Danny Mogle

In the May/June Lifestyles, I listed 10 things on an East Texas bucket list — places and experiences that reflect our history and culture. These are experiences that every East Texan should do at least once.

My bucket list contained:

  • the artist colony of Edom
  • Gladewater Round-Up Rodeo
  • Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore
  • Caldwell Zoo
  • attending a show at Cowan Center in Tyler or Belcher Center in Longview
  • Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview
  • Texas State Railroad, with depots in Palestine and Rusk
  • Jefferson Texas and nearby Caddo Lake, which seem untouched by time
  • Anderson County Courthouse, for its architecture inside and out
  • Wonderland of Lights in Marshall
I asked for suggestions for what else should be on the list and heard plenty from readers, colleagues and friends.
My biggest omission was the Red Dirt BBQ and Musical Festival in Tyler. It includes two of our favorite things: barbecue (the unofficial favorite food of East Texas) and red dirt country music (the unofficial favorite music of East Texas). 
Mike Midkiff of Quitman sent in some great additions. 
East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore: "One can learn why the discovery of oil in Rusk County changed East Texas. The recreation of a boom town inside the museum is like walking back in time. The general store stocked with items from the '30s and '40s makes one wonder how did they survive without Amazon.com to buy from," says Midkiff.
Friday Night Lights: "A must-do is to attend a high school football game not in your hometown but in a neighboring city," adds Midkiff. "Take time to observe what not only happens on the field but in the stands and around the stands. ...  See a football game at the Tomato Bowl in Jacksonville. Learn the history of how it was built before attending and hopefully a train will travel down the tracks on the north end of the stadium blowing its horn at full strength." 
Speaking of football, a caller left a message saying a Tyler Junior College vs. Kilgore College football game should be on the list. You likely will see a great game between longtime rivals and you are guaranteed to see a great halftime show. The TJC Band is amazing and the Apache Belles and Kilgore Rangerettes try to out do the other with high-kicks and flying splits.
A person sent me an email saying it was inexcusable to leave off the Tyler Rose Garden. My bad. The largest city rose garden in the nation has tens of thousands of blooming roses among fountains and pools. The garden, along with Tyler Rose Museum and Texas Rose Festival in October, reflects our rose-growing heritage. 
A friend of mine insisted that the East Texas bucket list include the Tiger Creek Animal Sanctuary near Hawkins. I agree. Seeing the majestic tigers and other large cats rescued from abuse or neglect is inspiring. You will learn about efforts to preserve big cat species.
Is this expanded list the ultimate East Texas bucket list? Is there room for more? Let me know. Send me an email at danny@mylifestylesmag.com.

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