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Merchants plan for Bluebonnet Trails

Local shop owners are seeing blue – bluebonnets, that is.
With the 56th annual Bluebonnet Trails Festival around the corner, that’s the color and the flower to reckon with, say members of the Ennis Historic Downtown Merchants Association.
The organization met yesterday at the Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau to discuss plans for the upcoming event that stands as one of the city’s biggest annual attractions, drawing over 100,000 people. Sponsored by the Ennis Garden Club since 1951, the three-day Bluebonnet Trails Fest has become part of the city’s cultural identity, one the Texas Legislature recognized when it officially designated Ennis “The Bluebonnet City” in a resolution signed by then Gov. George W. Bush in 1997.
With favorable weather forecasts and a jump on publicity, organizers are predicting a bumper crop of bluebonnets and visitors for the occasion set for the weekend of April 13-15.
“This year’s fest is going to be astronomical,” said the committee’s president, Nancy Swindell.
Ennis tourism director Gina Rokas agreed that the 2007 edition of Bluebonnet Trails promises to be a banner year.
“There’s lots of interest, and we’re getting lots of calls,” Rokas said. “We have booked 26 tours already and we haven’t stopped. I think we’ll max out at 30 tours, which is great.”
Rokas said many of the bluebonnet sightseeing tours are being planned for church groups and senior citizens’ clubs but also by whole families and smaller parties eager to explore the more than 40 miles of local trails dedicated to the state flower.
Swindell said she knows she speaks for all downtown merchants when she admits to the joy she takes in representing Ennis during the fest.
“This is something we can be proud of,” she said, referring to flower that has become the symbol of Ennis, “and we are glad to put our best foot forward.”
That’s just what the merchants association, the garden club, the chamber of commerce and the tourism office are joining together to do with a lineup of attractions at Pierce Park on NW Main St. that include souvenir booths, an arts and crafts market, a children’s game area, food and merchandise vendors and live music. Special features are the 9th annual “Bloomin’ Bluebonnet” photo competition, sponsored by the visitors bureau, a BBQ cookout sponsored by the chamber of commerce and book signings by an author of a brand-new novel that’s set in Ennis.
The events schedule agreed on by organizers include the opening of the street market, surrounding shops and the children’s play area at noon on Friday, April 13. Live entertainment provided by the country band “Lost Money,” sponsored by the Ennis Arts Commission, will get underway at 6 p.m.
Festivities will wind up at 8 p.m., beginning again the next morning at 9 a.m. The bluegrass band Waco Thompson and Friends will perform at Pierce Park from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The jazz group, the Jeff O’Bannion Trio, will entertain at La Galleria (101 S. Dallas St.), and Western singer Mandy Hutchins will take the park stage from 1:30-3 p.m.
On Sunday, booths, shops and games open at 9 a.m. while the bluegrass group Gatlin Family Band performs between 1-3 p.m.
Author John J. Dwyer will be signing his novel When the Bluebonnets Come at Interior Ideas (211 W. Knox St.) from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, at La Galleria from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and at the Farmhouse (105 NW Main St.) from 1-3 p.m. Sunday.
In addition, Topper the Magic Clown will perform Saturday and Sunday, the Ennis Railroad Museum will be open all during the fest (with group rates available), and the Ennis Garden Club’s booth will offer free bluebonnet trail maps (sponsored by Super 1 Foods) throughout the weekend.
After setting final plans, members of the merchants association discussed their concern about preserving area bluebonnet patches for the appreciation of the hundreds of wildflower lovers that will begin visiting Ennis April 1.
They agreed they wanted to urge property owners in town and in the country around Ennis to please leave lawns and fields “unmowed” where bluebonnets grow in order to ensure a great showing of the native blooms for visitors over the next few weeks.
Among members present at yesterday’s meeting were Carol Rejcek, Doris Dunkerley, Suzanne Rhoten, Deborah Jones, Stephanie Jones Holland, Nancy Swindell, Liz Stagner, Patsy Grider and Gina Rokas.
The Ennis Historic Downtown Merchants Association meet again May 1.

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Posted by on Mar 28 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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