Happy Groundhog, er, Armadillo Day!

Here in Texas, we don’t need a fat, furry critter predicting the weather.


Groundhogs? We don’t need no stinkin’ groundhogs!

“Me and a band of my comrades put together Armadillo Day, and we did it on Groundhog Day just in defiance of having a Yankee source for our weather forecast,” says Terry Boothe, a self-employed real estate professional and self-described “Texas chauvinist” who lives in Bee Cave. (That’s about as close as he’ll come to divulging the location of the event, which is more or less private due to crowd concerns.)

“I was indignant about a groundhog from Pennsylvania forecasting the weather for Texas. Being, essentially, our own country, I thought we needed our own weather forecast,” Boothe says in a friendly, syrupy Southern drawl.

So every Feb. 2 — today marks the sixth year for the event — Boothe and friends gather for chili and tamales and watch an armadillo named “Bee Cave Bob” exit a burrow on the center line of a concrete slab painted to resemble a roadway.

“If the armadillo turns around and goes back in his hole, of course, we’re gonna have six more weeks of bad weather,” Boothe explains. “If he stays and does not go back in his burrow, then he’ll walk down that (center) line.”

Bob is a political animal: If he goes to the right, Boothe says, we’ll have more conservative trends in politics, and if he goes to the left, the climate will be more liberal.

The festivities are overseen by “a serious weatherologist” named Professor Al Manac and his sidekicks, Hugh Midity and Wayne Gauge, who lead the proceedings from a stage overlooking the armadillo pit. The trio are presumably members of the Benevolent Knights of the Raccoon, a fraternal organization Boothe and his buddies started about a decade ago after getting a phone pole on his family property formally designated as the “West Pole” by the Texas State Legislature.

“I decided that if there was a North Pole and a South Pole, there had to be an East Pole and a West Pole and, to my knowledge, nobody had claimed the West Pole,” Boothe says. The 98th meridian, which he claims Walter Prescott Webb and other famous Texas writers and historians have denoted as “the beginning of the west,” runs through Bee Cave.

Bob, who is kept and handled by Ralph Fisher of Ralph Fisher’s Photo Animals in La Grange, generally forecasts an early spring, Boothe says, and not by manipulation. “That just seems to be the way it’s been turning.”



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