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South Texas Living

Lonesome Dove Fest offers fun for all ages in Karnes City

Lonesome Dove Fest offers fun for all ages in Karnes City
Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy will be at the fest.

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September 19, 2012
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KARNES CITY -- The Karnes City Rotary Club’s Lonesome Dove Fest will celebrate 20 years of family fun and philanthropic success this Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 20-22, by providing something for everyone during the annual event at the Karnes County Youth Show Barn grounds on U.S. 181 between Karnes City and Kenedy.

The Lonesome Dove Fest has grown from a gathering of dove hunters in a Coy City hay patch to an event recently described as the “South Texas Expo” by former Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Education Coordinator Steve Hall. As many as 8,000 hunters and their families attend the festival each year to enjoy activities that cater to all wildlife enthusiasts in South Texas.

“The showing of support for this event is to benefit the youth in our area and continues to grow each year,” said Charlie Thompson, chairman of the festival. “Not only are people coming to have a good time, but an increasing number of them are asking to donate, sponsor an event, or just be part of this effort. Having a family-oriented event with a lot of people working together is what the Lonesome Dove Fest is all about.”

The annual festival that combines education, outdoors activities, and entertainment will also feature a sanctioned barbecue cook-off on Saturday, as teams prepare brisket, beans, chicken, and ribs on some of the most elaborate outdoor grills and cookers in the state. This will be the second year of this sanctioned event.

Also in its second year will be the Black Gold Shootout scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. The shootout will consist of a five-member, five-stand clay target competition between representatives of companies related to the oil and gas operations that have moved into the area. The winning team will earn bragging rights as the “Top Guns” of the county and a traveling trophy. The head-to-head matchups will also help raise a big chunk of cash for the Karnes County Rotary Club charity fund. Some of the uses of these funds have included helping to purchase Jaws of Life equipment for emergency medical services crews; construction of Little League fields; and Christmas gifts to needy children.

The fun continues Friday with a youth day that offers educational mini-seminars on a variety of different topics to more than 300 high school youngsters from area schools. Outdoor skills; game laws and wildlife identification; hunters’ education; and shooting safety instruction are just a few of the learning opportunities presented to the students. Returning again this year will be John Karger of the Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy in San Antonio. Karger and his crew conduct hundreds of educational programs each year about the graceful and efficient aerial predators.

Funds from the main events of the Lonesome Dove Fest have allowed the Rotary to award 12 scholarships to seniors from each of Karnes County’s four high schools, including two scholarships specifically dedicated to vocational students.

The public events at the youth day will start at 5 p.m. on Friday. Food and merchandise vendors will operate booths and there will be bounce castles and other kids’ events. For the adults, beer and other beverages will be sold under a 14,400-square-foot air-conditioned tent as a DJ and local bands provide musical entertainment. On Saturday, events start with a parade at 10 a.m. in downtown Karnes City.

One of the main attractions at the festival, a team sporting clays competition, will be held Friday from 5 p.m. until sundown, and again on Saturday from noon until sundown. The team shoot provides an opportunity for participants to compete for prizes and bragging rights and, for those interested in hunting, includes a dove hunt with area landowners. A celebrity challenge five-stand clay target event pitting the shooting skills of media members against local and state officials will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Exhibits will also be on display to entertain the kids on Saturday. In addition to the Birds of Prey exhibit, this year will feature the “Aussie Kingdom,” which includes birds, lizards, wallaroos, and wallabies, among other native Australian wildlife. A&J Snake Handlers will perform shows featuring rattlesnake showdowns. The annual Stickhorse Rodeo and Kids Camo Contest will be conducted shortly after noon on the main day of the festival. A live auction featuring a variety of sporting goods and other items will be held under the tent at 8 p.m.

Musical entertainment is always a big part of Lonesome Dove Fest. Karnes City’s very own Mark Odom and American Idol contestant John Wayne Schulz will provide live musical performances during the festival.

“This is not just for hunters,” Rotarian Randy Witte emphasized, “but for families -- for everybody!”

There will be no admission charge for the public events of the festival. For more information, visit or call Randy Witte at 830-780-3314, Benny Lyssy at 830-583-5775, or Charlie Thompson at 830-620-8815.

Event Schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 20
2-7:30 p.m. Black Gold Shootout

Friday, Sept. 21
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Youth Day
5 p.m.-midnight Fairgrounds open
5 p.m.-sundown Sporting Clays Team Shoot
8 p.m.-12 a.m. Mark Odom & Cactus Country

Saturday, Sept. 22
10 a.m. - Parade, downtown Karnes City
Noon-5 p.m. Aussie Kingdom and Snake handler events
Noon-sundown Sporting Clays Team Shoot
5-7 p.m. Emmerson Biggins
8-9 p.m. Live Auction
9 p.m.-midnight John Wayne Schulz

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