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Caprock Canyons State Park to Host Bison Celebration Days
Asleep at the Wheel Concert to Culminate Sept. 14-16 Festivities
QUITAQUE – An outdoor classroom field day, living history encampments, a benefit barbecue lunch and a Sunday afternoon performance by Texas’ own Grammy Award-winning Asleep at the Wheel will highlight the second annual Texas State Bison Celebration Days at Caprock Canyons State Park.
The three-day event is being held to raise funds to help continue restoration of the Texas State Bison Herd to its historic range within Caprock Canyon State Park and to allow visitors an opportunity to learn about the natural and cultural heritage of 19th century Panhandle history. The celebration allows park visitors to view up close the descendants of the great Southern Plains bison herd that once swarmed the Great Plains. Regular park entry fees will apply.
The celebration kicks off Friday, Sept. 14, with an educational field day for area school children who will learn about Native American life, Buffalo Soldiers, the lives of pioneer women and the state’s 19th century ranching history.
On Saturday, the public can see and photograph the semi-free-ranging descendants of Panhandle pioneer rancher Charles Goodnight’s JA Ranch bison herd saved from extinction in the late 1800s when millions of native bison were slaughtered for meat, hides and horns. Bison Celebration Day also will feature living history encampments, a geocache challenge, and a benefit barbecue lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. along with vendor exhibits in the nearby town of Quitaque.
During the celebration, visitors will be able to donate directly to the Texas State Bison Herd Restoration project or purchase merchandise to support prairie restoration efforts. Donations can be made online by visiting www.caprockpartnersfoundation.com or by calling (806) 455-1441.
On Sunday, legendary Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel will play a Buffalo Boogie Benefit Concert at 2 p.m. in a meadow on FM 1065 three miles north of Quitaque and half a mile south of the state park entrance. Tickets for the show can be purchased for $20 in advance by calling the state park at (806) 455-1492 or for $25 at the door the day of the show. There is no seating, so bring chairs and blankets.
Roughly a year ago, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department released the iconic state bison herd from a 300-acre area of Caprock Canyons State Park to roam more than 700 acres of restored native grass prairie near the Visitor Center and Theo Lake to make them more accessible to the public.
“From day one when we let the bison out, they’ve handled themselves perfectly and 99 percent of the people have shown respect for the animals,” says park superintendent Donald Beard. “Every single aspect of the first phase, other than the park needing more rain, has been positive.”
Beard says the ultimate goal of the bison project, which depends on adequate funding, is the restoration of the herd to the remainder of the state park’s 15,000-acres, once part of the herd’s historical range. A $65,000 grant from the Turner Foundation and monies generated from the upcoming fundraiser help the park buy needed equipment and fencing materials, and eliminate invasive trees and brush to make way for native prairie grass seeding.
The Goodnight Herd was one of the five foundation herds that supplied stock to save the American bison from extinction and was the only established Southern Plains bison herd. Caprock Canyons bison are the last descendants of the herd that supplied wild stock for Yellowstone National Park and some of the nation’s largest zoos and ranches.
Caprock Canyons State Park is located about 50 miles northeast of Plainview on FM 1065 approximately 4 miles north of State Highway 86. For more information, call (806) 455-1492 or visit the TPWD Website.
Editors: For downloadable j-peg images of bison and the park, please visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=pom_caprock_canyons_sp and http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=ie_caprock_canyons_sp.
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