The 39th annual Gingerbread Trail held this weekend offered Waxahachie a chance to do what it does best — show off its history.
The Trail continues today with tickets available at participating homes and the Ellis County Museum.
From the Ellis County Courthouse and the Ellis County Museum to Chautauqua Auditorium in Getzendaner Park and five historical homes, folks from Waxahachie, Ellis County and even visitors from afar had the opportunity to tour locations that truly embody the proud heritage of Waxahachie.
Although the annual event officially kicked off on Saturday morning, the Ellis County Art Association began the Paint Historic Waxahachie event on Thursday, May 24. Paint Historic Waxahachie encouraged plein aire landscape artists to take their work outdoors and paint the various historical structures in Waxahachie. The association hosted the first plein aire, or paint out, event last year.
“The artists have been painting all week long,” said Betty King with the Ellis County Art Association.
“We’ve been painting in the rain and in our cars,” said Ramona Murphy, Ellis County Art Association volunteer, commenting on the rainy weather Waxahachie has experienced during the event. However, the event produced a variety of artwork, which was scheduled to be on display Saturday evening and open to the public for purchase through 5 p.m. Sunday.
“This has really pulled a lot of people in plein aire is becoming a lot more popular,” Murphy said. “We had a lot more participation this year than last year, so we were really pleased.”
The association encouraged each artist to complete three paintings during the 10-day period. The painters joined vendors with the Farmers Market early Saturday morning, beginning a 90-minute “quick draw” at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Waxahachie. Following the quick draw county commissioner Heath Sims immediately auctioned the paintings on the courthouse grounds.
Although a similar quick draw event was held last year, the Farmers Market was not on site at the time. This year offered the painters a variety of subjects, including flowers, vending booths, fresh vegetables, and of course the historic courthouse and buildings in the downtown area.
“It added new things to paint for quick draw,” Murphy said.
“It’s been fun to participate in,” King said.
The association hosted a reception, exhibition and sale Saturday at the Chautauqua Auditorium and invites the public to an exhibition and sale from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Chautauqua Auditorium. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of artwork benefits the Ellis County Art Association.
Along with painters and Farmers Market vendors, antique and classic automobile enthusiasts parked their own version of artwork around the courthouse. People of all ages took the time to walk around the cars, inspecting the paint jobs, complimenting the interior work and smiling enviously at the refurbished engines under the hoods.
Mike Payton, who lives just south of Waxahachie, brought his “Hawaiian Orchid” 1949 Oldsmobile Club Sedan to the square, complete with new interior in black and purple, or as close to Hawaiian Orchid as possible.
“I’ve had it about four years and I started working on the project about a year and a half ago,” Payton said.
Payton said the car’s original color was gray, but he decided to give the car a more appropriate color.
“This is supposed to be a 50s style hotrod — radical colors were popular in the 50s,” Payton said.
The beneficiary of all proceeds of the Gingerbread Trails event, the Ellis County Museum, was busy with more visitors than usual, with people in the downtown area taking the time to walk through the museum.
“It’s busier here than it typically is,” said curator Shannon Simpson.
The event serves as a time for Ellis County residents to quickly research the history of the county simply by walking around the museum.
“It gives you an idea of what has gone on in this county — it has a rich history. The combination of cotton and the railroad is a direct contributor to the Victorian homes and our courthouse. We have quite a few things related to cotton and the railroad,” Simpson said. “Now, people don’t have a clue why we have so many commercial and residential structures that have survived.”
The museum has displays dating back to the time that Waxahachie was founded as the Ellis County seat, December of 1948, through the World War II era in the 1940s. The museum also has American Indian artifacts from the 18th century.
Joe Smith, co-chair of this year’s Gingerbread Trail, led shuttle tours that traveled from downtown, to the homes and to Getzendaner Park. Along the way, he shared facts about the stops on the trail, as well as entertaining passengers with a few fictional tidbits.
The five homes on the tour, which included the Yates home, Young home, Smith Home and Cross home, all located on the 900 block of W. Main St., and the Parks-Spalding home on Hawkins, had constant lines for the majority of the day Saturday. People flocked from house to house on Main, with cars lining both sides of the streets for blocks. People shuttled, drove or took a leisurely stroll to the Parks-Spalding home.
“The home will be 150 years old this year,” Karen Nichols said of the Parks-Spalding home. “This is where Peggy Spalding’s family started out.”
The home, a single-story cottage, is considered to be one of, if not the oldest, surviving residential structures in Waxahachie.
The one-bedroom cottage, owned by Peggy Spalding, was built by Spalding’s great-great-grandfather Capt. William Woodruff Parks, and passed down through the generations. Spalding decorated the cottage with items passed down in her family, as well as items donated by the Ellis County Museum specifically for the tour.
David and Pat Smith’s home, located at 905 W. Main St., was featured on the tour for the first time this year and the Smiths added a little extra flair with young women dressed in Victorian attire helping give tours to the visitors.
“The house has not been on any tour and we’ve never been on a tour as owners,” David said. “It’s been great — it’s been a lot of fun.”
“We love it — it’s been fun. Everyone has been so complimentary,” Pat said. “People are very pleasant.”
Out at Getzendaner Park, arts and crafts vendors settled in for a pleasant Saturday under the park’s shady trees.
“Nice folks, nice place and there’s sunshine,” Terry Cashion said.
Terry and Paula Cashion of Cleburne brought their Cashion’s Crafts booth to the arts and crafts fair and were very impressed with the efforts of the Gingerbread Trail committee to make the vendors as comfortable as possible. Sawdust was spread on the ground, decreasing mud production by foot traffic.
“They’ve gone out of their way to make sure everything is as nice as possible,” Paula said. “We’ve encountered nice people that were helpful.”
The Cashions’ booth featured various etched glass items, from champagne glasses to mugs and platters. The Cashions joined other vendors selling various crafts, such as necklaces, candles, home and garden d/cor. Food vendors served everyone’s favorite summertime treats — snow cones, kettle corn, corndogs, funnel cakes and lemonade.
The 39th annual Gingerbread Trail continues today, with homes open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and the arts and crafts fair open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
E-mail Mandy at firstname.lastname@example.org.