I didn’t know it was possible for me to love Texas more than I already do, but last week while watching the Fandangle, I was proven wrong.
Brandon and I had loaded up the car and driven four hours north to Albany, Texas, a small Texas town to see the Fandangle, a show put on annually by the people of Shackelford county.
The Fandangle is Texas’ oldest outdoor musical, started over 75 years ago by an Albany native named Bob Nail. After graduating high school, Bob headed off to Princeton with big dreams to one day live in New York City and write musicals, but after graduation, he had to move back home to take care of his mother. who had fallen ill.
While at home, he wrote a musical about the history of Texas. In it, he told of the time of the Permian Sea, to the rising up of the prairie, through the days of the buffalo and Native Americans, to the settling of the frontier by Europeans. While his big city dreams never panned out in the end, the town of Albany embraced his talent and every summer, they put on his show.
I have a good friend who lives in Albany, and she invited Brandon and I to come up for the weekend to see the show and witness the pomp and circumstance.
During the last two weekends in June, the entire town turns into one big Fandangle-producing machine.
Fandangle flags hang from every house, lampost and storefront. If there is one thing you can count on, other than lots of cowboys, it is lots of longhorn imagery.
The state longhorn herd is parked on the Courthouse lawn.
The Prairie Star BBQ Brigade holds a cookout every evening in the park.
And lest there be too few longhorns adorning the city, they roll a twenty foot grill welded into the shape of a full grown longhorn into the city park.
Brandon, my University of Texas-grad husband, was in his element. “Let’s see how many picutres of me next to a longhorn we can get this weekend,” he told me as we walked to the BBQ.
The food at the Prairie Star BBQ spoke to my soul. Any place that has “BBQ & fixins” on the menu is bound to be delicious.
After the bbq, we headed to the show and watched Albany’s townspeople act, sing, and dance. The entire performance is put on by residents of Shackelford county, and you can’t even audition if unless you can prove residency.
Anyone not in the show is designing sets, sewing costumes, directing traffic, and running the concession stand, where, of course, they sell homemade ice cream.
Lest you go ten feet without encountering some incredible homemade food.
There are lots of cowboys involved in this production. If there were a Tony Award for Best Musical Performed by Cowboys, the Fandangle would win it.
Cowboys from nearby ranches ride down onto the prairie stage bearing the American flag, Texas flag, and Fandangle flag at the start of the show.
Cowboys dressed as Native Americans gallop across the prairie stage on horseback following the bison.
The highlight is when a herd of cowboys drive the state longhorn herd onto the prairie stage.
Don’t worry, there’s roles for little cowboys and cowgirls too.
Little girls play wildflowers blowing in the wind on the Texas prairie.
Little boys run around in raccoon and coyote costumes like wild animals hunting on the prairie.
Moms and dads dress up like pioneers and sing about life on the frontier. I was bowled over by the amount of talent and commitment in this town of 2,000 people. These costumes have been passed down from generation to generation.
Last but not least, two narrators tell the stories as these scenes are acted out.
And that about accounts for all 2,000 people in Albany!
Attending the Fandangle was a great way to spend the weekend and reconnect with my Texas roots. I love our state and I love being a Texan. Who’s with me?!
Thanks, Albany, for a wonderful trip! We hope to come back real soon.
More info on the Fandangle, as well as news and a schedule, can be found at FortGriffinFandangle.org. Note: some info like the cookoffs are not on the website but you can get more info by calling the Chamber of Commerce.