Almost immediately after we started to advertise the 2012 Panhandle Prep Kentucky Derby Party, we ran into a huge problem. Sometimes communication isn’t always the best at government ran entities, and that was the huge problem. Needless to say, the venue that we had been given permission to use was suddenly no longer available.
Well, after weeks of some serious scrambling, I’m proud to say that the party is back on! Above is the new flyer, that lists the new beneficiary of our fundraising efforts here in a few weeks. I encourage you to consider attending if you will be anywhere close to Canyon, TX on the first Saturday in May, but also ask that you consider a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital even if you won’t be attending our event.
For more information, you can visit our Facebook page (just click the cool picture above), or you can email me with any questions you might have. We are so happy that we are going to be able to keep this party going, and thank all of you for your efforts in helping us find a new location (you know who you are)!
In 1976, what had been an experiment in grape growing and wine making in West Texas started to become something phenomenal. Back then, grapes just weren’t grown around here much. The consensus supposed that this was not a proper climate and the soil necessities just weren’t there. Down in Lubbock, TX, Dr. Clinton McPherson and Robert Reed changed all that though. Many years later, West Texas and the Texas Panhandle produce some of the best wines in the US, if not the world.
I know, I know…most people would scoff at that idea, but a person doesn’t need to look further than the list of awards that some of McPherson Cellars’ wines have claimed in the past several years. Their ’09 Rose of Syrah? Gold at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition. Gold at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition. Best in Class at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition. Other wines like McPherson’s ’09 Viognier and ’09 Tre Colore have pulled in numerous awards themselves. My personal favorite, McPherson Cellars’ ’08 Sangiovese is truly a thing of beauty, and although it only took Silver at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition, is pure gold in my heart.
But that seems to be the case with a number of wineries in our neck of the woods. From my front porch, I can drive a radius of 90 miles and hit 8 very respectable wineries. The closest, Bar Z Winery started closer to my home town, and recently relocated to the Canyon, TX area.
With a little research, visitors to our area of Texas can create their own wine tour. Here is a list of some of the wineries on the High Plains and Caprock.
1. McPherson Cellars - 1615 Texas Ave. – Lubbock, TX
2. Caprock Winery - 408 East Woodrow Road - Lubbock, TX
3. Pheasant Ridge Winery - 3507 East County Road – Lubbock, TX
4. Llano Estacado Winery - 3426 East FM 1585 – Lubbock, TX
5. Bar Z Winery - 19290 FM 1541 – Canyon, TX
For a little larger scope, you can also visit this website and expand your tour. Feel free to travel our great area by yourself, but if you ever get down our way, give us a buzz…we’ll do our best to show you around.
One of the greatest blessings I have had while away from the Panhandle is living among a few brothers and sisters from my native land. In my 13 years of being a San Antonio resident, I have friended a few folks who call the Texas Panhandle “home” just as I do. On occasion, I am able to get together with my kindred spirits for all kinds of activities and I cannot wait to do it again and again. I usually locate these folks just from over-hearing a conversation. Two of them I know from my own home town of Gruver! One thing is for sure, we all can blend in down here very well. We do not want or need our native 806 area code tattooed conspicuously on our bodies. We are like a secret society or fraternal brotherhood. I like to call it a family.
There were three of us Texas Panhandle boys out on the town together one night not too long ago. Our mantra is a simple one but always fun none-the-less. We were at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub and Grill playing the cheapest and best golf we will ever know…Golden Tee 2012. It was on this very mundane night, that we got a little more “activity” than we would ever expect from our side of town. We all three have a mutual friend who tends bar not far from where we were so the three of us decided to pay him a visit before turning in for the night. When we arrived, there were only a few patrons in the place along with our good buddy standing behind the bar. We were greeted warmly by him and all of us ordered our night caps. I found a table between the juke box and the pool table so I could sit down and rest my legs from standing so long earlier that night.
I was approached by a young Hispanic twenty-something male who had 210 tattooed just under the left jaw line on his neck. I asked him about it fully knowing what it was. He just told me that it was special to him and thanked me for admiring it. For those who do not know, the area code on your neck is a home town marking for a gang called the Los Orejones. If you do not know who these people are, then Google their name. The fact is that he was being a nice guy so I felt alright about talking to him. We talked about the San Antonio Spurs and visited about where each of us was from. He had grown up in Corpus Christi but after high school he moved here to San Antonio. There was another Hispanic male with him who had the same tattoo as well as a few others on his forearms. My new gangster friend introduced this guy as his brother. I could tell from the looks on the faces of my Panhandle friends that they were concerned and watching me like a pair of hawks.
Everything was going well until they began to solicit each and every male patron (including me) to arm wrestle for $100. Both of these guys looked fairly stout and I already knew that either of them could have been carrying some kind of weapon. I politely refused as did everyone else who was asked. At this point, their behavior shifted into a brand of anger and venom that I had never seen. Both of them began accosting all of us and shouting racially charged comments. They both tore off their shirts and began shoving people around. My heart was beating out of my chest and my adrenaline was at a level I haven’t known since I was a teenager. All three of us Panhandle boys approached them and were trying to calm them down and make peace. None of us could understand what had set them off into such a fit of outrage. We did not speak loudly to them. We did not talk any smack or say anything that could be perceived as smack. Two of us backed away with our hands up. The other should have done the same. Our Panhandle brother was hit in the face by the bigger of the two guys and it was without any warning. Folks gathered him off the floor as I began moving back toward them calmly. I kept walking, talking and easing them toward the door. I think this was a lot like what I would do with a pissed off stallion or limousine bull. Normally, I would have already been fighting these guys, but that night, something was telling me to stay calm and to just get them out. They were gangsters. They were angry at nothing and that could only equal extreme danger for everyone in this establishment. They finally left and I locked the doors behind them. I then took over and asked everyone to please move toward the back room of the place and wait until the police arrived. Our brother clearly had a broken nose and he bled for hours. I could not sleep that night. It was the scariest thing that had happened to me since living here.
Ladies and gentlemen let me enlighten you. I know that some of you are asking yourselves why we didn’t just rush them and beat them down. Well, nobody else in that bar would even look at these fellows. It was only the three of us Panhandle boys that had the guts to face up to them and make them go away. Thank God only one punch was thrown and no weapons were wielded. The moral of this story is simple. When you see guys marked up like this, you must never trust them. Be polite, leave immediately and leave quietly. Nothing good will ever come of your activities if you see gangster tattoos on people in the same room with you. I will never regret my decision not to fight that night even though I could have and probably should have. Sadly, this place is only blocks from where I live and I do not live in a bad part of San Antonio. These folks are everywhere.
In the words of my father: “Son, when you go in them places, always keep your head on a swivel and make sure that there is always something heavy that you can grab to equalize the situation if you need it.” My head was not on a swivel that night. However, I am 100% confident that I made exactly the right decision and probably saved some lives. – Whit
With our upcoming Kentucky Derby Party, I thought that it might be a good idea to dive into just what to expect at an event such as this. As Derby parties are not the norm in the Texas Panhandle, we hope to change that and show everyone a great time while we raise money for a good cause. By learning what might make your party experience more enjoyable, everyone can then relax and have a leisurely day at the races. To make the learning curve easier, we have compiled a survival guide of sorts to help you prep for the first Saturday in May. So sit back, and take a look at some of the tips that we think can make you an old pro at Derby Day in no time flat.
1. Derby Hats – Ladies, they can be crazy, they can be flashy…they can also be reserved. Here’s great place to start the hunt for yours.
2. Daily Racing Forms – People, this is of utmost importance. Get to know how to read a Racing Form.
3. Derby Fare – The cucumber sandwiches are not the main fare at a Derby Party. They’re almost exclusively for looks…almost. Wait it out until the good stuff arrives.
4. Racing Knowledge – Want to get a leg up on the other guy? You need to be checking out the other races leading up to the first leg of the Triple Crown.
6. The Crown – To win the coveted trophy and prove that you have the best Derby Hat, you better bring your A-game.
7. The Beverage - Mint Juleps are the drink of the day. They may sound dainty, but you’d better try it before you knock it.
For a short while now, I’ve been visiting with a man named Grant M Hewit. For the most part, Mr. Hewit is much like any normal man. If you begin to take a look at everything the man is involved with though, you begin to see that this man is no mere mortal.
For starters, Grant is the President and CEO of the Cross Hudson Group, LLC, where he founded Streaker Sports and produces the Big Apple Pond Hockey Classic. Add the New York City Wingfest to his list of to-do’s and you have one very busy guy. The fun doesn’t stop there though. Which brings us to the reason for today’s post. Hudson Sutler…a company founded by Mr. Hewit that has caught my full attention as of late.
When I first saw a Hudson Sutler bag, I was amazed by the look of it. To me, it looked like an old duffel that I used to have and it immediately took me back in time. Classic and rugged, Hudson Sutler bags bring back the look of those that we all used to carry, but with some very noticeable updates. Crafted from heavy-duty 18 oz. canvas, these bags are all there. Later on, I will do a full review on the bags themselves, but today I wanted to get you acquainted with the man that produces these great items.
The other day, I was able to catch up with Mr. Hewit in between work and prepping for his next triathlon and ask him a few questions.
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is it that Grant M Hewit does on a day-to-day basis? In other words, what fills up your schedule on a normal day?
I fear my day-to-day will sound boring, but I’ve got to answer what’s asked right? Being the opposite of a “morning person” I spend about 75% of my morning in complete silence until my coffee finally kicks in, and then after that I’m actually a decent enough guy to deal with. Right now I’ve been hard at work getting our Spring line for Hudson Sutler ready as well as developing new products for the brand (expected at the end of Summer.) I’m really proud of how much attention to detail we put into our first round of bags, and so I’ve been extremely conscious to put in the same amount of meticulous decision-making into round two. Thanks to the insanely warm weather here in NYC lately, I usually take a break in the afternoon and hit Central Park for a run before returning to my office. I’m training for my second 70.3 Ironman, slated for September. For a guy that looks like Gizmo when he eats after midnight in the water, I’m not sure why I sign up for sporting events that involve swimming, but I really enjoy triathlons.
I’ve found out that you have been involved with Lacrosse for some time now…can you tell us about your past and present roles within the sport?
As the third of four kids, I pretty much did whatever my older brother did, so when he started playing lacrosse, I followed suit. I played through high school in New Jersey and was fortunate enough to play in college at Princeton. What made that experience even better was having my younger brother join me for my final 2 years. When I graduated I moved to New York City and began volunteering with an organization called CityLax. (www.CityLax.org) Unfortunately, this year my time volunteering has been limited, as I try to grow my business, but I’m still involved in the organization and help however I can. In the spring, I suit up and play with some old college teammates and opponents, but truth be told I don’t know if what I do anymore is technically “lacrosse” as much as it is just being on a field with lacrosse equipment on. I love the game though, and try to stay involved however I can.
Let’s get to the reason we’re here. Hudson Sutler…when did you start this great company, and what inspired you to do so?
Almost a year ago I was working in finance in New York City when I decided to roll the dice and try my hand at starting up a company. At the time I had already founded a sports apparel brand called Streaker Sports and was doing that, but Hudson Sutler quickly became my next passion project. The brand (under about 1000 other names) was in development for close to 9 months before it was launched in December. The inspiration for the brand comes from a true appreciation for “Timeless American Classics.” White button down shirts, broken in jeans, the movie Caddyshack and a cold beer on a warm day with some buddies to me are just things that are Timeless American Classics. With Hudson Sutler, we set out to create another classic item that seemed to have been lost over the years; the canvas duffel bag. In paying homage to our namesake, we set out to have our bags Made in the USA, and be evidence that the American working spirit is alive and well.
Tell us about the design process. Was there an ”it” moment that you wanted to see that would let you know your bags were exactly what you wanted to create?
I don’t even know how many rounds of prototypes we did before I had that “it” moment, but I do remember clearly, getting the last test round of samples and just knowing. The weight of the canvas was just right, the contrast stitching was just right, the thick, vintage style zipper just clicked and the icing on the cake was the plaid liner. Beyond that, the moment when I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, was about one week after we launched the brand. I was meeting a friend for lunch, and as I placed my bag down on the chair next to me, our waitress commented “That’s a really sharp bag.” As a merchant of products meant to be seen and felt, I get really amped every time we get a comment like that, an email from a customer, or even just a tweet about how much people like their Hudson Sutler bags.
Last but not least. My Hudson Sutler duffel has been just what I needed. All of my CrossFit gear fits in there perfectly. What’s in your bag?
With tri training in full swing, I’ve got a set of workout clothes which always includes (self promo warning) Streaker Sports shorts. Aside from that, I’m kind of old school and always carry a book (no Kindle for this guy) and a folder with tons of work notes in it. After missing some late night emails to myself, and Evernote not working on the NYC subway, I reverted back to writing notes. Work keys, apartment keys and that’s about it. When the warm weather really kicks in, my Randolph Engineering aviators make the daily trip.
Our thanks to Grant for taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit with us. Next week, we will have part II of our take on Hudson Sutler. Be sure to check us out then, and in the meantime, click on over to their website www.hudsonsutler.com and check them out. I assure you, it will be time well spent!