A diver jumps off the diving board at Balmorhea State Park

Photo: Kenny Braun

Balmorhea State Park in West Texas is celebrated for having the world’s largest spring-fed pool. Unfortunately, on May 14, the park announced that the pool will be closed indefinitely due to structural damage of the concrete beneath the diving board, which supports the walls of the pool.

To help pay for repairs needed at Balmorhea, Hill Country-based Garrison Brothers Distillery announced a series of pool parties at hotels across Texas. The fundraising campaign, dubbed Balmorhea Blue, aims to raise enough money to completely rebuild and reopen the park. (Mark Lockwood, a regional director for the State Parks Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife, says the department does not yet know how much the repairs will cost.)

A Garrison Bros Tasting glass

Photo: Julia Keim

For more information on the upcoming pool parties, visit garrisonbros.com/balmorhea-blue

Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park’s spring-fed swimming pool stays between 72 and 76 degrees year round, and has served as a cool oasis during hot West Texas summers. Garrison Brothers owner Dan Garrison says he wants to do whatever he can to fix up the run-down park he used to marvel at during family road trips.

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

The parties will offer poolside tastings of their Balmorhea bourbon (released late last year and described as “bourbon candy in a bottle”) and bourbon cocktails, live music, water aerobics, ice cream, and more. Tickets cost $100 each, and Balmorhea-themed merchandise such as towels, hats, and pool floats are available for purchase. All ages are welcome, and all of the proceeds will go to a restricted fund created specifically for Balmorhea State Park.

In a phone interview with Texas Highways, Garrison said the park will need more than just repairs to the pool. He hopes to raise $250,000 through the parties to help create a master plan that would ensure the park won’t be overrun in the future.

“If you look at Balmorhea, there’s no greater example in the state of Texas that I’m aware of for a place that needs an overhaul,” Garrison said. “The reality is that fixing the pool and opening the pool back up is not the solution.”

The parties are set to be held at various “legendary” hotels in the state, including the Sonesta Bee Cave Hotel in Austin on June 23 and the Gage Hotel in Marathon on June 29 and 30. Future locations for the parties include Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth.

The distillery has raised and donated funds for other causes in the past. Last year, it teamed up with disaster relief organization Team Rubicon to raise $150,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

In addition to the swimming pool, the camping and lodging areas are also currently closed, but Garrison knows what he’s going to do once Balmorhea is reopened.

“We’re going to throw the largest pool party anyone’s ever seen out there, and everyone who made a contribution is coming,” he said.

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