The Early Texas Showcase returns for its second year Friday through Sunday at the Early City Park, and a few changes can be expected to go along with the traditional family fun and excitement the event has provided since its original inception as Pioneer Days.
The rodeo spirit is always alive and well in Central Texas, and both adults and kiddos will have the opportunity to show off their skills as Goat Ropin' and Mutton Bustin' make their debuts this year. Goat Ropin' is slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday as adults attempt to lasso a goat released from a cage. Mutton Bustin' is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday as kids will attempt to ride a sheep for as long as they can.
The local softball and baseball traditions in the area are also strong, and an Alumni Softball tournament — open to any males or females who graduated from Brown County schools — will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday. Meanwhile, the Connelly Softball Tournament and MC Bank Baseball Tournament will be going on all weekend with games slated from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Also new this year, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday a shuttle service will be provided from the parking lot to the main entrance at Early City Park. After 5 p.m., the shuttle service will extend from Heartland Mall to the gates of Early City Park. Streets will be blocked from Early Boulevard to Northline, and residents who live in the vicinity of the park will be traveling down Old Comanche Road.
Occurring this year as well will be a horseshoe tournament from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, a cornhole tournament from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and a washer tournament from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The highlight of the weekend takes place Saturday night on the Bruner Auto Group and Big Country Chevy Dealers Stage, where Texas Country artists Stoney LaRue and Bri Bagwell will serve as the headline musical acts for the 2019 Early Texas Showcase.
LaRue, who has sold more than one million albums and singles in his career, will take the stage at 10 p.m.
“You have to be willing to live it. That’s the only way to make it, and the way that I’ve made it,” LaRue said on his official website in regard to the longevity of his career, which began in 2002. “But I’m not haphazard in what I’m writing or singing anymore. I’m more focused and looking ahead to what I want to achieve.”
Bagwell, who has a new album entitled “In My Defense,” is a six-time winner of the Texas Female Vocalist of the Year and will open Saturday's concert at 8 p.m.
“I am so proud of the record we have created, no matter how cliche that sounds,” Bagwell said on her official website of her new album. “I have put everything I have, and every dollar to my name into creating this record for myself and my fans. I truly believe it is the best record I have ever released, and the pressure I felt to create something great pushed me to the max. I embraced it. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. (Producer) Rachel (Loy) and I spent countless hours, concentrating and obsessing over every lyric, every melody... we tore apart and reconstructed anything necessary to make sure everything was exactly what the song truly needed. I think you can feel the work we put in when you listen to it.”
Concert gates open at 6 p.m., with the tailgate area opening at 5 p.m., and the South Park Medical Plaza Fireworks Show will follow the concert at 11:45 p.m. There will be shuttle service from Heartland Mall to the Early City Park beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Additional Early Texas Showcase favorites returning include:
• The Republic Field Service BBQ Cook-Off has a registration time of noon to 6 p.m. Friday, with a chef's choice judging at 7 p.m. and hot sauce judging at 8 p.m. Then on Saturday, bean judging is at 11 a.m., chicken judging at noon, ribs judging at 1 p.m., brisket judging at 2 p.m., kid's chef's choice at 3 p.m. and awards will be presented at 4 p.m.
• The 5-K run will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, with registration and packet pick up from 7 to 7:45 a.m.
• The United Supermarkets Food Court and Vendors Row will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
• Andy's Pest Troopers Day Stage will feature karaoke from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, while local musical acts will take the stage from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.