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Granite Shoals making space for rodeo, solar eclipse, and growth

Granite Shoals land clearing

Freshly cleared land near City Hall is a sign of progress for Granite Shoals, which is working to make the area more accessible to accommodate future events and civic projects. City Hall itself looms in the distance, sitting on dozens of acres of city-owned land off of North Phillips Ranch Road. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Smoke from burn piles and the rumble of excavators has filled the air in Granite Shoals for days as work crews clear land in anticipation of growth and future events, including GraniteFest, the U.S. Junior Steer Wrestling Championship, and the 2024 total solar eclipse.

“We’ve got all of this land back through here that belongs to the city, and we want to find out how we can use it,” City Secretary Dawn Wright told “Right now, the (land) clearing is to open up the space and make it more accessible.”

Granite Shoals owns dozens of acres of land surrounding City Hall at 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Much of the area is undeveloped, but it also contains Quarry Park and the 2-mile Leo Manzano Hike-and-Bike Trail. Wright said the city is taking advantage of the mild weather to clean up the land and burn the resulting debris while rain is still in the forecast.

The freshly cleared space has vastly increased the parking capacity for city property, which was originally limited to the City Hall lot and haphazard spaces around the property. Parking will be especially useful for the steer wrestling championship in October, when wrestlers and riders will need places to park their livestock trailers.

“The cool thing is, our event (the U.S. Junior Steer Wrestling Championship) was a catalyst to get this started,” said Todd Fox, the event’s creator.

Fox went before the Granite Shoals City Council on March 28 to pitch the idea of holding the championship in Quarry Park. Council members unanimously agreed.

Speaking on behalf of city administration, Wright affirmed that the championship was a catalyst for the land improvements but also said they’ve been in the works for a long time.

“As the city grows and develops, we need to plan ahead and think about how we can use the land and serve the community,” she said.

The April 8, 2024, total eclipse was also mentioned as a driving factor to create a more accommodating space for the expected crowds converging on the Highland Lakes for this once-in-a-lifetime event.