Cottonwood Rocks Festival ready to ‘rock’ the region



Event organizers Mary Ann Plumley, left, and her daughter Lauren Vance, sit with wooden hand-crafted trophies, created by Cottonwood Shores Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Sherry, a professional woodworker. “These are unique trophies. There’s never going to be anyone else with one like it,” Plumley said.

By Emily Hilley-Sierzchula

It’s a homespun affair that has depended on the “gung-ho” spirit of community volunteerism for which Cottonwood Shores is known. Now, residents in the small city are poised to “rock the region” with the inaugural Cottonwood Rocks Festival on Saturday, Oct. 18.

Setting up in Community Park on Birch Lane will be some 24 vendors offering mostly arts and crafts items, a barbecue cook-off and a concert by the Wesley Westbrook Band.

A mom-and-daughter team has been organizing the free event for more than a year and, as the date comes closer, it has become a community effort for a community cause.

Mary Ann Plumley’s goal is to raise money to for the volunteer fire department and to add art programs at the library, she said.

“We have a lot of talent in the city, especially painting talent,” Plumley said. “We’re on track to break even this year, but if there’s anything left over that’s where it will go.” Income will come from booth rental and barbecue contest fees.

Lauren Vance, Plumley’s daughter and co-organizer, said some folks think of Cottonwood Shores as a gas station between Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay. “I’m hoping it’ll make people in the area more aware of what Cottonwood Shores has to offer,” she said. “We’re a small community that’s growing, upgrading, bringing in new businesses, fixing roads and becoming more beautiful,” Vance said. “We want Cottonwood Shores to blossom and become a prosperous town.”

The short-term goal is to bring the community together for a day and night of fun.

“What better way to get people together? It’s going to be a gigantic block party,” Vance said.

The name is a double entendre: The concert will “rock,” and the region is known for its geology. It’s the granite capital of Texas, after all.

Plumley and her daughter have organized the event without funds until around three months ago when some sponsorship money started coming in. “We do the best we can with what we’ve been given,” Vance said.

Although city administration, the volunteer fire department and city council have not been directly involved in organizing the event, their combined support has been prevalent.

“When Mary Ann first brought this before the council, there was a good bit of discussion about it,” said Mayor Donald Orr. “We all agreed it would be something positive for the city, but we didn’t want it to be a city-run event. Mary Ann was glad to do it, and she’s done one whale of a job.”

City administration waived all permitting fees and allowed the use of city property, barricades and the library for the event.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Orr said. “The city is eager to support something like this. It’s going to bring people into Cottonwood Shores.”

The city police department will have an officer at the event the entire time, with more available if needed. “Chief [Harold] Piatt is so excited; he thinks we’re underestimating the number of people who will show up, he thinks it’ll be more than 300.”

Almost everyone in the community has something to contribute.

The three trophies for the barbecue winners were handmade by Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Sherry, a lifelong woodworker and retired carpenter. “When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Let me see what I can come up with,’” Plumley said. Sherry said he worked on the trophies for about three days and they are made out of mesquite, cypress and pecan.

Keeping with the event’s theme, the trophies will be adorned with rocks. Vance and her kids have gone rock-hunting. “We have a wagon full, now we need to go through them,” she said.

Councilman Marley Porter has arranged with a friend for portable bathrooms at little to no cost. Porter and Sherry will be clearing an overgrown lot needed for the event.

Vance is going to put her sons to work. “They’re going to be water boys for the band. It’s a family effort.”

The Cottonwood Shores volunteer spirit is in full swing. Volunteers will be most of the security, and the “hospitality room” for vendors and musicians will be staffed by volunteers, led by Jean Langendorf and Wendy Wayson, who are recruiting more volunteers.

The smell of barbecue will likely permeate the air. Five categories of food will be judged: brisket, chicken, ribs, beans and desserts. A couple of Cottonwood Shores local teams, “Two Trashcans and a Dumpster” and “Triple Crown,” are participants.

CSVFD will be the first responders, with a Marble Falls Area EMS ambulance at the event for backup.

The helipad will be transformed into a dance floor. CSVFD will be selling food and nonalcoholic drinks, as well as handing out fire preparedness information.

Cookers will likely donate either food or proceeds from their sales to the CSVFD, Vance said.

Plumley used personal connections to get Wesley Westbrook to bring his band from Brenham. “I’ve known Wesley since he was about 10 years old,” Plumley said, explaining that she is friends with his family.

Vance said that Westbrook is “ready to go.” “He’s all for it,” she said.

Plumley said she is “thrilled” with the help she’s gotten from the community. “We’ve never had anything like this in the city.”

Both organizers and city leadership said they hope this will become an annual event that will bring in revenue for the city.

Alcohol will not be allowed on fire department property, a rule that organizers emphasized will be enforced.

Arts and crafts vendors will sell their unique wares from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The Wesley Westbrook Band concert will perform from 6-10 p.m.

For more information, visit their Facebook page or email Lauren or Mary Ann at

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