If you've ever watched both "Channels" (Discovery and History) or National Geographic, you've probably seen shows where people go out and look for rare and unique historical artifacts, which is what archaeologists call "hidden treasures." You'll probably be surprised to learn of a hidden treasure right here in Erath County, it's not King Tut's tomb or an old relic such as a bullet from an Old West gunfight so don't go get your digging tools and try to find it because doing that would be impossible.
The hidden treasure I'm speaking of is none other than Texstar Ford's Summer Concert Series at the Stephenville City Park, which is always so well attended by residents of Erath County and the surrounding areas so you're probably wondering why it would be considered "hidden" but the fact is there's a few people that still don't know about it so I thought I might give a bit of information.
In 2000, Doug Montgomery of Texstar Ford teamed up with local musician Larry Joe Taylor to produce a concert series at the park and not just any musical event but one that would bring big-name entertainers to Stephenville and I must say there has been some good ones over the years. We've been taken back to the days when the West was wild and cowboys didn't dance by Michael Martin Murphey, Grand Ole Opry star Ricky Skaggs has made our jaws drop with his lightning-fast guitar and mandolin skills, Texas songwriters such as Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker have proclaimed their love for the Lone Star State, and we've worn out the heels of our boots dancing to the Western Swing sounds of Asleep At The Wheel
Some have asked the question "if they're bringing in famous folks, how much does it cost?" You'll be surprised to know that it's absolutely free, you just come on out to the Birdsong Amphitheater, bring a chair, and kick back to get the same experience you would in Nashville or Branson at basically no cost unless you want to buy a souvenir and if you think it can't get any better, it does. The entertainers come out amongst the crowd and sign autographs, which is common at just about any concert if you're lucky enough to score a backstage pass but here at the Texstar concerts, no passes are needed because EVERYONE gets a chance to meet their favorite star.
Another good thing about this concert series is the perseverance to keep it going no matter what. When it looks like the weather is going to threaten the event, they just move it inside the Stephenville Rec Hall and when the park flooded last June, there was supposed to be a concert that night but it got postponed to a later date. I got to attend the Bellamy Brothers concert a couple of weeks ago and everything started out running smooth as butter but then it started raining, which as a musician, I've seen as a problem because at some outdoor events I've played, they shut everything down if they feel even one raindrop so I kept expecting the music to stop and Mr. Montgomery to get up on the stage and send everyone home but he didn't, folks continued to dance and the Bellamy Brothers just kept right on playing. As I witnessed this, it reminded me of 2 concerts, one I had seen on YouTube of the late Eddie Rabbitt at an outdoor show in Tennesee and Garth Brooks's Yankee Stadium concert last summer. During both shows, it started raining but the productions went on as scheduled and everyone still had a good time.
Aside from seeing and meeting famous folks, another thing that really makes the Texstar Concert Series a hit is how it brings everyone together and gives them a chance to forget about that bad day at work or that pile of bills waiting in the mailbox. As you enter the City Park, there's a chance you'll be greeted by Doug Montgomery himself and he'll probably have a smile on his face so big, you'll probably be able to see it down at Jake and Dorothy's and when the musicians hit that first note, you can look around and see frowns immediately begin to turn upside down before the vocalist even has a chance to utter one syllable of the opening song.
If you've never taken part in this area tradition, I encourage you to do so. My experience began in 2013 out of mere curiosity and now, it's not summer in Stephenville unless I attend the Texstar concerts, which are like Lay's Potato Chips because you can't go to just one, you'll want to go to as many as possible and there's a sense of community pride so strong, you don't need to be an archaeologist or alert American Pickers to experience this treasure.
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County, Texas but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.