Gainesville is Texas’ Front Porch. It’s a title the city relishes and a function they perform flawlessly. You’ll find over 16,000 Texans in Gainesville. Each and every one of them stand ready to welcome you to the Lone Star State.
The Texas State Motto is “Friendship.” Many believe it originated in Gainesville.
Gainesville is only 31 miles North of Denton and 71 miles North of Dallas. Both Denton and Dallas are featured here at Native Texan. In the unlikely event that you run out of things to do in Gainesville, you’re only a short ride to bigger, but not better, Texas locations.
Gainesville is extraordinarily proud of the educational opportunities provided for their children. First among equals is St. Mary’s Catholic School. Here the Diocese provides an exceptional private school education through the eighth grade. The investment required is well within the reach of most families permitting many children to receive a truly exceptional education. Their athletic program is second to none. Having attended a number of St Mary’s Mustang’s football games, I can personally attest to their indomitable spirit and their Christ inspired play. St Mary’s is a Designated Friend of Texas.
Gainesville romps and stomps year round. There are numerous activities centered on their historic town square.
The Boys in the Lotto Lab recently took in the sites at Gainesville’s annual Depot Day. Depot Day is tons of fun. The celebration features, among other things, an antique car competition. It was there that we met Frisco, Texas native Boris Williams. He was highly confident that his Chevy was going to take high honors. We agreed. He was fussing over every nut, bolt and piece of chrome.
His victory is inevitable.
The Boys decided to use their “Big City Smarts” to get a classic car replacement for the ailing Lotto Mobile. First they offered to swap Boris title for title, the Lotto Mobile for his Classic Chevy.
They then decided to sweeten the pot with several scratch offs. The Boys spent the better part of an hour explaining to Boris that the combined potential winnings from the scratch offs are well IN EXCESS of six figures. The Boys noted that they had not won anything for many, many, many moons so it was a virtual certainty that these were winning tickets. They were due.
While Boris agreed with the Lotto Professionals that:
“They May Have Already Won!”
he declined to trade his car for a clunker and a scratch off…. no… not even for two scratch offs. 🙂
The Boys were about to get fussy and make a scene when they noticed the police presence.
In addition to Boris, we met Gainesville Police Officer Justin Patterson. Officer Patterson is a twenty year law enforcement veteran. When we met him he was showing off his K9 partner to his new best bud, Charlie. Charlie was impressed with the officer and his police dog.
We were too.
As in the rest of the country, political passions are running high in Gainesville. Both the Cooke County Republicans and the Cooke County Democrats had their booths locked, cocked and ready to rock with yard signs and American flags.
The Boys immediately noted that the booths were staffed by some of Cooke County’s most attractive political operatives. The Boys tried hard to get their names and numbers. To the ladies credit, they saw right through their scam and suggested rather than provide them with numbers, why not meet them when they showed up for early voting?
The Boys rushed off to register to vote.
As always when they’re in full flirt mode, they casually mentioned six or eight times that they’re interested in hiring a Female CEO. The ladies shrewdly expressed tentative interest.
Gainesville is the small Texas town with BIG Texas fun. They have more attractions and events than many cities twice their size.
Not every community has a hot air balloon festival, but this one does. Around the second weekend of September, festival visitors go to a big field and watch the multi-hued balloons ascend. Some are pretty, some are wacky, all are fun to watch. In Gainesville, The Sky’s the Limit.
It is truly must see action.
Food vendors and live music, by professional musicians, make it even more worthwhile. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome. No coolers and no pets are allowed. We wouldn’t want Rover to get an urge to go flying and abscond with a balloon.
It could happen. This is Texas. Flying dogs are not unusual. 🙂
Balloons go up early Friday morning and again Saturday evening. Nothing happens on Saturday afternoon except for fun. Kids’ activities and cook-off contests go on as usual along with vending and music. Tethered balloon rides are available if weather permits. Sunday morning there is a balloon fly-in and anchoring down of the balloons. The Pilot Ceremony closes out the festival at 11:30 AM. Tell your balloon-loving friends and relatives about this one.
Jump forward to December and plan on taking the Historic South Gainesville Homes Tour. Get tickets at the Morton Museum and support the preservation efforts of Cooke County history as well as a few scholarships. The museum, the Santa Fe Depot and the Butterfield Theater are all historic buildings that have been beautifully restored. On the house tour, learn some history while looking at other people’s homes. It’s worth a few bucks to legally snoop, and for a good cause.
Everyone says they’re historic, Gainesville actually is.
The city was founded in the 1850s. To learn the truly exciting history of Gainesville, you’ll want to visit The Morton Museum. This 1880s building originally housed the firehouse, city hall and jail. As time passed, city hall and the jail got their own buildings. That left the old building sad, lonely and only used for storage. By the 1960s, it was in bad shaped and slated for demolition.
Granville C. Morton and his wife, Gladys, donated money to save it, and 50 years later, it’s preserving Gainesville’s past and looking very good in the present. The stained glass dome is beautiful and is a source of pride for the city. Credit goes to Stanton Studios of Waco.
Those guys do nice work.
Heading into summertime, Gainesville kicks it up a notch. Summertime is pool season. Summertime is time to head to the Leonard Park Aquatic Center. The 18-foot tall water slide is a big attraction for both young and old. This pool has “human hamster balls” for your goofing off pleasure.
You’ll soon know, with absolute certainty, if you’re as smart as a hamster. 🙂
The drop slide might be less “iffy.” Younger kids may like the shallow play area with shower sprays. Parents will enjoy the lounge chairs.
While you’re in Leonard Park, take a ride on the Frankie Schmitz Express Train. A quarter size of a real train, this little engine can carry up to 50 folks at once. Bring the whole family and get a riding tour of the park. In the fall, you can only catch a ride on weekends, so look alive, it fills up fast. The City of Gainesville website has details.
Across the street from Leonard Park, Moffett Park has disc golf, a playground, grills and a historical marker. You’ll have to find out for yourself what that marker is. Okay, it has something to do with the Moffett family.
In addition to the balloon festival, Gainesville is also home to the incredible Frank Buck Zoo. You can feed the giraffes face to face up close and personal. There’s an elevated walkway around the zoo that makes it possible.
Try not to crowd out the kids; they were here first.
The Zoo Boo at Halloween time and the Zoo Eggstravaganza for Easter are definitely kid-motivators. There are five-day zoo day-camps in the summer and an overnight program for youth groups with a night walk through the zoo.
Wait a minute. Is there a kid running this zoo? It’s suspiciously kid-friendly.
There are fun things for moms and dads here, too, like spring, fall and winter coed softball leagues. There are also men’s recreational and competitive softball leagues. If not softball, then you might like recreational basketball leagues. Summertime brings coed recreational sand volleyball league play. You can have it all: chocolate and sports, or at least less guilt about the chocolate.
The family dog even has his own park. The Dog Depot at Heritage Park has separate small dog and large dog areas, water fountains on each side and waste collection stations.
They didn’t forget the humans. There are plenty of benches to relax and visit while Fido runs and plays. It’s open to the public and free during the daytime.
Your dog will not need to take a second job to play here.
It’s not all fun and games. Kids have to go to school some time. In addition to St. Mary’s, Gainesville High School, Junior High School, Intermediate School and two Elementary Schools help make sure the kids know what they need to know to make it big. There’s a public school Headstart program as well. The Gainesville Leopards have many athletic programs underway. That helps keeps the kids busy, tired and out of trouble.
It’s easy to see why Gainesville is Texas Proud. They’re not many folks here, but they get a lot done. Make sure Gainesville is on your MUST SEE Texas list. You’re going to have a GREAT time.
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