"Shops, Selfies and Supernatural Day" is Part 2 of my report on visiting all things Supernatural in Austin, Texas last month! During these latter days of my trip, I toured the city with fellow Supernatural fangirls, culminating in us all attending the Supernatural Day celebration at San Jac's!
If you missed Part 1, "Bars, Breweries and (Late) Bedtimes" described hunting down and experiencing Jared's San Jac Saloon and Stereotype nightclub, and Jensen's Family Business Beer Company. It also shared several "lessons learned" from my first few days touring Austin, and highlights of the places where we visited and dined. Hopefully, my travelogue will be a virtual trip for those of you who may never get to Austin, and a travel guide for those whose future plans include Jared and Jensen's hometown!
Monday, June 24 was our travel transfer day, so we got a bit of a late start at touring. Once again, everyone’s flights into Austin were delayed and/or detoured due to storms, so my Supernatural friends were very tired when they arrived. They were exhausted anyway, having just ended a convention weekend, so adding travel delays on top of that made them all very bedraggled fangirls. Still, we had to eat, and at least one person hadn’t been to Austin before so she was just as anxious to see the Supernatural haunts as I had been several days earlier. I wanted to go back to San Jac but I couldn’t convince anyone else in the group that we needed to hang out there. We were going to San Jac Tuesday night after all, so Stereotype won the group negotiation for the evening's activities. I suggested Holy Roller for dinner, knowing its convenient proximity to Stereotype, and we had a plan.
I have to pause here to tell you about my meal at Holy Roller. I had “The Local 16” – a “Stiles Switch brisket & pulled pork, warm biscuit, soft scramble, BBQ sauce, green apple, and cheddar cheese” spectacular. Again, a homerun for dinner. Austin Lesson #5: Austin seems to have unusual, scrumptious food at fairly decent prices, at least judging by the places where we ate! Maybe we just were lucky, but we hadn’t hit anything less than extraordinary yet.
The decor of Holy Roller includes an eclectic (aka "weird" as I'll talk about later) combination religious, roller skating and pop culture curios. One of their neon signs was particularly apropos for our outing, so we simply had to take a picture! We tried taking a selfie, but the nice waiter took pity on us and helped us out, leaving us with a perfect memory of our time together!
From Left to Right, @mamaprior from WFB and @Priorstudios; Mrs. King (Alana's mom); Lynn from @Fangasm; Alana King from @_KingBooks_; and yours truly.
Sadly, our luck ran out after dinner. Despite their website’s claim that they’re open seven days a week, and their door sign flashing "Open", Stereotype was closed - doors locked, lights out, closed.
If I recall the hours posted on the door, they’re closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Definitely call before you plan a trip there. So we struck out for the nightclub. I walked everyone back to 6th Street (6-8 blocks) and we poked around there a bit, but they were all truly dragging, so we called it a night.
Danneel Ackles Designs
Half of Tueday was planned for us already as June 25 was “Supernatural Day” and we were all attending the celebration in the evening (see Austin Lesson #3)! Before then, my friends’ Austin to-do list included seeing Danneel Ackles' new jewelry collection, so back to the South Congress shopping district we went to pass the time until the evening’s festivities. We started our day with brunch at the South Congress Café. I know I’m starting to sound like a food critic on a restaurant review binge, but I couldn’t believe the BLT I had (“Congress BLT 14: thick cut candied niman ranch bacon, balsamic roasted plum tomatoes, arugula, cilantro aioli on pretzel roll”). I have never had a BLT like that in my life. OK, no more talk about food.
Danneel’s jewelry collection is in a small shop called Limbo Jewelry. You have to know where to look in order to find it, for sure!
It probably won’t come as a surprise that the shop sold out of the entire collection before or on the day (I forget which) it was released, so they were taking back orders of everything. They spoke highly of Danneel and Jensen, who had been in the shop to launch Danneel’s line. Again, the Ackles are local people who they knew were celebrities but were more known to these shop owners as “designers” rather than “Supernatural superstars who make our hearts race.” They weren’t even Supernatural fans! It was just so odd to talk with people who know our stars in contexts other than Supernatural.
Picture courtesy of @FangasmSPN
When I inquired about it, the owner said he learned that fans were starting to come to town and he wanted to have something for them! If I remember correctly, one of his relatives is a fan, and they tuned him onto the marketing opportunity. He also had the Supernatural Ouija board game (no thank you! It creeped all of us out as being just a little too in touch with real spirits!). He proudly told me that the star of the show, “Jensen somebody”, lived in Austin. I corrected him, letting him know that two stars of the show lived there. He obviously hadn’t ever seen the show, but at least he was trying!
Aside from the businesses that the Ackles and Padaleckis owned or supported, this toy shop owner and the hotel’s concierge (who told me that she had seen Jensen outside The Driskill several years before and knew him from Smallville and Dark Angel but didn’t approach him because it was undignified for employees to bother the guests) were the only two people in Austin who had any inkling that Supernatural had invaded their town. I guess “invaded” was my expectation. Quietly infiltrated was more the reality.
Down the street from the toy shop we again found the wall mural made famous by Jensen and Danneel. Since Fangasm already shared this selfie on social media, I am going to share it here with you too:
We had fun window shopping and talking with the local shop owners but it was time to get ready for the main event!
Supernatural Day – Tuesday, June 25, 2019
For the second year, two Supernatural fans, Sandra Echeverri and Tonia Schneider, organized the “Paws for AKF” charity event at Jared’s San Jac Saloon.
Proceeds from tickets and the silent auction benefited Jared and Jensen’s PACK Fund and the Austin Pets Alive organization. I believe the event sold out this year. As I said when I started this travelogue, I didn’t attend last year so I was very excited to join the party! It was upstairs at San Jac’s, at my new favorite haunt, Jacks.
I recognized many of the attendees from various Supernatural conventions. Several of them had come directly from the prior weekend’s Dallas convention to Austin for this celebration. It was like a family reunion for many of us!
The silent auction was rather extensive, with gift baskets, services and Supernatural themed items. Everything received generous bids. One item that had a small, specified initial bid received a first bid that was so over the minimum, it said in no uncertain terms “I’m getting this! Beware competitive bidders!” which is always a good thing for the charity but bad for the wallet! Items that had $5 required incremental bids were increasing in $50 jumps.
Besides the Austin Pets Alive organization, there were two vendors present as well. I picked up a Moose and Squirrel AKF bandana for my daughter from Hunters Den, who had created special merchandise specifically for this event.
There was also an artist with custom drawings.
For decoration, there was a full size “Jensen, King Bacchus” cardboard figure available for pictures, plus smaller, handheld cardboard face cutouts of most of the Supernatural characters scattered around for selfies with fans. After a bit, Karaoke started up. Several fans took their turn at the microphone, perhaps coinciding with their ever-increasing bar tab. Towards the end of the evening, two “super” delicious cakes were cut for a sweet snack.
Alas, neither Jared nor Jensen joined us. That was really disappointing (since they had come last year) but it was a long shot that they’d drop by. This event was organized by fans for fans, with the primary intent being to raise money for charity but one can always dream!
Wednesday morning arrived too soon. Mama Prior and I were leaving for home, while Lynn and the Kings were staying over one more day for their turn at Jensen's Family Business Beer Company (which had also been closed Monday and Tuesday, thus preventing an earlier visit that week).
In total, I spent a week touring Austin and learning that it is not at all what I expected. From Jared and Jensen’s pictures in their backyard pools, at the South by Southwest music festival, at their respective drinking establishments, and at their other various haunts, somehow I had gotten the impression that the boys and their families had settled down in an up-and-coming, artsy, close-knit, mid-size town. Their pictures with Austin’s mayor, its chief of police, and local charity organization moguls all contributed to my conclusion that this was an intimate community that would welcome and definitely notice the influx of two popular television stars and their fans. I expected that the activities of our “two Texas boys who made it big” would routinely warrant social page and tourism register coverage, and that the town would recognize them for the HUGE stars they are. I also expected San Jac, Stereotype and The Family Business Beer Company would be unique business establishments and economic boosts to the area.
The reality of Austin didn’t disappoint me but it did change my perception of the boys’ hometown. Austin is not a small, or even medium sized, city. It has a rich history and is bustling as the state’s capitol, so it is completely unaffected by the addition of Supernatural to its social standing or economic base. If our hotel concierge and local tour guides are any indication, the boys’ addition to the town’s social scene, and Austin’s sudden notoriety to the SPNFamily, have gone virtually unnoticed. The locals, even the people running the boys businesses and those who are supposed to be in touch with Austin's culture and tourism attractions, are largely unaffected, unimpressed or entirely oblivious to the fact that two celebrities and their fans are interested in their town
Jared's bars and Jensen's brewery are wonderfully unique but there are dozen upon dozens of drinking establishments in the areas I saw in Austin. Even considering that I was staying and touring in Austin's nightlife districts, I was surprised by Austin Lesson #6: Texans (at least Austinites where I was visiting) drink a LOT. Bars, breweries and beer are a distinct part of the culture. Drinking was a social activity as opposed to an end in and of itself, though, with far fewer intoxicated people than I would have expected. Everyone was cool about it, which was a first in my experience.
Austin is definitely artsy, and in fact boasts that it is “weird” and hopes to stay that way. It seemed culturally progressive in its views (politically, socially, etc.) yet a great deal of what I saw is a throwback to the hippie years of the 1960s. Austin Lesson #7: This is a city of contrasts. Progressiveness coexists with retro; opulence with homelessness; family fun with X-rated seduction; traditional conservatism usually associated with Texas blends with open, social inclusion. They're all side by side downtown. You'll be approached for money by homeless people... constantly ... no matter the time of day or night. Stripper clubs are next to country western bars... which are next to vampire biker bars. I always felt safe because the police presence was significant and visible, and everyone seemed laid back, welcoming and accepting of all views. If you notice, I have used a different color for every heading of this article. That was intentional. There were rainbows everywhere we went in Austin.
I could be wrong, but that's what I felt for six days downtown.
San Jac, Stereotype and The Family Business Beer Company are all very special places. The ambiance of each is distinct, catering to different moods and occasions. I loved all three. I felt like family in all of them, like I had been invited and was definitely welcome by the proprietors, the musicians and by fellow customers. Austin may be Jared and Jensen’s respite from the hustle and bustle of filming, but their bars became my respite from the pressures of keeping up with them! I’m anxious to go back, anytime.
So that’s my school essay on “What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2019”. Hopefully, my travelogue made you feel like you were walking Austin streets with me, or helps you enjoy yourself whenever you get a chance to venture to Austin, Texas. I loved it, and I'm anxious to return (well maybe when it's not as hot?)! Hope to see y’all there soon!
Read more about Jensen's Family Business Beer Company brewery in Alice's report "A Hunting of Impalas 2019: A Memorable Gathering in Austin Texas"!
Read many more of Nightsky's adventures by going to her Writer's Page!
Have you been to Austin yet? Please share your experiences, recommendations and pictures in the comments! Have any questions about Austin? I'll do my best to answer them! I have many more pictures of my touring there, plus a lot more detail, so ask away!