Most Texans know the state bird, state tree and state flower.
(That’s the mockingbird, pecan and bluebonnet for out-of-state folks.)
But did you know there may soon be an official hat, state pollinator and official nickname for Texas?
In between creating a state budget and drafting legislation touching on everything from schools to roads, Texas lawmakers focused on some of the simpler things in life this year.
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During the 84th Legislature, which wrapped up June 1, they made sure that the cowboy hat is the official state hat of Texas, the western honeybee is the official state pollinator of Texas and “Lone Star State” is the official nickname for Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law many of the proposals and has until the end of Sunday to sign or veto proposals or they officially become law without his signature.
“The resolutions are lots of fun,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. “In fact a radio station in McAllen, Edinburgh, KURV, suggested that the Legislature name me ‘The Unofficial Political Scientist of Texas.’ I thought it was a great idea, but never reached fruition.
“Some may think these resolutions ridiculous, but they add a bit of levity to usual boring legislative business.”
Here’s a look at some of the new official designations that made their way through the Legislature this session.
Tip of the hat? At long last, the distinguished and long-revered cowboy hat will have its day in the sun, gaining the official designation as the official State Hat of Texas.
“The cowboy hat symbolizes both the state’s iconic western culture and the uniqueness of its residents and it is indeed appropriate that this stylish and dignified apparel receive special legislative recognition,” according to House Concurrent Resolution 35, which has been signed into law.
Another measure, Senate Bill 1522, also signed into law, makes sure the fourth Saturday in July is known as the National Day of the Cowboy “in recognition of the historic, cultural, and social contributions of the cowboy.”
Wedding sites: It’s not too much of a well-kept secret, since more than 1,000 weddings are held each year in Dripping Springs. But lawmakers wanted to honor the Hill Country community with a special designation.
“Countless couples have selected Dripping Springs as the perfect spot to exchange the vows of matrimony and embark on a new life journey together in the presence of family and friends, and local residents take pride in the role their community plays in supporting the institution of marriage,” according to HCR43, signed by Abbott, that designates Dripping Springs as the Wedding Capital of Texas.
To bee or not to bee: Like it or not, the western honeybee is a common site in Texas, as it — with its easily recognizable black and yellow abdomen — flits from flower to flower. Lawmakers recognize the bee’s importance in making honey as well as pollinating crops.
“A creature as beautiful and memorable as the Texas sky, the western honey bee works each day to preserve the balance of nature, allowing our crops to flourish, the agriculture of Texas to thrive, and our economy to grow, and its unique relationship to the welfare of this land makes it a truly fitting symbol for the majestic spirit of the Lone Star State,” states HCR65, signed into law, which officially names the western honeybee the official State Pollinator of Texas.
Fly away: As the monarch butterfly begins its migration every year from its summer breeding grounds to its winter home in central Mexico, the East Texas city of Jasper “is fortunate to have a front row seat to this spectacular journey,” according to HCR69.
“Each year, the people of Jasper are fortunate witnesses to one of the grandest shows in nature, and by creating a welcoming environment for these beautiful creatures, they help to make their community an integral part of a wonderful natural process that has endured for millennia,” states the resolution signed by Abbott that names Jasper as the official Butterfly Capital of Texas.
Texas heritage: One of the iconic figures of Texas remains the vaquero, a Spanish cowboy or cattle driver, particularly in the area of Jim Hogg County, which has “beckoned ranchers for the past two centuries,” according to HCR77.
“Through a deep appreciation of the land and through expertise honed over centuries, the vaquero has contributed immeasurably to the settlement of South Texas and to the rich ranching heritage of the Lone Star State, and it is fitting that the county where he has played such a far-reaching role continue to be appropriately recognized,” states the resolution, already signed into law, which redesignates Jim Hogg County the official Vaquero Capital of Texas.
A rose by any other name: Texas has long been called many things, but no nickname has been so strong or identifiable as “the Lone Star State.” Lawmakers decided that it was finally time to make official the longtime moniker, which came about because of the one white star on the Texas flag.
“Whatever its origins, and whatever its uses, from the serious to the playful, the phrase ‘the Lone Star State’ has achieved universal currency as a sharp and memorable way to evoke the unique legacy of Texas and the indomitable spirit of its people,” according to HCR78, which makes “the Lone Star State” Texas’ official nickname.
Read to me: The city of Abilene has long worked to promote youth reading, by housing the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature and working on a collection of outdoor sculptures based on characters from classic children’s books. One walking through Everman Park could find statues ranging from Dr. Seuss’ characters to heroes found in creations by David Shannon and William Joyce.
“Literary works for children hold a cherished place on the bookshelves of Texas families, and the true greats of the genre weave captivating tales with dazzling artwork that is fondly remembered for a lifetime; by embracing and promoting an essential experience of childhood, residents of Abilene have established a delightful tradition for young and old alike, and their efforts have made the community a must-see destination for readers of all ages,” according to HCR93, signed by Abbott, which names Abilene the official Storybook Capital of Texas.
Hashtag this: Texas is on the verge of gaining three new official hashtags. HCR104 makes #txlege the official hashtag of the Legislature; HCR105 makes #Texas the official hashtag of the state; and HCR106 makes #TexasToDo the official hashtag of Texas tourism.
“Social media is transforming the way people the world over share their beliefs, ideals, wit and fancies,” one of the proposals says. “And the followers of #Texas are provided with an always fascinating and never-ending parade of what people talk about when they talk about Texas,” one resolution states.
Something fishy: Americans eat shrimp, but the bulk of it — around 90 percent — comes from foreign tank farms. And that, some Texans say, makes shrimp caught off the Gulf Coast of Texas a special tasty treat.
“Like barbecue and Tex-Mex, the shrimp caught off the Gulf Coast of Texas has become one of the signature foods of Lone Star cuisine and an essential part of the economy and the cultural heritage of our state,” according to HCR122, which designates the Texas Gulf shrimp as the official state crustacean of Texas.
Hanging fruit: Not all Texans may know this, but Terry County, southwest of Lubbock, grows more grapes than all the other counties in the state combined.
“In 2013, there were approximately 800 acres of vineyards in the county, constituting more than 80 percent of the grapes in the state; as many as 3,000 acres of grapes are expected to be planted in the county by the end of 2015 and 10,000 acres in the coming years,” according to Senate Concurrent Resolution 41, already signed by Abbott, which designates Terry County the official Grape Capital of Texas.
“Most Texans aren’t aware of these designations, but they are very important for individual members of the Legislature or for cities and industries that appreciate the name recognition,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
“They allow for a lot of credit claiming by Texans, who appreciate the name recognition.”
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610
State motto: Friendship
State song: Texas, Our Texas
State sport: Rodeo
State pie: Pecan
State dish: Chili
State pepper: Jalapeño
State domino game: 42
State folk dance: Square dance
State fish: Guadalupe bass
State fruit: Texas red grapefruit
State gem: Texas blue topaz
State insect: Monarch butterfly
State epic poem: The Legend of Old Stone Ranch, by John Worth Cloud
Cowboy Hat Capital of Texas: Garland
Alligator Capital of Texas: Anahuac
Home of the Official Kolache of the Texas Legislature: West
Horned Lizard Capital of Texas: Kenedy
Source: Texas State Library and Archives Commission