LEAF, and saving sandy creek with beer
I learned about the Llano Earth Art Festival two years ago from a friend who invited me along. However, March 2020 had its own plans for us all, so… nope. But that thing is mostly past, and now that we are wintering in Texas and Llano is close, we went! And it exceeded my expectations. We didn’t get the full measure of the fest, which runs from Friday to Sunday in mid-march. From basically 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. We arrived at around 11:00 AM and stayed until around 3:00, thus the nighttime tiki-torch lit music focus was lost to us. Since my intention is to compete in the Natural Art part of the rock stacking competition next year maybe we can roll in the entire event.
The fact that it is held on the Llano river, one of two favorite rivers on earth, is a bonus. The fact that it’s in Llano? Still working my way through that one. Being from Marble Falls, Llano has historically been on my locations shit list. Why? That wouldn’t edify a soul. But by hosting this way very awesome festival I’ll just say Llano is turning a page in the right direction.
Beer For a cause
After visiting the rock art, much of it still in progress we moved on. Naturally, finding the beer tent is high up on my to-do list. I did, and for twenty bucks I bought five tokens, though I only used two, granting ten extra dollars to the salvation of Sandy Creek from the placement of a sand mine by a Marble Falls-based materials company along its course. The ranchers and other people who love Sandy Creek, a major historically and environmentally significant tributary of the Llano river, took legal action to prevent the mine’s construction. The sand mine, besides adding another eyesore to a beautiful landscape, would threaten those ecosystems and place the water supply at risk of contamination.
I looked up the Save Sandy Creek website and saw that it had been saved already. No materials plant coming.
Yay. I don’t view industrialization of the landscape and turning ranches into neighborhoods and shopping malls as progress. The opposite in fact. Its regress. Sorry Kevin (I vaguely remember going to high school with the owner of the materials company. Nice guy as I recall.) No new sand plant for you. I had two swell IPA’s to celebrate. Count my remaining three tokes a donation to a worthy creek that may need to once again be protected from capitalism.
Around the Fest and Llano River Park
I’ll leave the rock stacking and art until last, since that was my primary reason to want to go. Live music, beer, bbq and crafty art booths can only hold my interest for so long. And those things were there, as one would expect from any festival.
Outside of that there was a vintage VW hippie bus meetup and an Ent walking around (guy on stilts in LOTR costume.) I was so shocked by that one that I took no Ent pictures. Bummer.
And of course, unprovided by the LEAF committee, was the amazing geology of the park. Seriously. Field trips from geology departments all over come here. Llano Uplift geology is epic, and host some of the oldest sedimentary formations in North America as well as metamorphism and volcanism going back 1.2 billion years.
The Art of Stones, or maye, the stones of art
Normally I am vehemently opposed to rock stacking. As a LNT hiker I am pretty passionate about the fact that Leave No Trace means leave the rocks right where they are. There are a number of reasons for this ranging from disturbing fragile ecosystems to misleading hikers in areas where rock stacks are used as trail markers.
But right here in this populated city park? I say it gets a pass. Besides. The Llano, called the Rio de las Chanas by the Spanish, provides the primary drainage pathway for the Llano Uplift and stretches from west of Junction to Kingsland, where it joins the Colorado.
It is fed by a number of important tributaries such as James River, Honey Creek and Sandy Creek. When it rains a lot? All that water that falls on the uplift runs off a pretty impermeable surface layer and runs right into that river, where it rases to the level of the underside of that bridge in the pictures. When that happens,, this lovely art using nature as a medium will be swept far down stream, and next years art materials will be deposited in the onward march of the rock cycle.
Watching though I find myself far less interested in stacking and balance than in creating balance with shapes. spirals and patterns.
The process of gathering and arranging the stones is very appealing to me,
I ran out of time to spend a day out at the slab and practice with stones, but soon enough I will try some designs out with stick bits, now that I am back in Connecticut. Be looking for those maybe.