Top 3 Reasons to See Texas' Oldest Outdoor Musical

By James Waterson

There are few things more Texan than the Fort Griffin Fandangle. Held the last two weekends of June (June 21 — 22 and June 28 — 29) in Albany, this more than 80-year-old Texas tradition conjures the vibrant spirit of the Old West in an immersive performance like no other. As the oldest of four state-sanctioned plays, this one-of-a-kind show is a must-see for fans of Lone Star lore. Get to know more about the Fort Griffin Fandangle below, and get your tickets here.


There’s Nothing Like It

Outlaws driving old-fashioned stagecoaches. Cowboys leading a herd of Texas longhorns. A rowdy frontier town brought to life. Through singing, dancing, pantomime, and pageantry, the Fort Griffin Fandangle creates an authentic and exciting revival of the Old West that’s unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere.

Watch as locals of all ages perform in handmade costumes to music unique to the Fandangle, galloping horses, and rolling stock (including a replica of a Butterfield stagecoach) roll by. Listen to the bellowing sounds of a calliope, the only instrument in Texas that requires a permit to operate. From your seat in the one-acre Prairie Theater, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the Wild West.

© Watt Casey Jr.

© Watt Casey Jr.

Experience the Stories of the Texas Frontier

The tales of the Texas frontier are legendary, but the Fort Griffin Fandangle has far more stories to tell. It all starts with Native Americans on the windswept prairies of West Texas and goes all the way to the discovery of oil in the modern era. Scenes are inspired by Interwoven, a novel about the hardships of pioneer life published in 1936 by Sallie Reynolds Matthews, a local writer and the only author in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. This year’s Fort Griffin Fandangle has a keen focus on historical accuracy. Many scenes will be based on true stories of the founding of Albany, Fort Griffin, Fort Davis; the relationship between Native Americans and settlers; and the forming of cattle ranches.

Of course, the Fandangle isn’t just a history lesson. With lively songs and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor, it offers a Texas-sized serving of fun that anyone would enjoy.   

©Artie Limmer

©Artie Limmer

It’s a True Texas Tradition

As the great William Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage.” Nowhere is that truer than Albany, where the Fort Griffin Fandangle is as much of a local tradition as it is a captivating show. A cornerstone of town culture for more than 80 years, the performance includes more than 250 locals. In many cases, one generation after another has participated in the Fandangle. Young girls and boys start out as flowers and prairie dogs and grow up to play larger roles as they age. Get your tickets here and be a part of this Texas tradition.


Bonus: All the Other Reasons You Should Visit Albany

As much fun as the show is, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Albany. Start with the Fort Griffin Fandangle Parade on the first Saturday of the show. Join hundreds of others in downtown Albany to watch the parade roll by. When you’re not at the show itself, browse the unique gift shops along Main Street and stop in to Vintage Vanilla, where you’ll find a 1929 soda fountain along with a tasty selection of coffees, salads, and sandwiches.  

If you’re an art lover, check out the stunning collections at The Old Jail Art Center. Boasting 17,000 square feet of fine art, you’ll find everything from paintings and sculptures to mixed media works in the exhibits that rotate throughout the year. For a deeper dive into local lore, find your way to the Fort Griffin State Historic Site. Founded in 1867, this U.S. Army installation was part of a line of defensive forts that wove throughout West Texas. When it’s time to turn in for the night, stay in a historic home, farmhouse, or train car that are among Albany’s bed and breakfasts.

Experience a true Texas tradition and experience the many tales of the Old West at the Fort Griffin Fandangle this June. Get your tickets here.


About the Author: James Waterson is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing about the many great places in the state of Texas, he’s planning his next epic adventure in the Lone Star State.