Courtesy photo

A Grapevine resort has taken pumpkin spice fever to the next level: Great Wolf Lodge is launching a set of limited-engagement Pumpkin Spice-themed suites that provide a pumpkin-y autumn oasis: from themed decor to bottomless pumpkin spice coffee to warm buns with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

I mean, the buns alone, where do you sign up.

The Pumpkin Spice Suite is available from September 28-October 31, at only five Great Wolf locations, and DFW has one:

  • Grapevine, Texas
  • Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
  • Gurnee, Illinois
  • LaGrange, Georgia
  • Garden Grove, California

Done in partnership with interior designer Steffy Degreff, the suites are designed to be immersive and multisensory, meaning not only decor but also fragrance.

According to a release, Degreff incorporated hues of orange and brown to celebrate the flavors of pumpkin, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon.

Special touches include accent rugs, pumpkin pillows, wall art, faux fall florals, and wreaths, complementing fall-scented fragrances to transport guests into a scenic autumn scape.

"I selected an assortment of pieces that embody the feeling of warmth, autumn, and sipping a piping hot pumpkin spice coffee while leaf peeping,” Degreff says in a statement.

Great Wolf Lodge Chief Brand Officer Brooke Patterson chimes in, stating that "fall is a special time of year for so many families – the leaves are changing colors, it’s the start of a new school year, and it marks the return of everyone’s favorite festive fall flavor – pumpkin spice."

The Pumpkin Spice Suite sleeps a maximum of four, and rates start at $399 per night. For more information, visit greatwolf.com/pumpkin-spice-suites. Reservations can be made starting August 21 by calling 800-905-9653.

Photo courtesy of Galveston Island Visitors & Convention Bureau

2 Texas coastal cities beckon among most affordable beachfront destinations in U.S.

toes in the sand

There's nothing quite as relaxing as waking up to the sound of waves crashing onto the beach, or watching the stunning views of the sunrise from the comfort of an oceanfront room. If a trip down to the coast is in the air, there's good news for Texas travelers: Port Aransas and Galveston have some of the least expensive beachfront accommodations in the country, according to a new study by travel experts Upgraded Points.

The two popular coastal towns ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, on a list of the 10 Beach Towns Where You'll Spend the Least on an Ocean View.

To come up with their lists of least and most expensive, researchers crunched the numbers to find the cost of beachfront vacations in 75 prominent coastal cities around the United States. They used data from Airbnb, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living, and ranked the destinations from the most to least expensive.

For beach-goers looking for the ultimate deal on a ocean-view rental in Port Aransas, hotel prices are only $135 per night, while the average nightly rate for a beachfront Airbnb is $450, the study found. These three-digit price tags are significantly cheaper than the most expensive beach town on the list - Montauk, New York - whose average nightly beachfront Airbnb price comes out to a whopping $1,205.

In Galveston, researchers found, the average waterfront hotel rates are more expensive than Port Aransas' at $233 a night, but are still much cheaper than Montauk's average hotel rate of $639 a night. Oceanfront Airbnbs in Oleander City have an average nightly cost at about $355, which is $850 cheaper per night than Montauk.

"[W]ith the current state of inflation leaving more than half of Americans uncertain about affording a vacation this year, it’s essential to find affordable beach towns that offer an enjoyable getaway without breaking the bank," the report's author said.

The average cost of a weeklong stay in Port Aransas and Galveston are extremely similar: $2,048 and $2,058, respetively. In comparison to the national average accommodation cost, which rings up at about $3,353 for a week, vacationing in either Texas coastal town is about 40 percent more affordable.

The top 10 least expensive beach towns in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Cedar Key, Florida
  • No. 2 – Ocean Springs, Mississippi
  • No. 3 – Ocean Shores, Washington
  • No. 4 – Port Aransas, Texas
  • No. 5 – Galveston, Texas
  • No. 6 – Ocean City, Maryland
  • No. 7 – Pawleys Island, South Carolina
  • No. 8 – San Juan Island, Washington
  • No. 9 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • No. 10 – Bar Harbor, Maine

Joining Montauk on the other end of the affordability spectrum with the most expensive accommodations across America's most popular beach towns are New York's South Hampton (No. 2) and East Hampton (No. 3). Average weeklong stays in either city will set vacationers back by $6,391 and $6,178, respectively. Rounding out the top five most expensive beach towns are Malibu, California (No. 4) and Folly Beach, South Carolina (No. 5).

The full report can be found on upgradedpoints.com.

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Texan

Gaylord Texan presents ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" is an immersive, story-driven holiday showplace complete with larger-than-life ice sculptures, frozen slides, and tunnels. The chilly walk-through attraction will feature 10 scenes from the iconic Dr. Seuss story, with characters like The Grinch, as well as his dog Max, Cindy-Lou, and many festive Whos from Who-ville. The ICE! experience concludes in a separate area dedicated to the Nativity scene.

Additional activities include Snow Flow Mountain, featuring an eight-lane tubing hill covered in real snow; ice skating; snowball build & blast; gingerbread decorating center; and more.

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Texan

The Grinch will steal the show as Gaylord Texan Grapevine's 2023 ICE! theme

Who-ville for the Holidays

The Grinch won't steal Christmas spirit in Grapevine this year (as if anything could?). The Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas will be the theme of the Gaylord Texan's 2023 ICE!holiday walk-through attraction, running November 10-December 31.

According to a release, 30 world-class ice artisans from Harbin, China will use more than 2 million pounds - or 1,000 tons - of ice to create the world of "Who-ville." It will feature 10 scenes and key characters from the beloved story, including The Grinch, his dog Max, Cindy-Lou, and many festive Whos.

If this sounds slightly familiar, the Gaylord's ICE! featured a "Grinch" theme in 2009; they brought it back all these years later because it was a fan favorite, a hotel spokeswoman says.

Grinch Gaylord Grapevine ICE!There's even a roast beast.Photo courtesy of Gaylord Texan

“ICE! has been a tradition at Gaylord Hotels for two decades now,” says Chuck Pacioni, general manager of Gaylord Texan Resort, in the release. “We look forward to welcoming families who make it a tradition to come every year, as well as those visitors coming for the very first time, to enjoy our magical holiday experiences.”

As fans have come to expect, the icy environment will be kept frozen by a state-of-the-art chilling system, which keeps the entire attraction at a frigid 9 degrees. Guests, once again, will sport the Gaylord’s complimentary signature blue parkas to stay toasty (and are encouraged to dress in cold-weather clothing).

ICE! will come together using about 12,000 man hours over six weeks, the release says. The artisans will start with 300-pound ice blocks, which they'll grind, chop, chisel, and sculpt into the final 17,000-square-foot frozen world, with carvings ranging in size from as tiny as a coin to soaring scenes more than 30 feet tall.

In addition to the ice sculptures, the ICE! experience will include two-story-tall ice slides, ice tunnels, and arches. Per tradition, the ICE! exhibit concludes with a meticulously carved Nativity scene, shaped in a display of crystalline ice.

Tickets start at $28.99 for adults and $19.99 for children. Check online for details about the “Chill Pass," which offers front-of-line access and shorter wait times.

Gaylord Texan ICETake a ride down the two-story ice slide.Photo courtesy of Gaylord Texan

Other Gaylord Texan holiday events
The Gaylord is celebrating its 20th annual Lone Star Christmas with many other festive events. As described in the release, they include:

On the Blocks: Chill out at On the Blocks, the exclusive bar inside ICE!. Adults 21+ can upgrade their ICE! experience to enjoy one select beverage sampling. Ambient lighting, music, and fun photo opportunities set the mood for this unique VIP experience.

Snow Flow Mountain: Experience the eight-lane tubing hill, covered in real snow and designed to bring thrilling fun for all ages. Zoom down the lanes, race to the bottom, and enjoy unlimited runs on your ticket date.

Ice Skating: Enjoy a festive, perfect day or evening by taking a yuletide glide on the 6,000-square-foot skating rink made with real ice.

Cirque: Spirit of Christmas: This Cirque-styled Christmas show features dazzling acrobatics, feats of flexibility, and high-flying stunts. The Broadway-style spectacle centers around Noel, a child dismayed and distressed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Trying to recapture her lost love of the season, she is visited by spirits who bring back the true meaning of the season in energetic, dreamlike chapters.

Snowball Build & Blast: Real snowballs in Texas? With a little Christmas magic, you'll receive a tub of snow so you can build and toss real snowballs to boost the power of the snowmaking machines. Take your best aim at the targets and let the snowballs fly!

Gingerbread Decorating Corner: Don't wait – make a date to decorate! Let your Christmas creativity run wild when you adorn tasty gingerbread. After you've reached confection perfection with your edible art, head over for a sweet meet and greet with Nutmeg, the gingerbread man.

Feast with The Grinch Character Breakfast: Join everyone's favorite green and grouchy Grinch from the famous Dr. Seuss book and animated featurette, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, for a special character dining experience at Texan Station. And while the Grinch usually avoids the residents of Who-ville, he'll make a very special appearance at the breakfast, accompanied by his canine companion, Max.

The Grinch’s Wonderful Awful Idea Scavenger Hunt: Known for his disdain of Christmas and the happiness it brings, all around the resort the Grinch has hidden clues of his mischievous plan to ruin the holiday. Find all the clues and solve the riddles to help save the joy of the season! Complete the quest and you'll receive a special stocking stuffer.

Build-A-Bear Workshop: Visit Build-A-Bear Workshop to experience the fun of personalizing furry friends and taking part in a one-of-a-kind Heart Ceremony. Add adorable outfits, sweet scents and fun sounds to make any furry friend the perfect gift or a cuddly Christmas keepsake.

#LIT Light Show: The spectacular Lone Star Atrium comes to life with our #LIT Light Show, featuring thousands of dancing lights synchronized to a high-energy, seasonal soundtrack. Animated light curtains glow with Christmas imagery around a centerpiece tree that magically transforms into a gleaming and glowing holiday spectacle. Presented by Chase Marriott Bonvoy.

Photos with Santa: Mailing a letter to the North Pole is great, but nothing can beat a personal visit with Santa Claus to let him know what you want for Christmas and make sure you're on his nice list. Capture the moment with a keepsake photo.

Christmas Carousel: Get in the holiday spirit by taking a spin on this timeless, family-friendly ride. Enjoy endless fun with an unlimited ride ticket.

Elf Training Academy: Your opportunity to join Santa's staff awaits at the Elf Workshop. You will learn the secrets of becoming one of Santa's helpers from his top toy maker and create a keepsake gift or craft for someone special.

Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions: Join the jolliest hostess of all for a fun-filled celebration of Christmas traditions. Delight in the retelling of the Christmas classic, "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," sing along to favorite holiday songs, and share a batch of Santa's favorite snack - warm, freshly baked Christmas cookies and ice-cold milk.

Holiday Heist Escape Room: The Holiday Heister has struck again, this time stealing an essential Christmas artifact from the North Pole. The magic of Christmas is threatened if the artifact isn't returned to its rightful place. In this escape room, Christmas must be saved, and Santa's Chief Elf has sent you to the Heister's lair to recover the artifact before time runs out.

In addition, the resort will be decked out with holiday décor, the centerpiece of which will be its 54-foot-tall Christmas tree.

The Gaylord has several holiday packages (with special room rates and tickets to events) available now. Find pricing and tickets for all packages and events here.

Tickets to many of Grapevine's holiday events, including the popular North Pole Express, also are available now. Read more about them in this story.

Rockin' R/Facebook

5 great girlfriend getaways within a 4-hour drive from Fort Worth

Road trip time

And just like that…summer is halfway over. Which means the time is right to schedule that girls’ trip you and your gal pals are always talking about. There are many fun places to squeeze in a quick getaway within a short drive from Fort Worth, even if it's just over to Dallas.

The following five spots feature great pool scenes (or a river float for the more adventurous), expansive spas, delicious dining, and most importantly, sanctuaries to simply unwind. It's a mix of laid-back locales and luxurious lodgings (but hey, you're splitting the bill). Some are brand new, some are tried-and-true favorites with new reasons to visit, and all are within about a four-hour drive.

So text your besties, pack a swimsuit, and get ready to hit the road.

Guadalupe River

Rockin' R/Facebook

Kick back on the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country.

Winstar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Oklahoma
After a recent multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion, WinStar World Casino has debuted a heap of new amenities worth the short road trip north to the Oklahoma-Texas border – even if gambling is of zero interest.

What's new: Located in a completely new 26,000 square-foot building is the WinStar Spa, a two-story relaxation oasis that just opened in May. European-manufactured amenities include saunas from Germany, heated ceramic loungers from Austria, and a massive hydrotherapy tub from Lithuania. Most services come with access to relaxation lounges, saunas, steam rooms, two kinds of showers (one called a “rinse” and the other called “experience”), heated benches, and an “ice room” that sounds perfect for beating the heat.

Another new feature is Cascades, WinStar’s new five-acre pool complex featuring bungalows, cabanas, daybeds, and multiple pools. A 360-degree bar anchors the expansion, and there’s food and beverage service right to your lounge chair. Unlike WinStar’s Terrace Pool, Cascades is open to the public – however, all guests (including hotel guests) must make a paid reservation in advance. Time slots are available for half-day morning, half-day afternoon, or all-day.

If your girl group loves live music: After a three-year hiatus from hosting concerts, WinStar will welcome back live music in October with the opening of Lucas Oil Live, a new 6,500-seat entertainment venue. The first concert on the calendar is Randy Rogers Band featuring Casey Donahew on Saturday, October 7. Other upcoming shows include Miranda Lambert, Rod Stewart, Leon Bridges, and many more.

Where to eat dinner: If visiting on a Saturday night this summer, make plans to attend Cascades After Hours party. Happening every Saturday from 8:30-11 pm, the adults-only (21-and-up) features live music and a buffet dinner. Tickets are $50 per person, and there’s a cash bar. Or visit one of several restaurants in the casino, like the brand new Union Mesa Restaurant & Cantina, or Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.

Rates: Through Labor Day weekend, rates start at $199 per night.

Omni PGA Resort, Frisco
Don’t let the “PGA” in the name fool you. Guests of the sprawling Frisco resort, which just opened in May, don’t have to be golf fans to enjoy the many luxe amenities offered: multiple pools with bar service, a full-service spa, shopping, live music, and 13 dine-and-drink destinations.

If your gal group likes to golf: There are two 18-hole courses and a two-acre putting green. But don’t miss The Swing, a 10-hole par three course that’s lit after dark – perfect for avoiding summer’s scorching rays. Texas country music plays on speakers overhead, and there’s a Casamigos tequila truck that serves refreshing ranch waters at the half-way mark, making this short course perhaps the most lively in town.

For the non-golfers: Book a relaxing treatment at Mokara Spa, where there are more than 20 treatment rooms, a sauna, stream room, jacuzzi, private pool, and spa café. Shop The Monument Realty PGA District then have happy hour at The Lounge by TopGolf. Or simply kick back all day at the adults-only rooftop infinity pool with a Coco Berry Mojito in-hand from the Bluestem Bar.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Trick Rider, the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant for steak and seafood dishes. Grab a pre-dinner martini at the horseshoe-shaped bar and say “hello” to Cinnamon, the restaurant’s spectacular 1,500-pound, quarter horse-shaped chandelier.

Rates: Rates start at $359 per night.

The Adolphus, Dallas
No time for more than a drive across I-30 to downtown Dallas? There are many sleek new hotels, but nothing quite like this historic luxury hotel that feels as though you're steeping back in time. Opened in 1912 by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, the high-rise draws a new generation of guests seeking an extravagant escape.

If your friends are fancy: Make reservations for afternoon tea in The French Room, an iconic experience in a sophisticated, storied space that's fit for royalty (fun fact: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Adolphus in 1991). The marble floor, the gilded chairs, the glass chandeliers – all exude elegance. Tea service includes three courses with the option of adding champagne and caviar. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am-2:45 pm. (Note that The French Room has still not fully reopened post-pandemic, but they do have a new executive chef in the kitchen.)

If you’re having a hot girl summer: Show off that smoking swimsuit at The Adolphus’ rooftop pool, where a live DJ plays music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Rent a cabana and get a bottle of Minuty sparkling rose on ice to share. If finding zen is the goal for the getaway, make plans for Black Swan Yoga on the pool deck Saturday, August 19 at 9:30 am.

Where to eat dinner: Feeling high-end? Head to The French Room Bar, where foie gras torchon, escargot en croute, East Coast oysters on the half shell, and rack of lamb round out a very upscale French menu of culinary delights. (The absolute best savory, slightly spicy popcorn comes with cocktail service at the bar.) For something much more casual, go downstairs to the Rodeo Bar, where burgers, nachos, barbecue, and even a fully loaded foot-long chili dog combine for a completely different dining experience. Wash it all down with a frozen whiskey sour.

Rates: Rates start about $298 per night.

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin
The popular Hill Country resort is worth a another look this summer, as it has launched a new signature wine, beer, and spirits tasting event this summer worth the three-hour drive from Fort Worth. An adults-only infinity pool, 13,000-square-foot spa and sanctuary, and enchanting views of more than 4,000 countryside acres add to the allure.

If your girl group likes adult beverages: Don’t miss Hill Country Sip & Savor, the resort's new festival-style tasting event that features beverages from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries native to the Texas country along with food and live music. The festival launched on Memorial Day weekend and there are two dates left: Saturday, August 5 and Saturday, September 2. Rates start at $459 per night and include overnight accommodations, three drink sampling tickets and one food ticket per adult, two beach towels and one tote bag per room, and one bottle of sunscreen.

Other gal pal activities: Lounge at the adults-only infinity pool and order an Elderflower Spritz from the bar, or go to the spa. The latter has its own private rooftop pool with plenty of tranquil lounge chairs and cush outdoor seating away from the crowd. There are also four golf courses on-site for ladies who love a good tee time.

Where to eat dinner: Make reservations for Blind Salamander, the resort’s upscale seafood restaurant led by chef Francisco Baca. Indulge in steamed mussels with miso butter, glazed redfish with clams and cornbread, or jumbo shrimp with blood orange cocktail sauce.

Rates: Rates start at $399 per night.

If you're heading toward the Hill Country, you have to hit ...

The Guadalupe River, Gruene
It’s a bucket-list activity for Texan, but a whole different experience when it's just the girls. Away from rowdy guys on the river, gal-groups can bond (and solve the problems of the world) during a leisurely inner-tube float down the crisp and cool Guadalupe - insulated tumblers in hand. Then end the day in the tiny town of Gruene, where groups can gather to listen to live music at Texas’ oldest dance hall, sip margaritas at a riverfront restaurant, shop boutiques, or relax in a boutique day spa. There are countless hotels, camp grounds, and short-term rentals for an overnight stay.

How to float the river: Rockin’ R doesn't get much closer, located on the banks of the Guadalupe in the heart of Gruene. For decades, they've outfitted tubers for river floats and provided shuttle service back from the end point. New is Rockin’ R’s expansive Gruene Light Bar, where live music and cocktails are available all summer long. El Arroyo (the Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant known for its hilarious marquee signs) also has a food truck on-site for pre- or post-float grub. Don’t forget to wear water shoes, and note that cans, glass, or anything disposable is not allowed on the water.

Other Gruene must-do’s: Have sangria or a longneck bottle at the iconic Gruene Hall while listening to live music. Stroll through locally owned shops for cute clothes, décor, and souvenirs. Or schedule a spa treatment at Gruene Day Spa, but note treatments should be booked at least two to three weeks out.

Where to eat dinner: No visit to Gruene is complete without dinner at Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. There’s typically a wait for a table, especially on the weekends. But that means you get to listen to live acoustic music on the lawn with a salt-rimmed margarita until your name is written on the chalk board, indicating your table is ready. Pro tip: chips and fresh salsa (which is also sold to-go by the mason jar) are available at the indoor-outdoor bar while you wait.

Rates: Tube rental with shuttle service at Rockin’ R starts at $25.

Messina Hof Grapevine Winery/Facebook

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Free iced tea, iced wine cocktails, and summer sips paired with movies and music under the stars keep things cool in Fort Worth this week. There’s also a chance to indulge in what might be the fanciest hot dog in town. No grill required.

Wednesday, July 19

National Hot Dog Day at B&B Butchers
Make plans to enjoy the most upscale hot dog in town. B&B Butchers will mark National Hot Dog Day with a special entrée featuring two Texas Wagyu hot dogs served on gourmet buns with steak frites and all the accoutrements. The deal is $28 and will be available all day.

Thursday, July 20

Free Tea Day at McAlister’s Deli
The national sandwich chain will celebrate its 15th annual Free Tea Day by offering customers a free, 32-ounce iced tea all day long at all locations. Choose from sweet, unsweet, half-and-half, half tea-half lemonade, tea with one flavor shot, or the new limited-time flavor, PassionBerry. Limit one per person in-store and four per online or app order.

Pink Power Rooftop Market at The Worthington
The downtown hotel will host another installment of its Shop & Sip series, and in time for the new Barbie movie, its theme is “pink power.” All vendors will be women-owned businesses who’ll showcase clothing, décor, gifts, and permanent jewelry. The pop-up will take place on the rooftop at The Worthington’s Rooftop Cinema Club just before a movie screening of Clueless. Guests can take advantage of half-price beer and cocktails and discounted tacos while they shop, and admission is free from 5:45-7:45 pm. Tickets must be purchased for Clueless, which starts at 7:45 pm.

Summer Wine Tasting at Fitzgerald
Chill out with a cool summer wine tasting at the Camp Bowie Boulevard dining destination and CultureMap Tastemaker Awards' Restaurant of the Year. Three whites and one chilled red is included in the $25 price, which will also come with chef-prepared light bites. (Recipe cards will be available to take home.) The tasting will run from 6-8 pm.

Friday, July 21

Summer Sippin’ Wine Cocktail Class at Messina Hof
The Grapevine winery will show guests how to transform its wines into iced summer cocktails. Participants will make three different drinks during the hands-on class while enjoying light bites. Tickets are $35, plus gratuity and a small fee, and class will run from 6:30-8 pm.

Saturday, July 22

Riscky’s BBQ 17th annual Rib-eating Contest
The 17th annual competition (in conjunction with the National Day of The American Cowboy celebration in the Stockyards) will challenge brave carnivores to eat as many beef ribs as possible in 60 seconds. The top 3 finishers will receive gift cards to the restaurant. It all begins at 11 am at Riscky's Fort Worth Stockyards location, and the entry fee is $5 at the door.

Willie & Whiskey at Hotel Drover
The acclaimed hotel in the Stockyards is launching theme nights for select dates of its live acoustic music series, The Backyard Unplugged. First up is Willie & Whiskey, a tribute to Willie Nelson that will coincide with the National Day of the American Cowboy. Fort Worth-based Blackland Distillery will be on-site to serve two cocktails – dubbed Whiskey River and Red Headed Stranger – from the Pour Horse outdoor bar. Local musician Mike Randall will sing classic Willie covers, and there’ll be a pop-up shop from luxe brands. The fun will run from 7-10 pm.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Country icon Willie Nelson returns to 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album

The Red Headed Stranger goes Blue

Almost as much as Willie Nelson is known for Austin, he's known for Nashville — and for subverting it. The 90-year-old singer has made an iconic, and extremely long career of conforming to and bucking against musical expectations, and now he's circled back around to tradition — without losing his own sound.

Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre. Yet, released on September 15, it's not even his first album of 2023. It follows I Don't Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard, a tribute to the Nashville songwriter who gave folks "I Fall to Pieces."

Bluegrass, in a way, is Nelson's genre-bent tribute to his own work. The setlist gathers a dozen of the songwriter and his fans' "favorite" songs he wrote, according to a press release, re-rendered with a bluegrass ensemble.

The focus on orchestration highlights that this is a collaborative effort by the amiable, but largely solo performer. One song, "Good Hearted Woman," is the only track on the album not just written by Nelson, thanks to the similar creative genius of outlaw country great Waylon Jennings. Willie's son, Micah Nelson, created the cover art: an appropriately blue portrait of the singer with warm undertones and a wreath of familiar recreational leaves. The album was produced by Willie's longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

Willie Nelson BluegrassNelson's son created the cover art — in blue, of course.Image courtesy of Willie Nelson; created by Micah Nelson

Even if a listener doesn't recognize each song on the album, Nelson's voice is as unmistakeable as ever. Against a bluegrass arrangement, it floats undisturbed and unhurried. At times, it even sounds like Nelson and the band are performing in different meters, the band bustling along cheerfully while the singer lounges around the beat — but never on it.

In fact, listeners who avoid Bluegrass may find their tune changes when listening to these laid-back renditions. "Still Is Still Moving To Me" brings the more frenetic tempo and multi-part harmonies that the genre is known for at its most ferocious; but iconic songs like "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Yesterday's Wine" may not even strike listeners as bluegrass if they're not listening for it — just very string-heavy traditional country tunes.

"On the Road Again," "Man With the Blues," and album-opener "No Love Around" are perhaps the tracks that benefit the most from the Bluegrass treatment. All three seem a little more cheerful, a little more upbeat, and a little more reassuring than their original forms. There's nothing warmer than hearing the iconic "On the Road Again" melody on gut strings — except perhaps listening to the country legend offer his "advice" over that plucky, self-assured backcountry orchestra.

Most important, the arrangements rework rather than rewriting the songs. None of the renditions give off an air of hokeyness or trying to shake things up; These are just great country songs that sound even better with a banjo. It makes sense that the change in instrumentation wouldn't shift much, since according to the release, Nelson decided to record the tribute because the style informed so much of his natural songwriting style.

"Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs," acknowledges the release.

By Texas Monthly'scount (shared in the release), this is Nelson's 151st album. Avid collectors can look forward to a 12-inch special edition pressed in blue vinyl, available for purchase on September 29. Preorder ($29.98) at willienelson.com.

This year the songwriter was honored with a five-part documentary series, a blowout 90th birthday concert, the naming of a prestigious arts endowment by the University of Texas at Austin, and two Grammy Awards. His book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, comes out October 23. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame days later, on November 3.

Listen to Bluegrass on your favorite streaming platform. More information is available at willienelson.com.

Flix Brewhouse set to open in Mansfield with food and beer brewed in-house

Let's All Go to the Movies

Austin-based Flix Brewhouse, famous for its first-run cinema and in-house brewery, will debut a new location in Mansfield, with an opening set for Thursday, September 28.

The theater will open at 416 N. US 287, in The Shops at Broad, with its trademark full menu of sandwiches, salads, burgers, and pizza as well as beer that's brewed in-house.

Mansfield marks the chain's 10th location and the fifth in Texas, joining the original in Round Rock, along with Frisco/Little Elm, El Paso, and San Antonio.

But Mansfield will offer something new that no other location has: the ability to order your meal directly from your phone. Instead of pressing the button at your seat and waiting for a server to take your order, orders can be transmitted directly to the theater's kitchen. So convenient!

Call buttons are still available to order for moviegoers without smartphones or for those who prefer that method.

The 38,000-square-foot theater and brewpub will have nine auditoriums featuring reclining chairs and personal, pivoting tabletops.

A full bar incorporates a fully-functioning brewery where a team of brewers craft beers that are unique to the location and the featured films. A small taproom is available for guests to enjoy a brew before or after a movie and play movie-themed pinball.

In addition to new releases, Flix Brewhouse offers their Flix Picks program, which curates specialty monthly FanFests around cult classic movies that are paired with a themed menu and souvenir glassware.

For those who go to the movies a lot, Flix has The Circle, a loyalty program with special perks like discounts, birthday tickets, and more. Early sign-ups for the free program receive an exclusive invitation to the theater's soft opening event.

The opening date coincides with the release of PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie for the younger set, as well as the sci-fi epic The Creator and the latest in a gruesome horror franchise, Saw X.

“Moviegoers can expect to have a transformative experience when they visit a Flix Brewhouse location,” said Chance Robertson, Flix CEO, in a statement. “Our team pours its passion into every aspect of the theater whether that is in a glass of award-winning, freshly brewed beer, a delectably-themed meal, or the state-of-the art audio visual experience of a movie."