It's not Disneyland, but where else can the kids swim and play all day, the parents can relax and feel the South Texas breeze, rent is cheap, and the juke box music memorable? Families use to come and stay two weeks at a time. If he had to, Dad would drop the tent or trailer and come back later. and pick up the gang. "Garner Moms" would manage the campsite or supervise at the swimming hole. Life was great. Park entrance lines in the summer got long, sometimes a mile long. In the year 2020 came a new on-line reservation system. Two weeks is still the limit, but you have to be on-line at 8am, 5 months to-the-day, ahead of time to pull-up those available campsites you and your related families want. Often today you may need to be helped by making your reservations over the phone. A two- or three-day vacation at the park is the norm these days. It's not the same Garner vacation.
Before the original juke box was installed in the 1950’s, bands used to come play on Saturday nights to the dancing crowds. The western swing came to Texas after WWII, supposed via California, but we have since put our own twist on it. The Garner Whip was a revision of the West Coast swing. There’s even a spot on the dancefloor some of the people from the 60’s called the Whipping Block. There is a “Garner Park 60’s Style” reunion every year the weekend before Memorial Day. You can see some of the great dancers from the late 50’s 60’s and 70’s whipping it up on the dancefloor, showing their dancing skills they learned at Garner.
Many take a hayride provided by Friends of Garner volunteers each summer. The ride currently circles the northside of the park using the Frio Canyon Trail. On rainy days they might take the ride up the old entrance road and turn around inside the old entrance to the park. For ten years or more the Garner Interpretive Ranger and two more volunteers would hold a sunset serenade at the larger turnout on the old entrance road. The Friends of Garner also had the Sahawe Dancers perform as well at the old entrance road turnout. Help these traditions continue by volunteering as a driver, narrator, performer, or support person.
There's an 18-hole putting golf course near the Garner Park pavilion. Everyone needs to shoot the canon, get pass the spoke wheel, and see their golf ball disappear back into the ground returning to the candy shop for the next player to use. The record held for the most holes in one was ???
Often campers put up strings of paper plates with letters spelling out where they were from. Houston, Waco, Baytown, Weslaco, Raymondville, Corpus, Portland, and others were common.
Often campers played games at their campsites and hosted competitions with other campsites. Games such as washers, cornhole, volleyball, dominoes, and cards. Spades was a popular card game back in the sixties. During the summer, the hardware store in Leakey (Lay-key) couldn't keep enough 2-inch washers on hand. Today, cornhole bag sets can be purchased at Gibson's in Kerrville.