Story and Photos by Lyn Odom-Cherenzia
"Welcome to Our Home." It's a sincere and warm welcome from the managers of the Twin Elm Guest Ranch, Kerry and Brigitte Hearnsberger. Located in Bandera, Texas, the Twin Elm is a guest ranch with a homey feeling, relaxed atmosphere and activities including horseback riding, BBQ's, hayrides, cookouts, chuck wagon breakfasts, swimming pool and frontage on the cool, clear Medina River where you can shoot the rapids in a tube, or just plop your backside down into the cool river's pools and watch the leaves in the trees blow in the wind. The Twin Elm is western style fun and relaxation at it's best. Wildlife is abundant, the beds have soft mattresses and quilts, there's ping-pong, a pool table and a video and book library in the "living room area". There are no TV's or phones in the private rooms, but those conveniences are available to you on the Recreation Porch. There's plenty of horses and a few dogs to pat and the wranglers can answer about any question you may have about the cowboy way of life.
The Twin Elm was established in 1939 as a working stock ranch. In the late fifty's it was turned into a ranch for girls and then in the late sixties became a Dude Ranch open to the public. Kerry and Brigitte came on board in January of 2002'. "We live here full time," says Brigitte, "it's important to us that every guest have the relaxing vacation they expect to have and be comfortable and satisfied in every aspect of their stay." Deciding to become the managers of the Twin Elm was an easy decision for Kerry and Brigitte. Brigitte spent 15 years as a legal secretary and Kerry had always been in sales. They had a truck stop/diner and then an asphalt company, but decided they wanted to interact more with people. Being one of those lucky couples that can work and live together 24/7, the Twin Elm Guest Ranch was just the ticket. Brigitte is an experienced horsewoman well versed in breeding and herd care and Kerry is involved in upkeep, maintenance and grounds control. In the short time Kerry and Brigitte have been at the Twin Elm many improvements have been made. The riding stock is up to par and the grounds and rooms are comfortable and clean. The rodeo arena has had a makeover and the Friday and Saturday night rodeos are drawing over 300 contestants consistently.
The Twin Elm Guest Ranch Rodeo is held every Friday and Saturday night May through Labor Day, beginning at 8pm. There's steer riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, a calf scramble for the kids and bull riding with bulls provided by JD Nicks Bucking Bulls. Wayne Tacker announces and produces the rodeo, which is of course full of thrills, spills, clowns and some of the most talented cowboys and cowgirls in the state. Local businesses and citizens graciously sponsor High Point buckles and breast collars. There is a refreshment stand, restrooms and souvenirs. And you can't go wrong with the admission charge of $5 for adults and $3 for children, 12 and under. You can sit in the stands or back your pickup right up to ringside. Kerry and Brigitte are always on hand starting at the early morning dining hall breakfast to late night story telling around the campfire.
The rewards for Kerry and Brigitte in running the Twin Elm Guest Ranch are the upgrades they've made on the 176-acre ranch. Rodeo participation is growing, more guests are checking in and having wonderful vacations, corporate parties are on the rise and the employees on the Twin Elm are experienced horsemen and women. The kitchen and bunkhouse crews do wonderful jobs and the office personal are great in making sure every guest, young, middle aged and old, are having a great time. And the Twin Elm Guest Ranch has it all in beautiful scenery. The Medina River, glorious Hill Country, valleys, creek bottoms full of fossils, open prairie and fishing available if you bring your own tack and fishing license.
As a business, Twin Elm rents rooms, but their goal is to continue to support Bandera as the "Cowboy Capital of the World". "Support from the other local guest ranches, hotels, motels, restaurants and businesses has been wonderful in the ongoing networking and promotion of this incredibly beautiful part of our State," says Kerry. Kerry and Brigitte Hearnsberger hope to host a Music Fest in the near future. Proceeds would go to benefit local organizations that help the citizens in need in Bandera County.
Twin Elm Guest Ranch is located in Bandera, Texas, on Hwy 470 off Hwy 16 just a mile in. You can get more information on the web at www.texasguides.com/twinelmguestranch.html or you can call 830-796-3628 or toll free 888-567-3049.
On a personal note from this writer, I drove away from my interview with Kerry and Brigitte Hearnsberger thinking, "Sometimes nice people do finish first."
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