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Good times at Castell General Store

Castell General Store is a treasure tucked away on the Llano River in the middle of nowhere. There is something to do every weekend in this podunk party mecca, whether you’re looking to enjoy a pristine stretch of the river, listen to live music, or make friends. While major events are held throughout the year, such as the Testicle Festival (pictured), any given day in Castell promises a good time. File photo

Castell General Store is a big, yellow, hidden gem on the banks of the Llano River in Llano County where anything can happen. All manner of Texas Hill Country inhabitants find their way to the store for everything from impromptu kayak trips to surprisingly huge events like the annual Testicle Festival.

Located at 19522 RR 152 West in Castell, the general store is about 20 miles upriver from the city of Llano. Somehow, this isolated country business in a town with roughly 43 residents has become a major hangout with something going on almost every weekend, year-round.

“If you want to have fun, we create fun,” said Randy Leifeste, the enigmatic, wise-cracking, yarn-spinning, party-throwing, patriarchal proprietor of Castell General Store.

Leifeste has cultivated a somewhat-eternal, rural party atmosphere at the store that attracts a wide range of patrons. Bikers, lawyers, hippies, honky-tonkers, backpackers, trout bums, cops, writers, cowboys and cowgirls, real estate agents, guitar pickers, and a long list of others tend to congregate around Castell on any given weekend.

The store has grown in the years since Leifeste took ownership in 2010. Kayak rentals, a bar and grill, consistent good times, endless events and festivals, and an infamous rooster have helped build its glorious reputation. Texas Highways even sang the store’s praises in 2017.

Central to the lore of Castell is Leifeste’s late rooster, Cockaroo, who was notorious for his brazen nature and romantic interest in novelty, singing robotic bass. As time went on, word spread of the fornicating rooster, Cockaroo of Castell, and folks would come from miles around to see him get freaky with an animatronic fish. Cockaroo has passed on, but his legend continues to grow, and you can even see him mounted in the store alongside his past lovers.

While the parties, live music, and eclectic atmosphere are huge draws, the natural beauty of the Llano River is enough of a reason to visit Castell. A low-water crossing is a three-minute walk from the front door of Castell General Store, providing unprecedented river access. Locals and visitors drop in kayaks, cool off, and even fly fish in one of the most pristine stretches of the river you can find.

“I feel like we are a hidden oasis in the Hill Country. Everybody is just now getting to know us,” said Jennifer Hollingshead, the store's co-owner.

Now that you’ve been made aware of this illustrious locale, here are some upcoming events you won’t want to miss.

2022-23 EVENTS

Times are subject to change. Call the Llano Chamber of Commerce at 325-247-5354 or visit its website closer to the event for more detailed information.

Cock-A-Roo Music Festival

Saturday, Sept. 17, from noon to dark

Celebrate the life of Cockaroo the fornicating rooster with live music, drinks, food, and chicken (poop) bingo.


Saturday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A beer and wine festival for the ages. Further celebrate the legend of Cockaroo and day drink a stone’s throw away from the Llano River.

Castell General Store Barbecue Cook-Off

Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Step up to the plate and take on all pitmasters. Participate yourself or devour as much Hill Country barbecue as you can handle.

Castell General Store Hunters' Dinner

Saturday, Nov. 5, in the evening

Castell happens to be in the heart of hunting heaven — Llano County — and the general store shows its appreciation for the camo-clad cazadores that flock to the area every year. Stop by and grab a hearty meal before heading back into the field.

Castell General Store Friendsgiving

Thursday, Nov. 24, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends or make some new ones on turkey day.

Castell General Store Gumbo Cook-Off

Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What better way to warm up in winter than with a bowl of gumbo? Cajun meets Castell at the store's annual cook-off.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department trout release

Typically in early December

The department releases rainbow trout in the Llano River just outside of Castell every winter, creating a once-a-year opportunity for Texas anglers. Keep an eye on the TPWD website to find exact dates, but there should be trout in the river by mid-December.

Castell General Store Chili Cook-Off

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A bowl of chili might be an even better way to warm up on a winter’s day, and where better to get it than the annual Castell General Store Chili Cook-Off?

Testicle Festival

Saturday, May 20, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The biggest event of the year. Join hundreds of others in a calf fry-eating, crawfish-sucking, beer-guzzling extravaganza. Live music, vendors, and a wild time are promised at this flagship fiesta.

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