The Castell General Store’s 15th annual Testicle Festival is May 18, 2024. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Castell General Store hosts its 15th annual Testicle Festival on Saturday, May 18. The day promises hundreds of pounds of calf fries and fried catfish, live music, and revelry, all a stone’s throw from a pristine stretch of the Llano River.

The general store is known for its hoedowns and hootenannies, and the Testicle Festival is a crowd favorite. Folks come from all over Texas and the other, lesser states for a party built around a down-home delicacy known as calf fries, cowboy caviar, Rocky Mountain oysters, and other names. Straight to the point: fried bull testicles.

Don’t knock ’em if you’ve never had ’em. They’re good eating in ranching states like Texas, Montana, and Wyoming.

“We just want everybody to have a ball,” store co-owner Jennifer Hollingshead told 101HighlandLakes.com. “You gotta have guts to try our nuts.”

Hollingshead has helped run the Testicle Festival for the past 10 years and thinks this year’s event could be the biggest one yet. The 2023 festival drew 1,000-plus visitors to the tiny Llano County town of Castell, which normally has a population of 12 souls.

“I think the store is the hidden oasis of the Hill Country. You can get away from everything and everybody,” Hollingshead said. “There’s no time here; it’s like time stops.”

But the good times never really stop in Castell. On any given weekend, especially in the spring, something is going on.

Castell’s charm is how it makes you feel like you’re one of the gang. Strangers, tourists, neighbors, friends, outlaws, do-gooders, and maybe a few do-badders all get together to feel alright.

“We want everybody to feel like they’re a local around here,” Hollingshead said.

This year’s Testicle Festival kicks off at about 11:30 a.m. with a performance by the event’s flagship band, Aeryk and the Smoking Nuts. Step Cash takes the stage from 1:30-3 p.m., and Jake Worthington performs from 3:30-5 p.m.

The Proctor Band closes out the night from 5:30-7 p.m.

The balls drop at noon. Meals are $20 a plate and include calf fries, fried catfish, jalapeño rice, hush puppies, and pasta salad. Quench your thirst at one of three bars on the grounds.

If you’re feeling competitive, step into the washer-pitching pit. The tournament starts at 1 p.m.

Part of the event’s proceeds go toward the Castell General Store Scholarship Fund, which doles out $1,000 each year to Llano and Mason area students destined for college or vocational training.

IF YOU GO

  • WHAT: Testicle Festival
  • WHERE: Castell General Store, 19522 RR 152 West in Castell
  • WHEN: 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. May 18, 2024
  • ADMISSION: Free to hang but $20 to eat; drinks are extra
  • FOR MORE: Visit the Castell General Store Facebook group page

dakota@thepicayune.com