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Bandera's 'Capital' Cowboy Christmas

Special to the Courier

It wouldn't be a Christmas in the Cowboy Capital of the World without Wes Hatch and Longhorn Arrowhead all decked out in holiday gear. This year's western-centric festivities start on Thursday, Dec. 5 and don't stop until Saturday, Dec. 21. There's something for every taste.
Jerome Edwards, grandson of Courier staff writer Carolyn B. Edwards, visited with Santa during a previous Cowboy Christmas. This year, the Jolly Old Elf will arrive at the Bandera County Courthouse during the kickoff of the holiday season, beginning at 4:30 pm, Friday, Dec. 6.

"Meeting and greeting" shoppers at The Cowboy Store during a previous Shoppers' Jubilee were Madeleine Montague, Juliette Montague and Kassidy Bradley, 10. Don't miss this year's version, beginning at 6 pm, Friday, Dec. 6.

The Texas Hill Country is known for its charming communities, but, as the quintessential Cowboy Town, Bandera stands alone. There's no denyin' that Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, does Christmas "the cowboy way." Throughout December, visitors can participate in a variety of activities that provide a memorable season.

Beginning Thursday, Dec. 5, and running until Sunday, Dec. 8, Eva Lee, proprietor of Country Accents Antiques, 8312 Highway 16 South, presents her 23rd annual Christmas in the Hill Country Open House from 10 am to 5:30 pm daily. The event features light fare and some sumptuous desserts by Chef Aaron of the Backyard Bistro. For more information, call 830-535-4979.
Shoppers Jubilee, the Cowboy Capital's centerpiece event, begins at 4:30 pm, Friday, Dec. 6, at the Bandera County Courthouse on Main Street. Sponsored by the Bandera Business Association, the festivity features local children's choirs performing holiday songs and carols. Students from the Pipe Creek Christian School will provide a Living Nativity and Santa will make an appearance, of course.
Afterward, the crowd takes to the city streets for Shoppers Jubilee, a cheery evening of merchant open houses complete with carolers, refreshments and strolling cowboys. Shops stay open until 9 pm, giving shoppers plenty of time to select perfect gifts for everyone on their lists.
Between 9 am and 1 pm, Saturday Dec. 7, the Bandera County Library's monthly book sale will highlight great books for Christmas giving.
Also, the annual Cowboy Capital Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce, heads up Main Street at 11 am. Holiday revelers arrive early to secure a front row seat so as not to miss cowboys on horseback, horse-drawn wagons and floats bedecked and bedizened in holiday finery.
After the parade, it's time to scurry over to the Bandera United Methodist Church, 406 11th Street, for the annual Craft and Bake sale - not to mention tasty soup luncheon. Then it's shop Bandera till you drop!
As evening approaches, the banks of the Medina River in Bandera City Park will be the site of the Cowboy Campfire Christmas, featuring chuck wagons laden with campfire coffee, hot chocolate and cookies; amazing displays of Christmas lights; and music of well-known cowboy singers, Duke Davis and Buckshot.
At nightfall, the Bandera County Christian Fellowship will present "A Holy Night," a Living Nativity illustrating the Christmas story. Bring lawn chairs to enjoy all the programs while sipping hot chocolate and coffee and munching cookies provided by Grace Lutheran Church.
Then it's time to stroll along the river and experience the enchantment of the Christmas lights, a featured part of the Hill Country Trail of Lights.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, stories and songs of Christmas will fill the air when Bandera's musical ambassadors - the Almost Patsy Cline Band - take the stage at the Western Heritage Cowboy Church in Pipe Creek. Doors open at 3 pm with the concert beginning at 3:30 pm.
Presented by the Bandera Community Foundation, "Merry Texas Christmas Too" includes a narrative explaining the musical selections' special significance to Texas. Tickets, available at Shoe Biz, 301 Main Street, are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The Western Heritage Cowboy Church is located at 7146 FM 1283 behind the Lakehills Area Library. Telephone is 830-796-4447.
From 7 pm to 10 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 11, Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar will be jumpin' with the 27th annual Cowboy Capital Christmas Charity Celebration. Enjoy the music of Arkey Blue & the Blue Cowboys during this festive annual event - formerly known as The Christmas Charity Ball - at Arkey's iconic Silver Dollar, 308 Main Street. Admission is a new toy or canned goods or non-perishable food item for Bandera families who need a boost this holiday season.
On Thursday, Dec. 12, early risers are invited to gather at 5 am at the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church on Cypress Street for Las Mannanitas, which honors the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe with traditional songs. Following the ceremony, a breakfast of coffee and pan dulce - sweet Mexican pastry - will be served in the parish hall.
At 6 pm that evening, the Celebration of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be held at St. Stanislaus, followed by a performance of the Aztec dancers outside the church at 6:30 pm. The Aztec dancers will be followed by a special Mariachi mass, beginning at 7 pm, that includes a dramatization of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego.
Christmas activities segue into an elegant mode from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Friday, Dec. 13, with the annual Holiday Tasting Tea at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, 403 Highway 173 North. Highlights are the delicious offerings homemade by members of the congregation. Cost is a $10 donation at the door. Telephone is 830-460-8583
Christmas activities continue at 3 pm, Saturday, Dec. 21, with the annual "Singing in the Saddle," a Christmas caroling trail ride around Bandera that originates at the Longhorn Saloon, 1307 Main Street. Wagons are available for non-riders and afterward, everyone heads back to the Longhorn for hot chocolate and cookies served from a chuck wagon.
Oh, and in case those festivities didn't tucker you out, prepare to catch special weekend performances of Cowboys on Main from 1 pm to 4 pm, featuring the Bandera Cattle Company Gunfighters. Bring the kiddos 'cause Bandera's gunfighters are always lookin' to deputize the little ones!

Check out www.banderacowboycapital.com and click on "Events" for times and added activities.