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Wild Rides

Some of the topics we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

Texas artists helped rock the music world in the summer of 1969. An explosion rocks the USS Princeton 175 years ago, killing several people, including notable Texans. On a happier note, Smokey Bear has a milestone birthday.

Texans Rock Woodstock

Fifty years ago, 31 bands and more than 400,000 people turned a dairy farm in upstate New York into the site of the legendary Woodstock music festival. At least four of the musicians to play during the concert, August 15–18, 1969, were Texans: Janis Joplin of Port Arthur; Johnny Winter, with his brother Edgar, both of Beaumont; and Sly Stone of Denton from Sly and the Family Stone.

Two weeks later, the same Texas artists were among some two dozen bands at the Texas International Pop Festival, which drew upward of 150,000 to Lewisville, where CoServ, an electric cooperative in Corinth, has many members.

That concert, August 30–September 1, was at the Dallas International Motor Speedway, which was demolished in 1973.

Peacemaker Turns Deadly

175 years ago, in 1844, President John Tyler, who made Texas statehood a focus of his time in office, celebrated with more than 400 guests aboard the USS Princeton after a milestone annexation treaty. The newly built boat’s “peacemaker” gun—at the time the largest naval gun in the world—was showing off its power when a misfire killed six and injured several others.

Among the dead were Abel P. Upshur, secretary of state, and Thomas Walker Gilmer, secretary of the navy—well-known names in northeast Texas—who worked alongside Tyler to admit Texas as a slave state. All three were outspoken supporters of slavery.

Incredibly, two of Tyler’s grandsons, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, born in 1928, are still alive today.

No Candles, Please

Smokey Bear turns 75 this month. On August 9, 1944, he debuted as fire prevention spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. He is part of the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.

Chances are he wouldn’t approve of 75 candles burning on his birthday cake.

The Fayette County Fair has been voted the Best Family Entertainment Event in the County for several years in surveys conducted by the Fayette County Record.

Bart Browne

Fayette County Fair

 Josh Turner and Casey Donahew are the headliners August 31 at the Fayette County Fair, which runs August 29–September 1 in La Grange.

“If you have never seen our River View music venue, for our top entertainment, you’re missing some of the best sunset views of Central Texas,” says Michael Zuhn, a Fayette Electric Cooperative member and president of the fair, which calls itself “The Best Little Fair in Texas.”

The first Fayette County fair was in 1927. Last year, about 9,000 fairgoers came through the gates. The theme for 2019 is For the Kid in All of Us. Indeed, youths are a top priority: The fair awards 20 academic scholarships of $1,000 each and another $5,000 in scholarships to contestants in the fair queen pageant.

Visit or call (979) 968-3911 for more information.

Worth Repeating

“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck?”

—Linda Ellerbee, an American TV journalist most known for her work at NBC News and Nickelodeon, who turns 75. She was born August 15, 1944, in Bryan.

By the Numbers

August is National Eye Exam Month, and the Vision Council says about 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction.


200 Years Ago: The Nacogdoches Texas Republican, believed to be the first newspaper published in Texas, was first printed August 14, 1819. The weekly paper appeared twice that August and possibly a few times in September before publication ceased.