The Bluebonnet Trails are back, after a COVID setback
Since 1951, the Bluebonnet Trails have been accessible to the public, and they have returned this year in the city of Ennis after being put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrating its 69th year, the four-week trail event is led by the Ennis Garden Club in partnership with the city of Ennis. Every year, excluding last year, the Garden Club will drive the trails to check the bloom status each week starting in April.
This event began on Thursday, April 1, and will go until April 30.
“So when visitors come in, mostly now they’re wanting a bluebonnet map. On here, there are websites where people go to get information about the bluebonnets trails, frequently asked questions,” said Gina Rokas, the tourism director for the city of Ennis. “The trails every year kind of are the same, but where they bloom differs. So what we do is we go out, either me or the Garden Club chairman, will drive the trails ahead of time and go out and scout out where all the best areas are for the day of the visit. Estimated peak for Ennis will be about the third week of April; we’re about two or three weeks away from full bloom. The roadsides are going to come out first, because that’s the heat of the cars. We have trail signs that are put out on a state road; not every road will have a trail sign, but just to kind of get people started. I do written instructions, very detailed on how to drive the trails.”
While the wildflowers are in bloom throughout April, the annual Bluebonnet festival will take place the third weekend of the month, April 16-18.
The festival will also be celebrating its 69th year, with more than 50 vendors present.
"People were disappointed last year, and last year in addition to cancelling the festival, we didn’t even publish the trails. At that time we were under 'stay safe, stay home' by the governor, so we didn’t encourage any visitors to Ennis," shared Ashley Colunga, marketing director for the city of Ennis. "It was incredibly disappointing. This is – especially for our businesses and our downtowns – this is bigger than Christmas. So it was devastating to not be able to do this last year. There were no complaints, there were no pushbacks, everybody understood. In April last year, we were really in the thick of everything.. So when we announced we were coming back this year, people were thrilled.The trails are an amazing way to enjoy nature and be with your family, and it is completely socially distanced."
This year, three bands will play throughout the three days, with masks encouraged but not required.
The headliners are: Le Freak – to play on Friday; Infinite Journey – a journey cover band to play on Saturday; and the Spazmatics to play on Sunday, according to Colunga,
“It started out as like a couple of ladies making sandwiches and knitting crafts, and that was the festival. That was 69 years ago, and now it’s grown into this massive three-day thing with tons of people," Colunga said.
Additionally, the Ennis Welcome Center has many maps available of the Bluebonnet Trails for the public to access. The west trails are mostly filled with Ennis parks. The city recommends people to take pictures in and of them in the parks, opposed to the driving trails, such as the north and east trails. The driving trails are primarily for driving and enjoying the scenery, according to Rokas.
“One of the biggest education when somebody comes in is, they’ll come in and they’ll Google images of Ennis from all these years in the past, and there’s incredible fields from 2012, 2018. It doesn’t really matter what happens in the past; every year is different," Rokas said.
The map can also take visitors to see the longhorns and horses residing in the fields.
Folks can access the trails online at https://www.bluebonnettrail.org/ or through the Ennis Y'all App.
Before people go out to see the bluebonnets, they can access the new Bluebonnet Spirit Shop, filled with Bluebonnet T-shirts and additional merchandise, located on W. Knox St., a few doors down from the Ennis Welcome Center.
In addition to the return of the bluebonnets, the Bluebonnet Market is resuming its season on Saturday, April 3, going through October. The farmers market is located on 100 N. Dallas St. and will go from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Saturday.
To learn more about the market, visit https://ennistx.com/choose-ennis/farmers-market .