The Peach and Melon Festival in De Leon, Texas

One of the oldest festivals in Texas….

By: Brandon Mangan

For nearly one hundred years, the first week of August has meant the same thing in De Leon, Texas.

For one, it means that thousands of pounds of watermelons are about to be devoured. Peaches too. There’s going to be a parade. Beauty pageants. Judging and auctioning of delectable desserts. Live music and dancing. A fairground full of vendors, a carnival boasting whirling rides and kaleidoscopic lights. Tractors spool and spin their tires, pulling giant sleds as their exhausts erupt with smoke. Sounds and scenes of joy in small town Texas. This bevy of attractions are part of an event that’s come to be called the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival, one of the oldest festivals in Texas, and it’s taking place from August 6th through the 10th this year. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it.

The festival has a storied history, originally taking place under the name of the “Free Fall Fair” in 1914. A few years later the town began growing watermelons commercially, only to realize that the melons the town grew were white hearted and of little value on the market. A committee was formed and a meeting was held. The town sent local resident L.B. Patterson to Weatherford to find good seed and to learn how to make it prosper. While there Mr. Patterson was invited to and later attended a social gathering centered on the slicing of copious amounts of melons. Mr. Patterson must have enjoyed himself. He was struck by it.

The experience brought him to send not one, not two, but three letters to the De Leon Free Press Editor about having a carving that year in De Leon. So, in 1922 the town had a watermelon slicing of grand proportion. Local melon growers made a deal with the City of De Leon. They’d provide the fruit if the City would get the word out about it and clean up after the event.

The rest is history.

In 1923 there were 1,000 melons set to be consumed and the town hasn’t looked back.

This year promises to build upon the past and put on the biggest festival yet. Featured food vendors this year will offer everything from brisket, donuts, to kabobs, fair classics like turkey legs and sausage on a stick. Cajun offerings will be available, as well as kettle corn, snow cones, fine mexican, afro-fusion and fire cooked pizza. There will also be boutiques and various merchants on the grounds each night.

The week begins Tuesday with pageants in three classes, culminating at 9:00 PM with the selection of the festival Queen. Wednesday brings judging of cakes, peach desserts, as well as melons and fruits. The Triple T Amusement carnival arrives, with rides beginning at 6:00 PM. That evening there’s a parade downtown (7PM), the kids tractor pull and the queen’s coronation (8:30PM), with the Cake and Melon auction taking place at 9:00 PM. Thursday the carnival begins at 6:00 PM, with an acoustic performance by famed Texas songwriter Walt Wilkins at 8:00 PM. Friday the carnival opens back up again at 6:00 PM, with the tractor pulls beginning at 7:30 PM. There will also be DJ David C and karaoke starting at 8:00 PM. 

Golden Saturday is a full day event, starting with the Watermelon Crawl 5K downtown at 7:00 AM. A Texas 42 domino tournament will be held at the City Hall auditorium at 8:00 AM. The seed spitting contest is downtown at 1:00 PM, followed by the free watermelon slicing the festival is named for taking place at 3:00 PM. That night the carnival is open again at 6:00 PM, with another night of tractor pulls beginning at 7:30 PM. Singer-songwriter Van Darian kicks off the music at 7:30, followed by Matt Hillyer of 1100 Springs and Phill Pritchett performing at 8:30 PM. The announcement of Miss De Leon rounds off the evening at 10:00 PM. The carnival sells arm bands each night, $30.00 at the grounds and $25.00 on pre-sale, available at the festival headquarters, located at 5401 Hwy 6, De Leon, TX 76444 and online at We hope to see you there!


Artist Feature/Brandon Mangan/Professional Photographer

By Sierra Dyson

Are you looking for a professional photographer in Comanche County, Texas to take your next family photos or capture your special day? Or perhaps you are an art connoisseur and enthusiast who is looking to learn more about the local artists in your area? Maybe you are just looking to hang pictures of beautiful landscapes on your wall?

Whatever the case, I encourage you to check out Brandon Mangan, an up and coming Professional photographer with a unique eye and knack for taking some of the most indescribable pictures I have ever seen. 

Brandon Mangan

Who is Brandon Mangan, you might ask? He is an extraordinary photographer and artist from Comanche, Texas. Born and raised in San Angelo, Brandon did not move to Comanche until 2014 which just so happens to be the year he began pursuing becoming a professional photographer. 

Claiming to be a sort of documentarian his entire life, Brandon states that,

“Having a camera, a notebook and the ability to use them has always been important to me.” He grew up spending a lot of time outdoors and claims, “ the weather and the landscapes I’ve seen have left a big impression on me. I feel tied to them.”

With that being said, he soon realized that he wanted to be able to capture the beauty he saw in the world in a timeless photo that would last a lifetime. With each photo he takes, Brandon tries to convey a sense of gravity and magnitude in his photos, whether they’re of people or places.

Proctor Lake, Comanche County Texas

When asked about what inspires him, Brandon replied,

“Inspiration is tricky. Most of the time it’s all around me if I’ll just take the time to open up to it. I remember when I was in college reading about John Cage and there was this quote of him saying something to the effect of if something is boring for 2 minutes, try it for 4. If it’s boring for 4, try it for 8, etc.

The point is that if you look at or think about something long enough, you’re almost bound to find something interesting about it, or in this case something that lends inspiration. It’s as much a personal mindset as it is the subject. I think the night sky is my biggest inspiration when it comes to photography, the first time I took a picture of it, I heard a little voice in the back of my head say ‘well, guess I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life’, like it was some sort of reluctant confession.” 

Taken in 2016, Brandon’s favorite creation is the photo that captured everything in nature that inspires him to pursue photography and what he talked about above. He had the idea to get a photo of the stars above a field of bluebonnets which he’d found at Proctor Lake. Brandon went out early in the wildflower season to test the idea, (He wanted the Milky Way above them but would have to wait a few weeks for a new moon,) and wound up taking what is probably his most well-known and a favorite photo.

It was a simple depiction of bluebonnets set against the night sky and it seemed to resonate with people as it was shared and seen by over 100,000 people on Facebook. Brandon even had people from other countries messaging him about it! 

When asked about his future plans and where he will go from his newfound popularity online, Brandon stated that he will,

“Go wherever the good Lord wills him.” Furthermore, he said, “I have plans and goals but I lean more on the faith that each good choice gets me closer to where I’m supposed to be. I will continue to grow my photography but the livelihood and health of my family is my driving force, they’re my biggest concern and what I shape my life around. If I can take care of that, well the rest is gravy.”

Now that you have heard a little bit more about who he is, the work he does, and what inspires him, I am sure you are dying to hear where you can go to see these photos for yourself.

Well, Brandon’s work is available for purchase and viewing online at his website and he also has a facebook page dedicated to his work Additionally, he can be contacted at for anything that can’t be found on the website, as well as for custom sizes or questions about print options and quality.

He suggests that people contact him before they buy, especially for anything they plan on putting on a wall. That way he can help them get the best fit and format for the finished product. This professional photographer is also available for custom work, from family portraits and events to photos of places that are near and dear to people. 

Are you an artist located in Comanche County and interested in being featured? CONTACT US.

NonProfit Feature/Comanche All Pets Alive

By: Sarah Childers

Our first nonprofit feature for the County is Comanche All Pets Alive, better known as CAPA. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Comanche County, Texas.  Their primary goal is to help the homeless and shelter animals in the area find forever homes or rescues and when possible, to prevent animals from entering the shelter in the first place. They are made up of 7 members that volunteer countless hours and untold amounts of personal funds in order to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome unwanted animals in Comanche County, Texas. We want to add that they do an amazing job.

Their most recent rescue involved a dog who was recently abandoned. He was found chained up, dirty, dehydrated, and terrified. Luckily, this organization was able to intervene the day before a massive heatwave came into the area with temperatures reaching upwards of triple digits.

Sadly, this is a scenario that plays out in every part of the state with the testament of just about every shelter in the state being overrun this time of year.

On a brighter note, CAPA also utilizes their platform to reunite lost pets with owners, as well as provide freedom rides to various parts of the country where animals are able to find their forever homes. These animals get to experience the fortune of going to an area in the U.S. where there are actually waiting lists for adoptions.

CAPA will also admit that one of the best parts of animal rescue is to get pictures and updates from their adopters. Check out this spoiled rotten boy. This is Scruffy, aka George. He was dumped out in the country a year ago and just look at him now! We think he is quite content.

However, Dear Reader, they can really use your help in the form of a donation, foster, or adoption right now. Every donation is tax deductible and will go towards making this world a much better place to be in. Even if you don’t have funds to donate, you can give your time in the form of fostering an animal, or even giving one a forever home. To get involved feel free to contact with the methods listed below:

Donations can also be sent via PayPal to:



In addition, we here at want to remind everyone reading this article to SPAY OR NEUTER your animals.

Do you have a nonprofit organization that services the entire County of Comanche? Are you interested in reaching close to 25,000 people? We would be honored to feature you, free of charge, here on! CONTACT US HERE

More Comanche County History, Part 3

By: Brandon Mangan

This article is continued from the previous article titled More Comanche County History, Part 2

We are picking up where we left off by visiting the community called Comyn (pronounced “COMEEN.”)

Comyn-Theney Historical Marker – 2019

Although little remains of the town that was Comyn, it was one of the first outlying communities to be established in the county after the removal of the Comanche in 1875. Here W.F. Catheney set out to make a thriving home for his family and friends, before having the town named for the man who built the railway depot. The school still bore Theney’s name. This community was neighbored by that of Jones Crossing, the birthplace of Lt. Governor Ben Barnes. Like many of the surrounding towns the area grew precipitously during the turn of the century oil boom, afterwards sharing much of the same declining fate.

Jones Crossing Historical Marker – 2019

Although the historical marker is now housed in the county museum you can still visit Jones Crossing, a place still frequented for its fishing and scenery. This river no longer needs to be forded, as a bridge was constructed in 1899. On sunny afternoons you’ll find eager anglers hanging their fishing poles from its sides.

Jones Crossing 2019

If you continue southward, you’ll find yourself crossing the bridge at Proctor Lake (which you can also find an article about on this site), named for the nearby town of Proctor.

Lake Proctor at flood level 2016

The community of Proctor began as Mooresville, named for Thomas O. Moore who moved there in 1872, with his family behind back in Galveston. After returning to Galveston to fetch his family he found them ill and partnered with his friend Alexander Watson Proctor, sending him ahead to establish a mercantile building. As there was already a Mooresville in Texas, the town was eventually named Proctor. A building was erected for a post office in 1873, followed by a community center and school in 1876. The little town was moved in the 1890’s when the new Fort Worth Railroad missed the town by a mile, with Alex Chisholm buying the site for ranchland.

Mooresville Cabin 2019

Today a relic from the original Mooresville can be explored at the Comanche County Museum. You’ll also find a historical marker detailing the life of Thomas Moore’s sister Mollie, a renowned poet, playwright and from all account’s a highly interesting woman. She also wrote what may be the most impartial history of John Wesley Hardin’s time in Comanche county.

Mollie E Moore Historical Marker 2019

So, this tour ends where it began. Although this list is far from exhaustive, I hope that it presents a few of the many reasons you may find yourself wanting to spend some time visiting Comanche County. There’s much to experience and much to learn, as well as ample opportunity to make a bit of history for yourself. Tell them I sent you!

Comanche Farmers Market

By: Sierra Dyson

Are you looking for locally sourced ingredients for your next dinner or maybe some goats milk soap that in my opinion is absolutely divine? What about farm fresh eggs? Then you really need to get down and visit the Comanche Farmers Market.

Located at 101 West Central Comanche, Texas, the Comanche Farmer’s Market was created on April 16, 2016, in order to revitalize the county and promote local farmers, artists, and vendors. The market is open on the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 A.M. until noon starting in March and ending in December. It takes place around the south side of the Comanche Courthouse and Square. Vendors set up their booths in the parking lot and along the sidewalk. They sell various handcrafted items and produce grown locally. For example, locally harvested honey will be available for purchase along with farm fresh eggs, homemade jelly and preservatives, different types of salsas, herbs, infused oils, goat’s milk soaps, loaves of bread, pies, cakes, and jewelry.

Additionally, woodwork of various kinds will also be scattered throughout the market for your viewing and buying pleasure. With that being said, I highly encourage you to make the trip down to Comanche the first Saturday of the month in order to see what this smalltown market has to offer, you won’t regret it. Furthermore, if you are interested in becoming a vendor yourself please call or text 325-330-3666 or email TexasHandmadeSuds@Gmail.Com to reserve your spot. For even more information about what the Comanche Farmer’s Market is about please visit their facebook page at Comanche Farmer’s Market@ComancheFarmersMarket.

More Comanche County History, Part 2

By: Brandon Mangan

Last week, we shared an article titled “More Comanche County History, Part 1.”

This week, we are picking up where we left off with “More Comanche County History, Part 2.” This article will begin with the Robert Thomas Hill Historical Marker:

Robert Thomas Hill Historical Marker – 2019

Although briefly mentioned when speaking of the museum, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Robert Thomas Hill and the history of geology in Comanche County a bit more light. Being a state steeped in oil, geology is a field of interest for many Texans. A man considered the father of Geology in our state made his first forays into the field while living in the little frontier town of Comanche. His tale of coming to join his brother in Comanche and the events that detailed his life would make for an enthralling Hollywood biopic. He was first employed with his brother at the local paper, The Comanche Chief. They soon became co-editors, until 1882 when Robert found his way to Cornell University – at the behest of his friend the local barber.

The Comanche Chief Historical Marker – 2019

The paper is the oldest business in the county, and one of the longest running papers in the state. Robert thrived in the world of words, as he was a man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, as well as a curiosity all Texans owe for the knowledge it produced. He started his explorations on the local hilltop known as Round Mountain, and when he died his ashes were scattered there. The little mountain has history of its own, becoming the hiding place of John Wesley Hardin in 1874.

Round Mountain 2019

Little Girl’s Grave CR 185

Heading northward from town on a single lane dirt road you’ll find a memorial. This memorial has been kept and guarded since the 1870’s, for over a century it’s left many with more questions than answers. It sits just outside of the community of Sipe (pronounced Seep) Springs, a once bustling oil town.

Little Girl’s Grave Headstones

Amongst an eclectic offering of toys, flowers, stuffed animals and hundreds of pennies lie two headstones. The older looking of the two poses a simple question: Who is the little girl? Age 3, 1870. It’s said that in 1870 a family was traveling this trail westward when their child fell from the wagon, dying from head injuries. There’s also speculation she died from disease. Whatever befell the girl, she rests here now. A few years later a cemetery was established just a few miles away, but the girl remained. This is a story that has haunted and intrigued generations, so much so that the tradition of adorning this little one’s grave site still exists.  Today you can visit and pay your respects, leaving a penny and a thought.

Gravesite in Sipe Springs Cemetery

A few miles from the solemn marker of an unknown girl lie a brother and sister, the epitaph on their gravestones simply reading “Happy and gay, to school they went one day. But thank God they are not dead, Just away.” The two children that rest here were victims in one of the worst catastrophes in the history of Texas – the New London school explosion of 1937. New London was an area rich with the spoils of the oil boom that was taking place at the time – it was home to one of the wealthiest school districts in the nation. In 1932 a large school was constructed from steel and concrete, at the cost of 1$ million (closer to $18 million today). In the original design of the building there was to be a boiler and steam heating system installed in the large area beneath the school, the school board opting instead to install gas heaters throughout. A common practice of the time was for residents to tap into existing residue gas pipelines from the oilfield in order to take advantage of the natural gas that traveled through the pipes. This untreated gas was volatile, and odorless. A leak developed in the system, and before long the gas had filled the subterranean levels of the school. On the afternoon of March 18th, 1837 an instructor turned on an electric sander, igniting the gas. The reports of eyewitnesses record the walls of the school expanding, before the roof lifted from the building and collapsed upon itself. A two-ton piece of concrete was thrown 200 feet, smashing a nearby Chevrolet. The explosion was heard up to four miles away, alarming residents to head to the source of the sound. A massive rescue effort was undertaken, with Texas Rangers, the highway patrol, the Texas National Guard and even a local troop of Boy Scouts being summoned to the scene. At some point in the evening it began to rain, those involved in the rescue effort working tirelessly through it all. Seventeen hours later the site had been cleared. It’s estimated that there were over 600 people in the school that day and that only around 130 escaped without serious injury. Half of them did not survive. A young Walter Cronkite was called to the scene, later stating “I did nothing in my studies nor in my life to prepare me for a story of the magnitude of the New London tragedy, nor has any story since that awful day equaled it.” In the aftermath of the disaster the Texas Legislature began mandating that thiols be added to natural gas, the strong odor from which now makes leaks detectable.

Mote Gravestone

Heading east from Sipe Springs you’ll find yourself in the second most populous city in the county, De Leon. This town has its own history as the peanut capital of the world, a crop turned to by local farmers after the drought and boll weevil devastation of the early 1900’s. This transformed the county from a cotton producing area to one of the largest producers of peanuts in the nation.

De Leon Peanut Company Historical Marker – 2019

The town was also bolstered by the Texas Central Railroad, which due to the creation of the Peanut Company later became known as “The Peanut Line”. The depot was created and Texas Central laid out the town on April 10, 1882. The town became the primary shipping point for cotton before turning to the peanut crop.

Be sure to check this marker out next time you are in De Leon, Texas. Don’t forget to visit the Terrill Antique Car Museum or explore the downtown area as well. You are also welcome to browse another page that can give you more history about De Leon, Texas.

For Part 3, we are going to go from De Leon and head east and then south, to the community of Comyn.

Stay tuned…..

More Comanche County History Part 1

Here is more Comanche County History for your reading pleasure…

By: Brandon Mangan

Chief On Comanche Square 2019

Most who come upon it know that the name Comanche comes from the tribe of natives who once occupied the land, although few would be able to tell you just where the name Comanche comes from. In a town full of so many friendly faces it comes to be a bit ironic that the name comes from the Ute tribes word “kimantsi”, which translates to “enemy” or “stranger” (the former word being what the Comanches were to the Ute’s for many years). The Comanche tribe called themselves “numinu”, their word for people.

Today the residents of Comanche County work hard to preserve their history, and it shows. This article will serve as a virtual tour, showcasing a handful of the counties’ many historical markers, as well as a few of its more interesting historical details.

It would be hard to discuss the history of the county without first mentioning the counties’ robust museum.

Comanche County Museum

This museum boasts over 30,000 square feet of history, featuring artifacts ranging back over 150 years. The staff at the museum has worked tirelessly to categorize the areas rich history, with rooms dedicated to historical periods, military heroes, and the communities that makeup the county.

Entrance of Comanche County Museum

As soon as you walk through the front entrance there are relics to examine, from blacksmithing tools and farm implements to an old Model T. This front open-air addition also features a Barber Shop scene before leading into a large and air-conditioned (important in the Texas heat) main building.

Central Room of Comanche County Museum

Here you will find a giftshop, as well as a welcoming and informative staff. It quickly becomes apparent how much work has been put into making this counties history more accessible. This is a place to be experienced, and worth an article on its own. In the photo above you can see the massive flint display, featuring arrowheads of all shapes and sizes, spearheads, atlatl projectiles and myriad native tools (some you can even touch!). 

John Wesley Hardin

There’s a room dedicated to the scene of the infamous John Wesley Hardin and his murder of Brown County Deputy John Webb (of which there’s an article about on this site). There are also books about the events surrounding the murder, as well as a wall of photos and paintings of the men involved. The staircase from the courthouse where the case was heard is also found in the museum. Outside you’ll find the base of the oak tree his brother and kin were hanged from in the aftermath of the shooting.

You’ll also find dioramas of the Jack Wright Saloon and a Native American campsite. There’s a room dedicated to saluting our veterans, with uniforms from bygone eras as well as weapons and stories of the veterans that called Comanche County home. There’s a room featuring vintage doll houses, as well as many rooms explaining the histories of the many communities in the area. Geodes and petrified wood pair with an exhibit detailing the life of famed geologist Robert T. Hill.

There are multiple attractions on the grounds of the museum, including an explorable 19th century log and stone cabin. Plans are in the works for an outside exhibit showcasing a few of the wooden bridges that once served the county, along with a butterfly garden. With so much to explore you owe it to yourself to visit this slice of Texas history, guaranteed that when you do, you’ll find much to experience and the friendliest of people. The museum is free to visit but I’d encourage you to buy a memento and maybe leave a donation, that way we can keep the history alive. For more information visit

The Fleming Oak, Comanche Square 2019

Heading back into town from the museum you’ll find the city square. The square is steeped in Texas history. You’ll find nearly a dozen historical markers, the oldest log-cabin courthouse in Texas, a guided audio tour, as well as memorials to veterans of law enforcement and war. The oak in the photo above is the Fleming Oak, a storied tree that’s been preserved through care and sheer shotgun stubbornness.

Old Cora Courthouse

In the areas adjacent to the new and old courthouse you’ll find a guide to the many attractions in the city, as well as many shops and highly regarded restaurants. Many of these establishments rest in buildings that have served the community for over a century, with many stories to be told. It’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon and evening.

To be continued…..

Proctor Lake, Gateway To Comanche County, Texas

By: Brandon Mangan

Proctor Lake in Comanche County, Texas has been a destination for fishing and recreation since it was created between the Sabana and Leon rivers in 1963. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains four parks on the lake – Copperas Creek, High Point, Promontory and Sowell Creek Park. Although High Point has been closed to vehicles for some time now there are still more than 10 miles of horse trails and scenic views to hike through.

Aside from High Point all parks offer various kinds of camping, including RV, tent, screened shelter, and group camping facilities. You can make reservations by calling 1-877-444-6777 or by visiting Sowell, Copperas and Promontory all offer day-use areas, as well as swimming beaches. Sowell Creek also has a play area for children at one of its swimming areas. There are multiple boat ramps and fishing docks between the parks, including handicap accessible docks like this newer addition to Copperas Creek.

Proctor is stocked regularly with various species of fish and is known as one of the premiere lakes in Texas when it comes to catching Crappie and the Hybrid Striped Bass species. Records from this lake include a 16lb Striper, a 13lb Largemouth, and an 87lb Blue Catfish.

Along with its fish, Proctor Lake is home to a diverse range of wildlife, from deer and feral hogs to songbirds and wildfowl. This wildlife has a home among a large array of wildflowers each spring, with Texas staples like Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes decorating each of the lake’s parks. 

Speaking of a diverse range of wildlife, in 1985 James “Rusty” Branch discovered a dinosaur fossil site among the Twin Mountains formation of the lake, said to be “among the richest from the Lower Cretaceous of North America”. The species discovered there (recently named the Convolosaurus Marri) is the only example yet found in the world. The fossils are now curated in the Shuler Museum of Paleontology at Southern Methodist University.

[A skeleton formed from the fossils found at Proctor Lake]

Hunting is another activity that brings people to Proctor Lake. Migratory game bird hunting is allowed, requiring permits in some areas (which can be requested in person at the Proctor Lake Office located at 2180 HWY 2861, Comanche TX.) For more information, you can visit

Hunting isn’t the only sport offered at the lake, P.A.R. Country Club is also located on the lake near Copperas Creek Park and offers a full 18 Hole golfing experience, along with its own bar and grill. You can contact P.A.R. Country Club for more information at: 254-879-2296.

Proctor Lake rests in a rural part of the Cross Timbers region and due to this, has darker skies than many parks across Texas. This affords its visitors a view of the night sky not found in many parts of the state. We hope you’ll come to visit and find out just how breathtaking it can be for yourself!

Article and Photography By Brandon Mangan