Thanks to a really good friend of ours, I was reminded that this weekend was the Blanco Lavender Festival. Even though the festival was only this weekend, some of the farms will be open through part of July, and soon, once the plants have bloomed some more, some of the farms let you cut your own lavender. So it was 95 degrees, 12:30 in the afternoon, and Ben and I set off on a short jaunt to the Hill Country.
Imagine Lavender Farm: Free admission. Posted sign says the farm will be open on weekends through June, and on the website, it encourages those with questions to call: 830-833-1166
Hill Country Lavender Farm: Free Admission. Open every weekend from May until July 14, 2013
Wimberley Lavender Farm: Free Admission. Open only weekend of June 7-9th for the Lavender Festival. The Website says because of the drought, the farm will be closed in order to replant 800 of the 1500 they have lost; however, they will be selling products at a booth on Wimberley Market Days
We were driving through the Hill Country, passing wildflowers and rolling hills, at about 70 mph until we reached our destination, Blanco, where we slowed to a nice 5 mph. On the weekend of the Lavender Festival, you will roll slowly into town behind a line of cars. 97 degrees at 1:30pm and we parked our car and walked into the bustle of people and booths. The soothing smell of lavender must have had a calming effect on the crowd, including myself.
Everyone was moseying along from one booth to the next where vendors, many in lilac colored shirts, are happy to tell you about the art or craft they are selling. I saw and smelled lots of lavender body lotion and soaps, along with more unique things like lavender scented stones.
Blanco was not always known as the “Lavender Capital of Texas.” The idea of Blanco farming lavender did not take root until Robb Kendrick, a National Geographic photographer, and his wife Jeannie Ralston visited Provence, France fourteen years ago and noticed the land there was very similar to their own in Blanco, Texas. Robb returned to Texas and planted 2,000 lavender plants and started conducting seminars on how to grow lavender. People listened and then, in 2005, the first Blanco Lavender Festival was held. And now, it gets bigger every year, and it’s not just arts and crafts; it’s arts and crafts, music, food, farms, and seminars.
Lining the streets were all the food vendors, and as I got near them, the subtle smell of lavender was replaced with the smell of delicious fried food, and the moseying was replaced with people laughing and talking over the the band that was playing. Just behind the food stands, the band had set up under the shade of Oak Trees, and there was plenty of dancing while holding a glass of lavender wine going on. Zydeco Blanco was playing while we were there, great band. It made me feel like I was in New Orleans.
Inside one large food tent, one could sample salsas, honey, and other food products infused with lavender, including lavender ice cream. Then there were the individual food stands with crepes, gyros, hamburgers, Kettle Corn, and snow-cones. I couldn’t resist a funnel cake. Ben and I walked around for awhile, listened to music a bit, got a little full and then decided to visit one of the three lavender farms that was open this year.
Beyond the small, very busy town square, you can drive to three different lavender farms. Ben and I drove about seven miles on 281 north to get to Imagine Lavender Farm, and what a difference from downtown Blanco. Once we turned off 281 and onto the lavender farm property, we drove about 10 mph over a narrow dirt road, kicking up dust the whole way. We took in the view of the bright yellow fields of black-eyed Susans under the blue Texas sky and the Prickly Pear Cacti dotting the field.
We parked and I took some photos before we walked a bit to the farm.
Past the gate and into the farm, people wandered around looking at the lavender plants, the small store, and the couple of booths the owners had set up for the festival.
One lady with a stylish wide brim hat sat on the couch near the lavender plants and fanned herself. It seemed like a good idea to me after about ten minutes of walking under the white hot Texas sun.
Children raced past us to an alcove of trees while the owners of the farm drove up on a golf cart to give one woman, who seemed to be struggling in the heat a bit, a ride back from the fields of lavender to the parking lot. Ben and I walked toward the alcove of trees and along the way admired the tastefully placed yard art.
Inside the small shade of the trees, we found that the owners of the farm had placed little houses and other whimsical pieces of art around.
They were the perfect little reward, along with the shade, for walking in the heat. Finally, we squeezed into the rather crowded shop and browsed for a bit. There were quite a few things I liked, but I only ended up buying a nice cool juniper berry soda.
I enjoyed all of our day and hope to get out to visit the Hill Country Lavender Farm soon, once the lavender starts blooming and we can pick a bit for ourselves.