Winkler said she heard from a woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who wanted to make sure tickets were still available since she’s flying in to see Foster. A family from Houston is making the trek, specifically for Foster.

“It’s really a tradition for Burnet people to come back year after year,” Winkler said, "but it also brings new people.”

Times have definitely changed since the festival began 35 years ago.

Back then, festival founders simply wanted to honor Burnet being named the "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas." They used a small concrete slab as a dance floor in front of a tiny stage on which played an even tinier band. The city’s business and civic leaders took it upon themselves to perform some of the menial tasks, including picking up trash.

Several months later, organizers were at the Pecan Festival, which featured a carnival. They decided the Bluebonnet Festival should have one, too, and worked out a deal to have rides at the next event.

Those rides turned into The Mighty Thomas Carnival, which kicks off a day earlier than the festival on Thursday, April 12, from 5-10 p.m. It's then open 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

Three decades later, the Bluebonnet Festival has doubled the size of the entertainment stage and added enough room to accomodate twice the number dancers as well as onlookers.

When organizers say the festival has something for everyone, they back it up. A grand parade and pet parade, 5K and 10K runs, a gunfighters "shootout," a classic car show, and a demolition derby along with food and craft vendors ensure people come early, stay late, and leave full and happy — and broke, if they're not careful.

As part of the 35th anniversary, you can purchase a commemorative bag filled with a festival T-shirt, a festival wine glass, a Saturday night concert ticket, and bluebonnet seeds for $35.

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

The Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Show is 2-5 p.m. at the Herman Brown Free Library, located on the corner of Washington and Main streets on the square.

KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune will be broadcasting live from 4:30-6:30 p.m. for the opening ceremonies, which start at 5:30 p.m. on the main stage on the square. The pet parade follows at 6 p.m.

The night ends with Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band performing on the main stage at 7:30 p.m. Flores, who won a Grammy in 2002 for his string and brass arrangements and violin performances on Freddy Fender’s “La Musica de Baldemar Huerta,” plays country at its roots with a six-piece string band.

He has opened for Marty Robbins, Johnny Rodriguez, Tanya Tucker, and Conway Twitty.

Saturday’s events kickoff — literally — with the Kids K, 5K, and 10K runs at 8 a.m. on the square.

The Lake Area Rods and Classics Car Show is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hamilton Creek Park, located nearby off West Jackson Street.

Kids can play games and participate in the bicycle decorating contest on the square.

The grand parade is 11 a.m., starting on the square then heading to Wallace Riddell Park, 305 McNeil St., for the Mounted First Calvary Demonstration.

Festival co-chairwoman Suzanne Brown said one event she doesn’t miss is the calvary demo. The steering committee provides lunch to the soldiers.

“We get to give back to those who give so much,” she said. “That’s a special time.”

The Burnet Gunfighters shootouts are 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Old West Town, also on the square.

The main stage opens at 10:30 a.m. with the Studio 29 Dance Center performance. At 12:30 p.m., Ben Watson and the Hired Guns perform followed by Clickety Cloggers Dance Club at 1:45 p.m., Big Anton and The Alley Cats at 2:15 p.m., and Andrew McHam at 4 p.m.

Shane Schilling opens the Jim Hoffpauir Cadillac stage at 3 p.m. followed by Allen Ray at 4:30 p.m.

The main stage reopens at 7:45 p.m. when Texas Crossing performs followed by Kody West at 8:30 p.m. then Foster at 10:15 p.m.

On Sunday is a contemporary praise and worship service at 9:15 a.m. followed by the wiener dog race at noon, both on the square. Ray hits the Jim Hoffpauir Cadillac stage at noon.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone have a great time reconnecting with old friends,” Brown said. “We have it all, something for everybody.”

Go to bluebonnetfestival.org for a full schedule and more information.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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