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Bluebonnet Festival From Start to Wiener Dog Finish

The Mighty Thomas Carnival opens Thursday evening and continues through Sunday at the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival. File photo

The 36th annual Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet includes so many fun activities that it’s a good thing the event is spread out over several days.

The “most exciting small-town festival in Texas” celebrating spring and the illustrious bluebonnet is Thursday-Sunday, April 11-14. Most of it takes place on or around the historic Burnet County Courthouse square. A few activities will bring you to nearby Hamilton Creek Park, Wallace Riddell Park, and the Burnet County Fairgrounds.

The Bluebonnet Festival opens Thursday from 5-11 p.m. with the Mighty Thomas Carnival with rides, games, and concessions. It continues through the weekend: 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

Since Art B. Thomas founded the Thomas Carnival in Lennox, South Dakota, in 1928, the renamed Mighty Thomas Carnival has remained family-owned and -operated. The Thomases relocated the business to Austin in 1977, and it’s become one of the go-to picks for family fun.

If you head to the festival on Friday, stop for breakfast (or lunch) at the all-you-can-eat-pancakes meal courtesy of the Burnet Kiwanis from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 311 S. Main St. Then, you should be fueled and ready for an afternoon of activities, including arts and crafts vendors and the ever-popular Pet Parade, which starts at 5:45 p.m. on the square.

The Demolition Derby is 6 p.m. Saturday at the Burnet County Fairgrounds. File photo

Stick around if you love great Texas music and dancing because Gary P. Nunn takes the main stage at 7:30 p.m. This show, like the majority of the music, is free. The only charge is for the Saturday night headlining performance by Mike Ryan, which has a $15 admission fee and a $5 cooler fee. One thing that sets apart the Bluebonnet Festival from similar events is the depth and breadth of its live music lineup. Organizers keep the sounds flowing throughout the weekend.

The biggest day of the Bluebonnet Festival is Saturday, April 13, with the Kids K at 8 a.m. and the final note of the Mike Ryan concert that night. In between, the fun is packed in.

Take part in a 5K or a 10K, the kids’ bike decorating contest, a car show, a rubber ducky race for charity, dance performances, and a Wild West shootout.

Of course, you can’t miss the Bluebonnet Festival Grand Parade at 11 a.m. on the square.

Things keep rolling through the day with the Mounted 1st Cavalry demonstration at 1 p.m. at Wallace Riddell Park and the Demolition Derby at 6 p.m. at the Burnet County Fairgrounds. Tickets for the derby are $5 for ages 6-9 and $15 for ages 10 and older. Children 5 and under get in free.

The festival continues Sunday with a contemporary praise and worship service at 9 a.m. on the main stage on the square. The arts and craft vendors are open, and the live music plays on.

The highlight of the day is for the dogs. Not just any dog — wiener dogs. The annual Wiener Dog Races at 1 p.m. turn the square into a furry fury of fast little legs.

And after the last dog crosses the finish line April 14, feel free to take a nap because you deserve it after your fun-filled weekend.

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