Brownwood has been feeling the buzz from a variety of visitors over the last few years coming to town to check out all of the things going on in the city. From new businesses to downtown murals, and signature events, people are becoming more and more curious about Brownwood. When we heard that Chet Garner was considering Brownwood for an episode of his Emmy-Award-winning PBS show, The Daytripper, we were over the moon and could not wait to have Chet Visit Brownwood.
Before we get into the visit, you might be interested to know a little bit about Chet. Born in Comanche and raised in Port Neches, Texas, Chet’s love for storytelling began at a young age around the Boy Scout campfire and toting around his grandfather’s VHS video camera staging elaborate productions in his backyard. Chet earned a degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin and went on to graduate first in his class from Baylor Law School.
Chet’s Brownwood Destinations
During his filming in Brownwood, Chet and his crew spent a couple of days in town and spent a lot of time getting to know some of our community members, including Mayor Stephen Haynes. The team stayed at Harper House and made their way to the following locations: Underwood’s Cafeteria, Intermission Bookshop, The Brown County Museum of History, Lehnis Railroad Museum and Visitor’s Center, Lake Brownwood State Park, Over the Rainbow, and Lucille+ Mabel Libations. Here are a few unique details from their visits to each location.
Underwood’s Cafeteria and BBQ
We all know Underwood’s is a legendary Brownwood restaurant known for yeast rolls, cherry cobbler, fried chicken, and their unique BBQ. Co-owner Paul Underwood talked a lot about the family legacy of Underwood’s and the secretive nature of their BBQ beef–despite Chet’s efforts to crack the code. He also “deputized” Chet and gave him the duty of delivering hot rolls to the lunch-time customers. What was really cool was the fact that Chet’s mom and her friends and family came to visit Brownwood and surprised Chet at Underwood’s. Chet shares an entertaining lunch with his mom during the episode, and it is nice to see that mother still knows best.
Brown County Museum of History
The Brown County Museum of History is mostly a hands-on museum, meaning you can touch and interact with the artifacts on display. So in the episode, you will see Chet trying on unique hats, walking through a log cabin, and getting thrown in the jail, which is also part of the museum and was built in 1903 and actively used into the 1980s. The museum provides tours of the jail, which Chet thinks looks like a castle, which is located across the street from the museum.
Over the Rainbow
After having a lot of fun at the jail, Chet headed to Over the Rainbow to meet with Mayor Stephen Haynes to discuss the growth and revitalization of downtown Brownwood. Of course, they did not miss the chance to try a few of owner Julie McDermed’s scratch-made ice cream flavors, including the unique ube (Filipino purple yam) flavor. Chet and the mayor discussed the growth in locally-owned businesses, and the return to a downtown community the Feels Like Home.
Intermission Bookshop has been a bit of a social media darling with videos of their book arch going viral across all kinds of social platforms. However, it was the history of World War II soldiers from Camp Bowie leaning their heads against the wall to get some sleep when the building was a theatre that captivated Chet. One of the highlights of the episode is Chet’s “class” teaching stuffed animals about the wonderful place called Texas–just don’t make the mistake of falling asleep in his history class.
Lehnis Railroad Museum and Visitor’s Center
Spend a little bit of time in Brownwood and you will begin to realize that the railroad system played a big part in the city’s history. From the Train Depot to the Lehnis Railroad Museum, the railroad helped build Brownwood. At the museum, Chet discovered model trains of many scales and even actual train cars that you can walk through and see how people traveled in the past. The museum provides all kinds of interactive and educational displays, including mini-train rides, which Chet was more than happy to take for a ride. Something they won’t tell you in the show is that Chet and his crew broke the train twice, and had to have it fixed up for filming.
Lake Brownwood State Park
Lake Brownwood State Park provided the perfect escape for Chet and his crew to the outdoors. Exploring the trails, and lakeside area was a show highlight. So many people don’t realize how much the park has to offer, and the great views, and historic structures and architecture that Chet notes in this section. He was particularly impressed by the fact that The Texas Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this park and others from the ground up across the state, creating the Texas State Park system.
Lucille + Mabel Libations
Last but not least, Chet met and shared a few food and drink samples with Luille + Mabel owner Christian Nantz who, along with his wife, named the restaurant after their grandmothers. From the uniforms of the service staff to the giant whiskey wall and old-fashioned drip system, it becomes clear very quickly that this is not your typical Brownwood restaurant. The building is a renovated bank building with the old safe intact. After a long day of shooting, The Daytripper crew sampled the steaks and were amazed by the quality and flavor. Off the record, Chet said it might even be the best steak he has ever tasted.
Discovering the unexpected, the untold stories, and the hidden gems hiding in plain sight is all a part of what Chet Garner does for a living and we are thankful he quit his day job as an attorney to explore Texas and share its stories with the masses.