Texas Trail Tent 2003

Gardening, Etc.
February 2, 2003

By Diane Pfeil, Horticulture Associate;Texas Cooperative Extension-Bexar County

A new name, a new arena, and a new Texas Trail Tent. “It’s a Brand New Rodeo!” is this year’s theme of The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and they are unveiling an exciting new look incorporating the state-of-the-art SBC Center. The festivities begin on Saturday, February 1 and continue through Sunday, February 16, 2003.

The 54th San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo promises to offer Texas-sized thrills and adventures. To keep in step, the all new Texas Trail Tent (TTT) is no longer technically a tent as in past years, but will instead be located in the former Arts and Crafts Building. With the increased size and floor space the Bexar County Master Gardeners, along with Texas Cooperative Extension, are kicking up that “WOW” factor to notches unknown. If you have visited the TTT before, you will remember that it was packed with exciting displays and educational activities. This year promises to be even better.

The 2003 Texas Trails Tent theme is “A Changing Texas, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” The theme is based on scientific research and new innovations designed to make our lives easier yet fulfilling, safer and healthier, while continuing to focus on the preservation of our environment. The displays will give the consumer an idea of what the future holds in agriculture-related technology. Themes of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” will be revealed throughout the tent as visitors explore the different eco-regions of Texas and how they are changing.

The Bexar County Master Gardeners will feature a multitude of gardens (at least twelve different themes), and gardening concepts, including water conservation, within an Outdoor Classroom. As visitors stroll through the Outdoor Classroom, they will view garden samples, complete with ideas for duplicating them. The Bexar County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer all your horticulture and gardening questions.

A HandyScape Garden will intrigue your senses, and include texture in lamb’s ear and succulents, fragrant herbs such as mints and flowers for smell, and vividly colored foliage plants and flowers for sight. The Vegetable Garden will feature a variety of vegetables that can successfully be grown in the San Antonio area, and a most efficient drip irrigation system. A Natural Habitat area that attracts wildlife includes a wooded area with trees, native plants, grasses, and a pond. Spectators will see natural-looking bird feeders, baths, and nest boxes.

The ABC Garden will contain plants that begin with each letter of the alphabet. A Backyard Retreat, complete with a pond, will be showcased to give the visitors ideas on “how-to” create an outdoor living space. Harry Potter’s Herb Garden will contain different herbs, a dragon, and discovery boxes. An Arboretum will feature a variety of trees with bird feeders, birdbaths, and birdhouses. The Texas State Symbol Area will allow visitors to test their knowledge of the Texas symbols.

Additional gardens in the Outdoor Classroom will include Plants from Around the World, Barnyard Garden, and a Composting and Recycling Area. A Winter-Color Garden will feature splashes of color that visitors will be able to duplicate in their own home landscapes. Interactive hands-on activities will be available throughout the area. Scarecrows throughout the area were crafted by different school children for this event and add a whimsical touch.

This year the Bexar County Master Gardener booth will also be bigger and better. It will be surrounded by three specialized garden displays, with special emphasis on herbs. The display will feature the history and everyday uses of herbs, complete with a fully landscaped herb garden. Assorted herbal displays will instruct visitors on the versatility of herbs in everyday life. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn everything about herbs–from growing, cultivating, drying and using them. Master Gardeners will man the area-eager to answer all of your questions.

Don’t miss the Aquaponics display. Aquaponics is a system of growing plants in a liquid medium, which contains all of the nutrients they require. Fish will be utilized to consume the nutrients given off by the plants. This is an environmentally, friendly system, using minimal space, energy and resources and many crops can be grown in this manner.

On the topic of water conservation for the future, another display will explain the concept of Evapotranspiration (ET) principles and the importance of conserving water for future generations. Volunteers will be handing out “ET” kits to home owners. The kit includes gauges that measure water from sprinkler systems and rain gauges, and provide guidance regarding lawn-watering amounts needed after a rain event.

An extraordinary and outstanding array of eagles, hawks, falcons and owls will enthrall the audience as part of a raptor show. With Americans leading busy lives, there is little time left to explore the natural world of the wilderness. Visitors will be able to get close and personal with some of the most charismatic predators found in the world today.

Snakes will be on display to provide education in reptile awareness and safety. Venomous and non-venomous snake displays will educate visitors how to identify both and tell the difference.

An AgriAbility display will provide the disabled or physically challenged person with positive alternatives in the way of mechanical ag and horticulture assistance. Tools developed include everything from a computer which is operated by facial movements, to a lift that assists a wheelchair-bound person onto a vehicle, and even a tractor. These innovations cover a broad range of disabilities.

Creatures that once inhabited the Earth will be on display. Dinosaur bones, claws, a Tyrannosaurs Rex skull, predatory fish fossils, and fossilized eggs will excite the old and young alike in the dinosaur display areas. Prehistoric turtles will be laid out around the display for easy viewing. A “dino dig” will be available for children to uncover fossils. On the weekends, youth will be able to clean dinosaur bones. A new “dino” display will be showcased each weekend during the Rodeo’s run. Plants that dinosaurs ate such as tree fern, cycads, sago palm, and magnolia will be available for viewing as well.

Experts from Texas Cooperative Extension, Bexar County Master Gardeners, and the agriculture and horticulture industry will be on hand to answer questions throughout the event.

Of course, the TTT will be landscaped with beautiful gardens and displays throughout – something for which the Bexar County Master Gardeners are famous. Plan on joining us at the Texas Trail Tent at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, February 1-16. For more information call 467-6575.

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