Best of the Upper East Side of Texas 2005
ARCHITECTURE & LODGING
Best Bed & Breakfast
Humphries House, Edgewood
The four guest rooms in this 1894-built home are filled with original furnishings and vintage Texas collectibles, with accommodations for as many as 10 guests. The original feel has been carefully preserved while the facilities are thoroughly modernized. Humphries House is also available for special events. Proprietor Pattizo Humphries and the rest of the folks at Roseland are proud to claim, in a county with numerous historical markers, the only nationally registered monument.
Roseland Plantation’s Windsor House
Best Western Canton Inn, Canton
The 82-room, two-story motel offers comfortable accommodations, friendly service and a convenient location for First Monday. The rooms feature king-size beds and cable television with HBO and 24-hour movies. Other amenities include a daily continental breakfast, a swimming pool, and coin-operated laundry and restaurants are within walking distance.
Best Historic Building
Church in the Wildwood, Edgewood
The Church in the Wildwood at Heritage Park has been a part of the spiritual life of both Black and Anglo communities since 1897. The one-room frame structure was the first church in Edgewood, built by the local Methodist congregation on West Pecan in 1897. The congregation outgrew the facility in 1923, at which time Bethlehem Baptist Church moved the building on rails pulled by mules to Oak Street. It was Bethlehem’s house of worship until 1991, when the Edgewood Historical Society moved the building to Heritage Park Museum where it was authentically restored and furnished.
Bruce & Human Drugstore, Wills Point
Blue Moon Gardens, Edom
Owners Mary Wilhite and Sharon Lee Smith began wholesaling herbs in 1985 and opened the retail shop in 1993, surrounded by two acres of display gardens and 13 greenhouses filled with herbs and flowers. Selections include a mixture of native plants and garden flowers like poppies and larkspur that do well in this climate. The Herb and Gift Shop is housed in an 85-year-old farmhouse. It also features a selection of garden art, books, wind chimes, and other gifts. Open daily all year.
Van Zandt County Courthouse
Tie: Canton Plaza Museum and The Last Supper at Roseland Plantation in Edom
The simple, colorful mural outside the Canton Plaza Museum celebrates First Monday Trade Days via a painting of The Trade, and celebrates Canton with paintings of the old county courthouse, the newer county courthouse, the Blackwell House, and the old Plaza Theatre.
Out at Roseland Plantation, the oil-on-canvas, 28-foot-long, 15-foot-high exact replica of Leonardo DaVinci’s original painting of The Last Supper was commissioned in 1959 from Greek artists Charles Goslin and Pete Christus by former Roseland owner Mrs. W.C. Windsor. Tours are available by reservation.
Best Public Artwork/Sculpture
Tie: Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Wills Point and The Trade on the First Monday grounds
American Legion Post #303 salutes veterans with a commemorative granite wall displaying the names of those who served in World War II. Veterans of other wars are also honored with separate additions to the wall, which is along Highway 80 east of downtown Wills Point.
Last year’s winner in this category, The Trade, is a life-sized, detailed statue of two men swapping a rifle for a hunting dog. It was installed in 1998 at the Highway 19 entrance to the original First Monday grounds.
FOOD & DRINK
Garden’s Edge Bakery, Edgewood
A bakery, tea room, B&B, garden center, and gift shop rolled into one, this three-year-old, family-run place centers around a 1942 “recycled” house built from the wood in a 1907 railroad hotel. Interior doors, walls, ceilings, and floor all have been restored. Inside, the shop also highlights the work of local painters and photographers; outside, you’re as likely to find a Venus Flytrap as a local marigold, mint, or persimmon.
Canton Café & Bakery
Baker’s Ribs, Canton
New to Canton along Interstate 20, Baker’s Ribs challenges long-time local favorites in a competition that can only be good for barbecue lovers. The small chain that slow-cooks its meats over hickory logs has four Dallas-area locations, one in Weatherford, one in Houston, and one in Minneapolis. Both The Dallas Observer and The Dallas Morning News named Baker’s Rib for best barbecue, and Texas Monthly picked Baker’s Rib among the “50 best barbecue joints in Texas.”
The Shed, Edom
The Shed, Edom
Generous servings of home-style breakfast seven days a week starting at 7 a.m. The breakfast special is two eggs; two slices of bacon or sausage patties; pancakes, toast, or biscuits. The menu also includes all of those dishes plus eggs any way you want them, burritos, coffee, cappuccino, and juices.
Bluebird Café, Wills Point
Rocky’s, Grand Saline
Open only on Friday and Saturday nights, Rocky’s Catfish is a buffet-style, all-you-can-eat place that focuses, naturally, on catfish. You can also get a little bit of seafood including shrimp, but the catfish and the downhome, comfortable, friendly atmosphere are the draws. The buffet comes with corn fritters, fries, salads, and all the trimmings along with home-style pies, cakes, and puddings. Hours are from 5 p.m. both nights until the last customer leaves, usually around 9 or 10 p.m. Rocky’s is also available for private parties.
Best Cheap Dinner
Good food and inexpensive prices add up to dinner bargains. Jewel’s features chicken-fried steak, quarter pound and half-pound hamburgers, a variety of Tex-Mex favorites, special steak grills on Friday and Saturday nights. Jewel’s opens at 6 a.m. six days a week and stays open until 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It’s closed on Mondays.
Sisters Café and Panda’s, Canton
Best Chicken Fried Steak
The Shed, Edom
A repeat winner. The Shed’s chicken-fried steak – with or without gravy – starts with steak from Mineola Packing. The batter is applied by hand before the whole thing is deep fried. What’s the batter made of? Well, we can’t tell you because The Shed won’t tell us. You can order a single serving, or all you can eat. It comes with baked potatoes or fries, salad or cole slaw, pinto beans, and all the trimmings.
A repeat winner. What’s to say about people’s favorite coffee? It tastes good and it smells good. It’s hot but not too hot. Refills are timely. The brand? Cain’s. The varieties? Caf and decaf; no fancy stuff here.
Dairy Palace and Sisters Café, Canton
Bluebird Café, Wills Point
The Bluebird is known for its burgers and its home-style cooking as well as its enchiladas – cheese, beef, and chicken. Each order is hand-rolled when it’s ordered, is covered with fresh-made chili, and comes with made-on-the-premises tortilla chips and hot sauce. Especially around the holidays, people order a dozen or two at a time to take home. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Shed, Edom
Only a couple of things have changed in this Edom tradition since Joanne Martinez and Mary Ellen Malone bought The Shed last August. Joanne has a background in food management – she opened the Sam’s Club pizza-and-sandwich place in Tyler – and worked at The Shed for a while before buying the place with Mary Ellen. The steaks are now Angus, and the Thursday night authentic Tex-Mex specials are now made from scratch by the long-time kitchen staff. Closing time’s 8 p.m. every day except Sunday, when The Shed shuts down at 2 p.m.
Wild Flour Café, Edgewood
Best French Fries
Edgewood Dairy Queen
The fries are cooked in vegetable oil that’s strained twice a day. The potatoes are Idaho, and are Dairy Queen’s Simplot Conquest brand. They’re cut fresh, frozen and shipped to the store where they’re kept at the same temperature until they are ordered. That’s when they drop them into the deep fryer and cook to order. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Runner up: The Shed, Edom
Wild Flour Café, Edgewood
With only seven tables that seat a maximum of 50 people total, the café may sell as many as 25 burgers during the three hours it’s open for lunch in the hundred-year-old house at the intersection of Highway 80 and S. Austin Street. The burgers are half-pound Angus with all the trimmings on sourdough, rye, an onion bun, or a regular bun. Don’t expect fries, though, because your choices are potato salad or chips. Wild Flour also delivers, with a minimum order of $25, to within Edgewood and to Wills Point and Fruitvale.
The Shed, Edom
Best Hot Sauce/Salsa
Just the tiniest bit of sting to it, but not too much for the kids. Enlaces’ hot sauce is a testament to simplicity. It’s made daily with fresh ingredients: onion, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. The homey Enlaces is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, with a full, traditional Tex-Mex menu.
Best Lunch Deal
Sandwiches, salads, wraps, chips, and drinks. It’s easy to get lunch for less than $5 unless you’ve got to have one of those cookies. It’s the world’s largest submarine chain with more than 21,000 restaurants in 75 countries, including two in Canton now, one in Grand Saline, and one in Wills Point.
Sisters Café in Canton and Bluebird Café in Wills Point
Best Malt Shake
Edgewood Dairy Queen
There’s the traditional vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and then a whole array of DQ specialty shakes: Brownie Earthquake; the Blizzard with a variety of favorite candies, cookies, or fruit; the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard; the Pecan Mudslide; and the Peanut Buster Parfait.
Dairy Palace, Canton
The Shed, Edom
Pie sales have tripled since August, says new co-owner Joanne Martinez. The varieties have stayed the same: chocolate chip, lemon chess, pecan, caramel, peanut butter, and more, including holiday season pumpkin and sweet potato. Best advice: order desert first, before you order your meal, to make sure you get the kind you want.
Canton Tea Room
Jerry’s Pizza, Canton
A repeat winner. Fresh ingredients and a familiar variety of toppings add up to the voters' favorite. The food is consistently good, the dining room is clean, and the location is easy to find whether you're a teenager on a date, a family having a meal together, or just hanging out with your buds. There's a salad bar, too, and a big-screen TV and recorded music.
Pizza Hut and Pizza Inn, Canton
Best Place to Eat Alone
The Shed, Edom
When they stop at The Shed, lone diners are likely to run into a neighbor or an old friend they haven’t seen in a while to sit with. If not, well, the staff claims to treat everybody like family.
Best Place for a Business Lunch
The Shed, Edom
With a hundred seats in three dining areas (two of them smoke-free), there’s usually room to linger and talk for a business lunch. Even when it’s crowded, the home-cooking is impressive and the atmosphere’s friendly.
Karen’s Cuisine, Wills Point
Graham’s Edgewood Market
Four generations of Grahams claim this sparkly clean produce market is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. eight days a week. You can get 85 varieties of gourmet foods including local honey, syrup, and fruits including a large selection with no sugar added. You can also get fresh eggs, all kinds of local fruits and vegetables, an assortment of plants and flowers including Tyler roses, Blue Bell ice cream, and Hawaiian shaved-ice snow cones.
Runner up: Edom Market Place
Made fresh every day, Ochoa’s queso is a combination of onions, tomato, bell pepper, and El Posado melted cheese. No, there’s not any jalapeno in it. Customers at this restaurant just off the square in Canton most often eat the queso as a dip with tortilla chips, but it’s also available as a non-chile topping on enchiladas and other dishes. Hours are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Ochoa’s is also open Sundays during First Monday Trade Days.
Runner up: Enlaces, Edgewood
The Shed, Edom
A repeat winner. A sprawling old place with three dining rooms where people feel like they’re eating at home. The cooking is home-style and consistent; lunch and dinner favorites include catfish and chicken-fried steak. And the pie is always popular. The Shed first opened in 1964 next door to its current location, and settled into its current spot in 1984. The Shed is open seven days and six nights a week (closed on Sunday nights).
Runner up: Lone Star Grill, Wills Point
Best Restaurant for Kids
The Shed, Edom
Kids get treated like first-class citizens at The Shed, where just about everybody knows just about everybody, and kids feel welcome to walk around or to hop from one table to another to visit.
Runner up: McDonald’s, Canton
Best Romantic Restaurant
Italian food on the square in Canton, including seafood, chicken, steaks, pizza, and pasta. Owner Val Lajci used to run Napoli’s on Interstate 20, which moved to Tyler for three years. He’s bought a house in Canton now because he said he likes the people in this area, and spent a lot of time building up the restaurant’s elegant décor. Ask for the “white pizza” that’s not on the menu. Pictured is waitress Julia Williams getting ready to serve a couple a romantic meal. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Runners up: Tea Room, Spanish Grill, Van Zandt Country Club
Best Salad Bar
Lone Star Grill, Wills Point
A repeat winner. Diners can and often do make a meal out of the extensive salad bar at Lone Star Grill. The salad bar includes crisp, mixed iceberg and green leaf lettuce, black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, pickled okra, cheese, onions, beets, cottage cheese, fruit, English pea salad, and potato salad. Toppings include boiled eggs, bacon, six kinds of “regular” dressings, and two fat-free dressings.
Wild Flour Café, Edgewood
Eighteen different sandwiches to choose from in this small, lunch-only place that also offers Texas-sized baked potatoes, salads, home-style soups, and desserts. Some of the more popular choices include the Bulldog super BLT, mushroom Swiss burgers, Philly cheese steak or chicken, and the namesake Wild Flour – which includes hot ham, turkey, American and Swiss cheese on a grilled onion bun, with all the trimmings.
Runner up: The Shed
Circle E, Canton
A repeat winner. Like good steakhouses anywhere, Circle E keeps it simple. meat cooked over an open flame, baked potato, one more vegetable, and rolls. The steaks are strip, sirloin, and rib eye weighing in at 12 to 14 ounces, and filet at eight ounces. Fast, friendly service in a clean, no-smoking atmosphere. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. During the prime weekend hours, you might have a short wait for a table if you’re not one of the first hundred or so people through the doors.
Runner up: The Shed
Best Flour Tortillas
The flour tortillas come from La Palma in Longview, and they cost 15 cents apiece. Eat them with butter or other toppings, wrap them around fajitas, or use them as a sort of bread with other dishes. Ochoa’s hours are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays during First Monday Trade Days.
Runners up: Juanita’s and Two Senoritas, Canton
Best Wait Staff
The Shed, Edom
A repeat winner: What defines good service? It’s prompt, professional, and friendly. Waiters and waitresses get the orders right and deliver meals from the kitchen quickly. With a hectic pace to take care of a lot of diners at the same time, staff training is emphasized. New waitresses get three days of on-the-job, side-by-side-with-a-veteran training, observation, and “suggestions.”
Runner up: Jewel’s
GOODS & SERVICES
Best Auto Repair
Edom Service Station
In business for about seven years now, Edom Service Station does general car repairs, state inspections, and the like. The station is also a hangout for people who sit around and tell stories about Edom and anything else that crosses their minds, says owner Randy Nipp. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Runner up: Taylor Automotive, Canton
Cottage in the Woods, Van
Jack and Lavita Broadhurst dreamed of having a bed and breakfast with an organic herb and vegetable garden, and manufacturing their own line of aromatherapy candles, healing lotions, and bath products. In 2002, they bought a 10-acre farm just northeast of Van to make those dreams come true; today they make candles with nearly 50 scents, including vanilla (cinnamon, butter, and bean), red hot cinnamon, bayberry, East Texas pine, gardenia, juniper breeze, magnolia breeze, ocean breeze, crème brule, sugar and gingerbread cookies, and exotics including butterfly kisses, angel’s whisper, promised land, and bird of paradise. The candles are available at Angel Hands Embroidery, All About You, and Bowdy's in Van; at Mary Ellen's in Edom; and at Wayne's Exxon in Canton.
Runner up: The Green House, Wills Point
Best Car Wash
Car Wash Palace, Canton
You know it’s a quality operation because the same people who operate Dairy Palace operate Car Wash Palace, which is right across the street. You get three options: do-it-yourself wash and vacuum for as little as $1 if you’re fast; the “royal treatment” hand wash and vacuum starting at $15; and the “king’s detail,” which includes hand wash and exterior wax, vacuum interior and trunk, clean tires and windows, and armor-all interior for as low as $100. For hand-wash or detail-wash appointment, call 903.567.4738 or 903.312.3985.
Runner up: Mitchell’s in Wills Point
Best Dry Cleaner
A repeat winner. If you bring your dry cleaning in by 9 a.m. you can pick it up by 5 p.m. the same day. Other services include laundry, pressing of both clothes and drapes, cleaning wedding dresses, and even renting tuxedos. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Chandler’s also has full-service facilities in Athens and Gun Barrel City, and a drop-off space at Mary Ellen’s in Edom.
Runner Up: Keep U Neat, Wills Point
Best Feed Store
Love’s Feed and Seed, Van
Conveniently located next to the stop sign downtown, Love’s Feed and Seed sells all types of fertilizer and herbicides, along with feed for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, poultry, parakeets, dogs, cats, and more. William Love has owned the store for four years now, and keeps it open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 to noon Saturday.
Runners up: Circle E Ben Wheeler and Edgewood Feed Store
Expressions of Love, Wills Point
Right where Hwy. 64 abuts Hwy. 80, Expressions of Love has grown, in eight years, from a tiny, rundown gas station to a spacious business filled with fresh-cut flowers, potted green and blooming plants, artificial flowers, wreaths, a selection of gift items, tuxedos, and decorative windmills as tall as 15 feet. Owner Pamela LaTain Remmers is especially proud of her “honeymoon night” packages which she said draw a lot of repeat business. No, they’re not just for honeymoons but for any special occasions and can include rose petals, flowers, champagne or non-alcoholic champagne, bath oils and bubble bath, chocolate-covered strawberries, and balloons.
Runners up: Ben & Neva’s in Grand Saline, Billie Rose Floral in Canton
Best Gift Shop
Blue Rooster, Edgewood
Primarily selling specialty foods and a variety of kitchenware, Blue Rooster also has a variety of gifts ranging from picture frames to plush toys for kids to ceramics. Check out the selection of framed Texas flags and maps. Open since September, Blue Rooster’s mission is to offer what county residents need day to day as well as specialty items including Ghirardelli chocolates and other gourmet snacks; French feta cheese; Greek kalamata olives; flavored syrups for coffee, tea, and baking; and an assortment of sugar-free foods. Owners Mamie Shuman (pictured) and Alan Roush also plan to offer cooking classes taught by area chefs.
Runner up: Mary Ellen’s, Edom
The Laundry Room, Canton
Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, The Laundry Room features 18 regular single-wash machines, four double loaders, nine triple loaders, three giant loaders, and 30 dryers. Cindy Staton’s on site from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and Ramona Winder is there the same hours on the weekend to keep the place clean and take care of bundle service. Behind Brookshire’s near Hwys. 19 and 243, The Laundry Room also has soap, snacks, change, magazines and paperback books, and a couple of game machines.
Runner up: Edgewood Laundry
Best Hair Salon
Gloria’s Beauty Salon, Edgewood
With the motto “originality is our business,” Gloria’s attracts women – and men – from all over the county. Gloria Campbell has operated the place for 35 years and her son, Darren Campbell, has worked there for 28 years. Gloria’s is a full-service salon specializing in color, perms, and haircuts, including men’s haircuts. They also sell Redken and Matrix hair-care products. Darren believes he’s worked with half the women in the county. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with late appointments available.
Runners up: The Cutting Company in Wills Point, and East of Edom
Best Hardware Store
Erwin Hardware, Edgewood
Find a little bit of everything at this store that’s been open for more than 50 years, including but not limited to a huge selection of plumbing supplies; washers, dryers, water heaters, and other appliances; welding supplies; garden supplies; tools; and even a laser-engraving shop and an embroidery shop to customize hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts, etc. New owners John and Vicki Dolan also continue to carry credit for folks, as did previous owner Jackie Workman. Jackie still works at the store part-time, as does long-time employee Linda Whitfield pictured below with John. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Runner up: Ace Hardware, Canton
Best Ladies Apparel
Mary Ellen’s, Edom
The clothes come from markets in Paris, Dallas, and New York. Customers regularly come from as far away as Louisiana and Oklahoma, and visitors come from all over the country once or twice a year when they’re in the area to see relatives. Mary Ellen’s sells a large line of “fun” plus sizes, lots of “bling-bling” out-there kinda clothes, and basic clothes for all ages including infants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or whenever the last customer leaves on Sunday. Note that the store plans a move – perhaps as early as January – across the street. The current store will become an eBay consignment store for antiques, furniture, and other items; walk-in visitors will still be welcome.
Runners up: Zacki’s Unique Boutique, and Beall’s, Canton
Best One-Hour Film Developing
A repeat winner: One-hour services include converting slides and negatives to CD, making 8X10 and 5X7 greeting cards, removing redeye, adding holiday and seasonal borders, and plain old-fashioned film developing (except for the 110 size). Or you can make your own prints from digital cameras or by scanning old photos. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week (closing at 6 p.m. on Sunday); if you come in by 8 p.m., you can get your pictures by 9 p.m.
Runner up: CVS Pharmacy, Canton
Tractor Supply Company, Canton
A repeat winner: If you’re looking for overalls, voters say, without a doubt, the best place to go is Tractor Supply Company. You can buy a pair from size 30 all the way up to size 60 for anywhere from 30 bucks to 70 bucks or so. From four different manufacturers (Car Hartt, Liberty, Walls, and store brand C.E. Schmidt), you can get the traditional dark blue or blue-and-white striped denim, and you can get inflated or uninsulated overalls in black or brown woven duck fabric. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Best Party Supplies
Shelves filled with balloons, streamers, and confetti; with party favors such as noisemakers and other goody bag stuff; colorful juvenile party supplies with matching plates, napkins, invitations, and party favors; with solid coordinated colors plates and napkins for the older kids. Baby and wedding shower supplies, too. And customers can pick up a cake from the bakery or custom order one 24 hours a day (except for Christmas day).
Runner up: KC Party Supply
Tami and Mike Crawford bought the store last March, and former owner H.D. Moore still works there part-time. Tami and H.D. are pictured below. Edgewood Drug is one of the few compounding pharmacies around. That means they’ll customize medication as requested by a doctor to meet the needs of a patient who needs more or less than a standard prescription. There are a few gift items and snacks available in the store, but most of the shelves are filled with over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies; behind the counter, the supply of prescription drugs is broad. Edgewood Drug also provides medications for veterinarians all over the state. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Runner up: Bruce & Human, Wills Point
Best Place to get a new Pick Up Truck
Lewis Chevrolet, Canton
A repeat winner. One of the benefits of advertising is that people know your name. Inventory is good, prices are low, and eager sales folks want to sell you a car. And, yes, folks have showed up at 2 o’clock in the morning from time to time. Probably just to see if the slogan is true.
Runner up: John Crow Pontiac Buick GMC
Best Place to Exercise
Go Figure, Edgewood
Open since March 2005, Go Figure Fitness for Women offers 30-minute workouts and uses dual-resistant hydraulic machines, treadmills, a Body by Jake, a Thigh Eliminator, air-resistance bikes, and elliptical trainers (crosses between bikes and step machines). The youngest member is 10; the oldest 88. Owner Kim Dunn pictured above on the bicep-tricep machine, has lived in Edgewood since 1994, She said she once weighed 300 pounds and concluded that the solution wasn’t a fad diet, but modified eating habits and regular exercise. Morning hours are 6-10 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7-11 a.m. Saturdays; evening hours are 2-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and 2-6 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday.
Runner up: Curves, Canton and Van
Best Plant Nursery
Bruce Miller Nursery, Edgewood
Find trees, shrubs, flowers, seeds, bulbs, soil, tools, and more at the retail center, and consult the center’s friendly and helpful experts about any of these plants or soil, lawn and garden care, fertilizer, indoor gardening, landscaping, mulching and composting, pruning, perennials, annuals and much more. Products include bedding plants, perennials, herbs, roses, shrubs, an assortment of trees, houseplants/tropicals, palms, soil amendments, pottery, potting soil, and mulches.
Runner up: Blue Moon Gardens
Best Public Place to Visit with Neighbors
The Shed, Edom
With so many customers coming through the doors, you’re bound to run into somebody you know. If you don’t, talk to the waitresses. Either way, you can catch up on all the local gossip.
LIFE & LEISURE
Best Annual Event
Log Cabin Bazaar & Festival, Edgewood
The annual festival – just completing its 28th year – is scheduled every November to look back at what life was like at the beginning of the 20th century. Organizers say they pack two days worth of activities into a single day, including country crafts, reenactments by the “peacemakers,” music, dancing, gourmet bake sale, quilt show, pet show, classic car show, vintage tractors, CASI chili cook-off, demonstrations by “smittys” with the North Texas Blacksmith Association, photos with Santa in the dogtrot cabin, demonstrations of vintage crafts, and the old presses in the Edgewood Print Shop. The food court offers a large variety of country cooking.
Runner up: Edom Festival of Arts
Best Basketball Court
Van High School
As home to last season’s AAA state championship boys’ team and to a girls’ team that made the playoffs, it’s no wonder that Van High School would win the balloting for best basketball court. The spacious, colorful – lot’s of red – facility seats about 2,000 people comfortably and features a center-court, overhead scoreboard. The gym also is used in summer-league play for both boys and girls.
Runner up: Edgewood High School
Best Day Trip
Heritage Park Museum, Edgewood
Edgewood Heritage Park, owned and operated by the nonprofit Edgewood Historical Society, was founded in 1976 as an ongoing bicentennial project. It includes authentically restored and furnished structures representing rural life in East Texas circa 1900. The park includes 14 restored and furnished structures, such as a the print shop, blacksmith shop, barber shop, band stand, gas station, pioneer cabins, and a windmill.
Runner up: Edom
Best Exotic Wildlife Ranch
Caruth Byrd Wildlife Foundation, Van
Located on 325 acres near FM 16 and Interstate 20, the Caruth Byrd Wildlife Foundation provides a refuge for animals from around the world, several listed as endangered species. Among the thousand or so animals are lions, tigers, a black bear, monkeys, leopards, jaguars, a zebra, a coyote, wolves, kangaroos, pot-bellied pigs, turkeys, geese, deer, elands, sheep, and other hooved animals. Byrd operates the center as a haven for sick or injured animals. The center, with eight full-time employees, isn’t normally open to the public, but Byrd has been known to open occasionally for tours or special events. Runner up: Wiley’s, Canton
Best Fishing Lake
A repeat winner: Tawakoni’s 200-mile shoreline provides water-oriented recreation for much of central northeast Texas. There are hosts of marinas, camps and parks along wooded shores with boat ramps, weather reporting station, and designated water ski areas. Fishing guides, and bait and tackle are available. Lake Tawakoni State Park is a 376.3-acre park with 5.2 miles of shoreline along the south central shore. It offers hiking trails, campsites, beaches, boat docks, picnic areas, and cabins.
Runner up: Callendar Lake
Best Golf Course
Van Zandt Country Club, Canton
Built in 1966, the 18-hole, par-72 course with bent-grass greens and Bermuda grass fairways is designed with the average golfer in mind. The fairways are tree lined, and the greens are well manicured. The wind is often a major factor on this course. The course is closed on Mondays, but open all year.
Runner up: Twin Lakes, Canton
Best Historical Marker
Voters chose this B&B on the strength of its status, owner Pattizo Humphries believes, as the only county landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a process that goes through the Texas Historical Commission first and then to the national register. The 1894 home won its status as an architectural example of the Victorian Queen Anne style of farmhouse with its three porches, gingerbread trim, upper-floor gables, and frame construction.
Runner up: Red Caboose in Wills Point
Best Indoor Play Area for Kids
The refurbished play area includes a slide to slide on, a tunnel to crawl through and explore, tic tac toe to test the tot’s talent, and other goodies for kids, including video games on a 19-inch screen. There’s also a toddler area. McDonald’s opens at 5 a.m. every day; it’s open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Runner up: Burger King
Heritage Park Museum, Edgewood
The museum’s purpose is to preserve the rural culture and architectural heritage of Texas to ensure present and future generations an opportunity to celebrate their heritage. The village covers parts of three downtown city blocks in Edgewood, and is the site for many community celebrations. The film industry has chosen this quiet, rural village as the setting for scenes in several television productions. Educational programs are offered to schools with the emphasis on the third and fourth grades. During the tours, students experience activities of yesteryear through demonstrations by costumed and trained docents. For more information, call 903-896-1940 or 903-896-4358.
Runner up: Train Depot, Wills Point
Best Outing with the Kids & Best Playground
The Park on Cherry Creek, Canton
Still known informally as The Park on Cherry Creek, the unnamed, eight-acre park’s phase one is impressive enough to win both best playground and best outing with the kids. The centerpiece is a sprawling, castle-themed wooden playscape to climb and crawl through, with sandboxes and other amenities. The master plan calls for walking trails to be in place by, oh, maybe April and for picnic tables, a Frisbee golf course, and other improvements still to come. The Pennies for the Park campaign raised funds for the playscape and, with the help of close to 800 volunteers, put it together with the City of Canton. Another workday is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 14.
Best People-Watching Spot
First Monday Trade Days, Canton
A repeat winner. World-class people watching, with sometimes as many as 250,000 people to see on First Monday weekends with its collection vendors, bargain hunters, and tourists. Listen, too, for the accents of people from Tyler to Timbuktu, from Dallas to Damascus, from Athens (Texas) to Athens (Greece). It’s a mecca for photographers and for people curious about the rest of the world.
Best Place for a Kid’s Party
Whatever the occasion – it’s usually, but not always, a birthday – voters like the party pack at McDonald’s. For parties of 10, each child gets a gift bag, a happy meal, and balloons as well as a host for an hour. The “party child” gets a birthday present and a cake with a Ronald McDonald figure on it. Party times are 1, 3, and 5 p.m. on the weekends (except for First Monday, which is just too busy); during the week, parties are usually scheduled for 6 p.m. or later.
Runners up: Wits End in Van and Jerry’s Pizza in Canton
Best Place to Meet Your Friends
Country Junction Quilt Store, Wills Point
A repeat winner. Country Junction Quilt Store has a warm and inviting atmosphere where women, and men, like to get together to quilt and sew and chat away the hours. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays), visitors come and go and enjoy good friends throughout the week. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Runner up: The Shed, Edom
Best Small Town Dance
Edgewood Senior Citizens Dance
A repeat winner. Every Thursday night from 7 to 9:30 p.m., 75 or so people a month gather at the senior citizens center to dance to the music of Dean Rogers and the Country Capers, and to share a full covered dish dinner at 8 p.m. Chairs are pushed back against the wall, goodies are waiting on the counter, and couples are swinging on the dance floor. At $4 a person, it’s one of the best bargains around. The dance isn’t just for seniors; everybody is invited.
Runner up: Edom City Limits
Best Swimming Pool
When the Grand Saline city council decided it wouldn’t be able to fund the city swimming pool in 2005, it turned the management over to local residents under the banner of Save the Pool. With successful fundraising in the fall, winter, and spring, Save the Pool kept the pool open. City employees chipped in to repair the underwater lighting so that the pool could be open for party rentals during the evenings. Because of these efforts, people from all over the county and as far away as Alba and Mineola enjoyed the pool all summer – so much so that Save the Pool will operate it again in 2006.
Runner up: Van Zandt Country Club
MEDIA & MARKETING
Dairy Palace, Canton
A repeat winner: “World Famous” is a cool marketing tool, even when applied to something as ordinary as a hamburger. First Monday Trade Days visitors from all over the world have stopped by and enjoyed a Dairy Palace hamburger. Because of its simplicity and because, in however small a way, the idea rubs off on local folks, too. We all like to be part of something bigger.
Runner up: The sign on Highway 19 next to the East Texas Workforce Center urging us to “Keep East Texas Purddy!” by stopping illegal dumping. Call the East Texas Anti-Dumping Hotline at 1-877-A-DUMPER.
Best Radio DJ
Tom Perryman, KKUS 104.1
A repeat winner: Tom Perryman is a member of the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame with his roots firmly planted in East Texas. He got his start in radio in the 1940s at KEBE in Jacksonville, and went on to promote such acts as Jim Ed Brown, Hank Thompson, and Elvis Presley as a DJ at KSIJ in Gladewater. He once co-owned KGRI in Henderson with Jim Reeves. Quite a few Van Zandt County residents listen to KKUS from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday to hear Tom play the legends of country music and tell the stories behind their songs.
Runners up: Bob Mauldin at KKUS and Mike Harper at KVNE
“Get Fed at The Shed”
Simple, to the point, true. And it rhymes. Somebody on the staff came up with the slogan at a brainstorming session, though co-owner Joanne Martinez is danged if she can remember who.
Runner up: Henry Lewis’ “I’ll meet you at two in the morning if I know you’re coming.”
Best TV News Coverage
NBC 5 became the first television station in Texas back in 1948, broadcasting President Harry S. Truman's visit to Fort Worth. In recent years, it’s also become the top-rated news show in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, too, so it’s no surprise that people in Van Zandt County tune in.
Runner up: Channel 11
It’s local. It’s straightforward. It markets popular products. It loads quickly, with the phrase, “Every candle is hand crafted in Texas with love, prayer, and quality old time workmanship, direct from our family to yours!” You can almost smell the candles burning.
Ryan Ayers, Ben Wheeler
Ryan is a 21-yea-old student from Ben Wheeler who’s attending Tyler Junior College and plans to transfer to Savannah College of Art and Design. He didn’t discover his interest in art – “capturing the essence of life,” as he puts it – until he was a senior in high school; already, he’s displaying and selling his work at art fairs. Ryan’s adventurous, imaginative paintings are mostly done in oils. He’s also experimenting with other mediums including airbrush, digital painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. See his painting “Dreamer of Dreams” on the cover of this month’s Van Zandt County Line and some of his other work at http://www.lucentvisions.com.
Runner up: Paige Bridges, Wills Point
Best Auto Mechanic
Randy Nipp, Edom
Randy does the “aw shucks” bit and claims he’s not a mechanic at all. He said he changes tires and the oil, checks the antifreeze and “stuff like that” while Harold Weigman does the real mechanic work at Edom Service Station.
Runnersup: Dennis Smith of Edgewood, Greg Wilson of Van
Jake Sims, Edgewood
Jake Sims retired about three years ago, but still comes in to Jake’s Barbershop in Edgewood from time to time when Dewey Meroney, who owns the place now with his wife, Nora, wants to go fishing. Dewey worked at Jake’s for more than five years before buying the place. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon Saturday. Jake still keeps his original barber chair in his home outside Edgewood
Best Bull Rider
Matt Austin, Wills Point
An easy choice. Matt, pictured below, is the world champion bull rider for 2005, winning that honor from Championship Bull Riding, Inc., on track to set the all time money earnings record in professional bull riding. The 2001 Wills Point High School graduate was 2003 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association rookie of the year, 2004 National Finals Rodeo qualifier, and 2004 reserve world champion.
Crisler’s Catering, Wills Point
Offering anything from barbecue to burgers, steaks to chicken-fried steak to chicken, seafood to sandwiches to finger food for as many as 500 people, Crisler’s cooks onsite or delivers prepared food for all sorts of occasions. In business for five years now, Crisler’s does a lot of work in the Tyler area and “for people who know us” at schools and churches in the Van Zandt County area.
Runners up: The Farmhouse, Karen’s Cuisine, Rod’s Barbecue
Dr. John Turner, Canton
A repeat winner: Among more than 50 physicians in the area, one of the longest-standing family medicine practices belongs to Turner Clinic, dating back to 1936 when the first Dr. John Turner opened his practice. Since 1976, his son, Dr. John Turner II, has carried on his father’s original practice during the day and spending many evenings seeing patients in both Canton nursing homes and at similar facilities in other area towns.
Runner up: Dr. Kenneth Nixon
Nellie Landaverde, Edom
Not much older than 21, Nellie Landaverde, pictured above, is a long-time employee of The Shed along with two sisters and a brother, all of whom were pretty much raised in the restaurant.
Runner up: Javier Zarate at Dairy Palace, Canton
Freddie Martinez says he believes in helping anybody he can, being as honest as he can be, and trying to do a good job at a good price. He’s done a little bit of everything in the handyman world, including plumbing, electrical, sheet rock work, painting, carpentry, and carpet laying.
Runner up: Dean Marquez
Best Theatre Actor/Actress
R.J. Norman, a graduate of Edgewood High School, had roles in the Tyler Civic Theater’s “Gershwin by George” in 2005 and “Red Hot and Cole” in 2004. Also a singer and dancer, he tried out for the American Idol 2006 season but we can’t tell you how he did because we’ll honor the secrecy clause in his contract. In high school, he acted in several plays with the Van Zandt Community Theatre. R.J. has his associate’s degree from Tyler Junior College and, like so many actors, he’s now waiting tables while waiting for his future to unfold.
Drs. Elton Davis and Tim Eberhardt at Canton Veterinary Clinic
Dr. Elton Ray Davis bought this clinic, established back in the 1950s, in 1977. He's run it with Dr. Tim Eberhart since 1989, taking care of all kinds of dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other animals including exotics like lions, tigers, elephants, and monkeys. One of their more unusual patients was a rare pygmy hippo who gave birth at Caruth Byrd's Wildlife Refuge in Van. There have only been 12 to 15 pygmy hippos ever born in captivity. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, with a 24-hour paging system.
Runner up: Dr. Dwayne Collins, Edom
Kathy Dunson at The Shed, Edom
The youthful-looking Kathy, pictured above, – whose 20-year-old daughter, Tanya, also works at The Shed – is popular with customers because of her quick smile and prompt service. When she’s not waitressing, you might find her behind the cash register taking care of the profits.
Runner up: C.C. Anderson at Jewel’s, Canton
Best Wal-Mart Greeter
Tie: Sarah Musgrove and Joyce Rowe
Sarah and Joyce are both long-time greeters at Wal-Mart, Sarah mostly working evenings and Joyce mostly working days. It’s a good job because they get paid, in essence, to visit with friends. That’s an exaggeration, because they help strangers, too, by pointing them in the right direction. They greet customers, make sure shoppers have a buggy, and help out when it’s raining. Over time, they get to know most of the regulars. “We’ll recognize people and tell them if grandma or mom is in the store,” Sarah said. “We give out smiley faces to the beautiful children.”