Native American PowWow brings history, music, food to Austin

Native American Powwow Austin Texas via Ais4Austin.comYesterday, it was time to discover yet another new event in Austin, so we headed out for the 21st Annual Austin Powwow.

I love powwows…we used to go to the Native American Pow-Wow every year on City Island near Harrisburg, PA. when we lived there.  And we always tried to go to gatherings in Florida and in the Rockies, too.

The music, dancing and the clothing are my favorite parts, so I was thrilled to see that Austin’s Powwow was focused around those elements. The auditorium at Sunset Valley was filled with drummers, singers and dancers in dramatic traditional apparel.  As each dance was called, the music changed, the drum beat shifted, and a new group of dancers took center stage.

Austin PowWow 2012

Unlike many “shows” which focus on providing cultural demonstrations for visitors, this was clearly a gathering for members of the local and regional tribes.  Those of us who were not identifiably Native Americans were there as guests, not spectators. And that gave the whole event a different feel than more commercial, touristy “Indian events” — and one that I appreciated.

At one point, guests were invited to join in a dance, and most seemed to really enjoy the chance to be a part of the celebration.  Kids, especially little ones, loved this!

Outside, the celebration continued, with stands selling handmade flutes, beautiful drums and herbs used in healing. Yes, there were stands offering nearly identical jewelry, but the authentic craftspeople at other stands made it worth walking around, asking questions and shopping.

Austin PowWow 2012 Flutes for saleThere were also stands offering educational information about tribal history and customs.  We spent quite a bit of time at the Chickasaw table, learning about their history, stories and their new Oklahoma Chickasaw Cultural Center. A future road trip, maybe?

The event also includes a food court, with Fry Bread dominating the menus (no complaints from me!  I love Fry Bread with honey or beans and veggies, and they had both in abundance!) Austin PowWow 2012 Arrows for sale

Admission and parking were free, which makes this a great choice for families with kids. It also leaves more cash for lunch or shopping — another big plus in my book!  Pets are not permitted at the festival.

I just want to leave you with a few more images from the Festival…not my usual format, but I can’t resist.

Austin PowWow 2012 Sage

Austin PowWow 2012 Dream Catchers

Austin PowWow 2012 Cherokee Story Tellers

Advertisements

I found my dream cottage…in downtown Austin???

Austin dream cottage
This is not my typical post for this blog, but I couldn’t resist!

It started as a weekend walk to find the perfect first day of school outfit. As we wandered from one side of town to the other (yes, we were trying to avoid mall shopping!), Lance spotted a building he thought I would like…

I love architecture (well, most of it. Not thrilled with anything from the Brady-Bunch era) and this unexpected treat amid far too many faceless commercial buildings was wonderful. Then we looked down the street…there was more!

All together, there were three magnificent houses in a row, just blocks from parking garages and office buildings. Each wonderfully preserved (restored?) Each even still had a carriage step built into the wall to the street, where we stood imagining ladies in their finery alighting for an afternoon tea or even garden party.

There was a lot of construction at the end of the road, so we headed around the corner and then I saw it.

My dream cottage. I am sucker for cottages. The smaller, cuter, more adorable the better. And this was all of them.

This adorable little building started life as a servant’s home, then moved around a bit until it settled in it’s current location at 607 Nueces Street. I was entranced by every detail, from the elegant script house number to the very New Orleans Cafe du Monde can on the porch of this house that would look so at home in NOLA. And should those MegaMillions ever come in with my name on them (course, I have to buy a ticket first…), this cottage just might find its way to a new home, somewhere in a deep, shady, wonderful wood or a cozy seaside setting.

Now I’m psyched about looking for more “hidden” architectural wonders here in Austin. Ready to take my camera and go building-hunting. Got any suggestions?

The 4th of July is hot in Round Rock

Round Rock 4th of July and Sam Bass Shoot Out

For my first 4th of July in Texas, we headed up to Round Rock for their Frontier Days celebration. Yes, there were lots of places to choose from, but only Round Rock promised a chili pepper-eating contest and a historic shoot out!

And thankfully, it was all they promised. Randall’s sponsored the chili pepper eating contest…Ghost Peppers proved to be the highlight of the event…the faces of brave tasters were priceless! (And no, we were not among them! I love spicy, but…!)

After that we headed over to the food area for a snack before the Sam Bass Shootout. It was a great chance to learn a little bit of Texas history and chill (okay, so that’s relative on a 100+ degree day!) in the shade and watch a performance complete with some beautiful horses and impressive riding.

There were kiddie rides, vendor booths, a track-can train (seriously!) and even a unicorn in the pony ride area! It’s kid and family friendly, but dogs aren’t welcome at this normally dog-friendly park on the 4th.

Later on, there was a spectacular fireworks display, followed by an outdoor film (Captain America, this year.)

It was a great day, but some lessons were learned for next year. First, bring water. LOTS of water! And maybe a parasol, too! Vegetarians will probably want to pack a picnic…the meatless offerings were slim. Also, do NOT leave the Festival in the afternoon and plan to return later in the day for the fireworks. The wonderfully easy drive in and parking we had at noon was a nightmare at 7! Bring chairs, lunch and drinks and find a spot in the shade somewhere in the park to relax between the festival and the fireworks. The stress (and gas!) it will save you will be well worth it!

Walk into History at Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms Austin

I am a sucker for living history museums.  It’s one thing to walk into a brand new building and see pictures of the “old days” and peer into glass cases filed with old tools and such.  But to see the things in a action, in a realistic setting?  Now THAT is something else entirely.

We found out about Pioneer Farms because of a Living Social offer, and decided to check it out.

When we pulled in the parking lot, we were initially disappointed…it looked tiny, and except for a couple of other cars in the lot, deserted.  But we headed for the general store/ticket counter and showed our passes.

The helpful volunteer showed us a map that immediately changed our thoughts about the place…instead of just the handful of building we could see, there were acres and acres of historical buildings, including three early Texas homesteads…one typical of homesteaders waiting for their claim, one typical of a working German farm, and one from a wealthier landowner.  There were also blacksmithing demos (and classes!), period crafts, farm animals, and costumed docent to explain the buildings, artifacts and lifestyle.

In the end, what seemed like a 10 or 15 minute walk around a few buildings turned into a wonderful half day learning about Texas history and settlers.

This is a great place to take kids or out-of-town visitors.  Take your time wandering and absorbing the quiet of an earlier time when the ring of cell phones or the drone of the TV was mercifully unheard of.

Picnics are allowed, but pets are not.  Check their website for special events, craft demos and classes.

Get “The Story of Texas”

The Story of Texas Museum in A is for AustinOne of the best ways to get to know a new city is to visit the local history museum.  And Austin is no exception.

But the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin is not your average history museum. From the IMAX to the interactive theatre complete with sights, sounds, and even a bit of rain (can this be Texas?  Nah, it never rains in Texas…at least not since I’ve been here!)  it’s genuinely fun!

Even the cafe was good…and cheap!  A major wow for a museum restaurant!

If you’re planning to be around for awhile, join the museum.  The free IMAX tickets alone make it worthwhile, and with three floors jam-packed with exhibits, you may need more than one visit to see it all.