Life in Lubbock 2006

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce


Mother Nature, community festivals draw crowds to South Plains

BY LANCE D. LUNSFORD

The South Plains of Texas possess attractions that pull people in from around the world.

From a developing wine industry to natural animal habitats, the featured attractions of West Texas culminate with a number of interesting places and events on the South Plains.

South Plains Boy Scout Toribio Rodriguez helps Kristi Gwin of Idalou pick out a pumpkin Saturday during the Floydada Punkin Days event.
South Plains Boy Scout Toribio Rodriguez helps Kristi Gwin of Idalou pick out a pumpkin Saturday during the Floydada Punkin Days event.
Jodi Miller / Lubbock A-J

Perhaps few outdo the wondrous nature of the area.

An example is nestled on a series of playas where birds annually flock near Muleshoe, located 70 miles northwest of Lubbock.

The Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge was established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. The first such refuge in Texas, its main attraction is the annual migration of sandhill cranes. Thousands of the cranes annually migrate there starting in October.

Harold Beierman, refuge manager, said the sandhill cranes aren't the only appeal.

"The remainder of the year, we have a variety of shore birds and other migratory species," Beierman said.

The sandhill cranes stay through February.

Another piece of nature is celebrated every year - the pumpkin.

Punkin' Days in Floydada, the Pumpkin Capital of the World, offers pumpkins, shopping and music each October.

While the sights and sounds of nature may top some visitors' lists of ideal attractions, the sights and sounds of another sort also tend to attract attention.

Music, parades and regular festivals accompany small-town living with annual events generating free concerts and outdoor fun.

Every Thursday in June, Levelland is host to free concerts on the Hockley County Courthouse square from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Local acts perform as listeners setting up lawn chairs or laying out blankets on the lawn.

Many of the region's communities host settlers days, celebrating those who settled in a rough and tumble landscape hardly suited to easy living.

Levelland's own Early Settlers Day is held every June with a street festival, live music and a parade. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 attend annually.

While annual events draw crowds, so do more frequent programs.

Post's Old Mill Trade Days occurs the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month with an extra weekend following Thanksgiving. The event hosts hundreds of vendors in a marketplace at the historic Postex Mill. Admission costs $1 on Friday, $2 on Saturday and Sunday. Children 10 and younger are free with an adult.

"Shoppers love to come to Old Mill Trade Days because they will always find something different. We have some vendors who have been with us for years, but they are constantly changing their merchandise or making new things to sell and we always have new vendors, too," said Rosa Latimer, general manager of Old Mill Trade Days.

"Our event has a great small town atmosphere, " Latimer added, "and our visitors love to spend the day shopping and enjoying the great food!"

Other attractions in Post draw the eye. Three theaters offer a number of programs. The Tower, Garza and Ragtown Gospel theaters offer diverse programs ranging from Las Vegas-style shows to regular movies, from stage plays to gospel drama.

Music in West Texas has a distinct flavor.

A lot of West Texas music is influenced most by Bob Wills and the western swing he crafted.

His influence is celebrated annually in Turkey - his hometown - every April as the town takes on hundreds of travelers hankering for the unique sound Wills influenced.

To comment on this story:

james.gallagher@lubbockonline.com 766-8706