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Think about everything you have to do this week. Now, slowly, calmly, get up, gather your family together – and run away from it. This year’s 7th Annual Lavender & Wine Fest hosted by Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and Windy Winery demands only that its participants relax and enjoy the countryside on the short 45-minute drive over from Bryan/College Station. The two venues are located about 14 miles apart.
Activities are unique to each location with visitors’ first stop at Chappell Hill Lavender Farm to cut their own fresh lavender. Then come demonstrations of what can be done with freshly cut lavender.
“We also have a flower pounding station where you can bring your lavender or flowers from your own garden and Laurie Nelson will be demonstrating how to make lavender woven baskets,” says Debbie McDowell, co-founder of Chappell Hill Lavender Farm.
“There’s a lot of shades of blues,” muses Texas Johnny Boy, who will bring his own distinctive shade to this year’s Navasota Blues Fest. “There isn’t just one color of blues, there are endless shades and [the festival] is going to have a bunch of it,” he says, looking forward to his third return to this annual August celebration of the musical art form.
Texas Johnny Boy, also known as John Moschioni, is a seasoned blues veteran and self-proclaimed “bluesician.”
“When you’ve played at several festivals all around the country, you have a pretty good scope about what festivals are like,” says Moschioni. “I think the Navasoata Blues Festival is wide open for a tremendous amount of growth.”
If the name Mance Lipscomb isn’t familiar to you before the Blues Fest, it will be after you’ve sat among the long tables at the Expo Center in Navasota where people will be relaxing, munching on food, and soaking up every shade of blues in the musical rainbow.
The 2012 Harvest Festival is in full swing at Messina Hof offering weekends filled with grape picking, stomping, tours, tasting, and more. The festival continues through the third weekend of August with special dinners held on Friday and Saturday nights.
Every Saturday and Sunday throughout Harvest:
Beginning bright and early at 8:00am, you and your group will be sent into the Messina Hof vineyard – picking grapes to be used in Messina Hof’s award-winning port. And be sure to warm up those pipes, as your group may even commence in Sicilian song.
Afterward, groups partake in grape stomping and will be given their very own souvenir to take home: a Messina Hof t-shirt stamped with their individual purple grape-stained footprints.
After a “hard” morning’s work, enjoy a luncheon from the chefs of The Vintage House Restaurant. Messina Hof’s trademarked “Texas Vineyard Cuisine” includes hand-cut meats, vegetables, and herbs picked from their own garden, paired with Messina Hof’s unparalleled wines that will really put the cherry, or grape, on top of a wine-filled day.
On May 2, Denise Fries turned 50 years old. She celebrated by inviting representatives from the 21 local charities that had applied and been accepted to receive a matching grant to a birthday party at The Garden District, home of Fries Financial Services.
At the party, Denise handed out wrapped gifts containing certificates for a total of $70,000 in matching grants. When the charities complete their fundraisers to receive the match, $50,000 of the matching grants will be funded by Fries Financial Services with an additional $20,000 donated by one of her clients who served on the charity selection committee and asked to remain anonymous.
Almost exactly one month after the birthday party, Denise attended another community event, only this time she was handed a gift – a trophy that recognized Fries Financial Services as the fastest growing small business in the 2012 Bryan Rotary Newman 10 Business Performance competition.
The award noted that Fries Financial Services recorded 183% percent sales growth from 2009 through 2011 to earn the award.
Donating $50,000 and then winning top honors for business performance in the span of a few weeks was no fluke.
The 27-year history of Fries Financial Services is a yin and yang of business growth and commitment to philanthropy; over the years, Denise’s twin goals have served to strengthen one another.
The following charities will receive matching grants after holding fundraisers over the summer to generate funds equal to or exceeding the Fries grant. A final party will be held at 3 p.m. on August 8 at Fries Financial Services, and the final matching grant results will be announced.
For more information on how you can support these nonprofits with their fundraising, contact the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley, (979) 589-4305 or visit cfbv.org.
Achievers by Choice
The Navasota-based organization prepares both youth and adults with the social and academic skills needed to graduate high school or earn a GED, and pursue a postsecondary degree.
Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach
A Christian organization that provides support services to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies; promotes Christian parenting by providing outreach to teen parents; and provides adoption services as an alternative.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Brazos Valley
By providing programs and services that promote and enhance the youth, the Club provides a positive environment in which kids can learn and grow while creating relationships with trained adult professionals.
Brazos Animal Shelter
Provides humane shelter and care for stray and unwanted animals. The numerous services provided are aimed to promote responsible pet ownership and enhance the quality of life for the people and animals in the community.
Brazos Valley Chorale
Provides audiences in the community with high-quality musical performances. With 130 voices, the chorale boasts a wide-range of singers, from college students to retirees, as well as a wide-range of choral literature from classical to contemporary.
The hundreds of nonprofit organizations that have successfully raised funds by having a raffle or auctioning off a beautiful piece of jewelry donated by David and Julia Gardner of David Gardner’s Jewelers owe a debt of gratitude to a Bible verse and a high school co-op program.
“It was just serendipity,” says David of his inauspicious start in the jewelry business at the age of 16. It was the end of his junior year at A&M Consolidated High School, and as a co-op student, David needed a job. The Zales jewelry store in the old Manor East Mall had an opening; among his duties was taking jewelry brought into Zales for repair to local jeweler Carl Bussell. Within 18 months, David was a jewelry apprentice for Bussell.
Even then, David was sure his future didn’t include owning a jewelry store in College Station. He had graduated from Texas A&M with degree in marketing intent on pursuing Harvard’s MBA program when he got a call – the owner of a mom and pop jewelry store in Temple had died. Would David move to Temple and train the heirs to keep the business going? David and Julia packed up their young daughter and answered the call.
The Temple job led David to an artist in nearby Salado who was moving from oil abstract painting to working with silver in jewelry and metal artistry. “That’s where I first saw success as an artist,” David recalls of his decision to commit to jewelry designing as a career. The economy was booming in 1983 when the Gardners opened the first David Gardner Jewelers store in College Station, a situation that would change dramatically two years later after the banking and savings and loan industries went bust. They hung on during lean years until their hard work and the Nineties prosperity grew their business into a local market leader.
David and Julia both reference their faith as the guiding force in their lives. When David wants to reference a scripture during this interview at the store, he doesn’t have to wonder if he has a Bible at the store; he just has to find his Bible at the store. It’s well-thumbed, underlined and annotated in inky scrawls, and it looks right at home in David’s hand as he talks about how both their business and their philanthropy changed 10 years ago
The Palace Theater will be the site of the first Downtown Bryan Film Festival Saturday, July 21, beginning at 6:30pm. The festival will feature work of A&M Consolidated High School Audio Video Production alumni. The program has graduated students to film schools across the nation, beginning the careers of talented filmmakers. Working with the Downtown Bryan Association, Kent Juliff, Madeline Packard, Maurice Vellas, Cody Tatge are among those who served on the Film Festival’s board to help create a showcase event where Brazos Valley residents could see the work of alumni. Tatge explains that while there isn’t a huge film scene in the community, there are many local filmmakers with work worth seeing. Part of the reason the festival was created is to show the community that the filmmakers aren’t just in Los Angeles or New York or even Austin, they are also right here in the Brazos Valley.
Two of the program’s most recent graduates, Kent Juliff and Madeline Packard, were looking for a place where they could share the films they have been working on. It will also provide locals with the opportunity to see a different side of the film industry, outside of the movie theater.
“Film Festivals give people a chance to explore a different side of the big budget Hollywood films,” explains Tatge. “They are usually where the creators of those big budget Hollywood films get their start in the industry.”
A tree that falls in a lonely forest may not make a sound, but what about the tree that falls on your neighbor’s house?
The sound it makes? Cha-ching.
Texas Forest Service is encouraging homeowners and landowners to remove fire- and drought-killed trees that are within falling distance of neighboring homes, roads and pathways. Failure to do so, agency officials say, could make you liable for damages.
“Be aware that your tree could fall onto someone else’s property,” Texas Forest Service Central Texas Operations Department Head Jim Rooni says. “The rules vary from place to place, but generally the owner of the tree is responsible. Bottom line: You could be liable.”
Rooni says foresters received an influx of calls following the deadly wildfire that ripped through Bastrop last September, destroying roughly 1.5 million trees. But the liability issue isn’t limited to trees killed by fire, he says.
Texas is emerging from one of the most devastating droughts and one of the most unprecedented wildfire seasons in state history. Though there is no official count for the total number of trees killed, foresters and analysts have estimated that as many as 500 million trees in rural forested areas and another 5.6 million trees in populated urban areas were killed as a result of the 2011 drought.