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‘Wax’ figures bring Burnet County history to life at old jail

Old Burnet County Jail

A statue of former Burnet County Sheriff Wallace Riddell stands in front of the old county jail on the courthouse square in Burnet. Riddell will be among about 10 historic figures brought to life in four October living history events produced by the Bulldog Homeschoolers. Staff photo

Stop by the old Burnet County Jail for a “wax” museum treat and a bit of jailhouse stew. Members of the Bulldog Homeschoolers will be dressed as figures from the area’s past with tales to tell during this living history event set for four days in October. The first program is from 4-6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3.

Each historic figure will have a poster board of information and a “button” to press to hear their spiel. Visitors to this free event can wander through the three stories of the jail, 109 S. Pierce St. in Burnet, and meet the county’s first sheriff to live at the jail, Christopher Dorbandt; the longest-serving sheriff in Texas, Wallace Riddell; Marble Falls founder Gen. Adam R. Johnson; and criminals Johnny Ringo and Scott Cooley — among others. 

If you miss Monday’s performance, the homeschool group has three more: 

  • 11-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4
  • 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27
  • 11-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29

A student dressed as Sheriff Riddell’s wife, Essie, will serve jailhouse stew and bread pudding at the two evening events, said Wendy Thompson, founder of the Bulldog Homeschoolers, who explained how the idea came to fruition.

“We did a wax figure presentation at the Burnet library last spring, and it was really popular,” Thompson said. “The kids dressed up as historical characters. About 35 kids participated.”

This particular project focuses on local history with information on where to find out more. Participants range in ages from 8 to 16 years old. 

“We want everyone to leave with a better appreciation of what an amazing town we have here,” Thompson said. “We didn’t realize how influential these people were until we started doing the research. We hope to spark people to go out farther into the community and see what else you can find and what you can do in helping preserve this history.”