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What Is The Boar’s Head And Yule Log Festival In Fort Worth?

With only four performances over two days in January, it’s easy to miss the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival, a decades-long tradition at University Christian Church. But many people intentionally skip the event because they don’t understand what it is.

Truthfully, it’s difficult to explain even for those who’ve attended several times.

On Epiphany weekend at University Christian Church near TCU in Fort Worth, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. That’s because the annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival — usually called simply “the Boar’s Head” by those in the know — is an event that never quite culminates. But a lot happens. More on that later.

Simply put, it’s a festival of processions. People in lavish costumes wander around, generally in search of the Christ child. There’s music from handbells, soloists and an orchestra. It’s quaint, strange and charming.

[This article originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, which has been discontinued. It’s from April 2016.]

About The Boar’s Head And Yule Log Festival

If the name suggests to you that this festival is something ancient, you’re on the right track. The festival is based on the legend of an Oxford student who kills a wild boar with a book of ancient philosophy when the unfortunate animal interrupts the presumably self-important student’s studies.

A few churches around the world have turned the celebration of this so-called triumph into a Christian festival, giving it additional significant and added symbolism. As told at University Christian Church in Fort Worth, the boar represents evil that has been overcome by the teachings of Christ.

The church has put on the festival every year since 1976. It concludes the 12 days of Christmas and is held on the weekend nearest Epiphany, January 6.

A cast of brightly robed kings, peasants, Beefeaters, dancers and others join musicians from the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra to put on the event. Some 300 people participate while hundreds gather in the church’s sanctuary at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to watch.

Enjoying The Boar’s Head

What do I mean that this festival never quite culminates? In most church events, the procession comes before the main event, but at the Boar’s Head, the procession is the event. It technically all culminates in the opening of some doors to view the baby Jesus and his family, but the show is about the processions of peasants and kings alike.

When you attend the Boar’s Head, you’ll see a ritual that has changed very little since the church first started putting it on. Costumes have gotten brighter, many faces are different now, of course, and the music has been slightly updated, but it is essentially the same presentation.

You can enter for free and no tickets are required, but paid reserved seating is available.

I used to attend this event regularly but now find that a visit only every few years is plenty. Since I remember in great details the details that rarely change, attending every year isn’t essential or entertaining anymore.

Still, this festival about the church overcoming evil influences is somehow still relevant and somehow still managing to draw full or nearly full houses for its four performances.

To say that nothing ever happens during the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival is being unkind, but to say that there’s no culmination of the event and little satisfaction as it draws to a solemn but hopeful end is, unfortunately, accurate. Nevertheless, it’s a spectacle that everyone needs to see once — and then you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth experiencing again.

Good To Know

  • Arrive an hour early for a good seat. Paid attendees sit at the front, but they miss much of the action. Since the size of the event is part of the spectacle and since all the players move up and down the aisles, the best seats are somewhere slightly back from the middle of the sanctuary.
  • Attending the later presentation on either day may mean waiting outside to get in, and the weather is often cold that weekend. Attending the earlier one means you can walk right in.
  • Photography is generally only allowed at the 3 p.m. event on Saturday. Call ahead to verify this if you plan to take any pictures.

Learn More

University Christian Church

Live Music At Central Market Fort Worth: Great Bands At A Grocery Store

Central Market isn’t a secret at all, but free live music isn’t something people expect from a high-end grocery store. Still, hundreds gather every Friday and Saturday night from March through October to listen to Fort Worth music acts that vary from great to poor in quality and cover many musical genres.

While the idea of a grocery store as a music venue takes some getting used to, I’ve listened to more live music at Central Market than anywhere else. That’s because the price is right, the atmosphere is fun, the regulars are generally agreeable people and many of the bands are top quality.

[This article originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, which has been discontinued. It’s from April 2016.]

About Live Music At Central Market

The Fort Worth Central Market has offered live music for more than a decade, since shortly after the opening of the store in 2001. The massive patio — one of the largest in town — along with the ample parking and the convenient location make it a natural live music venue that draws listeners from all over the city and beyond.

The connection between the Central Market brand and live music goes back even further. The original Central Market location in Austin opened in 1994 and also has a generous patio with an adjoining private park. Other locations in the chain feature music, too, but the original Austin location and the Fort Worth location are the only ones with large, accommodating patios that draw in big crowds.

Central Market is a high-end chain from H-E-B, a grocery store company with a long history in Central Texas that has only recently brought its large and impressive H-E-B grocery stores to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The idea behind Central Market is to provide an upscale grocery experience and upscale take-home food as well as classes and other amenities th

at draw people to the stores. There are now nine locations, all in major Texas cities.

Bands at Central Market Fort Worth play most Fridays and Saturdays in March through October, usually from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Music At Central Market: Getting The Most From It

I’m a regular for the free live music concerts at Central Market and have been for many years. The quality and type of music provided has varied considerably through the years. Things seems stable these days, however, with more good bands than bad. There’s also more variety that in some years.

Crowds got large and out of control in years past, and management stopped booking some audience favorites, opting instead for solo acts and acoustic groups in an effort to limit attendance. Imagine that: a venue trying to keep guests willing to shell out for food and drinks away. Fortunately, saner ideas prevailed and management is once again booking a good mix of bands.

To make the most of your Central Market live music experience in Fort Worth, watch the store’s online events calendar to help you decide what nights to visit, then call ahead to make sure the announced band is actually performing. Last-minute schedule changes and weather-related cancellations are common.

Be sure to check out bands you don’t know much about by seeing if they’re popular on Facebook and looking at some YouTube clips or listening to some MP3s on the band website, if there is one.

Remember that arriving early is essential if you want a seat on the main patio section near the stage. Many guests arrive before 4:30 p.m.

Some seasons, I’ve had strong negative feelings about Central Market because I’ve made the mistake of taking a personal interest in this venue. Many assurances to me have turned out to be just so much talk, but the live music at this grocery store has been an overwhelmingly positive part of my life in recent years — and one that I miss when it occasionally flakes out.

Good To Know

  • It’s impossible to overstress the importance of arriving early. The best tables are almost always gone by 5 p.m., and crowds come even earlier on the best evenings. If it’s cold or excessively hot, however, few people show up even if the music goes on.
  • Bring a cushion of some kind because the wooden chairs are uncomfortable for many. I get around the discomfort by sitting on a towel — and standing up a lot!
  • Outside food and drink is prohibited, but this is a grocery store and café, after all. Coolers are also prohibited. Prices for food and drinks are generally expensive, but there are some affordable choices, like a one-price fountain drink you can refill all night, child’s spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and sandwich meals and relatively inexpensive chips, bulk dips and fresh-made breads.
  • Most prepared foods are served chilled, so make your selection early enough to take advantage of the microwaves inside.
  • When the patio is full, try the second-floor balcony. There’s also an inside dining room upstairs with a microwave and the best free wifi reception in the store.

Learn More

Central Market Fort Worth Events

The Fort Worth Civic Orchestra Has Remained A Relative Secret Since 1977

You might think an organization that’s been around since 1977 would develop a following, but if that’s happened for the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra it’s difficult to tell.

While yearly Teddy Bear concerts aimed at collecting stuffed animals for the Fort Worth Police Department draw crowds that sometimes come close to filling the venue, many concerts don’t draw much of an audience.

That’s a shame.

[This article was originally from my Fort Worth Secrets website, which has been discontinued. It’s from April 2016.]

About Fort Worth Civic Orchestra

Fort Worth Civic Orchestra has four concerts each year. They’re free, open to the public and held at the Truett Auditorium at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. The orchestra also performs as part of the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at University Christian Church every year in early January.

The purpose of the orchestra is two-fold: to provide the community with great symphonic music and to allow musicians who want to play but aren’t necessarily professionals an outlet. In recent years, seminary student musicians have also been included in the orchestra.

The group was formed in 1977 to bring classical music to the area at a reasonable price and to serve as a reading orchestra for volunteer musicians. It quickly reached 65 members and performed across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Early members included teachers and students as well as retired professional musicians and others. In the years that followed, community outreach was added.

In 2002, the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra came under the baton of current director Dr. Kurt Sprenger. In 2009, the orchestra moved to its permanent performing home at the seminary, where Dr. Sprenger teaches. Still independent but with a performance venue, rehearsal space and storage, the orchestra seemed poised

for great things.

But why don’t more people know about this orchestra and attend it’s events? It’s probably because of a lack of advertising, infrequent updates to its website and Facebook page and other marketing lapses. While hundreds experience the orchestra during the festival at University Christian Church, it seems that relatively few of those attendees realize the orchestra has performances of it own.

My Experiences With The FWCO

Since the orchestra moved to the seminary, I’ve attended nearly every concert. I’m no expert on symphonic music, but the music ranges from excellent to lacking polish. Often, however, the performances rise nearly to the level of the Fort Worth Symphony and other professional organizations.

The type and quality of the programs presented varies considerably. Some recent concerts have offered less than an hour of music and left some audience members dissatisfied, but other programs seem well-crafted and professionally done. This inconsistency may be part of why audiences are sometimes small.

The Teddy Bear concerts usually feature a singer and a performance of two pieces written by children’s carol competition winners. Special performance pieces have also sometimes been performed at other concerts, and sometimes the programs veers away from only classical music.

While I’d like to see more consistency, more attention to programming and more people in the audience, Fort Worth Civic Orchestra concerts are usually vibrant and interesting events. And Truett Auditorium’s rotunda lobby space is something to experience. While everything looks very Baptist and is clearly a bit worn around the edges, this area and the auditorium itself are great for the purpose.

But it’s a shame that more people don’t get to experience the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra and it’s four-concert season for themselves. Will I see you there next time?

Good To Know

  • While wheelchair access is available from a side entrance, the building is not very user-friendly. There are no handrails on the grand staircase outside and there are steps into and out of the rotunda before reaching the auditorium.
  • Parking is free and close. Park in any of the spaces in front of the auditorium, even if they’re marked for faculty.

Learn More

Fort Worth Civic Orchestra

Granbury Gallery Nights Are Laidback Day Trip From Fort Worth

If you’re looking for a simple, quiet and perhaps even romantic way to spend an evening, why not get out of the city for a while? Granbury is a quick and easy day trip from Fort Worth or anywhere in North Texas and has more to do than most cities its size. I recommend trying out a gallery night, held the last Saturday of every month. It’s a laidback way to see some great art, meet some interesting people and get to know this quaint little town.

Granbury has all the things you’d expect from a small Texas town: a historic courthouse square with unique shops, some home-cooking restaurants you’ll enjoy and more. Plus, there’s the especially scenic lake right in the middle of town. But you may not know that the city has a small-but-determined visual arts community. This includes a real art gallery downtown as well as several other venues on and near the square that also display surprisingly high-quality artwork at affordable prices.

[This article originally appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, a project that is now discontinued. It is from August 2016.]

Getting To Know Granbury Gallery Nights

Many people who visit art galleries never buy any art, and I suspect that’s the case with most of the visitors to Last Saturday Gallery Night & Art Walk in Granbury. Organized by The Galleries of Granbury, this even is similar to the twice-yearly gallery night events in Fort Worth, but Granbury’s event happens every month.

While not all galleries participate every time, venues that stay open late — usually from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. — for gallery night include:

  • Artèfactz, a store with many different booths inside. One belongs to an artist who is usually present, and you can often find an artist demonstrating outside this shop as well
  • Dora Lee Langdon Center, a historic home where art from a featured artist or group of artists is displayed. Meet the artist and learn more about the home too.
  • Shanley House, a historic building that shares a parking lot with the library. Amateur artists are often on display, but check hours since this venue sometimes opens late.
  • Uptown Arts, the backroom of a boutique called The Bridge. There’s art jammed into the room everywhere and a nice patio out back where you can get a breath of fresh air.
  • Your Private Collection Art Gallery, a real gallery displaying works by professional artists. This is the hub of gallery night activity and perhaps where you want to start and end your evening.

Other venues sometimes participate as well. Most venues offer refreshments including hor d’oeuvres, wine and beer, and many artists are present to meet you. A trolley can help you get from one venue to the next, but all within easy walking distance of each other. The details for each month’s event is available on the Galleries of Granbury Facebook page.

My Experiences In Granbury

To make a gallery night in Granbury a complete experience, you need to venture beyond the galleries a bit too. You can easily visit all the galleries on foot and see everything within an hour and a half. But I encourage you to take things a bit slower and to see what else in town might attract your attention.

First, some other shops on the square may be open late for you to enjoy. You might also be interested in booking some tickets for the current show by the Granbury Theatre Company at the Granbury Opera House, also on the square. Several restaurants surround the square too.

If you’re looking for familiar chain restaurants, most of those are out on Highway 377. The array of choices is larger than in most small towns. If you want dependable chain near the square, try Babe’s Chicken Dinner House or Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Fuzzy’s is a great place to stop after you’re done with gallery night and grab a taco if you aren’t already full up.

A great city park hides behind city hall and next to the Shanley House. Sunken below the road, you can step in and step away from your art walk experience to enjoy some time to yourself. A walking path will take you off into the sunset if that’s what you want.

Lake Granbury is a long, narrow lake, so it seems to be everywhere you look in Granbury. There’s even a small public beach with boardwalk just off the square that you might enjoy. You can also book a room near downtown and stay the night. If you’re a foodie, Granbury’s huge H-E-B grocery store might be an attraction for you since most of us who live in or near Fort Worth don’t have access to this affordable chain that also offers gourmet choices.

Whatever you decide to do in addition to visiting the galleries, make Last Saturday Gallery Night & Art Walk your reason for visiting Granbury. Then expand the experience into a completely fulfilling trip by exploring some of the other things to see and do in Granbury.

Good To Know

  • There’s plenty of free parking around the square in Granbury, and public restrooms are available too. I usually park at city hall and have never had to compete for parking. You can park around the courthouse or in another lot closer to the lake as well.
  • Ignore what may appear to be rudeness and customer-unfriendliness at some of the shops around the square. You may see signs warning you about bringing your children inside some shops or indicating that the shops don’t have public restrooms. But enjoy these shops anyway if they happen to be open when you’re there. Most shopkeepers seem to be much friendlier than their signage indicates.

For More Information

Galleries of Granbury Facebook page

and also

Historic Granbury Merchants Association
Visit Granbury


Free Film Screenings At The Kimbell Show Off Art And Unusual Auditorium

One of the most unique and unusual auditoriums in Fort Worth is often open to the public for showings of films that you might not otherwise see. While many of these films are as entertaining as they are educational, there’s no doubt that you can learn a lot about art and the culture that surrounds many of the Kimbell Art Museum’s exhibitions by attending some of these films.

The auditorium of the Kimbell’s Kahn building is put to use many Sundays at 2 p.m. showing films that in some way relate to what’s happening at this respected Fort Worth museum. An added bonus is the opportunity to see the unusual and unusually comfortable deep and narrow auditorium that’s behind closed doors most other times.

[This article appeared on my Fort Worth Secrets website, a project that is now discontinued. It was published in September 2016.]

About Free Films At The Kimbell

There’s a lot to like about the Kimbell Art Museum in general. It starts with the Louis Kahn building. Completed in 1972, it’s widely regarded as Fort Worth’s architectural crowning jewel. When you consider it today alongside the understated but also masterful Piano Pavilion, added next door in 2013, it stands out all the more.

And according to what I’ve seen and read, that was the intent. Adding the Piano Pavilion focuses more attention on the beauty of the Kahn building and allows visitors without ability issues to easily reach the front door of the Kimbell for the first time. Visitor have been entering the Kahn building through a back door in the basement for decades.

Visting the Kimbell to see a free film allows you the opportunity to study the unique vaulted design of the Kahn building, which consists of six sections of vaulted ceiling with thin skylights where they join the walls that allow in natural light. The north portion of the easternmost of these vaulted rooms is the Kahn Auditorium. With terraced seating that descends into what should be part of the basement, the room is stark and cold-feeling but somehow seems the perfect plain backdrop for a film about art.

Seeing A Film At The Kimbell

Films are often planned to coincide with special exhibits at the Kimbell. They may include documentaries that examine the surrounding culture, fiction movies based on the times or circumstances depicted in exhibits or specific examinations of works, artists or periods. If it somehow related to something at the Kimbell, it’s fair game for the Sunday afternoon movies.

You’ll notice several things when you enter the auditorium. The first is that the room is long, narrow and deep, a shape that’s unusual. You’ll also notice as you choose a place to sit that the auditorium features individual bucket seats, another rarity. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the skylight area similar to those where natural light comes into the galleries of the Kimbell is awkwardly filled in with red to keep the sun out in the auditorium, adding a splash of color to a building that has very little.

I’m never pleased with the brightness and image quality of the films, perhaps because I’m used to the glowing and intense picture quality at the nearby Modern Art Museum and at today’s digital movie theaters. I’ve actually asked the Kimbell about this more than once and my inquiry has resulted in some bulbs being replaced, but you may still be dissatisfied with the brightness and quality, especially when artwork and other images meant to be carefully examined are being shown. But remember, the presentations are free.

Most of the films shown are available on DVD, so you could order them and watch them at home. But seeing a film with other art lovers in one of the most beautiful buildings in town is an experience you shouldn’t miss. And it’s a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Good To Know

  • If you enter from the side of the building facing the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, called the East Entrance, you must climb an imposing staircase or take an elevator to the second floor. Entering from the side of the building near the Piano Pavilion involves fewer steps but is not wheelchair accessible. Those who use wheelchairs must enter through the East Entrance and use the elevator. Drop off near the door to this entrance is possible.
  • The entrance to the Kahn Auditorium is located in the dining room of the Buffet at the Kimbell. Look for the double doors at the south end of the dining room.
  • Doors don’t open until 15 minutes prior to show time, and there’s usually no reason to line up in advance. While many shows are well-attended, the auditorium is never full for these events.
  • There’s a beautiful auditorium in the Piano Pavilion where concerts and other events, including occasional films, are held. Most of these events have an admission charge. For a complete list of events at the Kimbell, visit their Calendar.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the artwork while you’re there. There’s a reason the Kimbell is called one of the best small museums in the country, and viewing the permanent collection is always free. There is a charge for special exhibits, which are now hosted across the lawn at the Piano Pavilion.

Learn More

Films at the Kimbell