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The Taste of Texas — Stonewall Peaches

The peach season runs long in Texas. Different varieties bloom during the spring and summer months, giving peach lovers a lengthy opportunity to indulge themselves. The area around Stonewall is peach central, producing about 40% of the Texas harvest, and each year they hold the Peach JAMboree and Rodeo to celebrate the season and give attendees a chance to sample the best that Hill Country fruit growers have to offer. This festival includes that most Texan of Texas traditions: a three-day rodeo. There’ll be plenty of buckin’ and bull ridin’, a Peach Queen will be chosen from among the area’s most beautiful young blossoms, and cooks will converge to wrangle for the blue ribbons awarded for the best peach pies, cobblers and preserves. Get on out to Stonewall June 16th through the 18th and enjoy the fruits of the season!


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The Peachiest Festival of them All

If there’s somethin’ good in Texas, we’ll build a festival around it. So it’s no surprise that when the peach trees begin to bend with the first full summer crop, it’s time to head to Stonewall, just east of Fredericksburg, for the peachiest festival of them all. The 50th Annual Peach JAMboree PBR & Rodeo will take place June 16th through the 18th. During this weekend, Stonewall hosts events that include something for every member of the family.

Get Cookin’!

For all the foodies in your family, there will be loads to eat. At the Thursday and Friday night rodeos you'll find all your favorites — catfish, Texas Taters, corn dogs, funnel cakes and turkey legs. But Saturday is the best day to sample everything that a good ol’ small town Texas festival has to offer. There’ll be a Cowboy Breakfast at the Chamber grounds from 6:30 am to 10:00 am, to make sure that everybody gets a good start to the day. Starting at 11:00 am, BBQ will be available at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and food, ice cream and beverage booths will be set up at the Chamber grounds.

The highlight of the eating festivities will be, as always, the annual Baking & Preserves Contest. Contestants will be submitting their finest peach preserves, pies and cobblers at 10:00 am on Saturday morning, and by 4:00 pm the winners will be selected, receiving cash prizes of up to $150. The best part of the contest occurs after the judging — all the prize-winning entries will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the college scholarships that the Chamber awards each year. It’s your chance to pick up a blue-ribbon peach prize of your very own!

This Dream They Call Rodeo

If you’re lookin’ for a little rodeo, Stonewall’s the place you wanna be. This year’s JAMboree is a stop on the Professional Bull Riders 2010 Touring Pro Division circuit, so there’ll be plenty of serious cowboys vying for the title (and the dinner-plate-sized belt buckle that goes with it). Little cowboys will be takin’ their first turns riding wild, dangerous animals (sheep) and seein’ how the big boys do it, as they gear up for the mutton bustin’ competitions being held all weekend long.

The first heat of mutton bustin’ will take place on Thursday night at 7:00 pm, followed by Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association competitions at 8:00 pm, which include the kids’ calf scramble and final heat of mutton bustin’, wild cow milking, calf roping, bareback riding, and a clown specialty act featuring Leon Coffee. Friday night is the big event, with the professional bull riding competition kicking off at 8:00 pm. There’ll be more rodeo on Saturday night as the CPRA Rodeo finishes a full weekend of true cowboy competition.

Parades, Pitches and Pageantry

What would a small town festival be without a parade, complete with its own monarchy? The selection of a Peach Queen and Court begins on Friday night with the introduction of the candidates, then continues Saturday morning as they practice that special royal wave in the Peach Parade at 10 am. The candidates compete in the final round of judging at 3:00 pm with public interviews. The judges make their evaluations, and deliberations culminate at 7:30 pm with the coronation ceremony.

If you don’t cook, ride broncos, or aspire to wear a glittering crown, there’s still plenty of opportunity for you to test your mettle. The folks who make peach season possible — local growers — will compete in the peach show and judging at 1:00 pm Saturday, with the best peaches included in the auction later in the afternoon. Tossers and spitters will have a chance to compete: the WPA (washer pitching association) will hold a Tour competition during the JAMboree festivities, and the annual Peach Pit Spit will be held on the Chamber grounds, along with an antique tractor exhibition.

With all this competin’ going on, the cooks, cowboys and beauty queens will need a chance to shake off some of the jitters and go boot scootin’. There’s a dance each night of the festival, with entertainment provided by Stephanie Urbina Jones (Thursday), Nick Verzosa and the Noble Union (Friday), and TJ Broscoff (Saturday).

This is the kind of festival you can only find in Texas, and it only happens once a year, so get on out to Stonewall for one sweet time.


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Peaches Go Great with Wine!

Stonewall isn’t just known for its peaches — the area boasts some of the finest wineries in Texas. No matter what direction you’re coming from, you can find a winery on your route. Stop by one of these exceptional vineyards for a sample — you’ll probably want to bring home a case!

  • Woodrose Winery — This is one of the newer entries on the Texas wine scene, but a welcome addition. Stopping by here for a tasting is like stopping by the home of a good friend. Sit on the patio and play with the pups as waiters bring you samples and tell you everything you want to know about Woodrose vintages.
  • Becker Vineyards — This magnificent estate, including a bed and breakfast, reception hall, 46 acres of vines producing eight varietals, three acres of lavender, and the largest underground cellar in Texas, was opened in 1992. Since it’s peach season, you might want to try the Viognier, described by Food & Wine as an “herb-scented, peachy wine” that just won the title of “Top Texas Wine” from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. (The 9-liter bottle sold for $100,000 at the wine auction!)
  • Torre Di Pietra — The Maxwell family reaches back into more than one hundred years of family tradition to create a number of rich wines. Their offerings include Tango Port, aged for four years in American oak; Texas Dirty Girl, a dry Chardonnay; Amore de Tuscano, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Syrah; and Red Flirt, created to perfectly pair with Texas cuisine.
  • Pedernales Cellars — This family-owned vineyard includes 17 acres of hot weather varieties, including Tempranillo, Merlot, and Viognier. The underground cellars, built near the Pedernales River, use the limestone as natural insulation, and geothermal cooling to keep the building at an ideal temperature all year long.
  • Grape Creek Vineyards — Visit this Italian villa set in the Texas Hill Country and you’ll find a magnificent sanctuary that wouldn’t be out of place in the hillsides of Tuscany. Their carefully crafted wines have won over 100 medals in the last two years, including two Grand Star Awards (designating the best in their class) from the Lone Star Wine competition.