Cuero: Not just a one-turkey town
Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.
Known for its late 19th century cattle drives, beautiful wildflower collection, droves of turkeys, and more recently, as the home to the mythical chupacabra, this historical town has captured the hearts of residents and visitors for many years.
Originally called Arroyo del Cuero, or Creek of the Rawhide, by the Spanish, Cuero continues to be one of the largest producers of cattle in the state, according to the Cuero Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, and was recently named one of the 10 Coolest Towns in America by Budget Travel.
Nowadays, vying for the title of Turkey Capital of the World, the town of more than 6,000 residents draws in crowds of visitors for its October event, Turkeyfest.
This unique and popular festival has its humble beginnings in the early 1900s. Before the widespread use of automobiles, farmers would herd thousands of turkeys on foot across farms and fields, through town, to the turkey processing plant.
Spectators from all over came to Cuero every November to watch the impromptu parade, while savvy business owners capitalized on housing and dining opportunities.
The first organized festival occurred in 1912 by way of the Turkey Trot, with a carnival, football game and more.
Turkey Trot became known as Turkeyfest in 1973, bringing it closer to the celebration it is today and bringing about the notoriety of being the "Turkey Capital of the World."
Another self-proclaimed "Turkey Capital," Worthington, Minn., challenged Cuero to a turkey dual, thus beginning the annual turkey race to determine who would hold the title each year.
The Great Gobbler Gallop features Cuero's fastest turkey, dubbed Ruby Begonia, pitted against Worthington's Paycheck. Surrounding the high-stakes race, the parade, carnival, arts and crafts, games and more have grown up around it.
Adding to its many titles, the Texas legislature named Cuero as the Wildflower Capital of Texas in 1999, with April being Cuero's Wildflower Month, an event Cuero takes full advantage of.
Bike ride, bus tours, walk-a-thons and beautiful views are just a few of the activities during this month.
Christmas in the Park
Going into its 10th year, Christmas in the Park is one of Cuero's biggest exhibits. With more than 100 displays, this drive-thru lighted park has something for everyone.
The lighted Nutcracker displays will guide you through the maze of Victorian - and Western-themed scenes, a 17-piece Nativity on the lake island, a gingerbread house, 12-car train, and more.
The First United Methodist Church will host a live Nativity on the tour Dec. 13-24. The first three Sundays of December will also include Hot Chocolate Nights from 7 to 9 p.m.
The exhibit will open the Monday before Thanksgiving and will close New Year's Day, 6 to 10 p.m. nightly at Cuero Municipal Park.
Since its opening in May 2007, the Courtyard Gallery has given many artists the opportunity to show their work to the public.
Owned by Kerry Rhotenberry, the gallery has an array of art exhibits, acoustic musical performances, receptions and a bookstore, making it a popular locale to hang out in Cuero.
November's exhibit will consist of artist Neldene Matusevich's work, and artist Jill Pankey's exhibit will be in December.
In addition to that, on Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, there will be an acoustic jam session for the gallery's signature monthly event, "Third Saturday in Cuero."
Courtyard is at 210 N. Esplanade St. and is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, , and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The "Third Saturday" acoustic sessions are from 5 to 9 p.m.
Cuero is not just interesting a few weeks out of the year; with several historical locations to visit, museums to walk through and restaurants to eat at, it's the place to be year-round.
Not only taking you on a journey into the history of Cuero and DeWitt County, the DeWitt County Museum, Reuss Pharmacy, Cuero Heritage Museum and Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum each give an inside look into Texas roots.
Don't miss out on the historic homes, buildings and churches on your adventure into the past. For a complete listing, go to Cuero's Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture website, www.cuero.org.
Information compiled from www.cuero.org, www.turkeyfest.org and www.christmasincuero.com