In 2009, the Texas Legislature recognized the significance of the state’s earliest paved roadways by establishing the Texas Historic Roads and Highways Program. To develop the untapped heritage tourism potential of these roads, the Heritage Tourism Program selected three cities along the route of the Historic Bankhead Highway—Big Spring, Weatherford, and Mount Vernon—in which to conduct a pilot series of heritage tourism product development workshops in 2015. The workshops brought together city representatives, cultural leaders, business owners, and other community stakeholders to create a variety of new tours, exhibits, films, festivals, classic car rallies, and cultural demonstrations in celebration of their shared Bankhead Highway legacy.
The City of Weatherford developed a Bankhead themed event entitled Stray Days. Conceived as a revived open-air market, the event recreates the original “Stray Days” meeting-in-the-square of farmers, ranchers, and townsfolk in early 19th century Weatherford. The annual event takes place in all four quadrants of the Parker County Courthouse square with each quadrant representing a different 20-year segment of Weatherford community history.
Stray Days activities include food and craft vendors, expositions of downtown businesses, short historical plays that recount the Bankhead Highway’s impact on Weatherford (produced by local historians and Theatre Off the Square theatre company), Bankhead Highway era musical performances, a classic car show, and horse-drawn carriage rides to illustrate local transportation during the pre-Bankhead period. Stray Days’ evening activities include the collaborative efforts of local restaurants who convert their businesses into speakeasy themed eateries for some Bankhead themed revelry!
The Weatherford Public Works and Planning Departments developed signs to be installed across the original Bankhead Highway route in Parker County. These colorful signs incorporate the Bankhead Highway’s historic blaze. The blaze was originally painted on telephone and electrical poles along the entire national route, but was replaced when the federal government adopted a numbered highway system and re-designated the Bankhead Highway as State Highway 1. The City of Weatherford combines both names in their sign designs and fabricate signage to meet the standards for Parker County and the City of Weatherford right-of-way jurisdictions.
Please browse the gallery below to see more imagery captured during the Stray Days festival.
Click on any image to view the photo gallery.