On the Road
Small-town Vernon goes big on authentic Texas Cowboy culture with rodeos, local and regional museums, and historical sites, not to mention events, including the biggest classic car show around.
Here’s a short list of things that make this quirky destination worth a pit stop.
Get a history lesson — with a touch of rock ‘n’ roll
Vernon is the birthplace of music legend Roy Orbison, and there’s an Instagrammable, ultra-colorful mural in town announcing this claim to fame. Orbison not ringing a bell? You probably know his song “Oh, Pretty Woman” from the Pretty Woman movie with Julia Roberts.
At the peak of his career, he toured with Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others in addition to his own tours.
For more history, head to the Wilbarger County Historical Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of Vernon and Wilbarger County. It’s located inside an old jail house, which only adds to its intrigue.
Lions, tigers, and bears are only the beginning in the Red River Valley Museum’s Bond Gallery. The one-of-a-kind collection features animals ranging from the tiny dik-dik, an antelope that populates the savannahs of eastern Africa, to the mighty polar bear of the frigid Arctic Circle.
The collection was donated by William “Bill” Bond, a successful rancher who was instrumental in the establishment of the Red River Valley Museum. Newly remodeled a couple of years ago, the gallery also focuses on the importance of conservation.
You’ll discover facts about all the 130-plus animals in the collection and learn how smart human impact can help endangered animals regrow their population.
Vernon is home to one of the largest classic car shows around, Summer’s Last Blast, held every August. The 33rd annual event is August 11-13, 2022, and features three main events.
First up, you better believe smoke will be flying at the Burnout Contest, where burning rubber is the name of the game.
The Show-n-Shine Car Show is hosted in Orbison Park, with classics, street rods, pro streets, and antiques all in the mix along with live music and other special exhibits.
The grand finale of the three-day event is the Nostalgic Cruise Night, which harkens to a time when true muscle cars and rods rule the streets. You’ll also see some of the most prestigious classics and antiques from decades ago — all vehicles are circa 1978 or older. Naturally, there’s a tailgate party, too.
Grab your cowboy boots
The annual Santa Rosa Roundup Parade and Rodeo is hosted every May, and it’s one of the last outdoor Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos.
The iconic Santa Rosa Palomino Club opens the show each night with legendary drills atop palomino horses before the pro cowboys and clowns enter the arena.
Learn about more things to do in this north central Texas town at Visit Vernon.