S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES A South Texas Tourism publication presented by Texas Birding
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
“I know a place where people aren’t afraid to take chances, aren’t afraid to be innovative. I know a place that takes food seriously.” Chef Larry Delgado
Salt New American Table
There’s a place where the music is live, the days are warm, and travelers always have more to discover. A place for outdoor adventure, touring shows, and the best Tex-Mex you’ll ever taste.
“Come take a moment to see the beauty around us in McAllen, so you’ll be the one who knows a place.” John Brush
URBAN ECOLOGIST quinta mazatlan World biring center
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES SOUTH TEXAS
Events, Music & Culture www.cityofsanbenito.com sanbenitoevents.com 956.361.3800
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APRIL, MAY, JULY, OCTOBER MARCH 12, 2019
Texas Independence Celebration Reeanactment
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S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES From The Director
MAGIC REVISTED The classic, modern-day visitor story goes something like this: “I came for the weather and was impressed by the people and the culture.” Nydia Tapia-Gonzales In the first Texas Birding Director decade of the twentieth century, developers wanting to sell land invented the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas as the “Magic Valley.” A railroad line- The St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway - finished in 1904, connected Houston and Brownsville and opened the door to development and modernization of the once isolated thornscrub then called “The Wild Horse Desert.” This place-making and place-marketing concept is long gone, but the magic prevails. As it turns out, the magic was not invented but was always here disguised behind land sale advertisements. The magic of the Rio Grande Valley will enchant you with its coral, blue, yellow, and violet sunsets. The sound of its waves and the songs of our colorful birds will captivate you. The region harbors 538 species of birds making it the richest birding hot-spot in both Texas and the United States. The magic abounds from the Laguna Atascosa, to natural salt lakes, to nine World
Birding Centers housed in some of the most original buildings such as the 1909 Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, the 1930s adobe estate of Quinta Mazatlan, and the 1892 Rabb Plantation House home of Sabal Palm Sanctuary. Discovering the Valley’s magic beckons an adventure. It is the birthplace of Conjunto music, of authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, and of a cultural fusion of Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and Anglo traditions that delight foodie and culture loving travelers. Conjunto music was born at the end of the 19th century with the introduction of the button accordion by German settlers. Conjunto music festivals transport visitors through a magical concoction of rhythm and sound. In the mid-18th century, Spanish colonists settled in what is now the cities of Brownsville, Hidalgo, Rio Grande City and Roma and in the 19th century, immigrants from all over Western Europe made the Valley their home establishing the region’s building, social, and culinary traditions still present today. The dawn of the Valley’s art and culture scene came in 1932 when renowned Dallas artist Normah Knight, a new resident of Harlingen, organized the RGV art league. In 1968, Knight was invited by then Texa s
Governor John Connally to establish the Texas Fine Arts Commission, which led to her official appointment to head the development of art in the Valley. Today, the Valley’s art scene includes world-class performances at the McAllen Performing Arts center including concerts by the RGV Symphony Orchestra. The University of Texas RGV contributes an incredible roster of artistic expressions, and original art galleries abound. Groundbreaking works of art are showcased during monthly art fests and the Valley’s museum collections await you with varied programs and activities related to local heritage, history and art. Let this new Adventure magazine be your guide and friend. It will lead you to the best lodging, restaurants, art galleries, concerts and events happening in this magical Valley of the Rio Grande. During your visit indulge in our cities but be sure to hit the road and visit nature reserves and small towns. Discover why we are the friendliest folks in Texas and bask in our pleasant warm weather. Hike, bike, surf, golf, fish, hunt, dance and eat to your heart’s content. Take pictures, lots of pictures, and share your magical experience with the world!
6 South Padre Island
Mariachi & Folklorico
© Copyright 2018 Times Media Group, Inc. Mission, Texas
Many of the photographs in this publication are owned and/or copyrighted by other entities and individuals and are used with their permission. Publisher and Editor: Jim Brunson Contributing Writers: Selene Garza Henry Miller Herb Moering Graphic Design: Mod Market Group
Published by Times Media Group, Inc. on behalf of South Texas Tourism and Texas Birding.
All articles published in this magazine are copyrighted by Times Media Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, disseminated or published in any form or by any means without the express written consent of Times Media Group, Inc.
Choice Dining Destinations
Nature Lovers Drawn to the RGV
Rodeo Adventures Valley Style
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
Museums of the RGV
Photos Provided Courtesy of: Alan Murphy The Atkins Group City of Mission Harlingen CVB IMAS La Joya ISD Los Fresnos Rodeo & Livestock Show Louie’s Backyard MOSTH Onion Fest Osprey Tours Port Isabel Lighthouse Museum Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Renal Photography Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge Schlitterbahn Starr County Fair Steve Sinclair Treasures of the Gulf Museum Winter Texan Times Weslaco Museum Black Dragon Ship Cover Photo by: Osprey Cruises
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RODEO ADVENTures By Henry Miller
Photo Courtesy of Los Fresnos Rodeo & Livestock Show
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES While much has changed over the years, the Texas tradition lives on in many areas where ranching, rodeos, livestock shows and country music are all part of the fabric of the local community. In South Texas, ranching families still raise cattle on the same land that has been passed down from generation to generation. When y’all come down to Texas, there are two things you gotta do. Eat some tasty Texas-style barbecue and head on out to see a rodeo, where real cowboys compete for braggin’ rights, a belt buckle and, hopefully, a little bit of prize money. Drop in and say “Howdy” to the fine folks at
the local county fair or livestock show while you’re here too. There y’all can sample a slew of different fair foods and see some of the finest livestock in the country, along with some amazing shop projects created by area FFA and 4-H members. To make it easy, here’s a list of some of the popular rodeos and livestock shows in Deep South Texas – the Rio Grande Valley. Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show – Mercedes March Farming and ranching are big in Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show covers it all. The Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in Mercedes began in 1940 and people from across Texas and beyond come to compete and
others come for the good times. It all begins with a parade leading into the Mercedes Livestock Show Grounds where rodeo and competitive livestock events, concerts, food and more, take place. This is the biggest show south of San Antonio in South Texas and is held for 11 days in early March. According to its website, “the show has continued to grow each year and is considered one of the top 10 in the state.” Hundreds of school-age participants from 4-H or FFA will spend a year raising their animals for a chance at some major scholarship money. Of course, there’s a mixture of today entwined throughout the fairgrounds with a modern midway, today’s favorite foods, games and variety shows. The 2019 annual event kicks off Saturday, March 2 with youth roping in the rodeo arena. Thursday, March 7 will mark the first judging of livestock with the Jr. Santa Gertrudis – and the judging continues all the way through to the Sale of Champions on Saturday, March 16. Other events in between include judging and sale of all 4-H and FFA shop projects, a cotton style show, swine and beef skill-a-thons and more. For information, go to rgvls.com. Starr County Youth Fair Rio Grande City February/March The Starr County Youth Fair has been held every year since 1974 and has, without a doubt, taken the Old West theme to heart. Its first four fair themes were “Ol’ Spanish Trail” (1974), “Deep in the Heat of Texas” (1975), “Westward Ho! The Wagons” (1976) and “A New Spirit – A New Frontier” (1977). Themes continued through the 44 years of the show, and have grown to several events over the years, expanding to several
7 weekends. The main fair is a three-day weekend event that includes carnival rides, stock show, petting zoo and kids scramble. There are also live bands during the fair (Conjunto, Tejano, country and western), a parade and wild game dinner that offers a wide array of food from yesterday and today. For a full list of events, visit starrcountyyouthfair.com. Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo Los Fresnos February For the hardcore rodeo fans, the Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo (Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association) is the self-proclaimed “Best Little Rodeo in Texas.” Yet, it is part of the largest American rodeo organization in the world with top class riders vying for points and prizes. This is a 100 percent pure rodeo experience. Produced with a partnership
between Los Fresnos and Smith Pro Rodeos, the show is filled with top livestock and a full menu of rodeo events. The events are action packed with steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, bareback steer and horse bucking and a full array of other rodeo events and competitions. These events have become a formalized cowboy tournament,
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
Photo Courtesy of Starr County Fair
showcasing the talents and courage of these “Vaqueros,” who originally were known for roaming from one ranch to another to help with handling livestock and other local practices and traditions. Like the fairs and stock shows, the Los Fresnos Rodeo will also crown a rodeo queen, raise money for scholarships and, in November, will hold its annual Cowboy Cook-off at the rodeo grounds where contestants will compete for cash prize for their pan de campo, brisket, pork spare ribs, fajita and more. For information, call 855-5376336 or email losfresnosrodeo@ yahoo.com.
Riders and Ropers Youth Rodeo - Raymondville Seasonal There’s enough interest in the rodeo that in Raymondville, which is part of Willacy County, they hold a youth rodeo twice a month, year round – except in early spring during the livestock show season so many of their regular competitors can compete in those shows for additional scholarship money. For more information, call 956689-1864. South Texas Agricultural Roundup - Edinburg February-March This event, which is 100 percent put together to raise scholarship money for kids, happens over four days with a traditional livestock show that ends with an auction. It is usually at the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. Animals include all cattle, including Brahman, Red Brahman, Santa Gertrudis, Simbrah and more. Other animals judged include breeding and market goats and rabbits and there are showmanship competitions as well. Prior to the roundup, usually in January, organizers hold one of the largest livestock galas in South Texas, the STAR gala at the Boggus Ford
Events Center, with music, food and entertainment supporting the FFA and 4-H graduation seniors. For more information, visit star. org. Cameron County Fair and Livestock Show Los Fresnos February The Cameron County Fair and Livestock is a four-day show where most of the judging and events are held on Friday and Saturday, but all four days will have a carnival midway. With the South Texas climate, this is the time of year carnivals head south. Like most livestock shows, the focus is on judging cattle and other animals. This event also has home show exhibits (also judged), baked goods, a peewee hog showmanship event, and the Los Fresnos Rodeo and Calf Scramble, traditionally followed by a concert. Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Posse Roundup - Edinburg April and August Two competitive rodeo-style events are held per year at the Sheriff’s Posse Roundup Arena, located at 603 W. Wisconsin Road in Edinburg. Every so often there have been outside events, like the Stars & Stripes Bull riding Classic in July. However, even when there are no events, the public can go out to the arena to ride horses. Call 956-330-9970 for more information.
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
y a w e Gat to the valley
602 W. University Dr., Edinburg, TX 956-383-4974
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Schlitterbahn - South Padre Island Photo Courtesy of The Atkins Group
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
Nature, Fun, Relaxation and Adventure The boat tilted suddenly to the starboard side; it wasn’t a frightening adjustment by any means, but it was one that signaled, “Here they are,” for those on board; the reason the vessel carrying about 35 tourists was in the water. Dolphins! Before shouts of “Look!” and “Over there!” could reach the front of the boat, the majority of the onlookers rushed to the side, camera phones in hand, ready to capture the moment in an area of South Padre Island known as Dolphin Cove. “Make sure you make some sounds because dolphins are very curious animals,” said the voice over the boat’s loudspeakers. “The more noise and sounds you make, the more they will put on a show.” That resulted in a show probably enjoyed as much by the dolphins watching the humans as the humans watching the dolphins. The Dolphin Watch Cruises offered by Osprey Cruises, are one of a seemingly endless list of things to do at South Padre Island, home to numerous water sport activities. Personal water craft rental, kiteboarding and dolphin watch-
es are among some of the most popular island adventures. Other favorites may include horseback riding along the beach and ecological tours that explore Padre Island National Seashore. Fishing Fishing is big at South Padre, including opportunities for bay, gulf and deep-sea fishing. Every year, the Texas International Fishing Tournament is held in late summer, with winnings totaling almost a quarter million dollars. Other fishing tournaments include the Ladies Kingfish Tournament, Hooters Tournament and Redfish Rodeo, just to name a few. All of these are open to the public. For the fisherman, captains and fishing guides are found in abundance, such as Jim’s Pier or Pirates Landing in Port Isabel. Capt. Walter Bode is one of many guides who guarantees a catch or
the guest doesn’t pay for the trip. Bode said among fish that are regularly caught include trout, flounder, red drum, black drum, snook, sheepshead and many more. There’s also opportunity to go deep sea fishing, either on a private boat with just a few other people, or on a party
boat. Sail fish and tarpon are caught on a regular basis by those with the energy and willingness to give it a shot. Surf-n-Sand Famous as a spring break destination for college students from around the world, it is also a resort destination. Keith Arnold, director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said last year was a huge year for the island, with close to a 20 percent increase in visitors. “Clearly there are the best of adventures here in two areas – wind and water sports, and nature and tourism,” Arnold said. “Then there’s Schlitterbahn and that’s an amazing adventure all on its own.” Schlitterbahn Water Park, divided into two sections – the outdoor and indoor park – features a unique river transportation system. Almost all of the rides are connected by the “lazy” river as visitors ride on tubes. Float into line for one of the rides, which will drop back into the river, or float the
day away and let the river take you along the path. The indoor park is open year round. When it comes to wind and water sports, lessons are provided by a number of outfitters. South Padre was ranked as the No. 11 place in the world when it comes to kiteboarding, Arnold said. If kiteboading seems a little too extreme, there are other options such as parasailing, paddleboarding, windsurfing
or kayaking and jet skis and wave runners for rent as well. Many people are at first surprised to hear about the high quality of surfing. Arnold remembers when he lived in Corpus Christi, groups of people would trek two-plus hours to South Padre to surf. “Obviously there’s also wakeboarding and body surfing and surfing itself,” he said. “We would come down here from Corpus because of how good it was. There were better beaches and better waves – those were the key.”
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES Nature Tourism Nature tourism is just as big an attraction as wind and water. Just as the dolphin cruises draw people to the life beneath the water, the South Padre Island Nature and Birding Center is draws visitors for what’s in the sky and on land. It is open year-round and has nature adventures to fit each season. The center is located on 50 acres between the Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by dune meadows and salt marshes and is an attraction to birds that can’t resist a near perfect habitat for ones native to the area or are migrating. Then there is Sea Turtle Inc., a facility on the island that serves as a hospital for injured and sick sea turtles. More than 100 turtles are rehabilitated and
returned to the wild each year. Several different releases are sometimes – but not always – open to the public, such as hatchling releases. They also do public boat releases, public beach releases and offshore releases. Sandcastles and Art Not only are there monthly art shows either on South Padre or across the bay in Port Isabel, there’s also sandcastle building – and teachers who will show you how to create your own sandcastle. The Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website states that South Padre Island is the “Sand Castle Capital of the World.” Not to be missed is the decades-long Beachcomber’s Art Show, traditionally held in July, where the finest artists compete by creating intricate
sand sculptures along the Sand Castle Trail. Top It Off The activities to enjoy are virtually endless. Of course, one can also just relax on the world class beach to get that tan co-workers will envy, enjoy one of the outdoor restaurants and bars that overlook the gulf, or end the day in a cafe like the Karma Cafe, listening to acoustic music, reading a book and enjoying ice cream, espresso or coffee. The South Padre Island Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) has a well-organized website – sopadre.com – that Arnold recommends for visitors to peruse before they head to the island. He also recommends that visitors make a stop at the CVB when visiting – whether it’s to thrill or to chill.
NEVER ENDS on YOUR
island. The ideal fall and winter escape, South Padre Island has 34 miles of pristine shoreline and clear emerald water. With over 5,000 places to stay and countless ways to enjoy the only tropical island in Texas, it’s all yours. Start your journey at sopadre.com/texasbestbeach.
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Mariachi & Folklorico Accentuate Local Culture By Selene D. Garza
Photo Courtesy of La Joya ISD
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES
The strumming of the guitars, gentle plucking of violin strings, and the vivid sounds of the trumpets creates the familiar mariachi sounds that reverberate throughout South Texas. Those very sounds bring to life the movement and swirling colors of the traditional costumes of folklorico dancing. All come together to tell a story that brings Mexican folklore to life. The two are synonymous regionally and the sounds and movement can be found at restaurants, family gatherings and celebrations such as quinceañeras or at annual festivals across the region of South Texas known as the Rio Grande Valley. It is a love for the art of song and dance that brings people from all walks of life together, encouraging them to be a part of the colorful South Texas community. The rate at which the popularity of mariachi music has grown is something that can be attributed to the strong Mexican influences in this region and nationally, Mayra Garcia, La Joya Independent School District mariachi director, explained. “It feels like we are finally being accepted and our culture and music are now seen as something valuable,” the Los Lobos Mariachi director, added. La Joya ISD’s mariachi groups and conjuntos (sets) have become household names. Celebrating their 30th year of performances, the mariachi groups have now expanded from one to three separate groups as the district has grown, Los Lobos being one of them.
The award-winning La Joya groups have travelled nationally and internationally, playing for presidents, senators, governors and most recently in Washington D.C. at the 2018 National Memorial Day Parade. Their continued success and popularity are ensured by instructors like Garcia and local folklorico instructors with more than 40 years of experience, Luis and Elizabeth Canales. They work hard to safeguard the culture. Keeping it alive in the community and inviting visitors to partake in the beautiful fiesta created by the sounds and sights of mari-
achi and folklorico. “You can be a beautiful tree, a gorgeous tree, but if the roots are not deep enough, anybody can knock it down,” Elizabeth Canales said. “But a mesquite tree has deep roots and nobody can knock it down and that’s why we need to make sure folklorico becomes so deeply rooted in the South Texas culture.” One key component when the Canales’ teach through the City of Mission’s Park & Recreation Folklorico is that their pupils understand that the traditional Mexican dances are more than just movements. Each folklorico dance includes its own folktale and tells the audience which part of Mexico it derives from, when it happened, and what the traditional clothing symbolizes, Elizabeth Canales explained. The dances, through the help of the mariachi music, tell stories through dances with names like Pelea de Gallos (Fight of the Roosters) and Los Moros (The Moors), a dance about the Moorish and Spanish influences in Mexico. “Mariachi and folkorico are accepted together because they complement one another so well,” Luis Canales ex-
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES 16 plained. “The mariachi brings out the traditional music and folklorico will dance to that music.” Folkorico dance, just like mariachi music, is a fusion of different cultures and sounds introduced to Mexico by European influences, Elizabeth Canales said. Adding that through the years, the sounds and dance evolved, and the tradition has remained strong in Mexico and now regionally. Groups in the area perform several shows a year or play at restaurants, weddings, and parties. Every year, Palmview High School’s Los Lobos group has sold out shows where the students perform to hundreds of people, Garcia said. Despite folklorico traditionally being just for adults, the Canales’ group has dancers of all ages, from age two all the
way into their 60s. It isn’t uncommon to see this dedicated group of performers dancing anywhere from 40 to 80 events annually throughout South Texas. Similarly, Garcia said that even she began her own all-female mariachi group, Las Mariposas, to help her former students and others across the area continue to pursue their passion of mariachi. Garcia lives and breathes the sounds, having played since she was age 11; it’s a part of daily life for her. “Mariachi is Mexican culture, it is a love for the art and a part of life here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Garcia said. “It represents a love for our people, for our history and it creates fiesta, color, passion and love.”
For live mariachi folklorico performances visit:
• UTRGV Alegria Ballet
• • • •
Folklorico www.utrgv.edu/dance/ dance-companies/ballet-folklorico/index.htm La Joya HS Performing Arts Center, 604 Coyote Drive, in La Joya Performing Arts Center at Palmview High School, 3901 La Homa Road, in Palmview McAllen Performing Arts Center, 801 Convention Center Blvd., in McAllen Camille Playhouse, 1 Dean Porter Park, in Brownsville Harlingen Community Theatre, 1209 Fair Park Blvd., in Harlingen Harlingen Performing Arts Center, 3217 Wilson Rd., in Harlingen
World Class Nature Sites • Fro n te ra Au d u b o n 1 1 0 1 S. Texa s B l vd • Va l l ey N a t u re Ce n te r 3 0 1 S. Bo rd e r Ave. • Este ro L l a n o G ra n d e Sta te Pa r k 3 3 0 1 S. I n te r n a t i o n a l B l vd .
• Texas Onion Fest • 4th of July Celebration • Mid Valley Lighted Christmas Parade & 5K Santa Dash
Visitor Center 275 S. Kansas
• Historic downtown with boutique & antique shops • Weslaco Museum • Tower Theater featuring iTheater of Texas
(956) 968-2102 • weslaco.com
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Performing Arts Photo Courtesy of Valley Symphonic Orchestra
Harlingen Municipal Auditorium The Harlingen Municipal Auditorium has hosted hundreds of famous musicians, speakers, circuses, and plays since its opening in 1928. Renovated and expanded, it is a venue for concerts and dramatic performances, and serves as headquarters for the city’s signature events. Location 1204 Fairpark Blvd. Harlingen, Texas (956) 216-5992 or (956) 216-5990 www.myharlingen.us McAllen Performing Arts Center This newly designed state-ofthe-art performing arts center is host to a variety of musical acts including popular music artists and bands, symphony orchestra, and Broadway sensations like “Les Miserables.” The Valley’s new premier center seats 1,800 guests with three levels of seating. As one of the most advanced performing arts centers south of San Antonio, the center provides a variety of live performances.
Visit their website for upcoming events and purchase your tickets through their website or on Ticketmaster. Location 801 Convention Center Blvd., McAllen, Texas (956) 681-3800 mcallenconventioncenter.net For tickets visit: www.ticketmaster.com Mission Event Center This brand-new event center hosts a variety of events indoors and outdoors. Check the calendar for upcoming programs and events such as tradeshows, car shows and performances. The venue also has a beautiful outdoor patio and relaxing garden. The venue is located in the heart of Mission, with nearby shops and dining. Location 200 N. Shary Road Mission, Texas (956) 584-4321 www.missiontx.us Bert Ogden Arena The Bert Ogden Arena is one of the largest indoor sports and entertainment facilities
in the Rio Grande Valley. The location is the official home to the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The team is an affiliate of the Houston Rockets. The beautiful arena seats 9,000 fans, giving them an unobstructed view of games or live performances. The venue also features highend, restaurant-quality concessions and a 40 x 20-foot LED scoreboard, so fans won’t miss a thing! The venue will host music headliners like Marc Anthony, entertainment sports such WWE and comedians like George Lopez. Location 4900 S. I-69 Edinburg, Texas (956) 562-7362 Tickets: www.bertogdenarena.com State Farm Hidalgo Arena The arena sits just minutes from the International border with Mexico and has been host to many large acts that include Janet Jackson, Cher, Elton John, Selena Gomez, Aerosmith and popular Mexican artists Vicente Fernandez and the late Juan Gabriel. The arena is also continued on page 32
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r e v o c s i D the perfect combination on of adventure and relaxati
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s t h g i Spotl BROWNSVILLE Brownsville Museum of Fine Art This fine arts and cultural experience has a little bit of everything for the entire family. Located in the Mitte Cultural District, the museum has many traveling exhibits each year, and a beautiful permanent collection and featured local artists. Located at: 660 E Ringgold Brownsville, Texas (956) 542-0941 https://bmfa.us/ MCALLEN Artwalk Be a part of the fun every first Friday of the month between September and May, from 6 to 10 p.m., when the City of McAllen opens up Downtown for a free tour of the city’s various museums, galleries and art studios. The tour is self-guided and has become a popular attraction that continues to grow and draw locals and visitors alike to experience the vibrant art and culture scene in McAllen. Located at: Art House 1009 Laurel Downtown, McAllen (956) 490-5507
Doko Casual Art Shop original prints and other art pieces by Doko Casual Art owner and painter Dania Olivares. The gallery and shop offers a variety of mixed media original art pieces. The art includes quirky paintings featuring “Star Wars” Storm Troopers in suits and beautiful landscape art. Also visit the location for art shows and inspiration. Located at: 601 N. Main St. Studio #7 McAllen, Texas (956) 605.4465 http://www.dokocasualart. com/
and learn, and hosts various rotating exhibits. The 50,000 square-foot exhibit offers various hands-on science exhibits for explorers of all ages and the museum’s permanent collection includes thousands of natural history and geology specimens and 4,500 folk art and textile items. You can also see more than 1,000 fine art works from different countries and time periods. Located at: 1900 W Nolana Ave McAllen, Texas (956) 681-2800 http://theimasonline.org/ welcome/
International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) Open Tuesday through Sunday, this Smithsonian Affiliate holds fine works of art, permanent exhibits like the Sculpture Garden and RioScape – a fun park for children to discover
Nuevo Santander Art Gallery Located in McAllen’s Arts District, this collection of antiques and fine Mexican collections takes visitors as far back as the 1700s and gives them a glimpse at what life was like on the Rio Grande and Colonial Mexico. The gallery is owned by Che and Becky Guerra, who had collected fine art and historic artifacts for years and decided to open their collection to the public. Because of the strong Spanish influences, the building is de-
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signed to look like a Spanish Mission, with grand doors, colonial ironwork and Talavera and Saltillo tile. Visit this unique gallery for a step back in time and while you’re there, pick up a few items at their antiques and old west store. Located at: 717 North Main McAllen, Texas (956) 618-4959 https://www.nuevosantander.com/index. html Quinta Mazatlan This “Mansion with a Mission” is an urban sanctuary and home to all sorts of wildlife habitats and is a World Birding Center partner. The 1930s estate services thousands of students and visitors a year who come to experience the 10,000 square-foot Spanish Revival Style Mansion and its grand residence and enchanting 20-acre tropical gardens. Located at: 600 Sunset Drive McAllen, Texas 78503 (956) 681-3370 http://www.quintamazatlan.com/default. aspx MISSION Upper Valley Art League This creative space has been bringing art and creativity to the Rio Grande Valley since 1935 and has been dedicated to providing art classes and workshops, art exhibits, and bringing together artists of all ages to learn about art forms in a variety of media. It’s located in the Kika de la Garza Fine Arts Center in Mission and features several rotating exhibitions and ongoing classes like photography, watercolor painting, clay classes, as well as yoga classes. This varied art studio is open to the community. Located at: 921 E. 12st Street Mission, Texas (956) 583-2787 www.uppervalleyartleague.org PORT ISABEL Laguna Madre Art Gallery This original fine art gallery is located in
Port Isabel’s historic Lighthouse Square and features more than 20 local artists. Aside from the beautiful paintings, the gallery features jewelry, photography and other works of art. Located at: 405 E. Maxan St. Port Isabel, Texas (956) 943-1407 https://www.lagunamadreartgallery.com/ SOUTH PADRE ISLAND South Padre Island Art Space The vibrant art space functions as an art studio for many area artists and art enthusiasts who want to share their creativity. The space was created by a community of local ceramicists and soon grew into a space that now offers classes for artists young and old. Located at: 1817 Padre Blvd. Suite 1 PO Box 2663 South Padre Island, Texas (956) 761-2112 http://spiartspace.com/
Los Fresnos, Texas
200 North Brazil Street Los Fresnos, Texas
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the place to be
Be adventurous in Mission! Take a pontoon boat ride along the Rio Grande River and enjoy plenty of native wildlife along the route. Venture out on a hike at the National Butterfly Center and experience nature at its best. You can chase butterflies, bird watch or even cast the fishing poles at the Center and at Bentsen State Park – home of the World Birding Center headquarters. Whether it’s nature, shopping, fun fiestas, or our friendly people, MISSION is the place to be.
! s u t i s i v e Com 956-580-8650 missiontexas.us
Outdoor Adventures As the sun rises over Mission, Texas, one sees a blur of colors floating past in hues of red, yellow and blue. This dazzling array is visible in the sky and on the ground, as dawn brings runners, bikers, birders, nature photographers and outdoor enthusiasts of every kind to the trails and nature centers that dot the landscape, here. In a city renowned for the headquarters of the World Birding Centers at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission not only relishes opportunities for residents to live outside, but also realizes the importance of unique attractions that draw visitors to this not-sosleepy border town, steeped in history, on the banks of the Rio Grande. Although it was formally established in 1908, Mission’s origins extend well into the 18th Century. The city is named for the historic La Lomita Mission that sits on the site of two Spanish land grants awarded in 1767. When the chapel was built in 1865, native Americans and ranchers sparsely populated South Texas, and steam ships traveled from the Laguna Madre at the Gulf of Mexico, upriver, to supply early settlements and military outposts. In 1871, the French Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to possess the land by bequest. Here they built a rectory and stables to shelter the priests of the Cavalry of Christ and their horses, as they rode up and down the river, visiting widely separated Catholic churches and ranches, performing marriage ceremonies, baptizing infants and blessing the dead. Today, La Lomita still serves faithful parishioners and anchors a municipal park, sandwiched between the Anzalduas International Bridge and the Riverside Club, perhaps the last venue open to the public for boat tours of the international waterway. A popular
weekend dance hall, the Riverside Club is also a perennially-popular backdrop for weddings and parties, particularly among locals. Primetime at Riverside Club coincides with the peak festival season from October to March, in Mission, where Winter Texans and tourists stream into the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy subtropical warmth, remarkable hospitality and abundant recreational activities. The annual Texas Butterfly Festival, hosted by the one-and-only National Butterfly Center, signals the start of this bright and busy time of year filled with colorful migratory birds, blooming native plants and
billions of butterflies! Open year ‘round, the National Butterfly Center is the nation’s largest botanical garden focused on native host and nectar plants that sustain wild, free-flying butterflies. This 100-acre nature center offers environmental education, guided tours and volunteer programs for visitors of every age interested in South Texas’ natural treasures. A typical winter-spring here is overflowing with leisurely fun and fresh produce. These two things are abundant in Mission, Texas, which boasts the public Shary Municipal Golf Course, named for legendary farmer John H. Shary, ‘Father of the Citrus Industry’ in Texas.
Lovers drawn to the Rio Grande Valley 535 Bird Species are found in the Rio Grande Valley
By Herb Moering
Photo by Jim Brunson
The migratory path of numerous bird species and of some Monarch butterflies passes through the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Valley), located at the southernmost tip of Texas. This migration draws nature enthusiasts and birders not only from the U.S., but from countries around the world. Birders who visit the Valleyâ€™s nine World Birding Centers between Roma and South Padre Island are part of a worldwide following of millions who love bird watching, and who travel to see new birds. Most traveling birders record their bird sightings on lists they keep by state and by country. With increasing frequency birders record their lists on eBird, an online database for tracking bird observations. There is more to the pastime than just watching birds. The thousands of sightings recorded by birders on eBird support conservation decisions and are used in research, fuel student projects, and aid worldwide in evaluating bird populations, according to eBird.org. The number of bird species recorded in the Valley is approximately 535, according to Mary Gustafson, a self employed biologist and professional birding guide. The number of species in the Valley is more than any state, except for the four southern U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Gustafson, an active birder since she was six years old, has racked up an impressive number of sightings at birding centers peppered across the Valley. She has seen 281 species at Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas, ranking high amongst birders at that park, a birding hotspot with 341 recorded species. Gustafson said recent rare bird sightings in the Valley include a Blue Bunting and a Green Mango (hummingbird), at Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen; and a Rose-throated Becard at the Inn at Chachalaca Bend, Los
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Fresnos. Good communication near Los Fresnos, Texas, also his childhood. He created a nais the key to bringing birders to offer guided walks. Santa Ana ture tourism business offering the Valley, she added. refuge Park Ranger, Laura de birders lodging, tours, guiding, A similar comment was la Garza, said walks are led by gear and optics. He noted that made by Grant Jense, a wildlife knowledgeable volunteers. birders spend half a billion dolbiologist with 35 years of serSanta Ana refuge draws ap- lars annually in the Valley’s vice. proximately 130,000 visitors a four-county area of Hidalgo, “The internet has contribut- year, with the heaviest concen- Cameron, Starr and Willacy ed to making birding the fast- tration in February and March, counties, according to a 2011 est growing sport in the coun- most of them birders, accord- study by Texas A&M Universitry,” Jense said. “People seeing ing to de la Garza. Some also ty. Another study, he said, was a rare bird share it, calling come to see butterflies. conducted by the Rio Grande friends and posting it online.” Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley Valley Birding Festival (held Other recent rare sightings State Park and World Birding annually in Harlingen, Texas). include a Long-eared Owl at Center, south of Mission, Tex- This study discovered that the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, and as, is a popular destination for birders they interviewed avera Broad-tailed Hummingbird birders. The park borders the aged 15 visits each, over recent and Hammond’s Flycatcher at Rio Grande and is a good place years, traveling to bird watch in Estero Llano Grande State Park. Jense, who had spent most of his career working on hunting and fishing, ended his working days focused on birdlife, and found that birds grew on him. He took up birding while traveling with a fifth wheel when he retired in 2002. “Texas has a reputation for bird migration, and the Rio Grande Valley is well known [for its wonderful birding],” Jense said. “People come from Europe, Asia and other places to see certain [migratCasey and Karen Balvert, avid nature photographers from Windsor, Ontario, list Estero Llano ing, specialty and rare] Grande in Weslaco, Texas, as one of their favorite state parks because it has everything from species.” He said the spring birds to reptiles. migration is very concentrated. After flying at night to see the uncommon Hook- the Valley. across 400 miles of open wa- billed Kite. The National ButHackland said nature tourists ter over the Gulf of Mexico, mi- terfly Center, close by, has bird rank a close third in the Valgrating song birds stop for rest, feeders that attract many bird ley’s tourism economy, behind food and water. Many species species, and is the best loca- Mexican national visitors, and can be seen and photographed tion for butterflies. migratory Winter Texans (reclose up. Jense enjoys Anzalduas tirees who winter in the Valley He continued that there are County Park, located near two to six months each year). large numbers of birds and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley The attraction for nature bird species to be found during State Park, on the Rio Grande, tourists is the 538 bird species winter months in the Valley. south of Mission; and Saline- and some 330 butterfly speTexas state parks cater to bird- no feeding station near Roma, cies seen in the Valley. Hackers by offering guided walks in located on the Rio Grande fur- land said these bird and butwinter. ther west. terfly species are more than Santa Ana National Wildlife It was natural for Keith Hack- half the species found in the Refuge, located south of Ala- land, when he settled in the entire U.S. He added that 98 mo, Texas, and Laguna Atasco- Valley in 1997, to get involved in percent of neotropical migratsa National Wildlife Refuge birding, an interest held since ing bird species follow or cross
the South Texas coast and can be seen here. “What makes the Valley so interesting is its bird diversity, offering three birding areas, the coast, the central Valley, and the dryer hills around Falcon Lake and Roma,” Hackland said, “with many different bird species found in the habitats of each area.” Hackland’s Alamo Inn B&B caters to birders from across the world. He has hosted visitors from 43 countries. Top birding sites in the Valley, mostly with visitor centers (unless otherwise noted as no vc), include, from west to east
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on the map: Falcon State Park, Salineno feeders (open November 1 to March 20), and Roma Bluffs World Birding Center (no vc) (all in Starr County). Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center, and Anzalduas County Park (no vc) in Mission; Quinta Mazatlan Historical Mansion and World Birding Center in McAllen; Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center in Hidalgo; Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center, and La Sal del Rey (no vc) near Edinburg; Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Brushline Road (no vc) near Alamo; Estero Llano Grande State
Park, Frontera Audubon Thicket, and Valley Nature Center in Weslaco (Hidalgo County). Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center (no vc), and Hugh Ramsey Park (no vc) in Harlingen; Resaca de la Palma State Park, and Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville; Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Highway 100 (no vc), and Bahia Grande (no vc) near Los Fresnos; SPI Birding and Nature Center, and Sheepshead Lots (no vc), in South Padre Island (all in Cameron County). La Sal Vieja (no vc) and Port Mansfield (no vc) (in Willacy County). State Parks and National Wildlife Refuges are open for birding dawn to dusk, seven days a week, but their visitor centers keep office hours. For other sites it is recommended to check online for days and times when open. (No vc) after a name indicates these centers have no visitor center, and they are open dawn to dusk seven days a week. Admission charges range from free or a few dollars, to $10 per person.
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H I G H L I G H L T S A V I T S E F The Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost region of South Texas, is a unique regional treasure blending cultures and offering travelers a hotspot of entertaining events with festivals, food and fun. The communities and counties that border the Rio Grande River between Texas and Mexico celebrate with exuberance and style. The wide variety of festivals are replete with an array of regional food that South Texans’ love while celebrating the region’s unique cultural blend, agricultural industry and the wide selection of nature preservation sites. Numerous groups in the region actively work on protecting endangered species such as the Ridley Sea Turtle and ocelots, while preserving and developing habitat that is one of the nation’s major flyways for migratory birds and butterflies. Festivals celebrate the unique natural resources found in the subtropic climate. At the festivals, look for barbecue fajitas. Tender morsels, prepared for hours by grillmasters who could cook in their sleep, come off the grills heaped in generous mounds on flour tortillas with grilled onions and peppers. Mexican food in the area is like no other of the same name across the U.S. It’s loaded with flavors through cooking styles you’ll miss when returning north. Valley-grown residents and visitors leave the area
The biggest of these events – some that last weeks – include the Texas Citrus Fiesta Festival in Mission, Borderfest in Hidalgo, Onion Fest in Weslaco and Charro Days in Brownsville. AGRICULTURE CELEBRATIONS South Texas is a thriving agricultural center serving the United States, especially citrus. Numerous festivals celebrate – and teach others – the importance of South Texas Agriculture with its continued development of sweeter and brighter-flavored citrus, onions and other produce.
finding no other “Mexican” food fare compares - to their pining disappointment. Border Buttermilk – a South Texas tequila sour that leaves you calling for “more” – is a festival, pachanga and event staple, but don’t miss the elotes (Mexican grilled corn), street tacos, botanas and more. And never to be missed is Texas citrus – the sweetest grown in the United States. The Valley’s unique soil, four-season growing cycle and climate cannot created a more delicious, juicy orange or grapefruit anywhere else. But all that is still just a taste of what South Texas offers – from music to film to airshow festivals, and even one celebrating Elvis – there’s always something being celebrated in South Texas.
Texas Citrus Fiesta Mission (January) Showcasing the area’s great citrus growing history, this annual event began 86 years ago in Mission. The tradition and pageantry with a king, a queen and royal court with representatives from across the Rio Grande Valley, celebrates not only citrus industry but has grown into celebrating the array of agriculture produce and ecological qualities of the region. Queen Citrianna is the lady of honor during all of these festivities, from the pageants and dances, to the parade and the actual festival itself. King Citrus is kept a secret until the royal coronation. Kings are always selected from one who is and known and respected member of the citrus industry. Designers compete in a
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product costume show with themed costumes made 100 percent with South Texas citrus and Valley products. Leaves, fruits, seeds, peels, flowers and more are dyed, dried and pulverized to create some of the most elegant – and unique – creations seen anywhere. The event officially begins in September with various competitions and the naming of members of the royal court, but it kicks into high gear in January with the Product Costume Show, the Royal Reception and the Royal Coronation leading up to the Parade of Oranges, a fair and carnival. www.texascitrusfiesta. org Texas Onion Fest Weslaco • March It’s mind-numbing how many ways an onion – especially a Texas 1015 sweet onion – can be used. Of course, first and foremost is by making an onion blossom – and you won’t find a better one than at the event which celebrates an onion that was developed in Weslaco. Named for its suggested date of planting, the 1015 has been important to South Texas Agriculture and has blossomed the palate of of more than one person on the delectability onions can add to a meal. Music, rides, an old-car show, cooking demonstrations (using the 1015 onion of course), plenty of food, dancing horses – yes, you read that right, and an onion-eating contest are just a part of this annual and delicious – festival. www.weslaco.com
Watermelon Festival & BBQ Cook-off Alamo • May When it comes to the South Texas sunshine, nothing is better than music and an outdoor barbecue topped off with deliciously sweet, fresh and cold watermelon – and there’s more than plenty at this event, held in downtown Alamo. With an abundance of watermelon in the fields of South Texas to be had, it only makes sense that there is a watermelon eating contest – where even the losers are winners biting into the juicy treat. No watermelon festival can be held without the watermelon seed-spitting contests. This festival has two – one for distance and one for accuracy. www.alamotexas.org CULTURE CELEBRATIONS Cultural events are key to celebrating the diversity of its people and their centuries-long history of populating, developing and defining the region. Many flags of other countries have flown over Texas in its evolution to becoming the largest state in the continental U.S. Conjunto Festival Los Fresnos October The annual Conjunto Festival, organized by the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, has moved to a new location and new city. The 2018 event is being held in the City of Los Fresnos, October 19, 20 and 21 at Memorial Park, located at 900 N. Arroyo Blvd. The event provides three days of entertainment with conjunto groups from all across Texas performing. Admission is $6 per day. For information, call 956-367-0335. Charro Days - Brownsville February-March This festival originated 82 years that has developed into a multiweek event involving schools, businesses and government
entities while celebrating its hands-across-the-bridge relationship with its sister city of Monterrey on other side of the shared border with Mexico. Today, the Charros, or Mexican Cowboys, who the festival was named to honor, will dress in the traditional Mexican costumes, while colorfully dressed boys and girls will dance in the streets in the Baile del Sol parade to kick off the celebration. Charro Days is about celebrating cultural tradition with dances, parades and performances and a threeday Sombrero Festival. One of the most unique aspects of the event is the grito – or shout – that kicks off the festival every year. There is also Mr. Amigo, a person who is known for extending friendship and mutual understanding between the United States and Mexico. The first Mr. Amigo was
former Mexico President Miguel Aleman Valdez. www.charrodaysfiesta.com BorderFest Hidalgo • March Held on the grounds of State Farm Arena, where the biggest concert of the four-day event will be staged, BorderFest has been celebrating the U.S. and
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neighboring friends in Mexico for the past 42 years. In recent years, organizers have honored other countries, regions and states that have helped to weave the rich and diverse influences that have helped to create the blended fabric of South Texas life. In 2019, it will celebrate Hawaii. The events kick off on Thursday morning each year as the mayors of Hidalgo, Texas, and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, meet on the Hidalgo-Reynosa International bridge, which spans the Rio Grande betweens the two countries, to greet one another with the traditional “Abrazo” (embrace). A square dance in Reynosa immediately follows sending the event into high gear. Concerts will be held both in State Farm Arena and on secondary stages throughout the arena grounds. There are pageants and a parade, but what separates this is the country or region being celebrated. Traditional costumes, entertainment and food will be in abundance, giving the Festival a unique flavor and giving festival guests an opportunity to learn about different cultures. www.hidalgoborderfest.com
NATURE EVENTS With the incredible number of birds and butterflies that migrate through the region, drawing nature enthusiasts from across the globe, the nature festivals are amazingly popular.
and those who come to this event, hosted by the National Butterfly Center in Mission, will quickly see why – and may see 60 or more species of butterflies within a single day. www. texasbutterflyfestival.com
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Harlingen November Professional tour guides, life birds, a birder’s bazaar, speakers, socials, seminars, and, of course, birds, highlight this event, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. South Texas is considered one of the top destinations in the world when it comes to bird-watching, also known as “birding” and this event is a birder’s paradise, whether someone is a long-timer at the hobby, or just wanting to delve into it as a first-time amateur. www.rgvbf.org
Spring Chirp Weslaco April Spring Chirp is a new birding festival (now third year) in the Rio Grande Valley, an ecological crossroad, where subtropical, Gulf Coast, Great Plains, and Chihuahuan desert climates come together. During the spring migration birds from the Central and Mississippi flyways go right through the area on their way to Mexico, Central and South America. Weslaco and the Rio Grande Valley is the primary corridor in the spring for the raptor and hawk migration. Whether you are a beginner or experienced enthusiast with premium field trip locations and exclusive access to private properties you can explore this renowned birding Mecca for species such as Plain and Piebald Chachalacas, Green Jays, and Hummingbirds, and a number of Mexican species of seasonal migrants which are regularly found here and are nothing but extraordinary. www. springchirp.com
Texas Butterfly Festival Mission November There’s a reason that the Texas Butterfly festival immediately precedes the South Texas Birding Festival. That’s because a lot of the people who travel from the 23 states and four countries (based on last year’s registration) want to make an entire week out of it and conveniently register for both events. Field trips and education activities for all levels, private gardens and guided “hot spot” tours, and the North American Butterfly Photo Contest are just some of the available options for the event, now in its 23rd year. There’s also an annual community day so everyone can be part of this South Texas treat. From tidal wetlands to brush lands and more, South Texas claims home to more than 1,200 different species or plants, 300 or more species of butterflies and nearly 100 species of dragonflies. USA Today has called Mission the “butterfly capital of the USA”
Monarch Festival Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen March How big are butterflies in South Texas? There’s even a festival to celebrate the annual arrival of one particular species during its annual migration. The migratory path brings an abundance of Monarch butterflies through the area as the delicate winded creatures make their way from across the country through South Texas and Mexico. The event celebrates that arrival with nature presentations, how to make a butterfly garden, performances, art, food and more. www.quintamazatlan.com
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CHOICE DINING DESTINATIONS South Texas offers a wide variety of dining choices, from homestyle cooking to fine dining. Of course, there is no better place to find real TexMex restaurants with chefs who know how to bring out the flavors we all enjoy with great Mexican food. We scoured the Rio Grande Valley for some of the best dining – restaurants you must experience when you come to South Texas. While we can’t list them all, following are some of the Valley’s top restaurants – from Mission in the west to South Padre Island. MCALLEN Santa Fe Steakhouse and Cantina 1918 S. 10th St. (956) 630-2331 santafemcallen.com This top-of-the-line steak house has a wide variety of appetizers and a creative list of featured dishes. But what puts this place on the map is its steaks, chops and a wine list of more than 600 choices. It also offers a hand-crafted cocktail lounge with nightly live music and an al fresco patio and terrace. Those are all just icing on the steak when it comes to this restaurant that feels like a vacation getaway when you walk in. All the troubles of the outside world are gone and the biggest thing on your mind is which steak should I order today? Filet, Ribeye, Bone-in Ribeye, New York Strip, T-bone or Prime Rib. You’re not going to go wrong with any of these aged cuts of meat. They also offer Filet Espreso (tenderloin filet encrusted in espresso, baked, and puddled in a mildly spicy ancho pepper sauce), Filet Oscar and Filet Francis.
There’s fish, there’s lobster, there’s salad and more but, if you haven’t figured it out yet, we recommend the steaks – any of them. MISSION The Loretto Bistro 1233 E. Griffin Pkwy Mission, Texas 78572 (956) 600-7208 thelorettobistro.com This upscale restaurant located in the heart of Mission brings together locally sourced premium ingredients to create savory dishes to delight the most discriminating palate. Loretto offers a wide array of choices for all palates. Its house favorites include a Prime Texas-aged Ribeye and Crispy Pork Shank, served over a New Mexican-style pozole, cabbage, radish, lime and cilantro on top. It also offers brunch items such as eggs Benedict, Carnitas Benedict, Chicken and Waffles and omelets of your choice. The appetizer and patio menu will delight your taste buds with items such as Crisp Texas Quail Legs, Dos XX Mussels, Sweet Chili Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Pastas, salads, burgers and pizzas are also available. HARLINGEN The Vermillion 1601 W. Harrison Ave. (956) 230-3878 The Vermillion is a regular stop for the locals – for business people and families as well, The Vemillion prides itself on having the freshest ingredients and the best service available. Workers start cutting the vegetables and other necessities while most people sleep. That’s why even appetizers like
the nachos, covered generously with fresh avocados, look exquisite, and taste even better. The fish tacos are among the customers’ favorites, as are the charro beans, with a taste that can only come from home. The Vermillion provides comfort food like roast beef and mashed potatoes, as well as Mexican specialties, salads and specialty burgers. It also has a “watering hole” opposite the restaurant. EDINBURG University Drafthouse 2405 W. University Dr. (956) 380-4444 This, as the name describes it, is a college hangout so if you’re not into loud, don’t bother walking in – unless you really like burgers. While its specialty is craft beers, University Drafthouse is a notch above when it comes to burgers, and they have one of the best pulledpork sandwiches south of the Carolinas. WESLACO Arturo’s Bar & Grill 2303 W. Expressway 83 (956) 351-5772 Arturosbarandgrill.com Arturo’s, which also has a location in Progreso, Mexico, gives visitors a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine. The restaurant has an extensive menu and is known for producing dishes such as Frog Legs, Cabrito (Goat) and Quail. Of course, they also offer delicious traditional Mexican dishes such as the succulent enchiladas or tender fajitas. This is an upscale restaurant with a very comfortable feel. Some of the chef’s choices include Panchos Suizos (Fresh
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tortilla chips topped with refried beans, Oaxaca cheese, tomatillo sauce and sour cream), Seafood Parrillada (Fried Fish, Fried Shrimp and Shrimp Quesadillas served with French Fries and Onion Rings) and the Flounder Monterrey (Flounder Fillet stuffed with Crab Meat and topped with cheese service with grilled vegetables and white rice). SAN BENITO Vintage Crush Tearoom and Boutique 743 N. Sam Houston (956) 970-0386 This is not your usual lunch stop. Open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, owner Nancy Silva serves a healthier lunch than many places – and it has San Benito buzzing in a good way. Opened since Spring 2016, this eatery offers healthy
salads, homemade soups, sandwiches, coffee, smoothies and hot and cold team. “People feel welcome here,” Silva says. “It’s like walking into your home, like going home for lunch.” Customers have highly recommended the chick salad on a bed of organic greens, the chicken salad sandwich on a croissant or the Turkey Melt with Muenster chees, lettuce, tomato and fresh avocado. SOUTH PADRE ISLAND Louie’s Backyard 2305 Laguna Blvd. (956) 761-6406 lbyspi.com Patrons always enjoy Louie’s Backyard because the food is wonderful. Their enormous Louie’s All-You-Can Eat Prime Rib & Seafood Buffet offers a wide selection of fresh, delicious seafood and other choices. But what I enjoy
most is that island ambiance – sitting on the outdoor deck overlooking the bay watching the sunset while enjoying friends or family conversation. The buffet comes with items such as Snow Crab Legs, Herb Encrusted Prime Rib, Mesquite Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Sautéed Shrimp Scampi Blackened Fish…and the list goes on. Louie’s has plenty to offer, from a 10-ounce Southwest Chicken to fresh Red Snapper that can be prepared mesquite grilled, blackened, pecan encrusted, or parmesan encrusted. (Did I mention Fried Shrimp & Scallops on the buffet too?) There’s also the popular two, three or four-meat combination choices including a Petite Tenderloin, Shrimp, Scallops and Fresh Fish cooked in a variety of ways. This also comes with the all-you-caneat salad bar.
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Performing Arts continued from page 17 home to the RGV Barracudas, a Major Arena Soccer League. Be part of the fun and entertainment every spring when the location also hosts Hidalgo’s annual cultural and heritage festival “BorderFest.” This festival is named one of South Texas’ largest music and culture events. Visit the arena’s website for a list of events, games, concerts and more. Location 2600 N. 10th St. Hidalgo, Texas (956) 843-6688 Tickets: www.hidalgoarena.com Pharr Events Center The Pharr Events Center hosts a variety of concerts, events, and fun musicals for children and adults alike. It has opened its 60 x 100-foot stage to country music acts like Mark Chesnutt and has brought smiles to children’s faces with the animated cartoon series “Shopkins” brought to life through music. The space has also hosted various 1980s classic rock bands like Stryper and ‘80s tribute bands. Location 3000 N. Cage Pharr, Texas (956) 402-4500 Tickets: www.event.pharr-tx.gov Or Ticketmaster.com Albert Jeffers Theatre This University of TexasRio Grande Valley theatre offers live performances by talented students who put heart and hard work into their productions. The theatre has presented thousands of plays and performances over the years and continues to wow its visitors with its professional sets and shows. Upcoming shows include Broadway’s
“Hamilton” creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “The Heights,” a show that shot him to stardom and showed his talents for rhyming and storytelling. See their website for a full list of upcoming events. Location 1201 W. University Drive Edinburg, Texas (956) 665-3581 www.utrgv.edu/theatre South Texas College Theatre The theatre is part of the arts and drama department of the college and puts on four major shows a year filled with drama, comedy and music. Visitors can sing along to musical favorites like William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical favorite “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and enjoy the production’s professional presentation. Location 3201 W. Pecan Blvd. McAllen, Texas (956) 872-2639 Tickets: www.southtexascollege.edu iTheater at the Tower This unique theatre is located in Weslaco’s 1920s water storage tank that was repurposed in 1969 and has been enriching and bringing wonderful community shows to Weslaco and surrounding areas. The playhouse has an intimate setting where local artists bring creative and professional shows, engaging the community and inspiring them. Location 120 Kansas Ave. Weslaco, Texas For ticket information call (956) 261-5656 www.iloveit.live
Camille Lightner Playhouse Camille Lightner Playhouse has been “bringing Broadway to Brownsville” since 1964 and has remained an active theatric staple in the community. The 2018-19 season openers include popular favorites like “Mama Mia,” “Into the Woods” and “Evita.” The playhouse also hosts a variety of workshops and classes that are open to those who have a love for theatre. Location 1 Dean Porter Park Brownsville, Texas (956) 542-8900 Tickets: www.camilleplayhouse.net University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Mariachi Mariachi Aztlan has been bringing the sounds of mariachi and culture to the community and beyond for more than 30 years. This group has traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico to perform and present the beauty of Mexican music. The group has been selected “Outstanding College or University Mariachi” several times in national competitions. The group has performed concerts nationwide that include at John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. See their website for tickets and upcoming concerts. Location 1 W. University Blvd. Edinburg, Texas (956) 665-3881 Tickets: patron.utrgv.edu/tickets
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Museums of the RGV ALAMO Alamo Museum 130 S. 8th St. 956-961-4398 www.AlamoTexas.org
BROWNSVILLE Brownsville Museum of Fine Art 660 E. Ringgold St. 956-542-0941 www.bmfa.us Childrenâ€™s Museum of Brownsville 501 Ringgold St. #5 Dean Porter Park 956-548-9300 www.cmofbrownsville. com Costumes of the Americas Museum 501 Ringgold St. #5 Dean Porter Park 956-547-8990, 956-5476890 www.costumesoftheamericas.net Historic Brownsville Museum 641 E. Madison St. 956-548-1313 www.mittculturaldistrict. org Stillman House Museum 1325 E. Washington St. 956-541-5560 www.Brownsvillehistory. org
Photo Courtesy of Port Isabel Lighthouse
DONNA Donna Hooks Fletcher Historical Museum 129 S. Eighth St. 956-464-9989
EDINBURG Museum of South Texas History 200 N. Closner Blvd. 956-383-6911 www.MOSTHistory.org HARLINGEN Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum 2425 Boxwood St. 956-216-4900 www.MyHarlingen.usstoric-landmark-skaggs-house.html Iwo Jima Museum & Gift Shop 320 Iwo Jima Blvd. 956-421-9234 www.mma-tx.org/aboutus/iwo-jima-monument HIDALGO Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum and World Birding Center 902 S. 2nd St. 956-843-8686 www.CityofHidalgo.net/ pumphouse.html MCALLEN International Museum of Arts & Science 1900 W. Nolana Ave. 956-682-0123 www.theimasonline.org
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES PHARR Hub City Conjunto and Tejano Museum 207 W. Newcombe Ave. 956-249-9365 PORT ISABEL Port Isabel Historical Museum 317 E. Railroad Ave. 956-943-7602 www.portisabelmuseums.com/mopi
The McAllen Heritage Center 301 S. Main St. 956-687-1904 www.McAllenHeritageCenter.com MISSION Mission Historical Museum 900 Doherty Ave. 956-580-8646 www.MissionMuseum.org
A little history. A little art. A great deal of culture. Check out our website or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest events and program.
Port Isabel Lighthouse 421 E. Queen Isabella Blvd. 956-943-0755 www.portisabelmuseums.com Treasures of the Gulf Museum 317 E. Railroad Ave. 956-943-7602 www.portisabelsmuseum.com
RAYMONDVILLE Willacy County Historical Museum 427 S. 7th St. 956-689-4406 raymondvillechamberofcommerce.weebly.com RIO GRANDE CITY Fort Ringgold Robert E. Lee Museum US 83 at Fort Ringgold 956-488-6036 www.fortringgoldtx.org Kelsey-Bass Museum 100 S. Washington St. 956-487-0672
500 S. Texas Boulevard | Weslaco, Texas 78596 (956) 968-9142 | www.WeslacoMuseum.org
S UTH TEXAS ADVENTURES SAN BENITO Freddy Fender Museum 210 E. Heywood St. 956-361-3830 www.freddyfendermuseum.com Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center 225 E. Stenger St. 956-244-0373 San Benito History Museum 210 E. Heywood St. 956-399-9991 or 956-399-6032 222.sanbenitohistory.org RIO HONDO Rio Hondo Historical Museum 121 N. Arroyo Blvd. 956-748-2102 www.riohondo.us/museum ROMA Roma Historical Museum 200 Lincoln 956-849-4930
Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum 210 E. Heywood St. 956-276-9588, 956-245-1666 www.texasconjuntomusic.org WESLACO Weslaco Museum of Local History & Cultural Arts 500 S. Texas Blvd. 956-968-9142 www.WeslacoMuseum.org
The McAllen Heritage Center Museum of History and Culture
Visit us to learn about McAllen’s vibrant past! The mission of the McAllen Heritage Center is to assist in the preservation of records, documents, photos, and other artifacts of historical, traditional or cultural value to our City’s history. Visit our website or call the museum for more information! Free Admission and parking (rear of building)
Come Visit Us! 301 S. Main St. • McAllen, TX 78501 Wednesday - Friday, 1:00pm - 5:00pm Saturday, 11:00am - 4:00pm mcallenheritagecenter.com • (956) 687-1904 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
Texasâ€™ Largest, Oldest & Best Birding Festival!
V i s i t H arl in ge n Te xas . com
PROUD TO SUPPORT
7th- 11th 2018 6th- 10th 2019 11th- 15th 2020 rgvbf.org 956-423-5565 209-227-4823
25th Annual RGV BIRDING FESTIVAL