On September 14, I attended one of the better festivals I’ve been to this year: the City of Grapevine’s annual Grapefest. That’s not just my opinion, incidentally; other reviewers agree! In addition to this great festival (which was surprisingly family oriented, despite the wine orientation), Grapevine already has a lot of things going for it, among them its railroad history, its quaint downtown, and of course the fantastic Grapevine Mills Mall (which I’ll get to very soon).
One thing that grabs the attention upon entering downtown Grapevine is their historic vintage railroad, which is called, oddly enough, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. It’s actually operative, too, and will take you for a 40-minute ride down the old Cotton Belt Route for a hefty fee. One of these days, I’ll take the ride and see how it goes. You can be sure I’ll tell you all about it when I do.
While the railroad cars and the locomotive are painted mostly a soothing maroon (one of my favorite colors, being a Texas Aggie), the buildings associated with the railroad sport a brown-on-yellow color scheme, as you can see below in the picture of the historic Grapevine depot. There were quite a few buildings painted thus right along the railroad tracks, which marked the entrance to the festival — including this quaint water tower/windmill combo.
Well, we paid our eight bucks each and went in. I was a little bothered that it cost so much, but you know, it was definitely worth it. The event was huge, and we got some real good swag. Right as we entered, we were presented with this interesting thing.
In case you’ve been spending all your time in a cave lately, this is a Can-Am Spyder Roadster. It’s supposed to be “the next dimension of open road riding.” I think it happens to be cool, with its two wheels in front and one in back, but I’ve had enough bad experiences with motorcycles to want a chassis around me as I drive. A big one. With lots of crush panels in case of an accident. This is a cool critter, though, and apparently it gets 55 miles per gallon. That’s a damn good deal, if’n you ask me. Doesn’t cost as much as a chopper, either: less than $16K, actually. Against my better judgment (I just know we’re gonna get on a mailing list), we signed up for a chance to win it. Won’t complain if we do.
We started to move deeper into the midway, but there seemed to be a lot happening (including a lot of wine-tasting, which we didn’t do because I’m too cheap) over to the right, so we diverted that way for a while. But first, I wanted to show you The Crowd, which is something I traditionally do for entries like this.
You might think from this picture that the attendance was light, but that was hardly the case. We got there fairly early, before noon, and people quickly packed their way in. It got more crowded the further you got into the midway, too — and it was a very long midway, possibly as much as a mile long. Grapefest has got to be one of the largest festivals I’ve been to; I daresay it was larger than Richardson’s Wildflower! festival back in May. A lot more fun, too (he said grumpily).
Anyway, off we went toward the right, to the historic area just under that water tower I showed you up there. We visited with the Marine Corps reps — young fellows challenging us to do chin ups which, alas, were impossible for me as a youth, and triply so now — and then went on to the Oncor Energy display, where they showed us their new digital electrical meters and all the things they had in store for their subscribers. Too bad Garland has co-op electricity and we don’t have a choice of providers. But! We got some cool recycled paper pads with attached cool recycled pens (mostly wood and cardboard), as well as free squiggly compact fluorescent light bulbs. You know, I’ve bought a number of these in the past year or so, and none of them have burned out yet. And not only do they last forever, they use relatively little electricity. I’ve seen the difference in my electric bills.
Moving right along, we then ventured into the Vetro Art Glass Studio, where they were doing demonstration blows out back. I couldn’t hear much — I didn’t have a good seat — but I watched a glassblower as he worked a gather, as they call it.
Here’s one of many of their art objects that I found attractive. They didn’t do commercial glass, just art.
As we left that area and trotted down the fairway, we ran into this fellow, who cheerily told us to “Have a Grape Day!” Look close, and you’ll see that his outfit is made of lots and lots of balloons. I didn’t notice myself until I caught the scent of rubber as he passed. I wonder if they made provision for bathroom breaks? Hmmmm…
Incidentally, there were live musical performances going on all the time, on a number of stages; I believe there were four, not to mention impromptu places where people just got up to play. There were some very good performers there, including this young lady, Kelsey Taylor, who was performing on the Bud Light Stage.
One last bit before I wrap things up for this entry. Somewhere around the middle of the midway was the attractive, and quite historic, J.E. Foust and Son Funeral Home, which dates from 1880. Interestingly, they have a little glassed-in building at the far end of the mortuary, where they’ve got some antique <> impedimenta of the funereal business on display — most obviously, an old horse-drawn hearse, and a number of small child and infant coffins. It was interesting, and not the least bit somber — though it might be, were I to encounter it in the dark and in other circumstances.
Stand ready for Part II of this entry; it’ll be here soon.