Established circa 1827 in a rich farming area, the city on the eastern edge of the "Lost Pines of Texas" is still devoted to agriculture. Its historic downtown is home to antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. Smithville's picturesque small-town feel has made it a location for several movies, including Hope Floats in 1998 and Tree of Life in 2011.

Smithville was recognized in the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records for creating the World's Biggest Gingerbread Man, weighing more than 1,300 pounds and standing 20 feet tall. The record was soon beaten in Norway, but the giant cookie—named "Smitty"—still reigns as the largest of its kind in the country and stands near the chamber of commerce offices at Main and NW First streets.

Annual events include the Smithville Jamboree and Texas Photo Festival.

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