Monday, October 26, 2015

Pineywoods Autumn Trail: Athens To Palestine

Loop 7 - Athens, Texas
Each autumn in Athens and Palestine, the picturesque landscape transforms to the vibrant colors as leaves begin to turn throughout the East Texas woodlands.

The City of Athens Department of Tourism and Palestine Visitor Center have partnered to offer visitors a 145-mile scenic driving trail along breathtaking scenic highways and byways connecting the two cities.

Athens and Palestine are located in the Texas Forest Trail Region, where you will find beautiful autumn color displays of deciduous trees known to the region.

NY-TX Zipline Adventures
There are a plethora of activities for people of all ages. Enjoy local wineries, fishing, nature walks, public art and art galleries, zipline adventures, train excursions, local cuisine, and so much more!

Enjoy stunning views of the beautiful fall foliage as you zip through tree tops during the Fall Zipline Tours at NY-TX Zipline Adventures, located just minutes from Athens. Stroll down the interpretive wetland trail and learn about the hatchery at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and identify local birdlife during TFFC's monthly Bird and Nature Walk offered the second Saturday of the month.

One of the best ways to enjoy the East Texas color show is to climb aboard the Texas State Railroad, which offers a historic ride on a restored vintage steam train. Enjoy fine dining with a side order of Pineywoods scenery on the Fall Foliage Brunch Train on November 8.

Davey Dogwood Park
Palestine, Texas
Fall in love with Davey Dogwood Park during the month of November. The fall season offers amazing color for picnics, photo shoots, hiking or just a drive in one of Palestine's beloved areas. The 200-acre park has five miles of hard surface roads, unincorporated hiking trails and scenic views.

To download the Pineywoods Autumn Trail: Athens to Palestine map, please click here. You can also contact the City of Athens Department of Tourism at 888-294-2847, or Palestine Visitor Center at 903-723-3014, to request a free visitor's guide and a map of the fall foliage trail.

Autumn color is expected mid to late November but it is recommended to call ahead.

For more information about the Pineywoods Autumn Trail: Athens to Palestine, please click here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween at the Hatchery Coming Up October 29

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center will host the annual Halloween at the Hatchery the evening of Thursday, October 29.

Local businesses and organizations will hand out free candy, and the center will be decorated throughout with a Halloween theme.

The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. No one will be admitted before 6 p.m., and no pets are allowed. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.

Admission is $1 per person; proceeds will benefit local charities.

Halloween at the Hatchery is TFFC's way of giving East Texas families a safe place to go trick-or-treating while raising money for local causes. The Anglers Pavilion will be the site of a fright-free area featuring prize and game booths for small children. Parents wishing to visit this area should park in the overflow parking lot on Peninsula Point Road and enter through Gate C.

For more information about Halloween at the Hatchery, please click here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

9 to 5 the Musical begins October 1

Pushed to the boiling point by their boss, three female co-workers concoct a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot. They conspire to take control of their company and learn there's nothing they can't do, even in a man's world.

Set in the late 1970's this is a hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic. It's about teaming up and taking care of business.

For dates and performance times, please click here.

Jazz on Tap, Plus Two with Kirk Overmoe this Saturday!

Jazz on Tap, Plus Two! Playing those incredible jazz standards on the patio of Castle Oaks Winery from
7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, October 3.

Wine, Dine and Music!

Dinner is at 7 p.m. for $10 per person and music begins at 8 p.m. for $20 per person.

Call for reservations at 903-677-3776.

Come on out to Castle Oaks Winery for a great evening of entertainment.

Christmas Parade Entry Forms Now Available

The City of Athens is pleased to announce that 2015 Christmas Parade entry forms are now available at City Hall and on the City's website at

The 2015 City sponsored Christmas Parade is called "Christmas Around the Square". All entrants are encouraged to decorate a float with a Christmas theme. Parade entries will be judged on creativity and overall appearance.

Prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place winners; with first place receiving $500, second place receiving $300, and $200 given to third place. All prize money is generously sponsored by Republic Services and Kevin Lilly's McDonald's.

Participant entry fee is $20, and will be limited to the first 100 entries. The City urges participants to register early to ensure a place in this year's parade. Marching bands and drill teams will not be required to pay the fee, but will still need to register. Deadline for all participants wishing to register is Monday, Nov. 30.

For additional information about the Christmas Parade, please contact City Hall at 903-675-5131 or visit

Friday, September 18, 2015

Uncle Fletch will Hit the Athens Square on Saturday, Sept. 26

The Uncle Fletch Hamburger Festival will return to the Courthouse Square in Athens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. There is no admission fee for the festival.

"I get so excited about Uncle Fletch that it is hard for me to keep myself in check," said festival committee chairman Jeff Weinstein. "This year is going to be even better than last year, it's going to be spectacular."

Just like last year, there will be the traditional hamburger cook-off to crown the best burger chef around, the McDonald's burger eating contest, Whataburger bobbing for burgers, and the Weinstein Team mooing contest. This year, however, the committee is cranking things up a notch by adding $1,000 in prize money to the cook-off. Prizes include:

  • $600 for First Place
  • $250 for Second Place
  • $150 for Third Place
  • Trophy for Uncle Fletch Spirit
  • Trophy for Best Decorated
"I think if you love competition, you need to be part of Uncle Fletch. What you have is people coming from all over that want to claim that they have the best hamburger in the world," said Weinstein.

There is still time to enter a cook team. Call Autumn Davis at 903-677-5333 for more information. The entry fee is just $20.

Another new feature for 2015 is the addition of the Extreme Engineering zipline. Extreme Engineering said that all proceeds from the zipline during the festival will go to charity.

"Basically, you will be ziplining through the square. How awesome is that?" said Weinstein.

The committee also has the "pickle plunge" dunk tank, the TVCC Cardettes and band, and several vendors lined up for the festival.

Make sure to come hungry, because all sorts of food is scheduled to roll in.

First are the hamburger vendors, the local folks who are going to be dishing up the festival's namesake. They include:

  • The Athens Christian Preparatory Academy
  • Chick's BBQ
  • The Uncle Fletch Booth, manned by Kris Baumann - TVCC Men's Head Basketball Coach
There will also be snow cones provided by Parad-ICE Sno Shaved Ice.

And for those people who might want something to go with their burger, there will be four specialty food trucks coming down from Dallas. They include:

  • The Butcher's Son
  • Texas Burrito Company
  • Mad Grill - Clean Mean Pan Asian Cuisine
  • Very Individual Pizza - flat bread rogue pizza
All the fun is planned to celebrate Athens as the Home of the Hamburger, the invention of Fletcher "Uncle Fletch" Davis.

Uncle Fletch served his then-unnamed sandwich at a cafe on the Athens square in the late 1880s. Then in 1904, he traveled to the St. Louis World's Fair where a reporter from the New York Tribune wrote a story about the hamburger.

For more information about the festival, please click here.

Life's Better Outside: Get Out There!

Do you want to learn to camp? Kayak? Fly fish? Cook gourmet campfire meals? Learn more about snakes and fish and other wildlife? Win prizes in a fishing tournament? Spend time with your family outdoors?

On September 26 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, the Outdoor Expo and Bluegill Family Fishing Tournament will help you develop skills and increase your knowledge in all those areas by doing them yourself under the direction of a skilled expert. The expo will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration for the Bluegill Family Fishing Tournament will begin at 7 a.m. at the TFFC's main gate; weigh-in and the awarding of prizes will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Anglers Pavilion. Advance registration by mail for the tournament must be completed by September 23. The entry form and rules is available online by clicking here.

Live animal displays will let you get up close to reptiles and raptors. The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center will present a raptor show at noon and also conduct walk-around displays on the grounds. Wildlife on the Move will present a variety of interesting creatures at 1 p.m. followed by a see-and-touch session at 3 p.m.

Staff from Purtis Creek State Park will teach kayaking skills and water safety. Orvis and the Dallas Fly Fishers will teach the basics of fly fishing and fly tying. The Gregg County 4H Club will help you develop your archery skills.

Other stations will let you sample tasty foods cooked in Dutch ovens; see fish swimming in a glass-bottomed stream; see skins, tracks and skulls of predator and prey animals and learn how people lived in the Middle Ages.

Regularly schedule dive shows in which a diver hand-feeds fish will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

All expo events are included with regular paid admission. For more information, please click here.