The first General Granbury Birthday Bash


By Melinda Jo Ray

It was a vision hatched in ice cream.  It became one of the signature events of our community.

IT is the Annual General Granbury’s Birthday Celebration that ushers in spring every year on the Historic Granbury Square!  2019 marks the 41st Annual version of this fun and whimsical event!  Visitors will once again flock to meet, eat, compete, and just have a jolly good time presided over by the newly elected BEAN QUEEN and the stalwart image of General Hiram Granbury, the hero of the Civil War from whom our town gets its name!

All this fun is the result of an ice cream fueled meeting of square merchants who met one night back in 1980 to bemoan the lack of springtime events on the square!  It was an early meeting of the downtown merchants association that became known as HGMA (Historic Granbury Merchants Association) and everyone there was feeling the pinch of fewer shoppers in that long stretch between Christmas and the start of the summer tourist season.  Stephanie Jester, Jackie Ellis, Kay Gill, Tom and Nita Hafford, Louise Ratliff, Harley Murray, Hans Gerhardt and Jeaninne Macon were among the group gathered that night at the old Rinky Tinks Ice Cream Parlor.  Brains fueled by various flavors of the place’s signature product – they resolved to come up with something fun – a whimsical event that would draw local folks down to the square. 

So… what could be more fun than a party, they said!  And someone, probably inspired by their surroundings, said how about a Birthday Party- with cake and ice cream!?!?   Everyone liked that idea- but WHOSE birthday.  They wanted to tie it to the town- and it was remembered that General Hiram Granbury was born on March 1st!  – That was EXACTLY the right time of year for what they were planning!  – And so, AN EVENT was born!  We were gonna have a BIRTHDAY PARTY!  A BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!  And so, they began to plan.


Let’s listen in….

The idea of honoring the General led to the idea of a PARADE- yeah, that would draw folks.   And we can have somebody play General Granbury- dress him up in a Confederate uniform and he can be in the parade.  And after the paraded, people can gather on the square!  But just a cake and some ice cream won’t keep them down there long.  We need something to go on all day!!!  Well, maybe if we had some kind of contest….  we could let people judge…. yeah, like a chili cook-off!!!!  Nah, everybody and their dog does chili cook-offs!  We want to be DIFFERENT!   Hmmmm…. Hey, how about BEANS!?!?!  Lots of folks have a special way they make beans!!  Let’s do BEANS!!!  We could have folks cook their beans right here on the square, and people could wander around shop and kind of make a picnic of it on the courthouse lawn, after the parade, and we could maybe have General Granbury wandering around visiting with folks and we could turn it into a celebration of our great town!  Oh, and ya know – to be in the parade and go around with General Granbury- maybe we need a Miss Granbury contest?  Nah, we wanna be DIFFERENT!  We got BEANS…. HEY, HOW ABOUT A BEAN QUEEN?!?!?!?  It has a ring to it!!!  Now to be the BEAN QUEEN- this gal has got to have a sense of humor!!  And how do we pick her?  Hey, let’s pick somebody that is always a good sport about helping us do events on the square.  That way we can thank somebody each year!  Okay!  This is going to be FUN!!!

Yep, according to some folks who were there- that’s pretty much how the conversation went!   And so just a few weeks later…  event chairman Stephanie Jester and team, under the skeptical eye of some community members who thought they had lost their collective minds, banded together and hosted the first ever GENERAL GRANBURY’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION on the square! Granbury Mayor Howard Clemmons, who already played Santa on the square at Christmas, agreed to become GENERAL GRANBURY.  The merchants elected JEAN CATE, local good sport extraordinaire, as the first ever BEAN QUEEN!  They presided over the first ever BEAN COOK-OFF!  That first cook-off had TEN contestants!  Four were husbands of square merchants, along with five other locals and Pauline Padgett of Arlington competed for the honors.  All touted secret recipes and special ingredients!  It was rumored that one of the contestant’s secret was a few chunks of armadillo in the pot!  The judges included several locals along with Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist George Dolan, and Brownwood mortician/prankster Groner Pitts.  The first ever BEAN COOK-OFF WINNER was KATY HILL! 

After the judging the beans were sold and consumed by the citizens who had gathered.  A large red, white and blue, three –tiered cake was hauled out and everybody sang happy birthday to the General.  Cake was served up by the Mayor/General and folks spent the afternoon shopping, picnicking on the courthouse lawn, and visiting.  In a moment of solemnity, a wreath was laid at the General Granbury statue.  Afterwards, a local mystery was solved. Two benches had disappeared from under “the tree of knowledge” by the courthouse.  Turns out, they were being repaired and refurbished for the occasion by Gary Best’s woodworking class at Granbury High School.  

The event was described by the local newspaper as a “big hit”, and the annual tradition was born.  Through the intervening years other whimsical and “different” events have been added- including the OUTHOUSE RACES, and various EATING CONTESTS.  Vendors were brought in to add to the festivities, and the BEAN COOK-OFF was expanded to include RIBS as well.  A citizens’ voting category was added along the way and several years ago festivities boasted both a BEAN KING and BEAN QUEEN, Scott and Viki Young! 

FUN is still the focus of this spring kick-off event on the Historic Granbury Square!  This year is no exception!  The schedule of activities is jam-packed, with 14 competition cookers, 3 huge birthday cakes a big Texas heritage parade, and the many boutiques and specialty shops on the square will be holding special sales and items that weekend as well.  General Granbury’s Birthday Bash is sponsored for its 41st year by the Historic Granbury Merchants Association, the same group whose leaders gathered in that ice cream parlor all those years ago- determined to stir up some SPRING TIME FUN on the GRANBURY SQUARE. 

First Bean Competition and Judging


General Granbury’s First Birthday Cake

Granbury After Dark (Holiday Version)

The Granbury Square is THE place to be on Friday and Saturday nights during the Holidays.  Meet up with friends and family for a festive evening on the Square!  You can catch high-quality entertainment starting at only $20 at the Granbury Opera House and The New Granbury Live. After the show you can relax with your friends with drink specials at Eighteen Ninety Grille and Lounge, Ketzler’s Schnitzel Haus und Biergarten, Christina’s Boutique, or Farina’s Winery & Cafe Granbury. If you haven’t been to the square lately, come and see us – we’re open! (Video credit: GreenFox Marketing)


On October 21-22 Granbury’s art scene comes alive at the Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts. This family friendly festival is set against the backdrop of the most vibrant downtown Square in Texas with one-of-a-kind creations along with musical entertainment and so much more. Plan your weekend now to enjoy this unique cultural experience that only Granbury, Texas can offer.

It’s Fall in Granbury Y’all

Historic Granbury Hosts Harvest Activities October 16-18

Harvest Moon banners R1


Historic Granbury will be hosting a wide variety of fall activities the weekend of October 16-18. During the celebration, attendees can take in the local sights, sounds and flavors of Granbury. From hot air balloon rides to an art festival, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

What: City of Granbury Fall Harvest Activities

When: Friday, October 16–Saturday, October 18

Where: Granbury, Texas


Harvest Moon Festival

Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts celebrates its 37th annual event on October 17-18 showcasing the unique and diverse works from 50+ artists, makers and craftspeople!  In addition to amazing creations all around the quaint and historic downtown square, there will be fantastic food, music and an interactive, “make-it, take-it” arts area for all ages!  Acoustical musicians will be performing both days, there is a public invited Happy Hour concert Sat. evening featuring the music of D.W. Blues Band at the outdoor pavilion at Granbury Square Plaza 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm  and it’s bring your own favorite beverages and snacks.  

There is also the opportunity to hear Luke Wade a N. Texas native and finalist on the 2014 The Voice

Sunday 1:30 – 2:30 also on the Square


BalloonDayz in Granbury returns to the Granbury Regional Airport on October 16-18.  Morning balloon flights will leave from the airport and balloon festival activities will resume in the evening with tethered rides at the airport.  Visit the Harvest Moon Festival during the day as all balloon activities will take place early in the morning or after sunset! Please go to for event details and to reserve morning flights or 417-599-1782.


The Lake Granbury Art Association’s Annual Fall Festival of Art

The Lake Granbury Art Association’s Annual Fall Festival of Art opens with an awards reception on Saturday, October 17 at 6:30 pm. at the Shanley House Gallery located at 224 Travis St.  The public is invited to attend the juried show and sale!

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Presented by Granbury Theatre Company at the Opera House.  A musical thriller by the incredible Stephen Sondheim (who also is responsible for Into The Woods) There will be 4 performances Friday – Saturday 7:30 pm and Saturday – Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm

For tickets 817-579-0952 or

Granbury Ghost and Legends Tour

Named by Frommer’s Travel Guides as one of the seven BEST ghost tours in the country!  Fri. – Sat. 7:00 p and 9:15p

Junkin’ in the Hood

If you love to shop for rusty, junky,vintage and antique items for decor or DIY, you don’t want to miss this event…Junkin’ in the Hood!!! The outdoor vendor shopping event will be held on October 16-18 from 9:00-5:00 each day and is located at 2901 Weatherford Hwy (51) in Granbury.  Interested in being a vendor? Have questions? Email or call Joni Berry 817-219-4859.


For more information : and


Guest Bloggers Heather Cleveland & Janie Jones



Wine Walk is Friday & Saturday, April 24-25, noon-8pm.

VIP Sip ‘n’ Savor is April 23, evening

Hood County is always a wine-lovers choice (FOUR wineries in our small county!), but never more than during the Granbury Wine Walk. While you can stroll downtown Granbury with your favorite Merlot in hand any day, only during the Granbury Wine Walk can you walk to as many as twenty participating Texas wineries! The sixth annual Granbury Wine Walk is the place to experience the authentic character of Texas through its wine, food, music and art.

The Granbury Wine Walk kicks off Friday, April 24, and again, Saturday, April 25, noon-8pm each day. Wine Walkers can enjoy live local music at clusters of booths, each cluster offering Texas flavors in wine, food and art. The community gets into the spirit, as well! Lake Granbury Art Association is hosting a silent art auction benefitting their organization; and the respected Rio Brazos Art Exhibition, a nationally juried art show, is in full swing at the Langdon Center. Visit the show and vote for your favorite in the popular People’s Choice Award. Be sure and look for the Emerging Artists booth, a program supported by Tarleton State University and the Granbury Wine Walk.

The celebration begins with the prominent “Sip & Savor” VIP event on Thursday evening, April 23. Attendees enjoy a taste of Texas with hors d’oeuvres from North Texas’ favorite celebrity chefs paired with carefully selected wines from wineries at the Wine Walk. Look at VIP under the “Events” tab on the Wine Walk website for more information about this premier event!


For tickets and information

An HGMA Granbury Christmas

You still have time to experience the magic of Christmas on the historic square.  The shopping is fantastic, stores and restaurants throughout the Culinary and Historical  Districts are  open later than normal hours.  Leave the hustle and bustle of the big city or,  stay local and support the Historic Granbury Downtown Merchants.  Most shops do complimentary gift wrapping.  Merry Christmas from the Historic Granbury Merchants Association.

A Granbury Christmas

Click Here For A Christmas In Granbury 2014


Harvest Moon Festival Epiloge & Photos

October 20, 2014
Posted By Scott Young
President HGMA

OK, stick a fork in it!  It’s done – one of the biggest festival weekends in a long time in G’Town.  It’s history!

Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts, featured 42 fine artists from around the country and a fabulous market place of vendors.  B I G, Balloons in Granbury, featured 10 balloons which flew Saturday and Sunday morning and tethered on Friday night and did a candle glow and balloon glow Saturday night.  There was Jazz on the Green at the Langdon Centre. There was the Granbury Arts Alliance event in Celebration Hall with a very creative silent auction of various created moons to raise funds for the Alliance. Granbury Live played to a packed House Saturday night. Incredible music on the Court House Square Stage featured Aurora Bleu and Michael and Alicia Alexander, both Granbury favorites. 

The Square looked festive decorated for fall, filled with festival tents and throngs of people.  It was great people and dog watching. The merchants on the Square are stocked with fall and Holiday fashions, decor and gifts. Our restaurants are all happening places for everything from watching college football to fine dining! 

Huge crowds on and around the Square and airport enjoyed themselves, bought art, ate wonderful festival food and listened to great music.  Were you there?  Send us your pictures! or use (hashtag) #GranburyHarvestMoon.  We’d like to share them.

Closing out an amazing October, HGMA sponsors Trick or Treat on the Square Halloween Day from 3:00 – 5:00.  Bring the kids and trick or treat !!!!

Thank you for an incredible turnout and we are already planning to make it better next year!  Congratulations to the 2014 Juried Artist Winners! 

Scott Young
President Historic Granbury Merchants Association

Click Photo To Enlarge

Ghosts and Mystery Make Granbury the Place to Be in October!

October 1, 2014
By Brandy Herr 
Guest Blogger and Author of Haunted Granbury

When you walk Granbury’s downtown square, especially when you feel the nip of October chill in the air, it’s impossible not to believe in the legends and ghost stories that haunt the historic buildings.  This Old West town is rife with intrigue and mystery.  You can have a stay at the Nutt House Hotel, where former owner Mary Lou still checks on her guests, years after she herself has been gone.  You can catch a production at the Granbury Opera House, where presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth is believed to still perform from time to time, having moved to Granbury after faking his death.  Another cheater of death is believed to be buried at the Granbury Cemetery, where you can visit the grave of the infamous Jesse James.

The history and mystery of Granbury has become so renowned, it spawned a weekly tour dedicated to the past residents of the town that just don’t want to leave.  The Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour, named one of the seven best ghost tours in the country by Frommer’s Travel Guides, takes guests on an hour-long walking tour around the square and shares with them the spooky tales that surround the town.  Tours are Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 and 9:15.  Ticket prices are $10 per adult, $7 for children 12 and under.  The Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour runs year-round.

For visitors that can’t get enough of Granbury’s spooky history, they can also take the Last Mile Cemetery Tour on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:45.  This is an hour-long walking tour through the Granbury Cemetery by flashlight where we visit the graves of many of Granbury’s founders and celebrities.  Reservations are required for the Last Mile Cemetery Tour, as the tour is subject to availability. For information on both tours, visit

The success of the Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour inspired tour co-founder Brandy Herr to pen a book, titled Haunted Granbury, released in February 2014 by The History Press.  The book tells of many of the known ghost stories found throughout the square, but adds a more in-depth look, with Herr sharing her personal experiences as a ghost hunter investigating the square.  In the book, you will also find more personal eyewitness accounts from people who have worked on the square throughout the years and have experienced strange happenings themselves.  Haunted Granbury is sold at several shops throughout the square, including Artefactz, the Nutt House Shoppes, and Spellbound.  You can also find it available on Amazon and all other major online retailers, and it is available as an e-book. 

Like the Facebook page at for updates and news on author appearances.

For the traveler that wants to make sure they get the most ghostly bang for their buck, you can now purchase a Granbury Ghostly Getaway, an all-inclusive Granbury vacation package that hits many of the haunted hot spots around town.  There are several different package options to choose from, depending on when and how long you will stay.  For more information about booking a Granbury Ghostly Getaway, contact the Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour.

This October, Granbury is becoming a one-stop-shop for Halloween.  Along with the Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour, there are a few events you might want to check out.  On October 25, dog lovers can join us for Bow Wow Trick or Treat at Shanley Park, just off the square.  This fundraiser for Hood County Animal Lovers Organization (HALO) and Second Chance Farm will bring a Halloween carnival to the dogs, complete with trick-or-treating for dog treats. 

Like the Facebook page at for more information.

If a really healthy dose of Halloween fright is what you are looking for, don’t miss the first annual GranScary, a haunted house at the Hood County Reunion Grounds to benefit the United Way’s partner agencies.  This year will benefit Hood County Christmas for children.  Not only will GranScary host a haunted house that is not for the faint of heart, but there will also be an alcohol-free nightclub with games and music, hay rides, and a ghostly tram ride through the Granbury Cemetery.  Tickets for the entire attraction will be $20 per person.  For more information,

Like the Facebook page at

There is also a public Trick or Treat around the square.  October 31 from 3-5. 

Wait Until Dark  a suspense THRILLER Presented by Granbury Theatre Company at the Opera House

Granbury is the place to be this October for spooky fun.  If a tingle in the spine is what you are looking for, look no further.  The historic downtown square is the perfect setting for thrills and chills.  So, as you walk the square, and you feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck, just ask yourself one thing: is that really just the chilly October air? 

granbury ghosts. granbury square,


_© Copyright 2011 HGMA  |   website design by Klemer Creative