I was sitting at my desk last week feeling generally listless as usual in my daily grind as an office receptionist, when I felt that old familiar wave of undeniable inspiration overtake me.
We all have these moments in life where we feel as if we must do something out of the ordinary as soon as possible or risk going completely mad.
Usually I use a bit of creative writing to get the neurons firing again and feel satisfied enough to get back to life as usual, but not this time.
Ever since I moved to Waxahachie last year, right after graduation from Texas A&M, I drive home every day from work passing the offices of our local paper The Daily Light.
I am frequently struck by a comment one of my professors made to me about how I must do something significant in my life with the insatiable passion I have for writing. So, high on whimsy, I called their office and asked to talk to Editor Neal White. I plead my case as persuasively as I could and, although he is one of the most serious men I have ever met, I think he genuinely appreciated my unabashed, idealistic enthusiasm.
So I dropped my portfolio off at his office that day and called him back the following day to further show off my persistence. To my ever so pleasant surprise he took a chance on offering this crazy kid a real shot at professional writing.
My first assignment: report on a wine tasting event in downtown Waxahachie. The only drawback: no drinking on assignment.
What follows is the true account of how a plucky college grad never knew she could have so much sober fun at a wine tasting event in downtown Waxahachie.
The Sip ‘N Stroll event this past Saturday was a leisurely delightful way to spend an evening out on the town. Finished off with a 1950’s style classic car show, and you’ve got yourself quite a flavorful bite of our tasty little town.
This event was hosted by seven different downtown retail shops including: Plain Jane and Co., Hodgepodge, Mosaic Madness, T. Barrisford, SoCo Depot, The Dove’s Nest, Old Town Village, Check it Out and Crooked Creek Farms. These vendors offered wine samplings from two Texas wineries: Messinahoff and Miranda Lambert’s 55 Red (the Texas part was essential, said event coordinator Amy Hollywood).
I got a chance to sit down with Waxahachie’s Downtown Development Director Anita Williamson who shared a bit of background on how this event came to fruition.
“The origin of the Sip ‘N Stroll was an idea realized by Plain Jane and Co. owner Amber Caverly, who contacted local merchant Shane Henry of Crooked Creek Farms. They brought the crux of their plan to The Downtown Merchants Association and the rest is history,” Anita explained.
“Amber coordinated an event like this at her other store location in Rockwall and just loved it. It’s a really good way to get people out and about in the downtown stores to support local merchants.”
So she thought, why not Waxahachie?
Why not in deed.
The modest projection of wristband expectations agreed upon by the board was 300, these were sold out within two hours.
“We just had to give it a rough estimate and judging from past events we’d have been happy to sell 150,” Anita said.
Anita’s co-coordinator, city of Waxahachie Community Relations Director Amy Hollywood added, “Honestly, I think people in Waxahachie just love to get out of the house and do something fun downtown.”
I could tell from the street ambiance there was a lot of truth in Amy’s statement as I sipped my bottled water and strolled over to the classic car show that was setting up as the evening cooled down.
There I was greeted by local classic car aficionado and philanthropist Mike Mclain, founder of the Cool Cars of Waxahachie organization. He informed me there is actually two organizations involved in these shows, the other being Midlothian Classic Cars.
“We have a lot of fun together showing off cars and raising money for a variety of children charities, such as St. Jude’s Hospital, Presbyterian Children’s Home of Waxahachie and The Midlothian Mission which sponsors an after-school program for children of low-income families.”
They just raised over $5,000 dedicated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital the week before at one of their biggest annual gatherings in Midlothian.
“We’re just a bunch of friends who like to get together, talk about cars and try to do some good for the community.”
Afterwards, while snapping some flashy photos of the neon attractions, I saw a family of four enjoying the festivities. The parents were finishing up some Messinihoff cabernet from their Sip ‘N Stroll souvenir plastic wine glasses while their boys were admiring the antiquated scenery.
I asked Lisa Wooldridge, part-time substitute teacher and new Waxahachie resident, what was her favorite part about coming out to the event?
“Well, we usually go to the Bishop Arts District for their frequent wine tastings but we’re seeing that these little shops are pretty cool and less expensive compared to Dallas — and its more family-oriented. Plus we save on gas, so its all been pretty fun and cost-efficient.”
So I guess all things considered, this thing turned out to be a success, I commented as I wrapped up with Anita before leaving.
“Yeah, beyond our wildest expectations!” she told me.
Amy gleefully chimed in, “We’ll just be sure to bring more wristbands next time.”
Anita concluded with one the biggest smiles I’d seen all day during an evening filled with smiles.
Aspiring journalist Jessica Watkins is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University and a resident of Waxahachie.