Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The Grapevine I am speaking of is Grapevine, Texas, located between Dallas and Fort Worth. The town has been around since the first white settlement in the 1840's at a landmark known as Grapevine Springs. It was named for the tart, wild mustang grapes prevalent in the area. City planners work hard to preserve the town's history, as evidenced by the log cabin restoration on Main Street (upper left photo), and the architecture on Main Street that is all done to simulate the early 1900's, even though it is much newer than that. The figure in the upper right photo stands atop a local government building on Main Street and signifies the town's Nightwatchman, who in days gone by, was the only official needed to keep the community running smoothly. The area started experiencing exponential growth with the opening of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport (better known as DFW to frequent flyers) in 1974. Not surprisingly, this spurred enormous development. The lower right photo shows a view of the expansive Gaylord Texan resort, located on the banks of Lake Grapevine. The Lake is also a fairly new geographic feature, as it was created by the Corps of Engineers in 1952, as a water reservoir. A 2006 census gave an unofficial estimate of the population of Grapevine to be slightly under 50,000.
Besides the well-known Gaylord property in Grapevine (remember the Gaylord folks also own the famous Opryland Hotel in Nashville), retail development has also been a boon to the area. The photo on the right shows eager shoppers at the Bass Pro Shop in Grapevine. This has got to be one of the few retail establishments where grown men will actually take a number, and wait in line, to make a purchase! (Since I have lived for many years near the ORIGINAL Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri---in fact, when my husband and I got married in 1994, it was the Springfield Bass Pro shop where we had our wedding day lunch!---I have followed their expansion to a nation-wide testosterone phenomena with great interest) Another property that carried over the back-to-nature, lodge-themed decorating, is the Great Wolf Lodge, that was built in Grapevine within the last few years. The indoor water parks (upper left photo) that are a hallmark of Great Wolf Lodges might seem out of place in a location as hot as Texas, but insiders told me that their property in Grapevine did better than the ones located in colder climates. Another landmark in Grapevine is the evangelical megachurch known simply as "Fellowship Church", and pastored by well-known Ed Young. With an attendance of 20,000, their location across from Grapevine Mills retail shopping/dining mecca is bound to be a boost for restaurants that cater to the Sunday church crowd for a post-worship dining experience. Although there are probably plenty of cowboys that go to Fellowship Church, the cowboy pictured in lower left photo might have trouble getting through the front doors of even a megachurch, and certainly an impossible squeeze into the little cage sitting in front of the sign at the Grapevine hardware store advertising information about a Cowboy Church that meets in a home nearby. (lower right photo)

Throughout the year, Grapevine sponsors several special events and festivals, but the one I was able to attend this past week was their 23rd Annual Grapefest. With a name like Grapevine, and a history that included domesticated, as well as wild, grape vineyards, it is only fitting that the town honor that heritage with a celebration about all things "grape". As someone with a nutrition background, I have kept up with the research (and subsequent media attention) given to the 1992 discovery that a substance called "Resveratrol" in the skin of red grapes was a potent antioxidant with many health benefits, including reducing heart disease and cancer. (But "Resveratrol-fest" just doesn't have the same pleasant ring to it that "Grapefest" does!). If you want to know more about Resveratrol, the Texas Department of Agriculture could probably provide you with bucket-loads of data on the subject. Grapefest has many child-friendly activities, as evidenced by the children picnicking with their moms on Grapevine's Main Street during the beginning "free admission" period of the four-day festival (top photo above). Other activities I observed being enjoyed by children were the opportunities to actually crawl up into the gigantic military vehicles on display (middle and lower left photos). And, what kid would not enjoy taking their shoes off, and trying their hand (or should I say "trying their foot") at stomping grapes to see if they can get any juice to come through the spigot leading out of the barrel. (see above lower right photo).
Likewise, there were plenty of activities for the grown-ups. In the upper left photo, Central Market Chef and TV personality, Carol Ritchie is shown giving a culinary demonstration. With several wineries located in or near Grapevine, the city is the perfect location for attendees to place their vote for the people's choice Texas wine award (lower left photo), as well as sample wines from other countries (upper right photo). Another grown-up activity getting a lot of attention was the prize for best costume among the adult "grape stompers" (lower right photo). The festival had numerous food vendors brought in especially for the event, and the smell of food cooking in their portable kitchens out in the open air was a definite appetite stimulant. In addition, there are numerous restaurants localed along Main Street that provide a relaxed environment with delicious food, and give Grapefest attendees additional options beyond the (always yummy, but sometimes messy) carnival-type cuisine. To quote the Bible verse from Genesis 1:29---Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." The folks in Grapevine, Texas, are working diligently to capitalize on this God-given gift of grapes, not only for their food value, but also for the economic impact that celebrating grape agriculture provides. If you are ready to start planning your Grapevine expedition, go to http://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/, or phone l-800-457-6338. If they ask how you heard about them, just say you "heard it through the grapevine"!! Miles of smiles!! TriciaPosted by Picasa