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Want to see Balmorhea State Park restored? So does this Texas distillery, with your help

Arianna Auber
Swimmers won't be able to enjoy the spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park this summer while it's closed for repairs, but one Texas distillery is hoping to speed up the restoration process with a series of philanthropic pool parties.

Garrison Brothers Distillery makes one of the best bourbons in Texas, but the Hill Country whiskey maker wants to become known for something else now: philanthropy.

Namely, Garrison Brothers has started a nonprofit and is hosting a series of summer pool parties to raise money for Balmorhea State Park in West Texas, which houses a spring-fed pool that closed indefinitely a couple of weeks ago because of structural damage.

The large V-shaped pool was undergoing an annual draining and cleaning when crews discovered that the concrete apron underneath the diving board, stabilizing the walls of the pool, was damaged. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department isn’t sure how long repairs will take, but the pool has closed as temperatures are heating up — summer being a prime time for visitors to head to Balmorhea.

So Garrison Brothers has decided to do something about it. Distillery owners Dan and Nancy Garrison, along with master distiller Donnis Todd, have formed the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Good Bourbon for a Good Cause that will accept donations from people and organizations who want to help restore Balmorhea State Park.

Or you can have a little fun in the process of giving back. Garrison is also hosting a series of pool parties this summer at Texas hotels to raise money for the park’s maintenance and beautification. Called Balmorhea Blue, the daytime fiestas will feature — as you might guess — plenty of bourbon, as well as a water aerobics class, a water volleyball game, live music and dancing, according to a press release.

Fittingly, Garrison Brothers already has a whiskey named after Balmorhea, a double-barrel bourbon that participants will get poolside tastings of at the parties, as well as bourbon cocktails containing Balmorhea.

More than 153,000 people visited the park between Sept. 1, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017. With the number of visitors to Texas state parks on the rise, many of them are in critical need of restoration, but “as of June 2017, the (Texas Parks & Wildlife) department had more than $580 million in backlogged maintenance at 91 state parks that saw 9 million visitors in 2016, up 500,000 from 2015,” according to the release.

As an avid outdoorsman, Dan Garrison — who also introduced Operation Hurricane Tough last year to raise more than $150,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts — wanted to do his part to help bring Balmorhea back to life. 

“Balmorhea State Park is in dire need of some tender loving care,” he said in the release. “It’s time to give back to the springs that have given so much to generations of Texas families.”

The first Balmorhea Blue party will be on June 23 at the Sonesta Hotel in Bee Cave. Tickets are $100 at this link, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Balmorhea State Park’s restoration. The ticket price includes a pool bag containing one Balmorhea tumbler and pool party swag.