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'Keep horses, vehicles off lawn,' commishes say

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Community events will continue to be celebrated on the Bandera County Courthouse complex on Main Street, but - aside from specific exceptions - horses and motorized vehicles on the lawn will not be tolerated.

That was the message commissioners sent on Thursday, Feb. 23, when event coordinator Genie Strickland requested to use the courthouse area for local celebrations throughout 2012.

According to Strickland, events sponsored by the Bandera Business Association include Saturday Market Days on April 7, May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4, Oct. 6 and Dec. 7.

Additionally, Cowboy Capital Christmas and Shoppers Jubilee, also sponsored by the BBA, will take place during the first Saturday in December.

During Memorial Day weekend, the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a market on Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27. This event, Strickland said, would replace the Funtier Days, an arts and crafts market formerly under the purview of the Bandera County Artists Association.

The Frontier Times Museum will sponsor the National Day of the American Cowboy on Saturday, July 28 - with activities on the courthouse lawn and at Mansfield Park on Highway 16 North.

This year, Celebrate Bandera, under the auspices of the Bandera Community Foundation, will be held on Sept. 1 and 2, during Labor Day weekend. Other events associated with Celebrate Bandera take place at Mansfield Park.

"In most cases, set-up for the events will begin several days before the actual event," Strickland said. Set up includes marking spaces for booths and erecting tents on the lawn. "However," she continued, "vendor set-up will not be allowed prior to 5 pm on work days."

She also told the court the various sponsoring organizations would be responsible for making individual arrangements with county commissioners prior to their scheduled events.

While approval for Stickland's request was practically pro forma, nevertheless, County Judge Richard Evans asked that she remind vendors and others that horses and motorized vehicles were prohibited on the courthouse lawn.

"The sprinkler system is gone and the lawn has just about been destroyed," Evans said.

According to Strickland, however, past admonishments to keep equines off the grass, were often met with indifference - and more. "On the National Day of the American Cowboy, I told someone not to ride their horse on the lawn and he said, 'Stop me'," Strickland said. "There wasn't much else I could do."

Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris suggested sending written notice to vendors about the off-the-grass policy and to post signage during the days of the events "to stave off the smart alecks." He also recommended that she report riders reluctant to remove their verboten conveyances from the lawn to the sheriff's office and let law enforcement take care of them.

George Sharman, president of the Frontier Times Museum Board of Directors, asked that an exception be made for trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick, who performs regularly on his horse at events on the courthouse complex.

"You have also made an exception for the sheep and donkey in the living nativity at Christmas," Strickland reminded the court.

Commissioners duly noted the exceptions in their final decision.
"While we want the courthouse lawn to be used as the focal point for community events, it also has to be somewhat protected," Evans said.