The Robert Vela High School Fine Arts department is pleased to announce their 7th annual fall musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame performed by the SaberStagers. The SaberStagers have received five Hidalgo County PALM Awards, including 2018 Best Musical.
The show will be performed December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and December 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 2 p.m. There will also be two ASL interpreted performances on Saturday, December 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for senior citizen 65+. For more information, call (956) 289-2650. RVHS is located at 801 E. Canton Rd., in Edinburg.
South Texas College Theatre celebrates their 10th anniversary with a season packed with classics and comedy. The Theatre invites the community to become a Season Pass subscriber for another year of fun and quality entertainment.
STC Theatre opens the season on October 17, at 7:30 p.m., with William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The opening production runs through October 20 and is followed by Rick Johnston’s farce comedy Cahoots, from November 14-17.
In the spring, the STC Theatre will sing to their hearts’ content with William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical favorite Cyrano de Bergerac, February 20-23. The 2019-20 season wraps up with the Cooper Cabaret – an event celebrating the theatre’s 10th anniversary by showcasing local talent May 2-5.
“We wanted to celebrate our 10th anniversary by returning to the classics and farces that were a part of our earlier production seasons,” says Drama Department Chair Joel Jason Rodriguez. “We have grown so much in the past 10 years and we want to celebrate and honor that by ending the season with the Cooper Cabaret.
“Our productions have always been a mixture of STC and UTRGV students, graduates, and community members, and we believe this is what makes South Texas College Theatre so vibrant and rich,” Rodriguez said. “What better way to end a season than to showcase the talent that brought us to where we are today?”
All Sunday matinee productions are ASL interpreted by student interns from STC’s Interpreters Training Program. Individual ticket prices for Main Stage productions are $5 for students/faculty/senior citizens/military and $10 general admission. Studio productions cost $5 general admission.
Season passes are also available, allowing patrons to attend all the productions and choose between general or reserved seating. All subscribers also receive special deals for any additional guest performances that may arise throughout the year.
General season passes are $15 for students/faculty/senior citizens/military and $25 for the community. Reserved seating season subscriptions are $25 for students/faculty/senior citizens/military and $35 for the community. Season Passes can be purchased online at https://kioskportal.southtexascollege.edu/marketplace.aspx.
For more information about STC Theatre, call (956) 872-2301. All productions will be held at STC’s Cooper Center for Communication Arts, located at the Pecan Campus, 3201 W. Pecan Blvd. in McAllen
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, going on its 26th year, is nothing new to Harlingen, but this year they plan to shake it up a bit. The RGVBF is keeping things fresh and exciting with a change in location, new field trip destinations, and a few other changes that will be sure to excite the birder and all its attendees.
The festival will be held at the Harlingen Convention Center this year and expects to see hundreds of attendees. Last year the event saw 600 attendees that came from 41 states and six countries. Attendees come to see the many birds that are only seen in the Valley and take part in one-of-a- kind field trips.
Because of the Valley’s unique ecosystem comprised of coastal marshes and plains in the east, desert chaparral in the west and a lush corridor of riparian woodlands along the river, the Valley has 30 unique species of birds. The RGV is also major migration corridor because of the convergence of two major flyways, the Central and Mississippi.
The big numbers aren’t that bad for the Valley birder, and those that come and visit just to see the birds. Of 950 bird species in North America, the United States has over 800, Texas has 600, and more than 500 of those can be found in the Rio Grande Valley.
The birding festival began in 1994 when the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce and members of the birding community capitalized on the RGV’s biodiversity with an initiative to create this one-of-a-kind birding festival. Propelled by volunteers that first year, and funded by sponsors, the festival was a success and served as a model to many festivals across the country and abroad. Birding and nature tourism were making waves and the RGV was on the leading edge.
According to coordinators, last year’s event brought three million dollars to the local economy. According to a recent Texas A&M Economic Impact Study, ecotourism has an economic impact of nearly half a billion dollars on the Rio Grande Valley annually, extrapolating over 6,000 jobs in the Valley.
The success of ecotourism in the Valley has led other cities to create festivals and events where the wildlife is celebrated. The Valley also has the World Birding Centers, nine distinctly different nature centers, that draw thousands of visitors throughout the Valley.
In previous years, donations have been used on projects for the Red-crowned Parrots and Harris’s Hawks. Last year the Tejano Parrot Project was able to purchase telemetry collars and tracking equipment. Volunteers have been able to conduct weekly roost surveys in Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco and McAllen utilizing the tracking equipment on collared birds in three of those roost areas. Funds from this year will be used to purchase additional collars for birds in other Valley communities to continue gathering behavior information on these amazing parrots that visit the Valley.
The Harris’s Hawk project was able to use donations to purchase climbing equipment enabling researchers to access and band chicks in 22 nests. Donations this year will be used to study interaction of these banded birds with the adults from the same nests and to compare and analyze DNA samples extracted during the banding process.
A new project added this year is the South Texas Hummingbird Banding Project. This effort will provide the lower Rio Grande Valley with its first and only hummingbird bander. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds of the Rio Grande Valley will be the focus of this project.
Speaker presentations will be held on Thursday and Saturday afternoons that will give more details of these projects.
This year’s festival will include family activities and nature activities that will be held at the convention center on Saturday and Sunday. Activities include the Kiskadee Korner, a raptor show, a bird walk and the Birders Bazaar. Special events during the festival include a silent auction, a student awards ceremony recognizing artwork area students have drawn, a Star Party on Wednesday evening, and the American Birding Association’s 50th anniversary podcast bash.
Field trips include visits to the local Birding Centers, State Parks and refuges, McAllen Nature Center, Laguna Madre, Bahia Grande, local battlegrounds, a ride on the Riverside Dreamer, biking field trips, breakfast with the birds at The Inn at Chachalaca Bend, a butterfly field trip, South Padre Island, and more. Topics discussed during field trips include ornithology, parrots of the area, banding, Valley raptors, and photography. There will be workshops on how to do birding with technology, how to record bird sightings, learning to listen to the sounds around you, improving field identification skills, and so much more.
The festival will run from November 6 through 10 where visitors will descend on the City of Harlingen, eager to experience all that makes the RGV so special. There will be music, food, wildlife, habitats to explore, and of course, friendly, warm people.
There is a $25 registration fee for everyone attending. Field trips are designed for beginners to advanced. Prices for field trips range – all prices can be found online. Prices for seminars and keynotes range between $10 and $20, but a Kiskadee Pass is available for $30 which allows entry to all of those being offered in the auditorium. These tickets must be purchased during open registration, before the day of the event. Individual tickets for seminars and other events (excluding field trips) can be purchased at the door. The Bargain Bazaar and some other events are free and open to the public. Please visit their website to get a full list of details.
The Harlingen Convention Center is located at 701 Harlingen Heights Dr. For more information and full list of field trips, visit www.rgvbf.org.
The 32nd SandCastle Days was held October 2 through 6 where attendees had the chance to view sandcastles built by 12 master sandcastle builders. This year’s builders came from as far as the Netherlands and Canada.
According to Lucinda Wierenga, one of the organizers of the event, this year’s event appeared to set new records.
“The weather and tide cooperated, and the police had to direct traffic all of Saturday and well into Sunday afternoon,” she said. “But now it is quiet, and the gallery is lovely, especially right at dusk.”
Wierenga added that any who want to see what there is shouldn’t wait too long. With the sandcastles, mother nature will decide when to take them out.
The event features a group sandcastle built by all 12 participants and then a contest between them.
The top three sandcastle builders were first place, Abe Waterman (Canada) for his “Three’s the Charm;” second place was Wilfred Stijger (Netherlands) for “Catch of the Day;” and third place went to Greg Grady (New Hampshire) for his sandcastle “Cosmic Drop.”
Each year the event boasts live music, art booths, great food, and exciting evenings. SandCastle Days also includes activities for all ages and activities for families. Attendees also have the opportunity to participate in SandCamps where they can learn from experienced sandcastle builders. The event is free.
If you missed this year, do not despair, said Wierenga. Just mark the first weekend of October off on your calendar to be on South Padre Island.
If you can’t wait that long, visit SPI in December to see the Holiday Sandcastle Village, which is already in production by the very same artists who competed at SandCastle Days. The sculptures are being constructed across from Louie’s Backyard in the heart of the entertainment district and will feature a dozen holiday-themed sculptures as well as a musical light show.
For more information on SandCastle Days and their other events, you can visit them online at www.sandcastledays.com, or on Facebook.
The Valley Symphony Orchestra and Peter Dabrowski, music director/conductor, announced the launch of the 2019-20 concert season in August at a special event. The season opened with a back to school concert in September.
The season will also include a performance of music from the James Bond films and a guest appearance from UTRGV’s Ballet Folklorico. Maestro Dabrowski announced that special guests Mariachi Aztlan will perform as part of the season finale concert.
“Mariachi Aztlan is one of the best ensembles in the United States, and we are thrilled that they will be performing with our orchestra,” said Dabrowski.
VSO Executive Director Katy Coy said the Symphony will be offering a three-concert subscription offering this year.
“Our patrons have been asking for a more flexible option, and we are pleased to offer a package this year that includes the music of the James Bond and Indiana Jones films, plus our beloved ‘A Touch of Frost’,” said Coy.
The James Bond Meets Brahms, two men of mystery – one incredible concert, will be held October 25. The concert will feature The Best of Bond (Barry/Tyzik), symphony No. 3 (Brahms), and Hungarian Dance No. 6 (Brahms/Schmeling).
The VSO’s annual holiday performance, A Touch of Frost, will take place December 13. The concert will feature the VSO Chorale, UTRGV’s Ballet Folklorico and selections from favorites such as Handel’s Messiah and The Nutcracker.
A musical adventure to the corners of the Earth and across the American west will feature Indiana Jones and the Wild West themed music on February 28. Music includes Scherzo Capriccioso by Dvorak, Trumpet Conerto by Artunian and featuring trumpetist Jared Broussard, The Big County Suite by Moross and Raiders of the Lost Ark: Raiders March by Williams.
The VSO Season Finale Event, designed by Dabrowski, will be held March 27. Music will include the Hungarian March by Berlioz, Violin Concerto No. 2, La Camanella by Paganini featuring violinist Geoffrey Wong, Crystal Horizon by Writer. Specials guests Mariachi Aztlan will perform Bolero by Ravel with the orchestra.
The three-concert, $125 package is currently available for purchase. Seats in all sections are still available. Subscriber benefits include guaranteed annual seat reservation period ahead of the general public, first notice on all upgrades, exclusive guest artist information and content, no hassle ticket replacements for lost or misplaced tickets and much more.
Concerts will be held at the McAllen Performing Arts Center, at 801 Convention Center Blvd. in McAllen, from 8 to 10 p.m. For a complete list of concerts, music repertoire and guest artist information, visit VSO online at www.valleyorchestra.org or call the office at 956-661-1615.
It’s been a warm one here in South Texas, but it looks like Winter Texans are bringing some of that cool weather with them as they arrive in the Valley.
This past weekend we saw our first cold front of the season and had some nice, cool days to enjoy outdoor activities. Of course, in south Texas, we enjoy our outdoors year-round, even in the heat of summer.
As usual, the Valley is a different place without you. We are happy to see you coming back home.
As the new editor of the Winter Texan Times, I myself, miss you and all that you bring to the Valley. In all of the years I have spent in this office I have made some great friendships and hold dear many memories of the Winter Texans that come through our office doors. I look forward to a great year getting to know even more Winter Texan friends.
During a recent trip to San Antonio, I saw no less than 30 Winter Texans heading south. I only counted vehicles that were pulling a home though, so who knows how many more drivers may have been Winter Texans. I encountered two Winter Texan couples at one rest stop. One couple was out with their cameras and binoculars enjoying the butterfly migration and searching for birds in the trees.
Last week, my husband and I enjoyed a nice lunch at Scalisi’s Chicago Style Pizza and More in Pharr. There we encountered two other Winter Texan couples. (By the way – their food is delicious.)
As we have been gearing up for the season, we have been meeting park managers, city leaders, and area chambers and visitor bureaus. We can tell you they have great plans for this year!
Every other year the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley conducts the Winter Texan Survey with the support of the Winter Texan Times. The information gathered in this survey is vital to helping your communities and businesses that serve the needs of Winter Texans understand the Winter Texan resident and how important you are to our communities. Keep an eye out for that later this year and make sure you fill out your survey.
If you have a great story idea, we love new suggestions. Send us your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some types of stories we may be interested in could be profile pieces, unique activities or events in your community, how is your park involved in local charity work, or any of the myriad of great human interest stories we stumble across all the time in our Winter Texan parks.
As you can see from this issue, there are already a lot of events happening all around for you to enjoy. Take a look at our Parks Calendar and our Events Calendar inside.
We here at the Winter Texan Times hope you found your way safely to your south Texas home and enjoy your stay with us this season.
Carina A. Brunson