Who knew being a saloon girl was a thing at Granbury’s sesquicentennial soiree?

Vicki Risinger was downright giddy about being one.

“You get to grab bags of money from the dead guys,” Risinger said.

Say what?

Apparently, Granbury’s 150th birthday bash over the weekend took guests back to 1871 — replete with damsels in bonnets, gamblers and lawmen.

“Oh, and gunfights,” Risinger said. “We had three today.”

And the kids loved it.

“(It was) kind of like a movie. It was a play. And they used like, it looked like real guns,” said nine-year-old Christian Peschon. 

At least five died Saturday, Risinger said.

“They all got up and everybody applauded,” the saloon girl promptly added.

This was a party the organizers did not want people to easily forget.

People in town still talk about the town’s centennial in 1971.

 

SUCCESS STORY

“It was exciting,” said retired school teacher and renowned artist Mike Tabor. “I mean, Dan Coates, who we’re honoring at this art show here was still alive. He was the announcer for the parade. They were cooking buffalo burgers. It was fun.”

Tabor was touching up a clay figure on a table inside Celebration Hall on the square. He and a handful of artists were invited to show their Western-themed pieces as part of the celebration. He and James Spurlock, who was applying finishing touches to a portrait of an Indian chief a few easels away, were demonstrating their craft to admiring art fans.

This was a party planners had been cooking up for more than a year.

As a member of the organizing committee, part of Jack Martin’s job was to watch the white tables strewn across a closed-off Bridge Street, under the long shadow of the Hood County Courthouse.

“I am the table nazi,” he said. “I have to keep an eye out for every table here.”

You can’t blame him. At least 15 businesses and agencies dropped cash to prop up the event. These tables were for them — front and center to take in the evening’s entertainment.

The planning for this three-day celebration has been going on for months. By the end of the weekend, it will all be over.

“Thank God,” Martin said.

But not before some 53 vendors crowded the lawn at the Langdon Center hawking souvenirs to throngs of people as motorists on Pearl Street gawked.

 

DANCING TOES

Cataleya Pagitt, 8, her blue eyes sparkling, stood on the middle of Bridge Street decked out in a brown vest, chaps and black hat. She sure looked primed for a little country and Western swing music.

Her mom, Bonnie, sitting on a folding camp chair on the sidewalk nods, “My eldest boy plays with the band.”

The Pagitts drove a little over an hour to Granbury to catch Robert Weeks play the fiddle.

“It’s a pretty drive,” Pagitt said.

Besides, who wants to miss a birthday party? Not little Cataleya, who proclaimed, “That’s cool.”

“OK, she knows anytime we go to see her brother we dress Western,” mom said. “And you go dance.” 

On center stage, under bright lights, was Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys.

Nix ended up on stage after a conversation with Sylvia Hickey back in March. The sesquicentennial committee was looking for apt entertainment for its birthday bash event. Why not a Texas band with a lot of swing baked into its DNA?

“I said, ‘Well, that sounds good,’” Nix said. “I had that date and we worked on it. I’m honored and blessed that we’re a little part of it.”

From the first note Nix and his ‘boys struck, lines of dancers moseyed on to the street not letting a single beat go to waste.

“Yeah, steel guitar and bass and drums,” Nix said, by way of an explanation. “A hard driving rhythm section that people can dance to a lot of two steps and waltzes and things like Cotton-Eyed Joe.”

While setting up on stage, fans called out to him. Nix is known around Texas and the Southwest for packing the right kind of tunes to local hoedowns. 

“We have the two fiddles, which in Texas, you know, you have to have a fiddle in the band. I’ve got two,” Nix proudly pointed out with a chuckle.

Born and bred in a musical family, Nix said he has used his God-given gift to bring joy to people. Or, at least get their dancing toes tapping.

The man with a head of silver hair and a blinding smile ought to know: He’s been coaxing people to the dance floor for nearly 61 years. 

He’s been through Granbury before — to visit friends and play private parties — but never to play a show on the square.

“This is one of (Granbury’s) biggest celebrations ever,” Nix said. “We were hoping for a lot of people (to show up).”

More than 350 people sat around on tables set up by organizers and on camping chairs along the sidewalks to enjoy the music. 

Shawn Scott and his wife, Michele, twirled around the crowded street, clearly enjoying the chance to dance.

They have been married for nearly three years and they met, you guessed it, at a dance.

“I’m trying to go vintage,” Shawn said, in a black hat and matching vest.

Michele said, under a blue patterned bonnet with scarlet trim, that she just wants to dance.

“It’s wonderful. Really. The camaraderie. All the people that live here. It’s down home. Only in little towns, and that’s what makes Granbury so special,” Shawn said. 

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David@hcnews.com | 817-573-7066 ext. 247

Twitter: @dmontesino