11th Street Cowboy Bar helps make Celebrate Bandera a success
Originally published in the Bandera Bulletin newspaper. Reprinted with permission.
By James Taylor - Associate Editor-in-Chief
According to event coordinator and steering committee member Genie Strickland, this year's Celebrate Bandera, dubbed Celebrate Bandera County in honor of the area's 150th year since establishment, was the biggest, most well-attended Labor Day weekend event yet.
"My first reaction was, wow! We had a record-breaking crowd!," Strickland said. "It was wonderful. We had a fabulous parade, and the whole event was well-organized by the steering committee. We were everywhere - we had more activity on the river than ever, the pow wow was absolutely spectacular… [Celebrate Bandera] was very colorful and well attended."
Strickland said that she received phone calls from various merchants in the days post-Labor Day thanking her and the committee for putting on the event, reporting record sales and shoppers.
"When it comes from the merchants, that's great," Strickland said. "We know we've done our job; we haven't heard any complaints so far, and everyone was very happy with the weekend."
One of the big success stories from this year's Celebrate Bandera was the unveiling of the 11th Street Cowboy Bar's new outdoor stage and dance floor, rivaling the size and style of any in Texas.
"[James McGroarty] at 11th Street Cowboy Bar had over 2,200 people on Friday night," Strickland said. "We had almost double over what we did at every event last year."
Strickland said word on the street was that the new 11th Street digs were "the perfect venue" for Bandera.
"The 11th Street expansion will be very good for Bandera," Strickland said. "I think that we have the opportunity to bring some big name people here to town and that is helpful to all of the merchants. Venues that are done well like that are going to be assets to the community."
Strickland said her favorite aspect of the venue is its openness, eliminating concerns over cigarette smoke for non-smokers.
"It's nice to have that; it reminds me a lot of when I was a child, going to Mansfield Park and the Mayan and dancing out under the stars," Strickland. "That has a special appeal to a lot of people."
The Bandera Regional Community Foundation is the benefactor of proceeds from the Celebrate Bandera event. The BRCF organizes the event along with Strickland and the steering committee, their goal to assist all non-profit entities within the community.
Strickland also gave a nod to the new Blue Gene's Cowboy Sports Bar venue, calling it the perfect place for sponsors to view the Labor Day parade and for afternoon parties where everyone "had a good place to cool off with music." She called it a "grand addition to our community" as a more family-oriented venue.
The design of Celebrate Bandera provides free access to most events and venues during the weekend, with the bill footed by local merchants who purchase sponsorships throughout the year. With no cost to visitors, their dollars are then put to use spending at local merchants and with local eateries and for lodging.
"Everyone working together like that makes this event successful," Strickland said. "People who want to take their kids most places, it's so expensive, but they can afford to come here for good entertainment that is free."
Strickland praised the Celebrate Bandera steering committee for helping design and organize the event.
"This is not done by one person alone," Strickland said. "Volunteers in this town are awesome, that's all I can tell you. This is the best fun you'll ever have with your spurs on."
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