In 2016, a major project on IH-35 threatened the small, historic town of Salado just north of Jarrell, endangering local businesses with the construction that made it no easy feat to get into town. “Salado bounced back and has grown exponentially in the last five years,” Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Organ says. “We get calls from people who haven’t been to Salado in a long time, wondering how the town is doing. It’s doing well, you should come check it out.”
Each holiday season, thousands of visitors do just that during the Scottish Gathering and Highland Games as well as a Stroll that lights up the town with the sights and sounds of Christmas.
The Scottish Gathering has been, literally, strong for 61 years, but organizers have only recently been able to get the message out that the event is open to everyone. “For a long time, people thought they had to be Scottish to attend,” Salado Museum Director Dave Swarthout says. “Over the past two or three years, we’ve finally impressed upon the general public that attendance isn’t about ethnicity. The Scottish Gathering is a festival for learning and fun, and everyone is welcome.”
From November 11-13, a celebration of all things Scottish will feature a Calling of the Clans torchlight ceremony, highland games, music and dancing, Celtic vendors, a Scottish dog parade and costume contest, a Bonniest Knees contest, and 44 clans from all over the U.S. who will enlighten listeners on Scottish history and genealogy.
Click here for the events schedule and ticket information. Ticket proceeds will support the Salado Museum and College Park.
Carolers, a holiday parade, horse-drawn carriage rides down Main Street—each year Salado transforms into a Hallmark town. Save the date for the 62nd Salado Christmas Stroll December 2-4 and 9-11. “We’re delighted to host thousands of people in the little town of Salado every weekend,” Amanda says.
A lighted Christmas parade will kick off the festivities at 6:30pm on December 1, followed by two weekend strolls during which visitors can enjoy pictures with Santa, food trucks, caroling, trolley and carriage rides, and performances of A Christmas Carol at the Table Rock Amphitheatre. While the Stroll is a fun event for locals and newcomers alike, it’s also a way to support Salado’s businesses, which will be open late for Christmas shoppers. “It’s kind of their make-or-break time of year,” Amanda says. For that reason, only Salado-based vendors will be featured throughout the Stroll. “It’s truly a community event.”
Click here to learn more about the Stroll and the Salado Chamber of Commerce’s events.
The quaint little town of Salado is home to around 30 historic sites—from the museum that celebrates Salado’s Scottish heritage to the ruins of the first co-educational college in Texas.
After burning down three times, the Salado College site now serves as a venue for bridal showers, weddings, military ceremonies, even an equestrian photoshoot and many other events.
Plus, despite Salado’s exponential growth in the last few years, the stores on Main Street have remained the same, creaky wood floors and all. “It’s not like going into a strip mall. It’s unique,” Amanda says.