Spring has come, and all over the state, people are celebrating spring holidays, the change of seasons, and the beautiful spring weather. In Galveston, annual Easter and Earth Day festivities are underway, as well as the annual County Fair and Rodeo and the return of the Food and Wine Festival. Whatever you have to celebrate this spring, consider taking your merry-making to the jewel of the Gulf—Galveston Island.
If you’ll be spending Easter on the Island, Holy Week and Easter services will be held in Galveston’s many beautiful and historic churches, including First Lutheran on Ave. G, First Baptist on 23rd St., First Presbyterian on Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral on Church, and St. Patrick’s on 35th St. If you will be visiting from out of town and are looking for a place to worship during the holiday, you can visit www.galveston.com/religion to browse their directory of houses of worship and find a place that is right for you and your family.
You may also want to take the kids to Moody Gardens for their annual Easter in the Gardens festivities on Easter Sunday, April 8. Easter egg hunts are scheduled for 1pm and 3 pm, and kids age 12 and younger are welcome to search for colorful eggs all around the Oleander Bowl and to participate in a variety of holiday games with prizes—the Easter Bunny himself may even make an appearance! Easter in the Gardens includes a variety of other activities including games for prizes, face painting and a petting zoo featuring chicks, bunnies, miniature ponies and other exciting animals. The event is free to attend, and all ages are welcome. Even better, Easter buffet feasts will also be available for the whole family at the Garden Restaurant and the Moody Gardens Hotel on Easter Sunday.
For additional examples of inspiration and grace, you may be interested in Galveston’s Tree Sculpture Tour. When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, many of Galveston’s formerly majestic trees were destroyed; rather than leave them as symbols of tragedy and destruction, however, several artists decided to transform them into art pieces evoking beauty and rebirth. The artists–Earl Jones of Galveston; Dale Lewis of Richmond, IN; and Jim Phillips of Houston–used chain saws, chisels, and their own ingenuity to transform the broken trees into lovely sculptures, which now grace front, back, and side yards, as well as private gardens, throughout the city. The Galveston Historical Foundation offers guided tours of the sculptures in its solar-powered shuttle, and brochure guides for self-guided walking tours are available throughout the city and at www.galveston.com. The sculptures are an eclectic mix, with subjects ranging from angels to local wildlife to musical instruments; many of them have special significance to the residents of the properties on which they were carved (as with “Pod of Dolphins and Mermaid,” a sculpture located at 902 Bell, in which the dolphins symbolize the children in the home and the mermaid symbolizes their mother) or to the histories of the houses themselves (as with “Tin Man and Toto,” a Wizard of Oz-themed sculpture that can be found on the grounds of the childhood home of King Vidor, one of the film’s directors).
If the weather is fine on Easter Weekend, a walking tour of the sculptures—most concentrated within a four- or five-block radius in the city’s downtown area—would be a fine way to conclude your Easter afternoon. Being in Galveston can always make you wish you were a kid again, but no day will be more exciting for the tots in your life than The Grand Kids Festival hosted by The Grand 1894 Opera House. This fun-filled event April 13-14 is a celebration of the arts, featuring a Saturday festival with music, live performers, face painting, stunt teams, story tellers, crafts and more in downtown Galveston. Friday’s activities will take place at the preview event “Where the Wild Things Are,” featuring a petting zoo, carnival activities, a bounce house and dancing. Admission to Friday’s preview is $10, includes free admission for Saturday and benefits the Galveston Island Humane Society. Tickets to Saturday’s festival are $5 for Adults, $3 for Children 5-12 and free for children 4 and younger. For details, visit www.thegrand.com/TheGrandKidsFest.asp.
Later this month, the city of Galveston will provide a range of ways to celebrate Earth Day, honor the planet, and make your own contribution to environmental well-being. For starters, the Galveston Historical Foundation’s ongoing series of Spring Demonstration Classes will continue with “Little Ways to Live a Greener Life and Rainwater Harvesting” on April 21. In this seminar, “green consultant” Caroline Kostak will discuss ways you can drastically change your effect on the environment simply by making minor changes to your transportation, household, cleaning, and lifestyle behaviors. There will also be a representative of Sparkletap Water Company handy to discuss “rainwater harvesting”: what it means, how to do it, and the ways it can benefit you, your family, and the environment. The presentation will take place at 10am, and pre-registration through the www.galvestonhistory.org website is encouraged.
If you’re interested in participating in something a little more hands-on this Earth Day, Clean Galveston is always looking for volunteers to participate in beach and neighborhood clean-ups, as well as tree-planting, gardening, and other city upkeep projects. The organization has been active since 1982 and is the source of many of Galveston’s beautification initiatives—from large projects, like planting the corridor of palm trees on 61st between the interstate and Stewart Road, to small ones, like cleaning up city parks and cemeteries. If you look around the city, you can see their hand in any number of places: Clean Galveston trash cans donated to bus stops and other busy areas, coloring books for kids about the do’s and don’t’s of littering and recycling, and landscaping projects throughout the city. For information about volunteering with Clean Galveston this Earth Day, visit www.galveston.com and www.cleangalveston.org .
April will also see the return of the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo, an Island tradition since 1938. This year’s festivities will take place April 13-21, and will feature livestock showcases, bull riding, mutton-bustin’, barrel racing, roping, and more, as well as live entertainment from the likes of David Grace, the Josh Abbott Band, and a host of other talented artists. There will also be a BBQ cook-off, carnival rides and games, and youth rodeo events. Proceeds help to fund college, university, and trade school scholarships for Galveston County youth. To learn more about the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo or to purchase tickets in advance, visit www.galvestoncountyfair.com .
Finally, foodies, wine aficionados, and other bons vivants might want to think about attending this year’s Galveston Island Food and Wine Festival on April 19-22. This three-day festival, held in Galveston’s Uptown Entertainment District, will bring the best in food and wine from around the globe to Galveston for your tasting pleasure. Special events include a Premium Wine Tasting and Gulf Seafood Showcase on April 20, and the festival’s highlight, the Grand Tasting in the Park on April 21. During the Grand Tasting, patrons will embark on a tasting trip through vineyards around the world, accompanied by dishes from some of the Island’s best restaurants. Live music and artisans’ exhibits will round out this afternoon of enjoyment and entertainment, and all festivities will be conveniently located in downtown Saengerfest Park. Tickets to this event include souvenir wine glasses, event programs with complete lists of wines, samples of over 100 wines (please drink responsibly), and samples of food from favorite local restaurants. In addition to these highlights, the festival will also include presentations from famous chefs and winemakers, in which the celebrities share secrets of their trades; culinary events; sophisticated parties; and more. For additional information and ticket prices, visit www.galveston.com/foodandwine .
Time Flies at Galveston FeatherFest
There’s so much for you to do at FeatherFest this year, time will fly! Galveston Island, one of the nation’s top locations for birding, will host the 10th annual FeatherFest Birding & Nature Photography Festival April 12 – 15. FeatherFest is one of the largest birding festivals in Texas, and the only one with a dedicated nature photography track.
More than 100 unique outdoor adventures amid 200 species of birds await nature enthusiasts of all skill levels. Don’t miss this great opportunity to expand your birding and photography know-how and enjoy the outdoors during spring migration. Houston Camera Exchange, official sponsor of the 2012 FeatherFest photography track, will have its latest cameras, lens and accessories at Birders’ Bazaar, the free public trade show open throughout the festival. Representatives from Canon, Nikon, Sony and other manufacturers will be on hand to demonstrate their products. The trade show and festival headquarters will be located in Old Galveston Square, 2215 The Strand in downtown Galveston.
Roughly half of all North American bird species – more than 300 – may be seen throughout the year in Galveston, thanks to the rich variety of natural habitats within its 32 miles. The island’s beaches, wetlands, grasslands, woods, ponds and bays are home to many common year-round bird species, as well as numerous others that visit briefly or for part of the year.
FeatherFest is a project of the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, which supports nature tourism and education, and promotes the value of area natural habitats. Register for the festival today at www.GalvestonFeatherFest.com or call 832-459-5533 for more information.