Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 4, 2012

Top 20 ‘Rites of Passage’ for growing up in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville residents Whitney Graham Carter, Foster Carter and Ben Peacock compiled this list hoping you will use this as a checklist in order to remember to experience and share these really important ‘local’ things with your family; the things that kids from the ‘big city’ will never know; the things that make us really special; the free life lessons that make us who we are as adults who were raised in the best place in the world: Jacksonville.

1) Attend the Tomato Fest

Tip: Enter one of many  tomato eating, peeling, throwing contests, or enter to win the title of Tomato Queen.   A title from one of these events may not be appropriate for your resume, but it sure brings a good laugh as an adult shared with friends.  

2) Attend Christmas Parade Downtown or any number of downtown events

Tip:  Get there early to get a front row view of the decorated floats and a good spot to grab candy as its thrown into the crowd.

 3) Attend the Tops in Texas Rodeo

Tip: Sit as close as possible, this is as real as rodeo gets.

Forget going to The Houston Livestock show and rodeo; there you’ll never feel the dirt on your skin.  See  and hear country music legends up close and personal like Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Lee Greenwood, hometown girl Lee Ann Womack, hometown guy Neil McCoy and many more.


4) Watch the 4th of July Fireworks Show at Lake Jacksonville

Tip:  Get there early enough to get a good spot near concession stands, and look for local legend State Senator Robert Nichol’s fireworks show just to the right of the concession stands. It is so fantastic it rivals the city show.  

5) Enjoy the Jacksonville Athletic Complex

Tip:  Don’t miss the opening day of games at the baseball complex on Byrd Road.  Enroll your kids in little leaque…any sport…and they will thank you for it.


6) Learn to Fish

Baiting a hook is something that most ‘big city kids’ will never learn how to do, but it always comes in handy.

Tip:  Spend a day at the Neches River, Lake Jacksonville, or find a friend with a pond. Bait a hook, cast away, or drop in a cane pole.  Experience what East Texas peacefulness is all about as you watch the little red and white bobber dunk.  Now the trick is to find someone to clean’em.  Nothing tastes better than fresh fish, and best of all its free.


7) We are what we eat. Eat fresh veggies, straight from a farm

Not from a can.

Tip:  Visit any one of several roadside vegetable stands, or plant a garden. Kids in Houston and Dallas should be so lucky as to be a real Jacksonville, Texan, You  have to get your hands dirty: red dirt dirty.  

  8) Picnic at Love's Lookout

You can see for 30 miles in the distance.

Tip:  Sunrise breakfasts or sunset dinners with family or impress a date. Right off Hwy 69 N, this historical site is an East Texas treasure, free, and open to the public

9) Attend Jacksonville High School graduation at the Tomato Bowl

Tip: Wear something cool and listen closely to the speeches from the valedictorian, salutatorian, and teachers. Some really smart kids graduate from JHS each year and go off into the world to do amazing things.  Be proud to be a JHS graduate.

10) Visit the Fire Station Manger in December

Gaze up at the "big bright star" and feel like a kid again.  

Tip:  We wouldn’t be a proper ‘Bible-Belt’ Southern small-town if we didn’t mention how special it is to experience a Christmas Eve Midnight Church Service in Jacksonville.  Choose from any of the local churches.

11) Play a school sport, cheer, dance, or play an instrument and become a Jacksonville Indian or Maiden.

Tip:  Teamwork builds great adults and the fondest of memories.

12) Call Time and Temperature 903-586-0884 OR Let’s Talk-903-586-7771

Tip:  Teach the kids how to dial the phone by calling Time and Temperature and you won’t annoy the relatives.  Teach them how to call ‘Let’s Talk,’ great entertainment for the whole family as the children hear their voices on live radio; and buy or sell something while you’re at it.

13) Drive around to look at the  Christmas light displays

Tip:  Make it an annual tradition to tour the city’s lights with your family and pick your favorites.  Christmas lights are way more creative in a small town.

14) Play at Buckner Park as a kid OR an adult.

Tip:  Slide down the big red slide.  Even more fun as an adult, play a game of pick-up basketball, enjoy the vintage playground equipment, concrete tunnels, red bridge, host a family reunion under the pavilion, play Sunday afternoon soccer or cool off in the pool during summer.

15) Attend a JHS Football Game and learn why football is bigger and better in Texas.

Tip:  Learn what the ‘funky beat’ is, and see the famous ‘Flaming J.'

16) Eat a piece or a whole Lemon Icebox pie from the local, 5th generation restaurant, Sadler’s Kitchen.

Tip:  Ask for a frozen slice.

17) Visit the Jacksonville Candy Company

Tip:  Call ahead (903-586-8334) to find out when the first run of peanut patties and Holcomb special bars will be made, you must eat one hot off the presses.

18) Tour the Basket Factory and see what 'made in the USA'  is all about

Tip:  We used to manufacture lots of things here in Jacksonville and we need to cherish what is still being made here.  Keeping jobs here and growing a better economy  starts with teaching our kids about buying power and what it means to make something from nothing.  

19) Learn the importance of saying ‘Yes ma’am' or  'No ma’am.’

Tip:  always say, ‘please' and 'thank you.'  Learning and using respectful words from parents goes almost as far as an education.

20) Take a Drive on 175 toward Frankston during the early fall season, when leaves just start to change colors.

Tip:  This drive can be quite spiritual.   Take a family photo to commemorate the yearly occasion.