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Blanco Lavender Festival Opens Friday, Thousands Expected

Image courtesy of the Blanco Lavender Festival.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the nearby, tiny town of Blanco this weekend for the Blanco Lavender Festival.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Pets are not allowed, service animals only.

A $5 farm shuttle runs between Blanco High School’s parking lot and the town square, 1215 4th St., Blanco.

Masks are encouraged inside vendors’ booths or while waiting in line for food or beverages, including those under the Big Tent.

Lavender blooms are not abundant enough to allow for “cut-your-own” during the festival.

Things to Do at the Lavender Fest

The festival includes:

  • Lavender Market — Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Coutry wil offer lavender-related “pleaures and treasures.” Booths feature products from local and regional lavender farms including jewelry, fine art, bath-and-body products, women’s clothing and accessories, kitchen and culinary items, woodwork, yard decor, furniture, metal work, plants and plant accessories and more.
  • Hill Country Lavender Farm — Admission to the farm is free. Includes a leisurely drive through the Hill Country. Tasha Brieger now owns the farm, founded in 1999 by former National Geographic photographer Robb Kendrick and author Jeannie Ralston.
  • Beer and Wine in the “Big Tent” — Festival-famous Lavender LIzzie’s will be available along with fine wines from Esperanza Winery and Sweet Taste of Paradise. Beers by Blanco’s newest addition, Texas Cannon Brewing, will be on sale along with choices from Blanco’s Real Ale Brewing Compapny and Rough Diamond Brewery.
  • Speakers in the Park –  Kristi Long will discuss “Designing Gardens with Native Plant Beauty” from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday; Blanco’s David Topel, head distiller at Real Spirits Distilling Company will talk about “Gin Distillation” using botanicals from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday; Ann Karns speaks from experience, “Honey, we’re going to have a lavender farm” from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday; and Cindy Merdith, owner of The Herb Cottage, explains “Keeping Your Succulents Happy and Healthy” from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday.
  • Live Music — Performances by The Berts, who play from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Friday; the Matt Hubbard Trio from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday; Bobby Mack from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday; Zydeco Blanco from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and Erik Hokkanen from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
  • Other highlights —  Also featured at the festival are lavender-infused cocktails by Andalusia Whiskey; Real Ale’s Beer Garden; live music by Creek Bed Gifters at Tenuta Bianco; a performance by Daniel Paul Davis from 1 to 4 p.m. at Milam & Green Distillery; poker at Blanco Underground; barbecue at Old 300 BBQ; and a limited menu at Redbud Cafe.

Why Blanco?

The Lavender Fest explains:

“For many years, visitors to the Texas Hill Country have enjoyed the beauty of the rough landscape and winding rivers. Much of this rocky limestone land, however, hasn’t been highly sought after for its agricultural use.

“In 1999, Robb Kendrick and his wife, Jeannie Ralston, pioneered the way for a new agricultural industry in the area. Kendrick, a National Geographic photographer, while shooting a story for the magazine in Provence, France, noticed that the hilly terrain and the scorching hot summers there were similar to that found at his land near Blanco in the Texas Hill Country.

“The dry weather and alkaline limestone soils around Blanco make the area particularly suitable for growing lavender. The first commercial lavender farm in the state, called Hill Country Lavender, was started near Blanco in 1999. The climate and terrain reminded the farm’s owners of Provence, where they had recently visited. After planting their lavender, they gave seminars to others who wanted to grow the beautiful flowers.

“In 1999, the Kendricks planted 2,000 plants, paving the way for the current Blanco lavender growers, many of who were inspired by seminars conducted by the Kendricks.

“The Blanco Lavender Growers Association has remained a united group, building upon the experiences of the Kendricks. These pioneers have endured periods of non-stop rain and periods of non-existent rain, each time more committed to this new agricultural crop. They readily share each new experience with each other and with guests to the Texas Hill Country who share their love of lavender.

“In 2005, the Blanco Chamber of Commerce hosted Blanco’s First Annual Lavender Festival, setting the stage for this popular annual event. Seeing the vision created by huge attendance at this event, Charley Pemberton was instrumental in gaining Blanco’s official designation in 2006 as the “Lavender Festival of Texas.” This designation has been significant to the success of the annual Blanco Lavender Festival.

Charley and his wife, Ganell, were among the first growers in the area to attend a Kendrick seminar, inspiring them to start their new farm in October 2000. In 2006, Charley obtained the LAVENDER CAPITAL OF TEXAS ® service mark and generously bestowed that as a gift to the town of Blanco in February, 2007.

“In Spanish, Blanco means “white.” The town of Blanco was named for the limestone hills and banks along the river here. But another color has come to characterize this area: Lavender. The pale pastel hue of small buds that bloom in later spring at the lavender farms nestled among the region’s rugged hills and live oak groves.

“In honor of this exciting regional crop, the Blanco Chamber of Commerce annually hosts the Blanco Lavender Festival, the 2nd weekend of June. The lavender blooming season generally runs May through July.”

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