Official Guide to the Rio Grande Valley

Page 1

¡Hola! Photo courtesy of La Plaza Mall

We are thrilled that you chose the Official Guide to the Rio Grande Valley to discover our nature attractions, study our heritage, relish cultural activities, stay at historic places, and visit the best things to see and do in the region. Yes! We grilled local experts, poured over stacks of flyers and options to bring you a pivotal guide for planning your vacation and aligning it with our annual celebrations. It’s a place to get transformed by watching strange and marvelous wildlife, become recharged for catching the big one while bay fishing, or just reconnect on a romantic stroll at South Padre Island. Wake to the smell of citrus blossoms, experience the spray of fresh picked fruit, a gaze of the National Battlefield or serenade by mariachis as you dine --- you can have experiences here like no place on earth. The Valley offers unrivaled scenic beauty, at an incredibly diverse region spanning Willacy, Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties. Whether you’ve just begun planning your trip to the Rio Grande Valley or call the area home; we hope you have as much fun exploring the region as we do!

Photo courtesy of State Farm Arena

Julian Alvarez, President/CEO Rio Grande Valley Partnership

Photo courtesy of City of McAllen

Photo courtesy of Harlingen EDC


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


Rio Grande Valley Is published annually by

322 South Missouri Ave., Weslaco, TX 78596 956-968-3141 ·

Rio Grande Valley Partnership Publisher/Editor Chairman of the Board Spencer Bell President/CEO Julian Alvarez Admin. Assistant/Business Barometer Sandra De Los Santos Publication/Media Director Fawn Foudray-Golich Membership Director Daniela Villarreal Social Media/Event Director Rachael Reyes Finance Director Febe Zepeda The publisher gratefully acknowledges the contributions of each community and artist toward the esthetic compilation of this issue. Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s publishing is neither a sponsor of or committed to the views expressed in these articles. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information and listings contained herein, the Rio Grande Valley Partnership - Regional Chamber assumes no liability for errors or omissions. We extend our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Valley Chambers, Texas Historical Commission, and notably Stephen Sinclair who contributed countless hours gathering photographs for the vividly detailed nature storyline within. Additionally, the Valley Convention & Visitors Bureaus for their guidance, patience, encouragement and contributions throughout the development of this project. Furthermore; we thank our State, City and County Officials, EDC’s and connected allies of the Rio Grande Valley. No part of this publication may be reproduced, disseminated, published, or transferred in any form or by any means, except with prior written permission of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership – Regional Chamber.


© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Introduction to the Valley

Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Valley Snapshot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Calendar of Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 THINGS TO SEE & DO • Explore the Valley . . . . . . . . . .13 • Sandcastles . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 • NEW Aquarium . . . . . . . . . . . .21 • Murals of the Valley . . . . . . . .22 • Museums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 • King Tut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 • Historical Markers • Starr County . . . . . . . . . .34 • Hidalgo County . . . . . . . .35 • Cameron County . . . . . . .41 • Willacy County . . . . . . . .42 • Civil War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 • Personal Guide . . . . . . . . . . . .45 • Nature Festival . . . . . . . . . . . .48 • Nature Hotspots . . . . . . . . . . .51 ACTIVITIES • Sporting Venues . . . . . . . . . . .56 • Fishing & Hunting . . . . . . . . . .57 • Golf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 • Veteran Friendly . . . . . . . . . . .61 • Theatre & Performing Arts . . .65 • Music of the Valley . . . . . . . . .66 • Sebastián . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 SHOPPING • Housing Choices . . . . . . . . . . .69 • Shopping the Valley . . . . . . . .70 • Custom Boots . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 • Local Gifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 • Farmer’s Markets . . . . . . . . . .80 • Local Treats . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 LOCAL FLAIR & CULTURE • Word Match . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 • Famous Faces . . . . . . . . . . . .85 • Day of the Dead . . . . . . . . . . .91 • Valley Haunts . . . . . . . . . . . . .93

See our Attraction Map online at:

Cover photos courtesy of: Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts, Schlitterbahn, Russell - Aquatic Ecology Center, Los Fresnos Rodeo, Chris Marshall - Marshall Law Band, Stephen Sinclair, Valerie Bates, Casa de Adobe, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, RGV Premium Outlets, City of McAllen


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Chambers of Commerce ALAMO 130 S. 8th Street Alamo, TX 78516 Phone: 787-2117 Fax: 787-1172 BROWNSVILLE 1600 University Blvd. Brownsville, TX 78520 Phone: 542-4341 Fax: 504-3348 EDINBURG 602 West University Dr. Edinburg, TX 78539 Phone: 383-4974 Fax: 383-6942 HARLINGEN 311 E. Tyler St. Harlingen, TX 78550 Phone: 423-5440 Fax: 425-3870 HIDALGO 800 E. Coma Hidalgo, TX 78557 Phone: 843-2734 Fax: 843-2722 MISSION 202 W. Tom Landry Mission, TX 78572 Phone: 585-2727 Fax: 585-3044 PALMVIEW 400 W. Veterans Blvd. Palmview, TX 78572 Phone: 432-0300 Fax: 581-7494 Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce

PORT ISABEL 421 Queen Isabella Blvd. Port Isabel, TX 78578 Phone: 943-2262 Fax: 943-4001

SAN JUAN EDC & CHAMBER 4810 North Raul Longoria – Suite 5 San Juan, TX 78589 Phone: 783-3448 Fax: 783-5413

PORT MANSFIELD 101 E. Port Drive Port Mansfield, TX 78598 Phone: 944-2354 Fax: 944-2515

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND 610 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597 Phone: 761-4412 Fax: 761-2739

RAYMONDVILLE 700 FM 3168 Raymondville, TX 78580 Phone: 689-1864 Fax: 689-1863 LOS FRESNOS 203 N. Arroyo Blvd. Los Fresnos, TX 78566 Phone: 233-4488 Fax: 233-9740 MCALLEN 1200 Ash Avenue McAllen, TX 78501 Phone: 682-2871 Fax: 687-2917 RGV HISPANIC CHAMBER 3313 North McColl Road McAllen, TX 78501 Phone: 928-0060 Fax: 928-0073 MERCEDES 320 S. Ohio Mercedes, TX 78570 Phone: 565-2221 Fax: 565-2221 SAN BENITO 401 N. Sam Houston San Benito, TX 78586 Phone: 361-3800 ext. 301 Fax: 361-3805

WESLACO 275 South Kansas – Ste. B Weslaco, TX 78596 Phone: 968-2102 Fax: 968-6451 RIO GRANDE VALLEY PARTNERSHIP 322 S. Missouri Weslaco, TX 78596 Phone: 968-3141 Fax: 968-0210

Convention & Visitor’s Bureaus BROWNSVILLE CVB 650 Ruben M. Torres Sr. Blvd. (FM 802) Brownsville, TX 78520 Phone: 546-3721 Fax: 546-3972 HARLINGEN CVB 311 E. Tyler St. Harlingen, TX 78550 Phone: 423-5565 Fax: 425-3870 MCALLEN CVB 1200 Ash Avenue McAllen, TX 78501 Phone: 682-2871 Fax: 631-8571 MCALLEN CONVENTION CENTER 700 Convention Center Blvd. McAllen, TX 78501 Phone: 681-3800 Fax: 681-3840 SOUTH PADRE ISLAND VISITOR’S CENTER 610 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597 Phone: 761-6433 Fax: 761-9462


SPI CONVENTION CENTRE 7355 Padre Boulevard, SPI Phone: 956-761-3000 Fax: 956-761-3024 Photo courtesy of Weslaco EDC

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) or Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas is casually called The Valley. Located at the southern tip of Texas, it meets the northern shore of the Rio Grande located where Texas greets Mexico; separating MX from the U.S.


Valley Snapshot The border region is a unique area of America; for over two and a half centuries, since the Spaniards first settled in the area, its inhabitants have blended into a community with a culture as unique and diverse as the original ethnicities that met there. Our Valley is not really a valley, but a delta or floodplain containing many oxbow lakes or Resacas formed from pinched-off bends of the Rio Grande. In early days, land developers, attempting to capitalize on unclaimed land, used the name "Magic Valley" to attract early settlers and allure investors. The RGV is also called El Valle, the Spanish translation of "The Valley". This territory is made up of four counties: Starr County, Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron. The South Texas region occupies a diverse landscape including beaches, ports, ranches and vibrant cities. Its distinct scenery is reflected in the economy. The area is home to an assortment of industries that make South Texas not only unique but exceptionally competitive. As of July 1, 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated the population of the Rio Grande Valley at 1,305,782.

Photo courtesy of Weslaco EDC



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


Bus Lines

BROWNSVILLE/SOUTH PADRE ISLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 700 Amelia Earhart Dr, Brownsville, TX (956) 542-4373 MCALLEN MILLER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 2500 S Bicentennial Blvd. McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 681-1500

BROWNSVILLE METRO La Plaza 755 International Blvd. Brownsville 956-548-6050 VALLEY METRO TRANSIT CENTER 510 S. Pleasantview Drive Weslaco Information: 1-800-574-8322 956-969-5761

METRO MCALLEN Central Station 1501 W. Highway 83 McAllen 956-681-3510 METRO CONNECT 855-220-8827

VALLEY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 3002 Heritage Way Harlingen, TX 78550 (956) 430-8600 Photo courtesy of McAllen EDC


Explore the Valley

Hospitals Hospital Name

Veterinarians Address


Harlingen Medical Center 5501 South Expressway 77, Harlingen 956-365-1000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Solara Hospital Harlingen 508 Victoria Lane, Harlingen 956-425-9600 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Solara Hospital Harlingen Brownsville Campus 333 Lorenally Drive, Brownsville 956-546-0808 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital 425 East Alton Gloor Boulevard, Brownsville 956-554-6000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Valley Baptist Medical Center 2101 Pease Street, Harlingen 956-389-1000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Valley Baptist Medical Center - Brownsville 1040 West Jefferson Street, Brownsville 956-698-5400 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Valley Baptist Medical Center Brownsville Inpatient Psychiatric 1 Ted Hunt Boulevard, Brownsville 956-698-4700 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Valley Regional Medical Center 100 E. Alton Gloor Boulevard, Brownsville 956-350-7000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Behavioral Medicine At Renaissance 5501 South McColl, Edinburg 956-362-4357 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Cornerstone Regional Hospital 2302 Cornerstone Boulevard, Edinburg 956-618-4444 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Doctors Hospital At Renaissance 5501 South McColl, Edinburg 956-362-8677 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Edinburg Regional Medical Center 1102 West Trenton Road, Edinburg 956-388-6000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Knapp Medical Center 1401 East Eighth Street, Weslaco 956-968-8567 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Lifecare Hospital Of South Texas-South 2001 M Street, McAllen 956-688-4300 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Lifecare Hospitals Of South Texas - North 5101 North Jackson Road, McAllen 956-926-7000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— McAllen Heart Hospital 1900 South D Street, McAllen 956-994-2000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— McAllen Medical Center 301 W. Expressway 83,Mcallen 956-632-4000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Mission Regional Medical Center 900 South Bryan Road, Mission 956-323-9000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Rehab Center At Renaissance 5501 South McColl, Edinburg 956-362-3550 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Rio Grande Regional Hospital 101 East Ridge Road, McAllen 956-632-6000 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Solara Hospital McAllen LLC 301 West Expressway 83 8th Floor, McAllen 956-632-4877 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Solara Hospital Edinburg LLC 2655 Cornerstone Blvd., Edinburg 956-683-7100 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— South Texas Behavioral Health Center 1102 West Trenton, Edinburg 956-388-1300 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Weslaco Rehab Hospital 906 South James Street, Weslaco 956-969-2222 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Women’s Hospital At Renaissance 5501 South McColl, Edinburg 956-362-2229 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Starr County Memorial Hospital 128 North FM Road 3167, Rio Grande City 956-487-5561 ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Source: Texas Department Of Health State Services, Directory Of General And Special Hospitals, 2/17/13.

MARGO VETERINARY CLINIC 601 W 6th St, Rio Grande City 956-487-3623 MISSION VETERINARY HOSPITAL 2012 Bus. 83, Mission 956-585-1656 NORTH 10TH STREET ANIMAL HOSPITAL 6001 N. 10th Street, McAllen 956-467-5776 FOUR PAWS ANIMAL HOSPITAL 214 Conquest, Edinburg 956-383-2202 VALLEY ANIMAL HOSPITAL 902 W State St., Pharr 956-787-2709 BORDER ANIMAL HOSPITAL PC 617 S International Blvd, Weslaco 956-968-3858 PET CARE VETERINARY CLINIC 416 N Ed Carey Dr., Harlingen 956-428-6775 THE COUNTRY VET 17548 State Hwy. 107, Combes 956-423-2275 SAN BENITO ANIMAL HOSPITAL 1944 W US Highway 77 San Benito • 956-399-3221 BROWNSVILLE VETERINARY HOSPITAL 1810 Central Blvd., Brownsville 956-542-7705 ANIMAL MEDICAL CLINIC of Los Fresnos 406 E Ocean Blvd., Los Fresnos 956-233-8868 PORT ISABEL ANIMAL CLINIC 421 E Railroad Ave., Port Isabel 956-943-6022


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Calendar of Events

Find events happening in the Rio Grande Valley, including concerts, festivals, annual events & more. For up to the minute event information, visit the Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s on-line calendar at: JANUARY


POLAR BEAR DIP, SPI - Join 1000+ Polar Bears as they take a dip in the Gulf to celebrate the New Year! 10 a.m. registration & noon start. Event Location: Clayton’s Beach Bar and Event Center. For more information visit: KEEPIN' IT RIO ART WALK - Join the Rio Grande City Greater Chamber of Commerce as they host Keepin' It Rio Art Walk at the historic La Borde House located at 601 Main St., Rio Grande City. A number of local artists will showcase their works of art from Jan.-April. This event is always FREE to the public! THE ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL SHOW, McAllen Convention Center – McAllen Chamber of Commerce presents this prestigious event each year in early January. It takes the main exhibit hall, of the McAllen Convention Center with over 30,000 square feet of space to hold this crowd! Mexican Artisans will be on-hand to enhance the enjoyment of attendees. Giveaways & Door Prizes! Call: 956-682-2871 TEXAS CITRUS FIESTA, Mission – Hosted in late January, a Royal Reception, Royal Coronation of King Citrus & Queen Citrianna, Parade of Oranges, Fun Fair, Vaquero Cook-Off, Fun Run, and Heart of America Carnival. Call: 956-585-9724 or visit MCALLEN’S MUSIC AFTER HOURS, Archer Park, McAllen A Craft Fair is held the first Friday of every month January-May and September-November. Local artists display and sell their works that express passion and promote an art culture. The event showcases “hand-made” arts and crafts - 6 p.m.-10 p.m. McAllen Chamber continues to look for “crafters” and artists that make unique and original items. Interested participants call: 956-682-2871 ANNUAL WINTER TEXAN EXPO & HEALTH FAIR, McAllen Convention Center – Over 75 exhibits of mobile homes accessories & supplies, physicians, hospitals & healthcare facilities, financial institutions, restaurants, entertainment, travel & tourism and more! FREE health screenings, entertainment and door prizes! Photo courtesy of City of Hidalgo

FIESTA EDINBURG, Edinburg Chamber’s largest celebration – A super fun, quality of life event for the city and Rio Grande Valley. Fiesta Edinburg symbolizes an important moment in history. Fiesta Edinburg’s big party was created to commemorate Edinburg as County Seat. For more info call: 956-383-4974 INTERNATIONAL ART SHOW, Brownsville - The Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts, is the only international art show in south Texas. The Purpose is to give artists, photographers, and sculptors, exposure of their work. Since 1971, art has arrived for the juried show from all over the world for this annual event. Regularly featured artists are from across the globe. Location: Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, 660 E Ringgold For details: 956-542-0941 JALAPENO 100, Harlingen – This is a cycling race made for both the avid and amateur with distances for all! Visit: RIO GRANDE VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL, Mercedes Mid-February, five stages of traditional Country, Western, Bluegrass, and Gospel music. Special performances by Valley school groups plus food concessions, arts & crafts vendors and music workshops. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily. Biscuit & gravy breakfast served 8 a.m.-11 a.m. All net proceeds support Valley youth music education. Location: Rio Grande Valley Livestock Showground, 1000 N. Texas Ave. Call: 956-373-0130 ANNUAL FIESTA DE LA FERIA – Later in the month, celebrate with live music, rides & games, arts & crafts, food & merchandise vendors, contests, car show and much more! On Main Street in La Feria Contact: 956-797-2261 CHARRO DAYS, Brownsville -The importance of Charro Days goes back to 1937 when it was first organized, uniting the spirit of two cultures between the border towns of Brownsville and Matamoros. Something for everyone, parades, amazing rides, games, food and fun! People come to Charro Days as visitors to learn about the rich cultural heritage. Visit: MARCH


BORDERFEST, Hidalgo - A nationally recognized, award winning Heritage and Music festival attracting more than 65,000 people over five days! Featuring over 100 bands and entertainers, fireworks, a bold imaginative parade, pageant, Folklorico dancers, crafts and a bar crawl. Annually the festival donates $40,000 to $50,000 for local scholarships. For more information call: 956843-2286 DIA DEL TOURISTA (TOURIST APPRECIATION DAY), Nuevo Progreso, MX – The party is on in mid-March; a festival celebrating Winter Texans with food, entertainment and great shopping. Call Weslaco’s Chamber for dates: 956-968-2102

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

RIO GRANDE VALLEY LIVESTOCK SHOW, Mercedes - This show offers oodles of fun for the entire family including a parade, a youth livestock contests, rodeo, marketplace for shopping, and a carnival. For a full schedule visit: AIR FIESTA, Brownsville – Takes place in early March; gates open about 9 a.m., flying starts around 12 noon and lasts for about 3 hours. Plan enough time to view the historic aircraft on display, enjoy the arts & crafts trade show and sample the wide variety of food the vendors have to offer before the air show begins. At 11 a.m., one hour before the show will start, the part of the air show grounds where aircraft are operated - the so called "hot area" - will be sealed off for safety reasons. Commemorative Air Force Rio Grande Valley Wing 955 South Minnesota Ave., Brownsville. 956-541-8585 HEAT WAVE CAR SHOW & SOUND OFF, SPI - Enjoy live music, contests and venders with thousands of custom car lovers! Door opens at 10 a.m. daily in early March at South Padre Island’s Convention Center – visit for more information. TEXAS ONION FEST, Weslaco - Come celebrate the Texas Sweet Onion, developed in Weslaco! Texas Onion Fest features live music, delicious food, cooking demos, kiddy rides, recipe contests, dancing horse show, car show and more! Located at: Weslaco City Park, 300 N. Airport Drive. For more information, call: 956-968-2102 Photo courtesy of City of San Benito

APRIL SAND CRAB NIGHT RUN, SPI – Typically hosted the last weekend in April. Run on the beach at night wearing lights! Join 2,000 visitors for this unique event! Barbeque & Beer Celebration follow at: Clayton’s Beach Bar & Event Center. For more information visit: RIO GRANDE VALLEY HOME & GARDEN SHOW, McAllen Convention Center - Exhibit Halls A & B located at: 700 Convention Center Blvd. Everything under one roof from pools to plants, outdoor furniture to cutlery, guest speakers and prizes. For more info, call: 956-686-3718 or visit


TEXAS INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION & COOK OFF, San Benito – In celebration of Texas’ Independence Day, festivities take place early in the month and include three live re-enactments of the battles leading to the State’s freedom from Mexico. Battles include the famous Battle of the Alamo, Battle of San Jacinto, and Battle of Bexar in period attire. Also on site; demonstrations of vendors, barbeque cook-off, brisket plate sale, period parade, Declaration of Independence signing ceremony, 5-K race, live music, raffles and beer garden. South Texas Youth Stock show Grounds, off FM 510 in San Benito. Call for more information: 956-361-3800

MAY ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF PALO ALTO, Brownsville Come see demonstrations of weapons, tactics, and soldier life from the U.S.-Mexican War era. Musket and artillery demonstrations are dependent upon weather. Resaca de la Palma Battlefield located at: 1024 Paredes Line Road Brownsville. For details call: 956-541-2785 Ext. 333 or visit MEMORIAL DAY FIREWORKS, SPI - Celebrate the start of Summer Season! Best viewing is between Palm and Red Snapper St. at 9:15 p.m. Over the Laguna Madre Bay. Visit: SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE THEATRE/STC’S COOPER CENTER for Communication Arts, McAllen – From May-October the STC Theatre invites the community to become a Season Pass Subscriber for another year of fun and quality entertainment. All subscribers also receive special deals for additional guest performances that may arise throughout the year. For tickets call: 956-872-2639 UTPA THEATRE, Edinburg – From May to September the University Theatre Productions at the University of Texas Pan American provide Valley audiences with a wide variety of quality live theatre. Albert L. Jeffers Theatre and the Studio Theatre are located in the Arts & Humanities building at 1201 W. University Dr. For performance information, call: 956-665-3581 Photo courtesy of Pharr Cultural Arts



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

JUNE THE GREAT TEXAS CATAMARAN RACE, SPI – A sailboat competition taking contestants 300 grueling miles from South Padre Island to Galveston Island in a race against time for fame and glory. This race is an event born of true grit and old world adventure spirit taking sailors up the barrier islands from South Padre and past miles of open beach where lie hidden hundreds of shipwrecks that have come before. The course is both challenging and potentially hazardous as weather changes and shipping traffic can become an obstacle for the small boats that race against time to reach the shores of Galveston. It's the longest catamaran race in the world and competitors are limited to 18 - 22 foot catamaran vessels - not a lot of boat for open water. Daring sailors’ adventure into the Gulf of Mexico into remote areas and, in Old World tradition, are not allowed to have support boats follow. For more information contact: Clayton’s Beach Bar BLUES ON THE HILL, Harlingen - Blues on the Hill is an annual concert series featuring national and international blues music artists. Food vendors are always on site selling BBQ, fajitas, hot dogs, nachos, funnel cakes, cotton candy, kettle corn, tacos, etc. Bottled water, sodas and beer are also available. The event is a family oriented cultural event – bring a blanket or lawn chairs. Contact Harlingen Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for dates & location info: 956-423-5440 TASTE OF THE VALLEY, Pharr Events Center – Taste of the Valley is Pharr’s award-winning tasting party featuring a delicious assortment of food and drink provided by the Valley’s premier restaurants. Taste of the Valley showcases restaurants and their chef’s creations in a social event full of food, drinks and live entertainment. Contact Pharr Events Center for more information: 956-402-4500 or 956-402-4332 JULY The Rio Grande Valley celebrates the Fourth of July from Roma to South Padre Island with parades, live music, BBQ’s and fireworks! TEXAS INTERNATIONAL FISHING TOURNAMENT (TIFT), SPI - Surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Laguna Madre Bay and Gulf of Mexico, Port Isabel and South Padre Island play host to Texas' largest saltwater fishing tournament, the Texas International Fishing Tournament. Tournament starts with late registration on Wed. & Thurs. with a special play day for junior anglers on Thurs. Fishing gets underway early Fri. morning with bay boats required to return to their berths each night and offshore boats allowed to stay out overnight while still adhering to tournament start/stop fishing times. For more information on offshore rules, see link on home page. Tournament wraps up with lunch/awards ceremony on Sunday. To register or for more information go to:


PORT MANSFIELD FISHING TOURNAMENT – Typically held in late July, this tournament offers both Bay and Off-shore divisions for men, women and juniors, prizes, live music - Fun for the whole family! For more details call: 956-944-2354 or visit

Photo courtesy of South Padre Island CVB

BEACHCOMBER ART SHOW & SALE, SPI - The SPI Convention Centre will host the annual Beachcomber Art Show and Sale the last weekend in July. Handmade art, paintings, prints, folk art, wood sculpture, glass and jewelry for sale by artists. An annual event you won't want to miss! For more information go to: AUGUST LADIES KINGFISH TOURNAMENT, SPI – Early in August, for over 30 years ladies have entered this fishing event! Registration is at the South Padre Island Convention Centre on Friday. Weigh-In is located at South Point Marina in Port Isabel on Saturday and on Sunday the awards brunch takes place at the South Padre Island Convention Centre. Check website for all details and registration. SEPTEMBER TEXAS SLAM KAYAK FISHING TOURNAMENT, SPI - Call UB Kayaks for details on registering! Five kayaks will be given away to winners. Contact: Tony Crouch 956-761-1669 Event Location: Clayton's Beach Bar & Grill ANNUAL PACHANGA IN THE PARK, Port Isabel – During the first week of September the Annual Pachanga in Washington Park in Port Isabel delivers the Grito Contest, Jalapeno Eating Contest and Best Tasting Chalupa Contest. Enjoy Brownsville’s Consulado de Mexico Dance Contest, Dance Performances, Mexican Costume Contest, Jalapeno Eating Contest and Chalupa Games. Call: 956-943-2262 MCALLEN ARTWALK, McAllen’s Art District – Is a FREE self-guided tour of art galleries and art hosts in one of McAllen’s oldest areas. Guests can start their tour at any location and proceed at their own pace. Come experience big-city art in historic charm. McAllen ArtWalk begins the first Friday of each month starting September through May. The evening exhibits begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. North Main Street.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


ANNUAL BROWNSVILLE LATIN JAZZ FESTIVAL; is scheduled for the second complete week of October. It has hosted countless Latin jazz artists of the highest caliber, and entertained thousands for sixteen years! This three-day event provides exposure to Latin jazz. The first and last day offer FREE outdoor concerts enjoyed by over 4,000 persons of all ages. The second and third days are feature concerts by a Grammy nominated artist. Clinics, master workshops, dance competitions and exhibitions throughout. Need details, call: 956-831-9590 or visit

RIO GRANDE VALLEY BIRDING FESTIVAL, Harlingen – During the first weeks of November, the RGV Birding Festival features birding field trips, workshops and seminars with top birding experts, family programs including a raptor show and the popular, hilarious, FREE birding quiz show. The birder’s bazaar is a top notch (FREE) trade show just in time for Christmas shopping for optics, books, and jewelry for your friends and family. The bazaar also harbors booths that educate on the many local spots to enjoy nature. A silent auction featuring at least 60 items is a golden opportunity to get a bargain. Location: Fair Park Municipal Complex 1204 Fair Park Blvd. Check the website for more information: or call 209-227-4823

PALMFEST INTERNATIONAL FOLK LIFE CELEBRATION, McAllen – PalmFest features major attractions, historical displays, art, family games, rides, cooking competitions and demonstrations, live entertainment, diverse food & beverage. Over 40,000 people enjoy the event inside the McAllen Convention Center and all around the grounds in the Oval Park & Reflecting Pond. For more information call: 956-681-3897 SANDCASTLE DAYS, SPI - South Padre Island's signature October event invites Master Sand Sculptors from around the world to compete by building their dreams in sand! Three days of art, music, food and fun. Vendors, and kiddy rides and so much more. For more information visit: WILD IN WILLACY, Raymondville – Hosted the last weekend in October with ranch tours, cook-offs, trade show, museum tours, vendors, children’s program, photography contests and more. Contact: 956-689-1864 Photo courtesy of Andy Hancock



ANNUAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SHRIMP COOK-OFF, Port Isabel - During the first weekend in November; sample some of the best amateur and professional shrimp recipes in the world. Enjoy live entertainment and performances – mingle! Save the Date: 956-943-2262 MEMORIAL ILLUMINATION, Brownsville - Experience and participate in the lighting of 8,000 candles to honor U.S. and Mexican veterans of the1846 battles near the Rio Grande. Candle lighting begins at sunset during the 2nd week of November. The public is encouraged to bring grill lighters to the Resaca de la Palma Battlefield located at 1024 Paredes Line Road Brownsville. For more information: 956-541-2785 Ext. 333 DECEMBER WELCOME BACK PARTY In Nuevo Progreso, MX - Live music, catering to Winter and Summer Texans with room to dance and Coronas! There are dentists, pharmacies, gift shops, manicures & pedicures, beauty shops, bakeries, restaurants and all that fun! Call Weslaco’s Chamber for dates: 956-968-2102 ONCE UPON A RIO CHRISTMAS PARADE - Join the Rio Grande City Greater Chamber of Commerce at their Annual Lighted Christmas Parade! This year anyone wishing to participate in making a float is asked to contact the Chamber of Commerce at: 956-353-2401 First Friday in December! KEEPIN' IT RIO MARKET DAYS – Rio Grande City invites everyone to join in the fun! Market Days is held at the Lopez-Tijerina Courtyard. It's an event that is FREE to the pubic! Purchase arts and crafts, collectables, jewelry, clothing, and snacks for holiday gifting. Call Rio Grande City’s City Hall for more information: 956-487-3476 NIGHT OF LIGHTS, Edinburg’s Holiday Celebration -Traditionally occurs the first Saturday in December. Night of Lights kicks off with live family entertainment, music, food booths, games and a beautiful lighted parade filled with brightly decorated floats, and a popular visit from Santa Claus! Call 956-383-4974 for more information.


ANNUAL WELCOME HOME WINTER TEXAN PARTY, Mission – The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce hosts the largest Winter Texan population and their Welcome Home Party is big as Texas. It features great entertainment, FREE snacks and much more. This party has over 650 guests – Come early, stay late!


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

PALMVIEW’S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS POSADA – Family friendly with a visit from Santa Claus, Palmview’s Annual Christmas Posada features Folklorico dancers, dance teams, school choirs singing carols, Palmview’s nationally recognized Mariachis, food vendors and so much more! Bring in the spirit of the season at Palmview City Park typically hosted one week before Christmas. Call: 956-432-0300 MCALLEN’S CANDLELIGHT POSADA – First weekend in December, live entertainment and food booths in Archer Park, Nativity Procession and lighted parade in Historic Downtown, Teen Town, Little Town, Marketplace, and a special guest appearance by Santa. Call: 956-682-2871 or visit ANNUAL DIAS FESTIVOS, McAllen Convention Center – The Junior League of McAllen’s Annual Dias Festivos Marketplace opens the holiday shopping season each year in early December. They feature gourmet foods, apparel, home décor and furnishings, original art, and a wide variety of unique gifts for the holidays.

Explore the Valley

Photo courtesy of Valerie Bates

MID-VALLEY LIGHTED CHRISTMAS PARADE, Weslaco – Typically the week before Christmas and Thursday’s Alfresco Weslaco, experience the Mid-Valley Lighted Christmas Parade! Floats begin at 6 p.m. and travel down Texas Blvd. Parade line-up starts at Pike and continues to 6th St. For more information call: 956-969-0838 or visit LA FERIA’S ANNUAL LIGHTED CHRISTMAS PARADE “INSIDE SANTA’S WORKSHOP” The La Feria events listed here take place typically together in mid-December. No admission & parking is FREE. Contact: 956-797-2261 for more information or visit • Enjoy floats, classic cars, marching bands, Santa Claus and much more. Parade starts at Main St. and continues from Magnolia Ave. to 9th St. • Lighting of the Tree, La Feria - Lighting of the City for the Holidays, live music. Bring a weather proof ornament to hang on the tree. • Winter Festival, La Feria - Live music, carnival rides, games, food & merchandise vendors. Location: 901 N. Canal St. HIDALGO’S ANNUAL POSADA – On the week before Christmas alongside Hidalgo’s Festival of Lights, the annual posada features an all-star lineup of live musical entertainment with more than 10,000 FREE toys provided to the children in attendance. FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, Hidalgo – Entire Month of December - Drive the trail of 9 sites for FREE or take a train, trolley or horse drawn carriage from the City Hall Plaza. See the World’s Largest Killer Bee wrapped in lights! More than 3 million lights and 900 displays. Tickets sold on-site at City Hall. Dinner/concert/trolley tour tickets available only at State Farm Arena Box Office: 956-843-5311 ICE PALACE, Hidalgo – The “Ice Palace” Ice Skating Rink is open in Memorial Park Pavilion – Enjoy skating in the Lights of Hidalgo. Open for business the entire month of December!

12 12

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTED BOAT PARADE, Port Isabel – An amazing treat to see – lights sparkling against the waters of Port Isabel and South Padre Island. This Lighted Boat Parade is generally held during the first weekend in December “weather permitting”. For the most current information, contact the Port Isabel Chamber office at: 956-943-2262 MCALLEN’S NEW YEAR’S EVE BASH, McAllen Convention Center - The City of McAllen annually hosts the ultimate year-end celebration with a New Year's Eve Bash. The family friendly event is anything but dull as multiple activities are scheduled throughout the evening leading to an epic finale. Experience exhilarating laser and special effect light shows. Visitors stroll to any of one of three live stages for a variety of musical talent. Count down the seconds and welcome the new year with an unforgettable firework finale. Parking and admission is FREE to the public.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

THINGS TO DO & PLACES TO BE See the best of the Rio Grande Valley by car, foot, trolley, tram, boat, bike, bus, moped or pedicab. Fun customized and specialty tours cover the Valley’s coolest sights. Enjoy festivals, fairs and concerts! Immerse yourself in the unique sights and sounds of each of our communities. COOLEY’S CLASSIC CARS 302 W. Jackson Street, Harlingen 956-254-3587 Cooley’s Classic Car showroom in downtown Harlingen features more than 20 GM vehicles from the 1920s through the 1990s, including Corvettes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and more. Recall the sleek tail fins, shiny hood ornaments, and hot-rodding horsepower displayed. Open 10 a.m.-12 (noon) Thursdays & Fridays (October thru March) or by Appointment.

BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF SAN JUAN DEL VALLE NATIONAL SHRINE 400 N. San Antonio Ave, San Juan 956-787-0033 Averaging more than one million visitors a year, the San Juan Shrine is one of the most visited shrines in the United States. The origins of devotion to Our Lady of San Juan del Valle are found in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico. In 1623, an acrobat traveling with his wife and children stopped in San Juan de los Lagos to give a performance. While practicing their act, the youngest daughter lost her balance and was killed. An Indian woman, the caretaker of the church, begged the parents to place the image of the Virgin Mary over their daughter's body and prayed for the Virgin's intercession. The child was then brought back to life and the word of the miracle spread.

DOLL DISPLAY AT THE MERCEDES MEMORIAL LIBRARY 434 S. Ohio Avenue, Mercedes 956-565-2371 More than 500 dolls from 40 countries are on display in the city’s municipal building. The collection includes dolls from 11 tribes of Native Americans, former presidents and several movie stars. Some of the dolls displayed date as far back as the 1890s. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is FREE.

BOBZ WORLD Located just outside Los Fresnos on Highway 100, Bobz World is filled with adrenaline-rushing, heart pounding robotic technology. A world created of space and alien beings, dinosaurs, marine animals, and mummies from the ancient world. COASTAL STUDIES LAB 100 Marine Lab Dr., SPI 956-761-2644 A satellite of University Texas-Pan American, this lab studies and exhibits marine life and offers a public display area that contains representative species of fauna and flora from the immediate area of the Lower Laguna Madre, Gulf of Mexico, and South Padre Island.

DOLPHIN RESEARCH & SEA LIFE NATURE CENTER 110 N. Garcia St., Port Isabel 956-299-1957 The Sea Life Center offers visitors a unique encounter with many fascinating marine animals native to the area. Touch tanks allow visitors to get hands-on and discover! Numerous aquariums showcase live fish, starfish, crabs, octopus, snails, and a whole swarm of other exciting creatures.

Explore the Valley

ALOE KING 1947 Mile 6 North, Mercedes 956-565-6457 Farm Fresh is more than a slogan; it has become Aloe King’s philosophy! By maintaining quality control in propagation, harvesting techniques, and packing, they offer a product that is unrivaled by other producers. Celebrating 30 years in Mercedes, they have achieved a level of competence that other aloe companies only dream of. Farm tours are available by appointment.


Explore the Valley

EDINBURG RACEWAY 15920 U.S. 281, Edinburg 956-318-3724 For current race information visit: Hours: Wednesday & Friday; Gates Open 7 p.m., Time Trials 7:30 p.m., Lanes Close 12 a.m., Saturday; Gate Open varies depending on event. Admission: Wednesday & Saturday; Spectators $10, and Race $20, Saturday; Spectators/Crew $15 and Race varies according to event. Children under 12 get in FREE!

Photo courtesy of the San Juan EDC

Photo courtesy of the South Padre Island CVB


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

LA LOMITA MISSION Open from dusk until dawn daily 956-580-8760 In 1865, the Oblate Fathers constructed an adobe chapel on the little hill ranch and named it La Lomita. The chapel was destroyed by flood waters, and in 1899 a new chapel was constructed. La Lomita Historic District is located five miles south of the town of Mission off of U.S. 83 on FM1016. La Lomita Chapel is three miles south of Expressway 83 on FM1016.

LOS EBANOS FERRY (PORT OF ENTRY) Expressway 83; follow signs to Historical Marker The sole hand-drawn cable ferry that travels across the Rio Grande River between Los Ebanos, TX and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas. This ferry holds three cars and several people. Visitors may park on the US side and ride round trip for a very small fee. Passport or ID required! LOS FRESNOS RODEO 500 Texas 100, Los Fresnos 956-778-4684 Hang out with real cowboys during the Annual Los Fresnos P.R.C.A. Rodeo. Scheduled for the first weekend in February – it is called, "The Biggest Little Rodeo in Texas". Los Fresnos has city charm and country flavor that turns into a diamond in the ruff when the Rodeo comes to town. Each year the Los Fresnos Rodeo and Arts and Crafts show attracts over 8,000 people from everywhere! For more information contact: Los Fresnos Area Chamber of Commerce, 956-233-4488 Photo courtesy of Brownsville CVB

Explore the Valley

GLADYS PORTER ZOO 500 Ringgold Street, Brownsville 956-546-2177 In a mere ¾ mile trek, visitors at the Gladys Porter Zoo will encounter a diverse ensemble of 377 species of animals and 225 species of plants. The grounds are divided into four zoo geographic areas: Africa, Asia, Tropical America and Indo-Australia. Find the Herpetarium, South American Free-flight Aviary, Macaw Canyon, Bear Grottos, Harbor Seal exhibit and Komodo dragon exhibit. Small World features a nursery and an animal contact yard where children can touch and interact with domesticated animals. Large numbers of wild birds find sanctuary on the zoo grounds, drawn to the plants and waterways that provide them with food and shelter.

LOS CAMINOS DEL RIO For FREE heritage travel guides call: 866-276-6219 The Roads of the River features more than 45 sites on both sides of the Rio Grande contributing to the area’s cultural heritage. This unique trail to Texas and northern Mexico features churches, vast ranches, public buildings, historic sites, Spanish colonial villages and soothing river landscapes within the region. A brochure describing site descriptions and a detailed map, may be available at the closest Chamber Information Center or visit to download copies


FALCON DAM & STATE PARK 956-848-5327 From Roma, go 15 miles west on U.S. Highway 83 to FM 2098 to Park Road 46 Falcon State Park is 572.6 (144 developed) acres located north of Roma at the southern end of the 98,960-surface-acre International Falcon Reservoir in Starr and Zapata counties. Falcon Dam was dedicated by Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines and President Dwight D. Eisenhower in October 1953. The waters of the Rio Grande River formed a 60-mile-long lake behind the dam. The dam was built for conservation, irrigation, power, flood control and recreational purposes. The park features camping, swimming, fishing, water skiing and boating. There is a 1-mile, self-guided nature trail. Due to lake level fluctuations, call the park for the latest lake level information as well as boat launching information.

Photo courtesy of Los Fresnos Rodeo


Explore the Valley


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

LOS FRESNOS SKATEPARK Los Fresnos Community Park Ocean Blvd., Los Fresnos Los Fresnos is kid and family friendly and proud to have one of the few premiere skateboard parks in the Valley. This park was built during 2013 inside the community park and is FREE to everyone! It’s an 8000 sf skatepark, best described as a flow plaza. The park features a lot of different obstacles that have never been built anywhere else. On route to South Padre Island, the park is a very popular stop with lights on until 10 p.m.! PALO ALTO BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL PARK 956-541-2785 x223 Located at the north end of Brownsville, near the city of Los Fresnos, the park lies at the northeast corner of the intersection of FM1847/Paredes Line Rd. and FM 511/FM 550. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The park is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st. Palo Alto has retained most of its 1846 charm. It is a massive plain of razor-sharp cordgrass, bounded by dense thickets of mesquite, cactus and other thorny plants. Guided tours are available from December 1st -April 1st to recall the scene described by soldiers in dozens of letters and diary entries. FREE admission.

Photo courtesy of Schlitterbahn SPI Beach Resort

NANDO’S WILD PARK 2 ¾ N.E. Goodwin Road, Palmview 956-585-5507 From horse rides, to aquatic rides, wagon rides, train rides and water slides, the mechanical bull, moon jump, or barrel rolling, Nando’s Wild Park rodeo & horse shows are one of Palmview’s best kept secrets. Kids from 2 to 11 years old: $5 Adults 12 years and older $10 OPEN: Sunday from 12 p.m.-9 p.m. NINE HUNDRED YEAR OLD TREE Just outside Palmview’s city limits is an area named Abram where the Ojo de Agua Ranch (natural spring) was founded before 1879 on high ground. Brother’s-in-law Jose Isidro Longoria and Ignacio de Ochoa, from Reynosa’s colonial families were the founders. Bulls scratching the ground caused water to spring up, consequently the name. A large Montezuma cypress tree, once a Texas champion "Big Tree," marks the site with a small sign. It takes nine people holding hands to circle the tree. PALMITO RANCH BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK Standing on historic ground and hearing the stories of those who came before us, TX Historical Commission and its supporters established a Radio Broadcast Repeater System in 2011. Benefiting the enjoyment of Texans and travelers the broadcast shares history of the battlefield as you drive the length of the national historic landmark on State Hwy 4 (Boca Chica Rd). Available locally on 1610AM. PHARR COMMUNITY THEATRE Presented by the Pharr Cultural Arts Council “Main Stage” offers three theatre presentations per year. Coming soon “Dinner Theatre”! “On-Stage”, is an (after school) educational program for youth interested in learning and participating in the theatre, art, music and dance! Children’s theatre and “Plays with a Purpose” – are health geared. For more information of community theatre call Elva Michal: 956-648-2488 SCHLITTERBAHN SPI BEACH RESORT 33261 State Park Road 100, SPI 956-772-7873 Schlitterbahn holds the reign as the number-one-rated water park in the U.S. South Padre’s 26-acre location showcases a five-story sandcastle with animated characters mounted from six towers connected by ramps, stairs and net climbs. From their man-made waves, river, volleyball court and activity pool they are now open year-round with indoor and outdoor activity beaches. Dine, stay & play!


SEA TURTLE, INC. 6617 Padre Blvd, SPI 956-761-4511 Sea Turtle, Inc. is open to the general public year round. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles, educate the public, and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species. Hours: Open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday (Closed Monday). During summer months, hours are extended from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thanksgiving; Open 10 a.m.-noon, Christmas Eve; Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Christmas Day; Closed, New Year's Eve; Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., New Year's Day; Closed. All other Holidays are subject to our normal operating hours. Admission: Adults, $3 and Children (over age 4), $2

Photo courtesy of Sea Turtle Inc.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

TEXAS TRAVEL INFORMATION CENTER 2021 W Harrison Ave., Harlingen 956-428-4477 FREE maps, calendars, and literature with personal guidance from travel counselors to help chart routes. This center is operated by the TX Department of Highways and Public Transportation. Enjoy FREE tourism audio/video shows – located at Junction U.S. 77 and U.S. 83 in Harlingen. VALLEY RACE PARK 2601 S. Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen 956-412-RACE (7223) Full-card simulcast racing from racetracks throughout the U.S. Open daily from 11 a.m - 1 a.m. The 80,000 square-foot facility boasts three dining areas to entertain.

Explore the Valley

WES MER DRIVE-IN 2090 W Business 83, Mercedes 956-512-9292 Originally lighting-up at the beginning of America's drive-in boom in the late 1940's, the Wes Mer Drive-In, like hundreds of other outdoor screens, went dark in the mid 80’s. Ten years it lain idle, fading, and forlorn, but ultimately was restored and re-lit. The Wes Mer Drive In is open 4 nights a week: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, all year long! They screen double-features each night. Audio provided via FM radio. Admission: $10 per carload covers all passengers (no need to hide in the trunk).


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND 800-SOPADRE As you’d expect, the land is mostly sand that feels good between your toes, and it runs right up to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and idyllic Laguna Madre Bay. Some say its home to the most beautiful beaches in the Lone Star State. How you spend your day on them is up to you. Fishing (deep sea or bay), boating, floating, bird watching, shopping, building sandcastles or beach bumming, your time is your own. You’ll find fireworks, catamarans, Pedi-cabs, mopeds, diving adventures, parasailing, snorkeling, Photo courtesy of Andy Hancock dolphin watches, helicopter and horseback rides. When the sun settles down behind the bay, it’s a sight to behold. The gentle evening comes alive in the nightclubs and restaurants where people not unlike you gather for conversation, good food, music and dancing. Relax, enjoy all that surrounds you, and think deep happy thoughts. You’re on South Padre Island – a place you really want to be.


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Everyday artist Andy Hancock starts his day at the beach. Now for most of us, a jog down the beach would be a wonderful way to start the day, but it’s not quite the same for Andy. He starts by opening a funky looking box next to the sea wall of his favorite local bar, Boomerang Billy’s on South Padre Island, after aligning hoses, buckets, shovels and various strange looking tools, he is ready to start … But start what?

SANDCASTLE LESSONS, THAT’S WHAT! Andy is the guy who teaches you how to make a better sandcastle on the beach! Yes, people pay this man to help them build a better sandcastle - and before you say "come on, no one gets paid to do that" - think again (look up his stellar reviews on Trip Advisor).



A wood sculptor by trade, Andy happened onto sand sculpture after meeting an American sculptor in an ice carving competition in Finland. Kirk Rademaker, now a star of the hit show "Sand Masters" on the Travel Channel, invited Andy to come to Texas for the Annual Sandcastle Days competition so he could see sand sculpture first hand. The rest as they say is history. Andy now gets invited to give lessons and demos all over the world and introduce people to the best way to have fun and empty your worry bin. His work has been featured on every major news channel and in almost every form of digital media on the planet and all his work is shown online for FREE. He has recently become American Champion despite being too busy to attend competitions, which he says; don’t really hold much appeal for him.

“As you can see from the pictures, having fun at his lessons is mandatory " said Mary K Hancock the Event Manager for South Padre Island CVB; Andy added, “we supply the tools, you supply the smiles". There are only 3 rules to a great sandcastle:


Andy says there are two things that have helped his work become well known, "communication and collaboration are the two greatest strengths I have - in other words, a big head and a big mouth!" And he adds; “I never refuse a photo and talk to anyone as I was told a long time ago that if you do not talk to your public, you won’t have one!"

1. Only use wet sand – sloppy wet 2. Always shape your castle like a pyramid – fat at the bottom thin at the top 3. And always work from the top down!

So, how hard can it be? Whether you’re 5 or 85, you can learn something new from anyone - you just have to listen and follow Andy’s #1 rule K.I.S.S.!

Does Andy have the best job in the world? He thinks so, as it enables him to make a little money (not high on his priority list), follow his passion of helping people learn something new while having fun, and try to make the world a better place - one grain of sand at a time. You can find Andy at or at Boomerang Billy’s of course. Or just say “hi” by phone, text or email on (956) 433-9948.

See you on the beach! 19


NEW Aquarium


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

The Russell Aquatic Center at the Gladys Porter Zoo is all about the aquatic habitats of South Texas and the animals and plants that live there. Some of the exhibits feature naturally occurring habitats such as the open ocean, Resacas, sea grass beds and mangrove groves, while others display man made habitats including jetties and piers. The 30,000 gallon Pier Exhibit is the largest exhibit in the Aquatic Center – six feet deep with a footprint of 26 feet by 26 feet. This exhibit houses representatives of the larger marine fish and invertebrates commonly found in the bay and nearshore waters such as redfish, black drum, sandtrout, sheepshead, spadefish, snook, lookdowns, jacks, orange spotted filefish, pufferfish, giant red hermit crabs and of course everyone's favorite – sharks!


Russell Aquatic Ecology Center NOW OPEN!

A rehabbed sea turtle from Sea Turtle, Inc. made the 2,800 gallons Ancient Mariners Exhibit its home along with fish commonly found living in and around South Texas jetties including snappers, mullet, pompano, sergeant majors and blennies. Like the Pier Exhibit this tank is about six feet deep so it looks like we will be diving in this tank as well!

Most of the marine habitats in South Texas have sandy or muddy bottoms but there are a few rocky reefs such as the 7 ½ Fathom Reef near Corpus Christi. In this exhibit you will find many of the colorful fish often associated with coral reefs such as angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish and moray eels. Fiddler crabs display their large claws in the 400 gallon Mangrove Exhibit which they share with terrapin turtles and the smaller fish commonly found in mangrove groves including sheephead minnows, killifish, cowfish, burrfish and the young of many species including redfish, snappers and jacks.

NEW Aquarium

The Freshwater Giants Exhibit features the fish, plants and reptiles found in the Resacas of South Texas including alligator gars, spotted gars, Rio Grande cichlids, catfish, bass, softshell turtles and snapping turtles. This tank is the same size as the Jetties Exhibit tank so you guessed it – we dive in this one as well.

The open ocean is represented by the Keppel AmFELS Ghostly Jellyfish Exhibit featuring; you guessed it, moon jellies. In addition, a variety of smaller exhibits are scattered around the Aquatic Center which will allow us to display animals that might get lost in the larger exhibits such as seahorses, octopus, sea robins, stargazers, live shrimp, crabs, live snails and maybe even a snake or two. The Stingray Touch Tank, crowning glory of the Aquatic Center, houses a variety of local stingrays, cownose rays and bonnethead sharks. Visitors are able to touch these animals, and during designated times, are able to purchase food to feed the animals.


Photos courtesy of Brownsville Convention & Visitor Center and Russell Aquatic Center Storyline: Gladys Porter Zoo


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Walk … Drive … or Bike … Self-Guided or Guided Tours Get off the beaten path and view the variety of mural art!

BROWNSVILLE’S MURALS Brownsville offers walking tours of their photo murals and information kiosks that serve to preserve the colorful history of the city. You may notice several large 8' x 12' photo murals in the historic downtown district on the sides of several buildings. Primarily located in the downtown area, they illustrate the previous appearance and activity throughout the decades, from the late 1800s to the 1950s. See how many you can find on your own; while walking or driving in the immediate downtown area. Photo courtesy of Brownsville Historical Association

Murals of the Valley

HARLINGEN’S MURALS Walking tours depart from Java Café, located at 204 E. Jackson, in Harlingen at 9 a.m. and last approximately one hour. The tours are FREE and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis or by reservation for large groups. Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes, dress for the weather, and come prepared to have fun. Tour participants will hear about frontier days, mid-century boom times, and modern Harlingen. The tour guide provides insight on the city’s past nicknames, “Rattlesnake Junction,” “Six Shooter Junction,” and “Howlin’ Gin” and explains how ice made Harlingen famous. Participants learn which Jackson Street buildings were the mortuary, the Woolworth’s store, the Piggly Wiggly, and more. The tour also includes stops at several larger-than-life-size murals and the city’s smallest park. Even locals will be amazed and entertained by what they learn. *No tours the first Saturday of each month, which is Jackson Street Market Days. Photo courtesy of Downtown Harlingen

SAN JUAN’S MURAL A 45-foot mosaic on the exterior of the San Juan Basilica shrine was completed in 1995 and it consists of 200,000 tiles crafted by two Italian artisans. The mosaic features Jesus presenting his Mother to the Valley, and can be seen easily from Expressway 83. Photo courtesy of San Juan EDC

MISSION’S MURALS Tom Landry was the legendary professional football coach who served as the Dallas Cowboys’ coach for 29 years. To honor Tom Landry’s legacy in 1993, Mission residents Bill and Gen Long commissioned Manuel Hinojosa to create the Tom Landry Mural. The mural measures 95 x 18 feet and was dedicated on September 18, 1995 by legendary Coach Tom Landry himself. Mission Museum Post Office building was built in 1940. It houses an original WPA mural, the only one still existing in the Valley.


Photo courtesy of the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce

WYLAND MURAL SOUTH PADRE ISLAND “Orcas off the Gulf of Mexico" is the title of Robert Wyland's 53rd Whaling Wall located at: South Padre Island Convention Centre, 7355 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

THE MUSEUMS OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY Exploring the museums of the Rio Grande Valley is certain to please a variety of interests. You could spend a lifetime studying the region’s collection of local historical and cultural treasures. For details on the latest museum exhibits, websites and telephone numbers have been listed.

501 E. Ringgold St. #5 Dean Porter Park, Brownsville 956-548-9300

1325 E Washington Street, Brownsville 956-541-5560

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday Noon-4 p.m; (Summers only Monday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.) Admission: $6; Children Under 1: FREE

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays: 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Mondays: CLOSED Admission: The Heritage Complex includes the Heritage Museum, the Stillman House Museum, and on-going exhibitions in both locations. Adult: $5; Senior: $4; Student: $2; Children under 6: FREE THE BROWNSVILLE MUSEUM OF FINE ART is a 17,000 square-foot building located in the Mitte Cultural District of Brownsville. Entrusted with over 350 fine art paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and photographs of regional, national, and international significance including works by Marc Chagall, N.C. Wyeth, Alexander Calder, and over 100 historic pieces created by the museum’s founders and their contemporaries. BMFA holds international exhibits such as Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí, Sebastián, Javier Marín, King Tutankhamun, and others. Source: BMFA 660 E. Ringgold St., Brownsville 956-542-0941 Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (extended hours on Wednesday) Admission: Adults: $5; Ages 6-12: $3; Ages 5 and under: FREE

Museums of the Rio Grande Valley

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF BROWNSVILLE Adults and children of all ages enjoy the Children’s Museum of Brownsville. The museum experience encourages hands-on learning and the development of fundamental skills, self-esteem, and the ability to work with others. The museum maintains a strong commitment to providing access to all children and families in the community, including low-income and special needs families. Youngsters can participate in a variety of activities including story hours, field trips and summer camps. Source: Brownsville CVB

BROWNSVILLE HERITAGE COMPLEX (Brownsville Heritage Museum & Stillman House Museum) The Brownsville Heritage Museum portrays visual images of the historical evolution of the city and surrounding regions from discovery and exploration up to the first half of the 20th Century. The photographs, maps, costumes, and artifacts provide a unique perspective on various aspects of Brownsville life, ranging from street scenes and education to transportation and ranching. The museum opened in 2002 and was reinterpreted in 2009 with hands-on interactive displays. The Heritage Museum also houses La Tienda Gift Shop and the administrative offices of Brownsville Historical Association. The Brownsville Heritage Museum hosts numerous presentations, musical performances, and book signings throughout the year. Source: BHM


Must-Have Experiences

COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE RIO GRANDE VALLEY WING facility houses 15 vintage airplanes in flying condition. Other exhibits include antique military vehicles, weapons and uniforms. Established as a permanent display of historic aircraft, period artifacts, and documents in tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced, and Source: Brownsville CVB flew them. 955 S. Minnesota Ave., Brownsville 956-541-8585 Hours: Wednesday thru Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Closed Sunday thru Tuesday, special group tours upon request. (Please contact us at least 7 days in advance!) Admission: Adults $6; Senior Rate (55+): $5; Youth (12-18) $3; Children (11 & under): FREE


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Source: Karen Ray

Mitte Cultural District #5 Dean Porter Park 501 Ringgold Street, Brownsville 956-547-6890

DONNA HOOKS FLETCHER MUSEUM is located in the historic Donna News Building which has recently been restored. The Donna Hooks Fletcher Museum promotes the history and cultures of the Donna area through a vast collection of historical exhibits and educational programs. The Museum was named after Donna Hooks Fletcher, the daughter of Thomas J. Hooks one of the city’s founding fathers. Source: City of Donna 129 S. Main St., Donna 956-464-9989 Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission: Donations are appreciated.

THE EDINBURG VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT MUSEUM is dedicated to preserving and housing fire equipment, logs, memorabilia and photographs.

THE FREDDY FENDER MUSEUM provides a rare glimpse at what made him a significant entertainer. Born in San Benito as Baldemar Huerta; Freddy became a Grammy award-winning international artist. In the 1970’s his signature hit, Before the Next Teardrop Falls propelled Freddy to International Stardom. In 1975 he won the Academy of Country Music’s Best New Artist award, the first of many major awards that he received in his lifetime. See his Grammy awards, his Harley Davidson and costumes worn in various performances. The legend and spirit of Freddy lives on in San Benito at The Freddy Fender Museum. Source: City of San Benito

210 E. Heywood St., San Benito 956-399-7818 Hours: Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Adults, $3; Children under 12, $1.50

Museums of the Rio Grande Valley

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.; Closed on Mondays Admission: $2 pp, Children 10 & under: FREE FREE Community Nights - Every last Thursday of the month!

FORT RINGGOLD /ROBERT E. LEE MUSEUM The Robert E. Lee house is located on the grounds of Fort Ringgold to the S. of Hwy. 83/Main Street in Rio Grande City and open weekdays for touring. Groups interested in seeing the home where Lee stayed can learn about the colorful history of Fort Ringgold by calling the Rio Grande City Consolidated School District at 956-716-6700 to make arrangements for a tour. Tours are available on days when the school is in session. There is no charge but donations are appreciated.


COSTUMES OF THE AMERICAS MUSEUM is now one of the largest collections of authentic North, Central, and South American costumes in the world. They hail from all reaches of the Western Hemisphere - from Alaska and Canada in the north to the southernmost regions of South America and even includes costumes from some of the Caribbean countries. Complete with petticoats, shoes, jewelry, headpieces and accessories, many of the costumes cannot be replaced at any price!

HARLINGEN ARTS & HERITAGE MUSEUM is a one of a kind museum in the Rio Grande Valley. The museum has three historical buildings on its grounds: the original home of Lon C. Hill, Harlingen's town founder; the Paso Real Stagecoach Inn, and Harlingen's first hospital. Also on the grounds is the Historical Museum, formerly the Air Police Squadron and Brig of the Harlingen Air Force Base. This building houses the permanent collection of Harlingen and Texas historical objects and photos. The main museum building Source: HAHM features rotating arts and cultural exhibits. 2425 Boxwood St., Harlingen 956-216-4901 Hours: By appointment between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: No charge - Donations are appreciated

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 1p.m.-4 p.m., Closed Mondays and major holidays Please call ahead for Guided Tours: Adults $2; Children $1


211 W. McIntyre Street Edinburg TX, 78539 956-383-7691

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

IWO JIMA MEMORIAL MUSEUM The original sculpture was fashioned from a photo and was used to cast another monument positioned in Arlington, Virginia. Located on the campus of Harlingen’s Marine Military Academy the original monument features US Marines planting the American flag on Iwo Jima. The visitor center includes a museum focusing on the battle with a 30-minute film and gift shop. Source: MMA

641 E. Madison St., Brownsville 956-548-1313

320 Iwo Jima Blvd, Harlingen 956-421-9234

HUB CITY CONJUNTO AND TEJANO MUSEUM Roy Rodriguez has a passion for local music. It’s a mix from German polkas and Northern Mexico’s rancheros that creates Conjunto music. A distinguishing sound that began as a duo of accordion and a twelve string Mexican guitar (bajo sexton). Radio popularized the music, and the duo soon added bass and drums. Tejano music or Tex-Mex music (Texan-Mexican music) is the name given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Mexican-American population of Southern Texas. Visit the vast private collection of Roy’s vintage artifacts.

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Donations appreciated LITTLE GRACELAND MUSEUM created by Simon Vega, is a tribute to Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock-n-Roll”, and to the friendship that these two men shared while stationed together with the U.S. Army in Germany. Personal photos and memorabilia of Elvis fill the second floor of Mr. Vega’s home, a true labor of love for both the man and his music. Source: Los Fresnos Chamber of Commerce

207 W. Newcombe (Park) Ave., Pharr To arrange a visit call Roy Rodriguez at: 956-249-9365 or Elva Michal 956-648-2488

701 West Ocean Blvd. Los Fresnos 956-233-5482

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Closed on Wednesday & Sunday Admission: Donations appreciated

Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Adults, $1; Children 12 and under, FREE

INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF ARTS & SCIENCE is the premier art and science museum of South Texas and contains over 50,000 square feet of exhibit space. The IMAS galleries host a number a revolving art and science exhibits each year. The museum provides a unique opportunity for visitors to participate in hands-on science exhibits and to learn original works of art while encouraging creativity and innovation. IMAS' Permanent Collection includes: folk art, fine art, decorative art and a modest geological collection.

Originally built in 1850, MARKET SQUARE RESEARCH CENTER opened as an open air market in 1852. For the rest of the 19th century, many Brownsville residents bought their fresh foods from the many stalls found in the Square. In early 2009, Market Square was leased to the Brownsville Historical Association. The vaults of Market Square Research Center house one of the largest South Texas photograph collections in the Rio Grande Valley. Additionally, the archives are home to numerous documents including the Frank Cushman Piece Papers and A.A. Champion Collection.The center houses fine art, historical costumes, furniture, sculpture, and the extensive Backal art collection. Artists include Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Armando Garcia Nunez, and Carlos Romero Orozco. Source: Brownsville CVB

Source: Ramiro Adames and Mayra Garcia, International Museum of Arts & Science

1900 W. Nolana Ave., McAllen 956-682-0123

1150 Market Square, Brownsville Brownsville Historical Association: 956-541-5560 or 956-554-4569. Summer Hours: Tuesday through Friday, By Appointment Only; Saturday-Monday, CLOSED. Open to scholars, students and amateur researchers by appointment.


Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Closed Monday Admission: Adults $7; Senior Rate (55+), $5; Students w/ID $5; Youth 4-12, $4; Children (0-3), FREE; IMAS Members, N/C; Family Fun Night $1/pp every Thursday from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

Museums of the Rio Grande Valley

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Closed Sun., Mon., & Major Holidays Admission: Adults $4; Children under 13, $2; Museum Members N/C


HISTORIC BROWNSVILLE MUSEUM is located in the old Southern Pacific Depot building constructed 1928. A magnificent example of Spanish colonial revival architecture, the building is a Texas Historical Marker and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic Brownsville Museum opened in 1986 and houses a variety of exhibits that interpret events from Brownsville's past. Exhibits include data from the earliest military fort in our area to the arrival of French teaching nuns to displays of agricultural and ranching tools & much more.

Museums of the Rio Grande Valley


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

MCALLEN HERITAGE CENTER HISTORICAL MUSEUM Learn about McAllen’s colorful history. Story-telling sessions, children’s activities, and many more exhibits currently under development. Source: MHCHM

301 S. Main St., McAllen 956-687-1904 Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission: $1 minimum, Donations appreciated The MISSION HISTORICAL MUSEUM sustains long-term and temporary exhibits, and presents a variety of events and programs for all ages. Housed in two historic buildings in downtown Mission; the Shary Building, is a Texas Historical Marker built by Valley pioneer John H. Shary in 1939. It housed his business office until purchased by the City of Mission in 1960. The structure was transformed into a museum after serving as Mission’s City Hall. The Post Office building built in 1940 houses an original Works Progress Administration mural, the only one still existing in the Valley. Both structures now sit in a newly renovated compound with a beautiful butterfly and hummingbird garden, native plants, an events plaza, and a commons area with a fountain. Source: Mission Historical Museum

900 Doherty Ave., Mission Mission Museum Annex 200 E. Landry Ave., Mission 956-580-8646 Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday & Monday, CLOSED Admission: Donations appreciated MUSEUM OF SOUTH TEXAS HISTORY Discover the blended history of two countries through state-ofthe-art facilities, educational programs and special events. Since 1970, MOSTH has preserved and presented the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico through their collections, archives and exhibits spanning prehistory through the 20th century. Source: MOSTH


200 N. Closner Blvd., Edinburg 956-383-6911 Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; Closed Mondays and major national holidays. Admission: Adults (ages 18+), $7; Seniors w/ID (ages 62+), $5; Active Military w/ID, $5; Students w/ID (ages 13+), $5; Youth (ages 4-12), $4; Children (ages 3 and under), FREE; FRIENDS of MOSTHistory: N/C; Before noon on Saturdays, FREE

OLD HIDALGO PUMPHOUSE MUSEUM Wander around the huge machinery inside the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum. Imagine boilers, that were originally wood-fired with mesquite, converted to oil, natural gas, and then to diesel, still in place. On display view both Worthington and Ingersoll-Rand engines. The brick in the fire walls of the boilers was used to pave the walkway behind the smokestack. Interpretive signs explain how the machinery was used and in what way water was pumped out of the river. You don't have to be an engineer to understand it. Observe the displays on how the irrigation system works and changed the landscape of the valley. Source: Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum

902 S. 2nd Street, Hidalgo 956-843-8686 Hours: Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: Adults, $3; Senior, $2; Students, $1 THE MUSEUMS OF PORT ISABEL is a complex consisting of three diverse facilities, the Port Isabel Historic Museum, the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, and the Point Isabel Lighthouse. All three are within walking distance of each other and are open year around to the public. This is the only lighthouse on the Texas Gulf coast open to the public. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage which is on the grounds is open to the public and houses the Chamber of Commerce and the Port Isabel Visitors Center. Source: Valerie Bates Port Isabel Historical Museum Treasures of the Gulf Museum 317 E. Railroad Ave., Port Isabel 956-943-7602 Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Summer Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Port Isabel Lighthouse 421 E. Queen Isabella Blvd., Port Isabel Summer Hours: (May 27-Sept. 4) Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (except movie nights) Winter Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Individual Site Ticket to the Port Isabel Lighthouse OR the Treasures of the Gulf Museum OR the Port Isabel Historical Museum. Adults, $3; Senior Rate, $2; Students, $1; Children 4 & Under (must be at least 38″ and 4 years old tall to climb the lighthouse), FREE; Museum Member, N/C Combination Site Ticket to the Port Isabel Lighthouse AND the Treasures of the Gulf Museum AND the Port Isabel Historical Museum: Adults, $7; Senior Rate, $5; Students, $2; Children 4 & under (must be at least 38” tall to climb the lighthouse), FREE; Museum Member, N/C

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

121 N. Arroyo Blvd., Rio Hondo 956-748-2102

TEXAS CONJUNTO MUSIC HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM San Benito is home to the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Conjunto music’s rich heritage began in 1933 when Narciso Martinez and Santiago Almeida merged the sounds of their accordion and 12-string bajo sexto (guitar) into what is now a unique style of American folk music. Today, the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum showcase conjunto music and those who created; promoted and recorded the highly danceable music with its solid, bright, snappy and rhythmic sounds. The legends of local premier conjunto musicians, and their vibes, can be found at the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Source: City of San Benito 210 E. Heywood St., San Benito 956-276-9588

SAN BENITO HISTORY MUSEUM Learn about the natural formation of a Resaca where Indians and Spanish land grant ranches flourished, the arrival of the railroad and diverse ethnic pioneers hungry for cheap and fertile land. It was there that a small community grew and prospered. San Benito grew into a social and commercial center in the tropical Magic Valley of Texas. Pioneers built schools and churches, formed clubs and held dances and even put on a "Hog Waddle." Walk through history and as the words of a popular song echo, "Reminisce about the days of yore…" San Benito History Museum is a project of the San Benito Historical Society. Source: City of San Benito

Hours: Thursdays through Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Adults $3, Children under 12 $1.50

210 E. Heywood St., San Benito 956-399-9991 Hours: Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Adults, $3; Children under 12, $1.50

SOUTH TEXAS MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM Highlights include a 1931 Indian that gleams right inside the museum's door, as well as a fourcylinder 1913 Henderson that is one of just a few left in the world. A replica Captain America from the 1969 movie Easy Rider is flanked by posters autographed by the film's stars. Source: Edinburg Chamber of Commerce

4705 E. Richardson Rd., Edinburg 956-292-0770

500 S. Texas Blvd., Weslaco 956-968-9142 Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Adults, $4; Youth 5-17, $2; Senior Rate & College Students, $3; Children under 5, FREE; Weslaco Museum Members, N/C; Admission: FREE first Saturday of each month. WILLACY COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM Behind the walls of an old school on South 7th Street are treasures for those interested in local history. The Raymondville Historical and Community Center is a host of varied treasures that range from King and Kennedy Ranch memorabilia to thousands of historical photographs. It takes several hours to pursue the rooms of the school building constructed in 1924. Among the museums artistic treasures are local artist Elmer Kochert's painted murals on six exterior halls within the museum complex. Source: Raymondville Chamber of Commerce 427 S. 7th St., Raymondville 956-689-6604 Hours: Saturdays and Wednesdays; 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Admission: Donations appreciated


Hours: Saturday noon-6 p.m. & Sunday noon-5 p.m. Admission: Adults, $5; Seniors, $5; Children & Students, $5; group discounts available.

WESLACO MUSEUM has an attractive art gallery to showcase monthly exhibits and programs. The historical section of the Weslaco Museum provides guests with tons of interesting information about the culture and history of Weslaco. Today, the museum is housed in one of the most historic sites in Weslaco. The city’s founders laid out 5th Street, running east and west, as Main Street. After a fire in the first year, the main street was turned north and south, and Texas Boulevard Source: Weslaco Museum became the present main street.

Museums of the Rio Grande Valley

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: No charge - Donations are appreciated


RIO HONDO HISTORICAL MUSEUM Photographs from the 1900’s feature the fine resort hotels and summer camps along the Arroyo Waterway that offers game hunting and watersports. View artifacts on display from the railroad era that brought visitors to this area and shipped farm produce, including cattle. The museum is located within the same building as Rio Hondo City Hall.


King Tutankhamun


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Egyptian Treasures

From the private collection of Giovanni Amin, the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art presents a selection of beautiful artwork and delicate Egyptian treasures such as relief panels, the inner Sarcophagus and Funerary Mask of King Tutankhamun, Mummy and reminders of rituals practiced by this ancient culture. The stunning Sarcophagus and gold death mask were the most famous treasures to emerge from his tomb. This exhibit hosts more than 150 artifacts, antique objects, jewelry and high quality replicas that will transport you to Ancient Egypt, and aims to offer the ultimate Egyptian Adventure and intimate historic knowledge that will relive Howard Carters memories and discoveries.



Tutankhamun was a pharaoh during ancient Egypt's New Kingdom era, about 3,300 years ago. He ascended to the throne at the age of 9 and ruled for approximately ten years before dying around 1324 B.C. Despite his brief reign, King Tut is perhaps Egypt's best known pharaoh because of the wealth of treasures — including a solid gold death mask — found during the surprise discovery of his intact tomb in 1922.

After King Tut was sealed in his tomb in 1323 B.C., his mummified body caught fire and burned. Marc Lallanilla, – Nov. 4, 2013 Since Egyptologists Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter uncovered King Tut's tomb in 1922, their discovery has been shrouded in mystery and fear. A "curse of the mummy's tomb" entered the popular imagination after several members of the archaeological team died untimely deaths. Archaeologist Chris Naunton, director of the Egypt Exploration Society, recently came across comments in Carter's original notes stating that King Tut's body appeared to have been burned, the Independent reports. Naunton then contacted Egyptologist Robert Connolly of Liverpool University, who had small samples of Tutankhamun's bones and flesh in his office.

King Tutankhamun

Though several of the foremost excavators over the past century had declared there was nothing left to find in the Valley of the Kings, Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, spent a number of years searching for a tomb they weren't sure existed. In November 1922, they found it. Carter had discovered not just an unknown ancient Egyptian tomb, but also one that had lain nearly undisturbed for over 3,000 years; what lay within astounded the world.

When the team examined the pharaoh's remains under an electron microscope, they found that the pharaoh's flesh did, indeed, burn after he was laid to rest inside a sealed tomb — an extremely odd event, given the meticulous attention usually afforded the mummification of a king. These and other revelations are detailed in a new British documentary, "Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Burnt Mummy," featuring Naunton's investigative work (which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal). But how would the fire in Tut's sealed tomb have occurred? Experts suspect the oils used in the embalming process soaked the linen that formed the king's burial shroud. In the presence of oxygen, these flammable oils started a chain reaction that ignited and "cooked" Tutankhamun's body at temperatures exceeding 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).


For years, evidence has suggested the pharaoh was buried in haste — spots on the walls of Tut's tomb caused by microbial activity, for example, led researchers to believe that the paint on the walls hadn't even dried before the tomb was sealed. The additional evidence of an accidental burning lends credence to the idea that Tut's


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

entire burial was basically a rush job. "The charring and possibility that a botched mummification led to the body spontaneously combusting shortly after burial was entirely unexpected — something of a revelation," said Naunton, as quoted in the Independent. Spontaneous human combustion, once considered an impossibility, has received renewed interest from scientists worldwide. British biologist and author Brian Ford believes that flammable acetone produced by a body could — in the presence of a spark from static electricity or some other ignition source — cause a human body to catch fire and burn.

King Tutankhamun

And by analyzing the injuries sustained by car-crash victims, forensic scientists have now shed light on the events surrounding the death of the boy king, who is believed to have been just 17 years old when he died. Investigators were able to determine that the young pharaoh was on his knees when a horrific chariot accident smashed his rib cage, shattered his pelvis and crushed many of his internal organs, including his heart. This may explain why his heart was never found in his mummified body. Live the Adventure and discover King Tutankhamun ancient Egyptian treasures at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art. Exhibition dates: Nov. 11, 2013 – Oct. 2014 Museum Hours: Monday – Tuesday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Photos Courtesy of Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Roma Historic District

The Roma Historic District is a National Historic Landmark that includes property along Estrella and Hidalgo Streets; between Garfield Street and Bravo Alley in Roma, TX. The Roma Historic District Visitor Station is located at 77 Convent Ave. on the plaza. Several buildings within the district have been recorded by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. For more information, visit Roma City Hall, 77 E. Convent Ave. or call 956-849-4930.

Historical Markers - Starr County

1. NOAH COX HOUSE 208 Convent Street Roma circa 1850’s


Starr County

6. OUR LADY OF REFUGE CHURCH 3 W. St. Eugene De Mazonod Ave. Roma circa 1850’s

2. MANUEL GUERRA RESIDENCE AND STORE 702 N. Portscheller Street Roma 1884

7. SANTA ANA CHAPEL 708 N Estrella Street Roma 1840

3. LEOCADIA GARCIA HOUSE 207 Convent Street Roma circa 1840’s

8. OLD CUSTOMS BUILDING 301 W. Lincoln Ave. Roma circa 1850’s

4. LINO RAMIREZ HOUSE & ROSITA’S CANTINA 701 N. Portscheller Street Roma circa 1880’s

9. WATER TOWER 208 W. Lincoln Roma (date unknown)











Rio Grande City Historic District

Rio Grande City is one of the oldest towns in the lower Rio Grande region and the Rio Grande City Downtown Historic District contains the most concentrated and intact collection of buildings in the Rio Grande Valley. The historic district lies at the heart of the South Texas border town and contains the city’s best collection of commercial, domestic and combination commercial and residential properties dating from its earliest period of development, c. 1840, to the end of the district construction, about 1940. For more information, visit Rio Grande City EDC, 406 E. Main St. Source: National Register of Historic Places 1. FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 312 East 4th Street 1888

3. ROBERT E LEE HOUSE US 83 at Fort Ringgold c. 1856

6. ARCADIO F. SALINAS HOUSE 616 E. Mirasoles St 1800

2. FORT RINGGOLD Rio Grande City School grounds, 1/4 mi. SE of Jct. US 83 & TX 755 c. mid 1800s

4. OUR LADY OF LOURDES GROTTO 305 N. Britton Ave. c. 1928

7. SILVERIO DE LA PENA BUILDING 423 E. Main Street, Rio Grande City 1886

5. LA BORDE HOUSE 601 E. Main St c. 1877-1898

8. TIEJERINA COURTYARD 406 E. Main c. late 1800s









Photos courtesy of City of Roma, City of Rio Grande City, Starr County Industrial Foundation

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Mission is known as the home of the grapefruit. For nearly 250 years, the descendants of the original Spanish settlers in this area have ranched the huge porciones-oblong blocks of land nine-thirteenths of a mile wide, at the Rio Grande and extending up to sixteen miles north. The settlement of La Lomita began in the area with a small chapel built by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Land surrounding the chapel was deeded to Oblate fathers Pierre Yves Keralum and Pierre Fourrier Parisot. The town was first located at La Lomita chapel and was built in about 1865 on the farm that later became the mission. For more information, visit the Greater Mission Chamber Source: Texas State Historical Association of Commerce. (see page 4) 1. LA LOMITA CHAPEL 3 mi. south of Exp. 83 on FM 1016 1865





Hidalgo County

Mission Area Historic Sites

2. LOS EBANOS FERRY West of Mission on FM 886 1740s


4. THE BORDER THEATRE 905 N. Conway Ave 1942 5. CHIMNEY PARK/LIFT STATION 4224 S. Conway 1914 6

6. THE MANSION ON SHARY 4915 N. Shary Rd 1917


THE RIO THEATRE 516 Doherty 1812 EL GRANJENO CEMETERY North side of Farm Road 494 Five miles south of Bus Hwy 83 1872 Photos courtesy of Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce & Chimney Park

Historic McAllen Sites

Since it’s settling in 1904, areas surrounding McAllen were mostly rural or agricultural in character. But during the last half of the twentieth century, McAllen saw steady development, accelerating throughout the 1980s, leading into an economic/population boom during the 1990s and 2000s. Today McAllen–Edinburg–Mission metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing MSA’s in the U.S. For more information, visit the McAllen CVB. (see page 4) 1

4. ARCHER PARK 101 N. Broadway McAllen 1917 2. QUINTA MAZATLAN 600 Sunset Drive McAllen c. 1930s 3. CINE EL REY THEATRE 311 South 17th Street McAllen 1948


4. LA PLACITA /MCALLEN HERITAGE CENTER 301 S. Main Street McAllen 1935 5. CASA DE PALMAS 101 N. Main Street McAllen 1918


SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH 302 South 15th Street 1913

Historical Markers - Hidalgo County

3. OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHURCH 6th Street & Dunlap 1927



SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD DEPOT From Bus Hwy 83 S on Bicentennial McAllen 1927


Photos courtesy of McAllen CVB, McAllen Heritage Center & City of McAllen

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

The City of Hidalgo is the oldest city in Hidalgo County. It was originally settled as a mission of Reynosa, Mexico in 1749 and later became the first county seat in the new Hidalgo County. For half a century, the city served as the county seat, before the county government was moved to Edinburg. Today the 1886 Hidalgo County Courthouse remains, beside the 1886 Hidalgo County Jail. For more information, visit Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum, 900 S. 2nd St., Hidalgo. Source: Hidalgo Chamber of Commerce 1. COURTHOUSE & JAIL Located at Flora and 1st Streets 1886



Hidalgo Historic Sites

2. FIRST POST OFFICE IN HIDALGO COUNTY Located at Flora and 1st Streets 1889 3. OLDEST SCHOOL IN HIDALGO COUNTY Located at Flora and 1st Streets 1 1898


5. RODRIGUEZ GENERAL STORE Hidalgo County’s First Gas Station Located at Flora and 1st (across Flora from Historic – Odell Store/Post Office) c. late 1800s



Photos courtesy of City of Hidalgo

Edinburg Historic Sites

In 1908, John Closner, William Briggs, Argyle McAllen, Plutarco de la Viña and Dennis B. Chapin developed a new community. The town was called Chapin in devotion to one of the originators. It became the county seat of Hidalgo County in a powerful, evening secret attack in which the county records were confiscated from the previous county seat when Dennis Chapin was involved in the shooting death of Oscar J. Rountree. The town changed its name to Edinburg to honor John Young, a prominent businessman who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was incorporated in 1919. For more information, visit the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. (see page 4) 1. LA SAL DEL REY (SALT OF THE KING) Salt Lake North Central Hidalgo Co. c. Prehistoric - 1400A.D.


Historical Markers - Hidalgo County

4. OLD HIDALGO PUMPHOUSE 902 N. 2nd Street 1909



3. COUNTY JAIL Museum of South TX History 200 N Closner Blvd 1910

Photos courtesy of Edinburg Chamber of Commerce



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Pharr Historic Sites

The area was named after sugar planter Henry Newton Pharr. In 1900, Henry N. Pharr for a number of years was a director of the State National Bank of New Iberia, Louisiana, and was a former president of the Louisiana - Rio Grande Sugar Company and the Louisiana - Rio Grande Canal Company, which at one time owned eight thousand acres and which, in 1910, on this land built the town of Pharr. For more information, visit Pharr City Hall, 118 S. Cage Blvd., Pharr. GUADALUPE CEMETERY 400-498 W Bell Ave At West Bell Street and Canna Street Est. 1913

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH 400 W Ridge Rd Founded 1913

San Juan Historic Sites Historical Markers - Hidalgo County

The City of San Juan was organized in 1909, in part, due to the efforts of John Closner. This community is well known for the "Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan”, one of the largest churches in the RGV. For more information, visit San Juan EDC and the San Juan Chamber of Commerce. (see page 4) 1


1. BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF SAN JUAN DEL VALLE NATIONAL SHRINE 400 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd. Est. 1920 2. SAN JUAN HOTEL Business Hwy 83 1920 Photos courtesy of San Juan EDC

Alamo Historic Sites

Alamo is nicknamed the "Land of Two Summers". Alamo was incorporated in 1924, and it was named after the Alamo Land and Sugar Company. It is located in an area of abundant vegetable farming, nature retreats and citrus groves. For more information, visit the Alamo Chamber of Commerce. (see page 4) 2


1. DR. ELI T. MERRIMAN’S RANCH CEMETERY Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge 1853 2. MISSOURI PACIFIC RAIL LINE Business Hwy 83 1905 4. ALAMO LAND & SUGAR COMPANY 801 Main Street 1919 5. GOTHIC REVIVAL CATHOLIC CHURCH Austin Street at 7th Place 1924


ALAMO TOWN SQUARE Main Street town square 1918 WORST TRAIN WRECK IN TEXAS HISTORY (Historical Marker) Crossing of Tower Road - Missouri Pacific Rail Line collided with a truck of farm workers, resulting in 34 deaths and 6 injuries, and the most fatalities of any accident on a Texas Highway in the 20th century - March 14, 1940.


Photos courtesy of Keith Hackland

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Weslaco derived its name from the W.E. Stewart Land Company. Streets north of the railroad tracks have Spanish names, and streets south of the railroad tracks have English ones as a consequence of a 1921 municipal ordinance which declared that land north of the tracks was reserved for Hispanic residences/business, and land south was reserved for non-Hispanic white residences/business. For more information, visit the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce. (see page 4) 4


5. OLD RAILROAD STATION 301 W Railroad,Weslaco 1927

2. SKAGGS HOUSE 1101 South Texas Blvd 1927

Photo by Isaac Monter


VILLA DE CORTEZ 260 South Texas Blvd, Suite #400 1928

4. WATER TOWER THEATRE Located on 2nd and Kansas 1928

Photos courtesy of Weslaco EDC , Weslaco Chamber of Commerce, Frontera Audubon, Weslaco Museum 2


Historic Mercedes

This site was first settled by ranchers in the late 1770s and was part of the Llano Grande Spanish land grant issued on May 29, 1790, to Juan José Ynojosa de Ballí. During the 1850s, it was the location of the Anacuitas ranch, owned by Ramón and Manuel Cavazos. Apparently by the beginning of the 1900s, it was replaced by the Fuste ranch, which was owned by the Cavazos family, alleged heirs of Ynojosa de Ballí. Lon C. Hill, Jr., a local land promoter and developer, owned 45,000 acres extending sixteen miles from the Rio Grande, including the site of what is now Mercedes. Hill promptly renamed the community Lonsboro and sold his company to the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company, which renamed the town Díaz. The town's name was changed three more times, until the name Mercedes was finally adopted. The origins of the 3 name have been disputed. While some sources assert that the town was named in honor of the wife of Mexican president Porfirio Díaz, there is no evidence that Díaz was ever married to a woman named Mercedes. July 8, 1904, Mercedes became the first town on the Sam Fordyce Branch of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway and it was nicknamed the Sweetheart of the Branch. For more information, visit the Mercedes Chamber of Commerce. (see page 4) TX State Historical Commission 1. HIDALGO COUNTY IRRIGATION DISTRICT NW Corner of Bus.s 83 and Ohio St. 1919 2. MERCEDES HISTORIC HOTEL 236 S Missouri Avenue 1907 1

3. HISTORIC CITY HALL 323 S. Ohio 1928

Historical Markers - Hidalgo County




Weslaco Historic Sites


4. SILAS HOME 405 Missouri Avenue 1908 5. BORDERLAND HARDWARE 205 W 2nd Street 1919 2


Photos courtesy of Mercedes EDC


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

La Feria Historical Sites


In 1909 G. J. Schoenberg, a local land developer, established the town of La Feria. The La Feria post office was opened in that year. A railroad stop named Bixby was fostered a mile from the town when the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway were built through the area in 1911. In July 1912 the founding fathers of La Feria stole the Bixby depot and hauled it to the new town-site. By 1915, La Feria had a population of 200, a bank, two churches, and a weekly newspaper. In 1925, estimates of the population ranged from 236 to 825. For more information, visit City of La Feria, 115 E. Commercial Ave., La Feria. Source: TX State Historical Association 1. FIRST HOTEL Corner of Commercial & Main 1912


2. FIRST BANK Commercial & Main 1912


Cameron County


3. PARKER-TICHNEOR HOUSE/PRIVATE MUSEUM 700 S. Parker Road 1923 Photos courtesy of City of La Feria

“Three Harlingen Historic Homes”

In 1904, Lon C. Hill imagined the Arroyo Colorado as a trade waterway. He named the town he founded on the north bank after the Frisian city of Harlingen, in the Netherlands. The town's post office was founded in that same year. The first school opened with only fifteen pupils in 1905 near the Hill home, which was the first residence built in Harlingen. Harlingen was incorporated on April 15, 1910. For more information, visit Harlingen CVB. (See page 4) 1. LON C. HILL HOME Originally located near Fair Park 1904 2. HARLINGEN HOSPITAL Originally located on F Street 1923 1

3. PASO REAL STAGECOACH INN Originally located along the Arroyo River 10 miles north of the Rio Hondo bridge Est.1860

ARTS & HERITAGE MUSEUM 2425 Boxwood Street, Harlingen

Photos courtesy of Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum



Brownsville Historic Sites

The Brownsville area is one of the swiftest in the United States. The population dramatically increased after experiencing a boom in the steel industry during the 1900s where it produced three times its annual capacity. The Port of Brownsville is a major economic hub for South Texas, where shipments from MX and other parts of the US, and the world arrive. Brownsville's economy is largely based on international trade with MX through the North American Free Trade Agreement. For more information, visit Brownsville CVB. (See page 4) BATTLE OF PALMITO HILL Last battle of Civil War - 1865 On State Hwy. 4, 12 mi. east of Brownsville

FORT BROWN CAVALRY BARRACKS TSC Campus, Gorgas Drive Rebuilt after Civil War

BROWN-WAGNER HOUSE 245 East St. Charles Street example of late 19th century home remains home

FORT BROWN COMMISSARY TSC Campus, Gorgas Drive 1856

SITE OF FORMER INCARNATE WORD CONVENT 700 East St. Charles Street Est. 1853

FORT BROWN MEDICAL LAB TSC Campus, corner of May Street and Gorgas Drive 1867 IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CATHEDRAL Corner of 12th and East Jefferson 1859

CUETO BUILDING Corner of 13th and Madison Streets 19th century commercial architecture 1893

STILLMAN HOUSE Charles Stillman founder of Brownsville 1305 E Washington St 1850

FORT BROWN Located in front of Jacob Brown Auditorium Est. 1846

NEALE HOUSE Southern Colonial House built from imported lumber/moved from orig. 14th Street location to Neale Drive 1834

Historical Markers - Cameron County

LA FERIA CEMETERY Memorial Drive (between Rabb & Solis Roads) 1917

SITE OF OLD GRAMMAR SCHOOL First school 730 East 8th Street Annie S. Putegnat Elementary 1889/razed in 1929 present school built from original brick. PAN-AM AIRWAYS BLIND FLYING SCHOOL At Brownsville SPI Airport 1929 THE GEM 400 East 13th Street - 1848 Mid-19th century commercial architecture PALO ALTO NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD Intersection of FM 1857 and FM 511, 5.5 miles north of Brownsville 1846



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Port Isabel Historic Sites

Established as a town after the Mexican revolution, Port Isabel became an important cotton export port before the Civil War. The harbor, town and lighthouse all were fought over and exchanged hands during the Civil War. For more information, visit the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. (See page 4) PORT ISABEL LIGHTHOUSE 414 E Queen Isabella Blvd 1852

PORT OF MATAMOROS At east end of Maxan Street Est. 1824

KEEPERS COTTAGE On the ground of lighthouse 1853 PORT ISABEL CEMETERY Houston Street and Musina Street

c. 1800s

SITE OF FORT POLK Corner of North Tarnava and P100 Port Isabel Lighthouse State Park c. 1800’s

Historical Markers - Cameron & Willacy Counties

QUEEN ISABEL INN 300 Garcia St. c. 1906

Photo courtesy of Valerie Bates

South Padre Island

The dunes on Padre Island probably emerged to Native Americans and early European settlers hundreds of years ago. The most prominent development in the tourism industry has been in the growth we’ve seen in the town of South Padre Island and the National Seashore, which began in the early 1920's. For more information, visit South Padre Island Visitor’s Center. (See page 4) BRAZOS SANTIAGO PASS Discovered in 1519 Now 2013 SOUTH PADRE ISLAND Then & Now

Photos courtesy of RGV Partnership & Dr. John A. Gerling, DDS, MSD

Willacy County Historic Raymondville Raymondville was established by Edward Burleson Raymond, who organized the Raymond Town and Improvement Company in 1904. Raymond's company, along with the Kleberg Town and Improvement Company, gave right-of-way to the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway. The railway in turn provided low-cost round-trip excursions for land seekers. Town lots were sold by Raymond and by Henrietta King, acting agent for the King Ranch. Raymondville, located in what was then Cameron County had a population of 350 in1914, four general stores, a bank, newspaper, hotel, cotton gin, and lumber company. For more information, visit the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce. (See page 4) Source: TX State Historical Association


WILLACY COUNTY COURTHOUSE 540 W Main Ave Raymondville 1922

WILLACY COUNTY SALT LAKES La Sal Vieja (Old Salt) La Sal Blanca (White Salt) 6 miles NW of Raymondville

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


1865 · CIVIL WAR THE NORTHERN INVASION VISIT THE ONLY REENACTMENT IN SOUTH TEXAS DEDICATED TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR! Civil War activities are heating up with Cameron County’s Historical Commission! When Texas joined the Confederacy and fought in the war, its fate was uncertain. The war touched every portion of the population and all aspects of life in Texas. Cameron County Historical Commission will host its 4th Annual Civil War Spring Symposium in April, and a reenactment of the Battle of Las Rucias on June 21st, 2014.

To conclude the 150th Sesquicentennial activities, Cameron County will host Palmito Hill Week, May 10th – 16th, 2015. The week will include: musical productions, symposiums, and the last reenactment for the Battle of Palmito Hill. This authentic, historically accurate reenactment will be the first of its kind and one not to miss!

“It was the critical moment of the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, the last land action of the Civil War, fought near Brownsville, by Union and Confederate forces well aware of the surrender of Robert E. Lee four weeks earlier. The last battle of the war was a resounding Confederate victory, but it could not change the strategic reality that the South had been defeated. A few days after the battle, Ford disbanded his command and sent his troops home.” TX Military Forces Museum

Civil War

“Refugio Benavides grasped action with Rip Ford in the Confederate Rio Grande expedition. Moving downriver from Laredo, Benavides's company was utilized on a number of occasions by Ford for scouting purposes because of the Tejanos' familiarity with South Texas. On June 25, 1864, Benavides was in the battle at Las Rucias, upriver from Brownsville. Ford, by using an "obscure trail through the chaparral" was able to "get within a few hundred yards of the enemy before being discovered." Benavides was sent in a flanking movement to attack the federal force but was stopped twice by a small lagoon. He was able, however, to join Ford for a final attack that overran the federals. In his report of the battle, Ford singled out Benavides for his gallant conduct during the battle.” TX State Historical Association

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee will host a Fall Symposium in conjunction with a reenactment planned for November 2nd, 2015. The event marks the invasion of South Texas by Federal Troops in 1863. This one performance event will be the first of its kind for the State of Texas and the only one of its kind in the nation! Admission is FREE - Come hear and see history like you never have before! For more information, please contact the Cameron County Historical Commission by calling: (866) 599-5445 or visit:

Photos courtesy of Cameron County Historical Commission


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

5:00 a.m. and quiet darkness envelopes Alamo town square; suddenly lights pop on in the upstairs windows of the old 1919 Alamo Land and Sugar Building - Shafts of light stream through the first floor dining room and the glass of the red front door, outlining a lone star. With a spring in his step and a glint in his eye, pack in hand, a young man strides through the red door. The dim outside overhead light shows his clean shaven face and sharp features, and lights up the long black hair of a young woman with him. He clicks his key pad, and they climb into a silver Ford Focus, purring south on 8th Street, heading to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, just 7 miles away.


Alamo Birding Service Soars . . .

Overhead a small flock of plovers wings its way, as British accented folk wearing sun hats stream out through the red door, sandwich bags and packs in hand. They look up and watch the plovers. Fifty yards away a Killdeer calls. The people line up at a long white passenger van, climbing in one at a time. Some of them look like retirees and others much younger are on vacation.

Nature Tour

Unusual morning activity for Alamo, Texas? …Not at all. In 1998 an Alamo couple, Audrey Jones, D.O. (Valley native and physician practicing in McAllen) and Keith Hackland (raised in South Africa and earned his nature stripes viewing the rich birds of Africa), purchased a classic 1920 building and refurbished it as a hotel dedicated to bird and butterfly watchers. “Our location on Alamo Town Square offers guests the atmosphere of a South Texas community,” says Innkeeper Hackland, “where time moves slower, people are friendly, and we all love to eat good Tex-Mex.” The 1905 Rio Grande Railroad and Business Highway 83, insulated by Central Park, make one side of the square, and the buildings on the other three sides include Alamo’s very popular El Dorado Restaurant, offering great Tex-Mex food and Mexican beer. “Our guests enjoy birding all day and supper at El Dorado.” Birders have flocked to the hotel in Alamo, and today it is the busiest birder hotel in Texas, and probably in North America. “Bird watching is not a typical national market, it is more like a village [market],” according to Steve Ingram, U.S. representative for Zeiss Optics. Here in Alamo the village market has taken root and grows at this quaint hotel, run by Hackland, his daughter Charis Hart, and friendly local staffers. After a hectic day birding; its comfortable suites allow guests to rest up for the next early morning.


Hackland explains how they grow: “As we identify items birders need, we provide them, and we have created a specialized birding store.” Thus today they also run Alamo Outdoor Store out of the Inn, offering the gear birders use, such as binoculars, books, maps, and 1001 other items. They also carry local art and craft work, like distinctive apparel with bird graphics by Jerry Sneed, art prints by Grover Terry Beaman, mesquite pieces by a Mission craftsman, and bird nest boots made by a couple out of Brownsville.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


When birders asked for personal guides, the store offered guiding. “There is a greater demand for guides than there are folks avail able to guide,” according to Hackland. Not one to miss an opportunity, and with the shortage of good guides, Alamo Birding Services now also offers bird and photo tours of South Texas. “This way birders and photographers can get together with their friends and share a guide, while we provide transport, accommodation and meals” Hackland explains. “We offer birders a great tour because we know the area.” Green Jay tours is the name they chose, to reflect the sparkling favorite bird of South Texas. Watching and photographing birds, is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. tourism market according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. South Texas Nature marketing co-op’s 2012 report on nature tourism in the Valley, reports that birders spend $463 million a year and support some 6,600 jobs in the Valley.

Nature Tour

Since 2003 Alamo Birding Services has partnered with South Texas Nature marketing co-op to run exhibits at the world’s largest birdfair in Britain every August, promoting the Valley as a birding destination to British birders. “They line up [at the British Birdfair] to talk to us and flock to South Texas. Twelve years ago we seldom heard a British accent, now they are common at our birding hot spots, hotels, and restaurants,” Hackland states.

Alamo Birding Services continues to grow. Birders from 25 different countries have stayed at Alamo Inn B&B. “And,” Hackland mentions, “we are not the only birding B&B in South Texas. The Valley has an association of a dozen birding B&Bs that are all excellent.”

Alamo Inn B&B offers accommodation to all travelers, but reserve early, because they sell out. Visit Alamo Outdoor Store is open 7 days a week by appointment. Call 956-782-9912 for the hotel, store and Green Jay Tours.


Photos courtesy of Keith Hackland


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Green Jay

Black Skimmer

RGV Birding Festival

Altamira Oriole

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Harris’ Hawk

Cattle Egret Golden-Fronted Woodpecker

American Wigeon


About the photographer: Photographing Rio Grande Valley wildlife has been Steve Sinclair's passion for 17 years. He began capturing wildlife images in Corpus Christi 25 years ago, prior to residing in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Steve graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in journalism and worked at the Lufkin Daily News, Longview News-Journal, Tyler Morning Telegraph, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, The Brownsville Herald and retired in 2011 as news editor of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen. He also served in the U.S. Army. Steve was co-founder of the annual Ocelot Conservation Festival that helped raise thousands of dollars for ocelot research and projects. Since retirement, he contributes nature-related articles to The Coastal Current and spends much of his time photographing the Valley's wide assortment of wildlife.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Indigo Bunting

A winning formula combined field trips to birding hotspots throughout the Valley, seminars and keynote lectures by internationally renowned birding experts, an active trade show, and engaging educational programs for children.

“Awesome fest absolutely ace; hands down the single best bird fest experience in the states!”

Least Grebe

ARE YOU NEW TO BIRDWATCHING? Learn the ropes with a guided trip at The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, which offers field seminars on migratory birds, raptors, using field guides and spotting scopes. If your time is limited; National Wildlife Refuges are great places to view a variety of wildlife in one place.

Jen Brumfield- Bird Illustrator and Birding Tour Guide

Eastern Screech


Little Blue Heron


Green Parakeet

RGV Biding Festival

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is recognized by the American Birding Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and birding experts throughout the nation as a leader in the field of ecotourism. The Festival has served as a model for events around the world. It has been touted in national, international, and specialty publications—The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Audubon, Southern Living, Bird Watcher’s Digest, WildBird, Australian Birds, Birdwatch UK—and more.


Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Top Seven Nature Festivals RIO GRANDE VALLEY COASTAL EXPO Hosted by: Edinburg Scenic Wetlands in mid-February. See and touch crabs, sea stars, and other coastal animals; view a glass-bottom stream; solve a mysterious fish kill; learn what washes up on the Texas coast; and so much more. Call 956-381-9922 for more information or visit: Sea Star

RGV Birding Festival

OCELOT CONSERVATION FESTIVAL Hosted by: Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in early March. Fewer than 50 of these native wild cats are estimated to be left in the U.S., all of which are found in deep South Texas. Experience their beauty at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Call 956-748-3607 for more information or visit:


VIDA VERDE & RUN WILD 5K Hosted by: Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen. Annual Earth Day Festival in late April, features live animal adventures, magicians, music, over 70 vendors & artists, farmer’s market, organic cooking classes for adults & youth and a children’s discovery zone. Call 956-681-3370 for more information or visit: SPOOKY SCIENCE FEST A night of nature and science exploration - investigates the world of "Cold-blooded" creatures in Weslaco. Typically held in mid-October - Call 956-565-3919 for more information or visit: WILD IN WILLACY NATURE AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL Hosted by Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, Wild in Willacy Boot Fest is held in late October and offers its guests an opportunity to "go beyond the gates" of some otherwise inaccessible ranches. Call 956-689-1864 for more information or visit:


Fighting Bucks


RIO GRANDE VALLEY BIRDING FESTIVAL Harlingen has been recognized by the American Birding Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and birding experts throughout the nation as a leader in the field of ecotourism. RGV Birding Festival takes place in early November and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. General Information call 209-22R-GVBF or visit: TEXAS BUTTERFLY FESTIVAL Hosted by: The National Butterfly Center in Mission during early November. Spend 3 days exploring renowned public lands and private properties with world-class trip leaders and expert guides during prime butterfly season. For more information, call 956-583-5400 or visit:

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

FALCON DAM / FALCON STATE PARK 146 Park Road 46, Roma, TX 78584 956-848-5327 New Garden Digging Tool! Javelina travel in small herds and have a somewhat limited home range. In the winter, they’re active in early morning and late afternoon. Javelina are nocturnal during the hotter times of the year. They feed primarily on prickly pear, mesquite beans, mast, fruits, and insects.

ROMA BLUFFS BIRDING CENTER 610 N. Portscheller St., Roma 956-849-4930 Wild Olives Relieve Arthritis! Wild Olive Trees, or sometimes called Mexican Olive or Texas Olive trees are not actually from the Olive family. They are from the Boraginaceae family and bear yellowish olive-like fruit that are edible, though not very tasty. Some sources actually caution against consuming in quantity. The small trees grow up to 26 feet tall and flowers are small and white with yellow centers. In fact, the state flower of Nuevo Leon, Mexico is that of the Wild Olive tree. The tree is a popular native ornamental in the Rio Grande Valley. Nectar from the flowers provides much-needed food for hummingbirds and butterflies, and wild animals may eat its fruit or forage its leaves. The tree has medicinal uses as well. For instance, the leaves are used in teas in Mexico to relieve arthritis and the common cold. BENTSEN STATE PARK - WORLD BIRDING CENTER 2800 South Bentsen Palm Drive, Mission 956-584-9156

As their name suggests, Tarantula Hawks specialize in parasitizing tarantulas. After this wasp finds a tarantula, it will inject its venom to parasitize it, lay her eggs in the tarantula’s abdomen, and then drag the tarantula to a shallow burrow where the larvae can feed on the tarantula and not risk the tarantula being eaten by a predator. The Tarantula Hawk can be very fierce and is able to sting if it feels threatened. The sting is scored as 4 out of 4 on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index and may be the second-most painful insect bite of any insect in the world. Despite the strength of its venom, reports of Tarantula Hawk’s stinging someone is rare. If you do encounter one keep your distance, but take a closer look. This wasp has a funny way of curling its antennae as it feeds on nectar and almost looks like he is enjoying the sweet taste.

NATIONAL BUTTERFLY CENTER 3333 Butterfly Park Dr., Mission 956-583-5400 Butterfly Brew You Can Make It Too! Want to attract beautiful woodland butterflies to your yard? It’s easy to do with this time-tested concoction of Banana Brew, from the National Butterfly Center. Here’s what you need: 8-10 Ripe Bananas (over ripe is good, too!) 1 Lb. Brown Sugar 1 Bottle Dark Imported Beer (Our butterflies like Guinness and Negra Modelo, but feel free to experiment.) (continued on next page)


Ruthless Predator or Gentle Giant? If you are at one of the Rio Grande Valley’s great nature sites in the Fall or Winter, keep an eye out for a giant wasp feared by many, but can prove very gentle upon closer examination. If you see a bush or

Why is it called a Tarantula Hawk? Tarantula Hawks are a type of parasitic spider wasp. Spider wasps have a fascinating life history in that they find a specific species of spider, inject venom into that spider to paralyze it, and then inject their eggs INSIDE the spider. The larvae hatch inside the spider and eat the spider’s insides while the helpless spider is still alive. Most species of spider wasps have one or a few particular species of spiders it will parasitize in this way.

Nature Hotspots

They hold an undeserved reputation for ferocity, since they have poor eyesight, Javelina often remain around humans longer than other wildlife when startled. If cornered, they can defend themselves very effectively with sharp canine teeth or "tusks". Many dogs have been crippled or killed when trying to attack Javelina. Yet aggressive encounters with humans are very, very rare. They can be very troublesome to landowners when they become habituated to homes and human activities. They often sleep in caves, and cave like areas, and seem to find the crawl spaces under homes attractive. They may cause significant damage to yards and sprinkler systems because of their habit of rooting for food.

tree that is blooming, loaded with butterflies, try to find Tarantula Hawks sipping nectar from the flowers. Tarantula Hawks are about three inches long (most wasps are less than an inch long), have black bodies, and bright orange-brown wings. Tarantula Hawks are important pollinators - as are many wasps.


Rio Grande Valley Nature Hotspots: Fact, Quirk, Myth or Mystery


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Preparation: Blend the bananas until liquefied; it’s ok to leave some little clumps. Mix in the brown sugar, and carefully add the beer. Stir well. Pour into jars or jugs, but do NOT seal containers closed. Jars and jugs must have holes in the lids or around the top to allow gasses to escape, or the brew will explode as it ferments. Fermentation will occur rapidly, as bacteria in the unpasteurized beer will actively consume the sugars and produce gas as a byproduct of this process. Note: Pasteurized domestic beers lack the healthy bacteria necessary to aid fermentation. Your brew may be kept cold in the refrigerator for slower fermentation; however, if you plan to use it all quickly, i.e. over a couple of days, you may consider leaving it unrefrigerated. Pour a narrow bit of brew on a tree limb or fence post. Be careful not to use so much that butterflies become stuck in it! The rotting, sweet brew will have a funky odor that is most attractive to tropical butterflies--BUT THIS CONCOCTION IS NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

Nature Hotspots

After the brew disappears or becomes dehydrated on your limb or post, scrape the surface clean to remove any dry fruit "leather" or film, and re-apply. This is a great way to observe butterflies feeding, especially outside a window or in your yard. Occasionally, we experiment with different fruit or beer combinations, but have found this particular recipe to be the most effective. Feel free to try your own recipe, and share the results with us on Facebook or via email at the National Butterfly Center!

HIDALGO PUMPHOUSE MUSEUM & WBC 902 South 2nd Street, Hidalgo 956-843-8686 Hidalgo Tree is Stairway to Heaven! An interesting site in Hidalgo is the beautiful Kapok tree located at "La Herradura", one of the City's historical sites. An emergent tree of the tropical rainforest it is often described as majestic as it can grow to a height of 150 feet or more. Kapok branches provide a habitat for countless epiphytes, which provide food and shelter for many types or animals. Its timber is desirable because of the great length of its trunks, the beautiful color of its wood, and its straight grain. Once thought to be a "spiritual tree", the Mayan Indians believe that when you die, your soul will travel up the Kapok tree; and when you reach the top you will be in Heaven.

QUINTA MAZATLAN 600 Sunset Dr., McAllen 956-681-3370 Run Goat-Suckers, “Chupacabra”? In the lush forests of Quinta Mazatlan, there is a mythical creature, one reported to drain its victims of blood and strange attacks on livestock known as a “Chupacabra” (Spanish for “goat-sucker”). At night its reflecting red eyes disappear quickly into the night on darkened wings with signal-like white patches. The Common Pauraque is perhaps the most common and famous representative of the family of birds called ‘Nightjars’ from South Texas down to South America. Its distinctive call “puh-wheer!” is a familiar and reassuring sound found in local woodlands.


This camouflaged bird is active at dusk and during the night, sleeping through the day coming out at twilight to feed. But what does it eat, and how does it relate to the “Chupacabra?” The scientific name for the family of nightjars is Caprimulgidae, which literally translated means “goat-suckers”. The story goes that ancient farmers would see the nocturnal birds flying around their goats in the dark and thought that they were sucking milk (or blood?) from the goats, hence the name “goat-suckers”. We now know, of course, that these mysterious and fascinating birds don’t drink fluids from goats but were rather catching the flying insects amidst the herds.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Lechuza - Barn Owl? The Barn Owl, known in Spanish as La Lechuza, has a variety of mythological stories behind it, particularly in the Mexican culture. Some stories claim the species to be a witch that’s shape-shifts to the form of an owl, and claim that when seen, it may have the face of an old man or woman. Other stories claim that when La Lechuza is spotted and whistled at, it becomes angry and will come back to follow the person who whistled and bang/scratch at the windows of their home, tormenting the person in an attempt to attack him/her unless chile, tomato and salt are placed in foil paper outside the home. Of course, there are numerous variations to these stories within the culture. Many people feel the Barn Owl’s face is most like a human’s face, which may explain how these stories are tied with this species.

SANTA ANA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE 3325 Green Jay, Alamo 956-784-7500 Spanish Moss A Carrier of Malaria? Spanish moss hanging from the trees at Santa Ana is a sign for many that they are not walking through just any city park, but a habitat that has remained mostly intact for many years. Spanish moss is only found in where there has been little disturbance and the environmental conditions are just right. It’s really a flowering plant from the same family as the pineapples. Contrary to what some believe, Spanish moss is not a parasite. This plant is an epiphyte - a plant that grows on top of another plant. The moss grasps onto the tree where its seeds were deposited by wind or birds, and absorbs water and nutrients from rainfall or moisture in the air. For this reason, Spanish moss is dependent on a certain amount of ambient humidity in order to survive.

VALLEY NATURE CENTER 301 S Border Ave., Weslaco 956-969-2475 Owls Mobbed? The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl is small and stocky, with a large rounded head, yellow eyes, and a crown finely streaked in white. Its upperparts are brown, heavily spotted with white on the crown and wing coverts. The underparts are white, streaked with brown. They have a prominent white Supercilium above the facial disc and two eyespots on the nape. Their tail is barred brown and black. Sexes are similar. The flight is rapid with long swoops. This species is mainly nocturnal, but sometimes hunts by day, and can be readily located by small birds that mob it while it is perched in a tree. It hunts a variety of insects and lizards.

FRONTERA AUDUBON SOCIETY 1101 South Texas Blvd., Weslaco 956-968-3275 RGV’s Singing Bandit! Great Kiskadees are an easy bird to spot not only because of their bright yellow belly, black bandit mask, and reddish brown wings, but also for their attentiongetting calls. The noisy, cheerful call sounds like their name: kis-ka-deeee! Kis-ka-dee. How’s that for onomatopoeia? The Great Kiskadee has a limited range in the United States, seen most abundantly here in the Rio Grande Valley, that’s why it’s such a treat for birders to see. However; its total range is from Mexico through South America, making it one of the most widespread flycatchers in the Western Hemisphere. The Great Kiskadee will often be seen hunting for insects near our boardwalk overlooking Frontera’s wetlands.


For centuries as Spanish and French explorers traveled through the southern United States, Spanish moss was known to grow in places with “bad air”. It was believed that swamps were very dangerous and many thought that Spanish moss was how people contracted Malaria a disease we now know is carried by mosquitoes. The bad reputation led French explorers to call it “Spaniard’s Beard” and Spanish explorers named it “Frenchman’s Wig”. Although it had negative connotations, Spanish moss was still used for many purposes such as padding for car seats, mattresses and shipping material.

Salt A Miracle Fix (From Greasy Hair to Sore Throat) Crystal-covered shores of La Sal del Rey attracted both people and animals. Salt is an important mineral for human nutrition and was a critical ingredient for preserving meat and animal hides. Hunter-gatherer peoples likely obtained salt for their own uses, and possibly for trade as well. Hunters also would have found an abundance of game animals pulled to the natural salt exposures on the lake shores. Despite centuries of mining, the lake still holds an estimated four million tons of salt within its massive salt dome.

Nature Hotspots

Barn owls can be heard/seen at night, and particularly need large open areas to hunt for food. They typically like to nest and roost in quiet cavities on either trees or man-made structures such as barns. Their preference for these roosting sites could be one of the reasons people have developed these stories about them over time, since they were most likely seen pretty often at night fall as people had their get-togethers. These stories of La Lechuza are very intriguing, but is when they are seen/heard in person that one can truly see how these stories are tied to this beautiful creature.

LA SAL DEL REY & LA SAL VIEJA LAKES Specialty tours may be available; call: Santa Ana 956-784-7500


EDINBURG SCENIC WETLANDS 714 Raul Longoria Road, Edinburg 956-381-9922

Nature Hotspots


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

ESTERO LLANO GRANDE STATE PARK 154A Lakeview Drive, Weslaco 956-565-3919

HILLTOP GARDENS 100 Lees Ln., Lyford 956-262-2176 ext. 136

Are they Witches or Loved Ones? One of the Valley’s most beloved creatures is, the Black Witch, beloved being quite the variable adjective. Black Witches are actually giant moths that at dark appear more like low-flying bats darting and dashing down paths. Legend in the Valley has it that if the witch enters one’s home, death for someone in that home is imminent. Other versions say that it must touch all four corners of a room before any damage is done. The kinder, gentler, Hawaiian tradition says that the Black Witch is a loved one, recently passed, reassuring its viewers that everything is all right on the other side.

Gardens That Heal What Ails You? Hilltop Gardens is a 500 acre farm in Hidalgo County –it was first planted with Aloe Vera in 1938, and was one of the first commercial aloe farms in the country. Today it’s owned and operated by Hilltop Gardens, Inc. a company member of Econet. As the company’s experimental farm, the farm operation tests a variety of crops and develops procedures used at the company farms world-wide. Last year the entire farm received organic certification and certification for Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practice).

Not a Valley specialty, Black Witches start with an egg south of the U.S. border and then try very hard to get as far north as possible before winter sets in, sometimes making it all the way to Canada. Few and far between during non-hurricane years, they are said to travel in the eyes of hurricanes by the hundreds, plentiful beyond belief in hurricane years. The darkest, blackest ones are the males, technically Black Warlocks one could say. The female Black Witches have a white stripe on each wing. One can simply wait for them to appear randomly, or one could put out bait for them: bananas, beer and brown sugar (the three B’s) mixed together will do fine. Watch them with wonder and admire their splendor. Enjoy their notoriety but don’t fear them. They are just one of the many creatures of the night.

The estate gardens at Hilltop Gardens have been master planned and are open to the public as a healing garden. It has four designed garden rooms; a Sensory Walk, a Healing Garden, an Aloe Garden, and a Children’s Garden, as well as a new Visitor Center and gift shop. Very tropical in design and beautiful and peaceful in character this garden is a true oasis in a hectic world. HARLINGEN THICKET From Taft head E. toward Commerce, turn R into Thicket just before RR tracks I Like that Tree ‘Cause it Tastes So Good! Harlingen Thicket is a green oasis, consisting of native brush and natural scrubby woodlands. A remnant of Tamaulipan thornscrub, subtropical, semiarid vegetation type, hosting anacua trees, mesquite and the Texas Ebony with Ball Moss. Spiny shrubs and trees dominate this thornscrub, but grasses, forbs, and succulents are also prominent. Next time you go out for barbequed beef brisket, get it Texas style; smoked by mesquite because it burns hotter and provides a delicious smoke flavor.


HARLINGEN ARROYO COLORADO (Hugh Ramsey Park) 1001 S. Loop 499, Harlingen Did That Gator Bark? An agile swimmer, the American alligator often floats or swims with only its eyes and nostrils exposed. Alligators are carnivorous, and will eat anything they can catch, including fish, turtles, lizards, snakes, small mammals, water birds, crustaceans and other alligators. They can be very vocal; the young typically make a bark and adults will bellow, grunt, or hiss, depending on the circumstances. Alligators in Texas are mostly inactive from mid-October until early March. March through May is the alligator's peak time for breeding and nesting. American

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

LOS EBANOS NATURE PRESERVE 27715 Hwy 100, San Benito 956-399-9097 Snooty Bird Hang-Out - Casa Los Ebanos! The Brownsville Common Yellowthroat is an endemic subspecies of the Common Yellowthroat that is restricted to the southern half of Cameron County. Previously thought to be extinct, it was rediscovered in 1988. Its population is estimated to consist of only 200-250 individuals. The population at Los Ebanos is the northernmost known population and is one of the most accessible. A unique 82-acre private nature park!

RESACA DE LA PALMA STATE PARK 1000 New Carmen Ave., Brownsville 956-350-2920 Aerodynamic Sharp Shooter! A very rare Amazon Kingfisher at a Resaca on Hwy. 100 - down the road from Resaca de la Palma! “This is the only Amazon Kingfisher in the United States and only the second one ever seen in this country. The first was documented in 2010 in Laredo. This particular Amazon is a female and hundreds of miles out of its range”, said Steve Sinclair, nature photographer.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND BIRDING & NATURE CENTER 6801 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island 956-243-8289 The Magic of Migration – Fall Out Because South Padre Island is in the middle of the Central Flyway, more than 380 species stop to rest on their journey each spring and fall from Oct to April. Spring migration is especially exciting because Padre Island is the first landfall for birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Migrants need to stop; rest and refuel before continuing on their journey. Birder-lovers plan their vacations for April to see migrating numerous. Birders also watch the weather, looking for a cold front that may cause the migrating birds to drop from the sky after their exhausting trip over the Gulf. This phenomenon, known as a Fall Out, is hard on the birds. Some are too exhausted to survive; most of them rest, eat, and recover before continuing their journey. Unlike the birds, birders see a Fall Out as an exciting opportunity. A storm in April 2013 forced thousands of birds to land in the Rio Grande Valley. These birds were so tired that they landed on the ground, perched on people's shoulders and hats, blanketed the trees, and wandered on the sidewalks among people's feet. Local residents and visitors fed and cared for the migrants. Bird-watchers and nature photographers traveled from around the world to see this amazing sight. For a few days the ground, trees, fences, and feeders were covered with a variety of sizes, colors, and species of birds as they recovered their strength for the flight north. After standing among the cacophony of bird calls and feasting their eyes on the variety of colorful species, including buntings, orioles, tanagers, sparrows, thrushes, grosbeaks, and warblers, people who witnessed the Fall Out of April 2013 will never forget the magic of that migration. Courtesy Sources: Stephen Sinclair, Nature Photographer, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, World Birding Centers and Rio Grande Valley Nature Sites.


The shape of the Amazon Kingfisher is adapted for aerodynamics. This bird has a pointed bill and head to lessen the resistance to both air and water when making a dive. The shape of many kingfishers is so aerodynamic that they were used as a model for designing high speed trains in Japan! The Amazon Kingfisher perches in vegetation, and watches the water before it dives head first to catch fish, crustaceans, or other small aquatic creatures with its long, dagger-like bill.

SAVING THE OCELOT! Data collected from ocelots lets biologists know where the cats live, rest and travel, important information to help determine management decisions and efforts that protect the cats. Ocelots are a federally listed endangered species whose range in the U.S. used to extend from South Texas up into Arkansas and Louisiana but is now reduced to less than 50 animals, all of which are found in South Texas. Though loss of habitat is the single greatest threat to the cats, an estimated 40 percent of ocelots from Laguna Atascosa NWR that have been studied over a 30-year period have died as a result of being hit by a car. In an effort to protect ocelots, Laguna Atascosa NWR closes refuge roads to vehicles to protect ocelots in the area; the Valley is one of two known breeding populations in the U.S.

Nature Hotspots

SABAL PALM SANCTUARY 8435 Sabal Palm Grove Rd, Brownsville 956-541-8034 Fashioned for Feeding Frenzy? With a black and white-striped head, orange underbelly and lead-colored back, the Aplomado Falcon is among the most beautiful and unique-looking falcon on the planet. Aplomado Falcons are incredible fliers and watching one chase after prey or dive after an intruder is an incredible sight. The young play “tag” by meandering, spinning and diving after one another through the in-flight. They sometimes play with sticks or yucca branches carrying them in their talons. They then drop the sticks or bring them to a site where they can use their beaks and feet to break them up. Chasing after other birds including those bigger than they are makes them well-practiced hunters and fliers. When they’re ready to leave their parents’ territory, they have skills needed to survive on their own.

LAGUNA ATASCOSA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE 22817 Ocelot Road, Los Fresnos 956-748-3607


alligators normally avoid humans, but they can become perceived as a nuisance when they establish territories around people. As human populations in Texas continue to expand, there have been an increased number of encounters between people and alligators. Alligators can be surprisingly quick on land, capable of running quickly over short distances and must be treated with caution.


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Sports & Recreation The Valley is definitely sports savvy. And, Valley-ites take their semi-professional sports seriously! Arrive with this list in hand and you’ll be off to a foolproof unforgettable start. Fans can watch their favorite teams indoors at the State Farm Arena or outdoors at the Harlingen Stadium. Be sure to check their websites for the latest game location and scheduling information.

SPORTS SCENE VENUES BASEBALL RIO GRANDE VALLEY WHITEWINGS The Whitewings are a professional baseball team and members of the United League Baseball (ULB). The team is based out of Harlingen. All home games are played May – August at: Harlingen Field 1216 Fair Park Boulevard Harlingen, TX, 78550 (956) 423-9464 All game day tickets can be purchased at Harlingen Field ticket windows starting at 5:05 p.m.


Sports Scene Venues

BASKETBALL RIO GRANDE VALLEY VIPERS 2010 & 2013 NBA Development League Champions. All home games played November – April at: State Farm Arena 2600 N. 10th Street (Hwy 336), Hidalgo Ticket Information: (956)-972-1144 Visit:

HOCKEY RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES North American Hockey League (NAHL) Junior Hockey. All home games played October – March at: State Farm Arena 2600 N. 10th Street (Hwy 336), Hidalgo Box Office Phone Number: (956) 843-6688 Visit:

SOCCER LA FIERA INDOOR SOCCER Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) Home games played November - March at: State Farm Arena 2600 N. 10th Street, Hidalgo Box Office Phone Number: (956) 843-6688

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


Port Mansfield is located on the shores of Laguna Madre, near the southern tip of Texas, and offers excellent fishing, and abundant wildlife, in an affordable, secluded, semitropical escape for winter inhabitants. It’s a scenic twenty-minute drive; east of Raymondville on Hwy. 186. There is a lighted 3200’ runway available to pilots, as well as a protected harbor for watercraft.


Hunting & Fishing

A pristine marine and wildlife environment on the Texas coast; it is bordered by thick, virtually untouched, lightly populated, brushland and boasts 487 species of birds making it one of the premier birding spots in the U.S. Wildlife viewing includes: Javalina, Deer, Quail, White Winged Dove, Ring Neck & Morning Dove, Sand Hill Crane, Rosetta Spoonbill, Osprey and Pelican. Port Mansfield offers excellent fishing through a number of venues and is described by sports editors as one of the “best fishing areas in the country”!

Still accessible without the crowds and higher prices of developed areas to the south and the north; Port Mansfield is only about nine miles by boat from the Gulf of Mexico and Padre Island. The Mansfield Jetties separate this popular barrier island allowing boats to beach from either side. When the waves at the jetties are relatively smooth it’s possible to travel down the Gulf side of the beach to areas less populated. Once through the Port Mansfield channel, you’ll be able to go after the big ones. Red Snapper, Tarpon, Swordfish, Sailfish, Marlin, Kingfish, Mackerel, Ling, Pompano, and other catches emerge. Numerous hunting and fishing guides and charters are based right in Port Mansfield.

Hunting & Fishing

Unforgettable hunting and fishing adventures await the discerning sportsman! A one-of-a-kind destination; El Sauz Ranch, traditionally known as the El Sauz Division of King Ranch, offers large up-scale hunting leases located in both Starr and Willacy counties of deep South Texas. Think about hunting on a private 50,000 acre ranch for Nilgai Antelope, Feral Hog, Rio Grande Turkey, Bobwhite & Blue Quail, and White-Tailed Deer - “Horn, Fin & Feather” delivers diversity in hunting and fishing opportunities, amenities, service and accessibility.

Located just out of the Port Mansfield harbor; Laguna Madre is home to abundant Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sand Trout, Flounder, and many other species. Its shallow waters make it easy to fish by small boat, wading, or casting a line from shore. A public fishing pier is also available at Fred Stone County Park. FRED STONE COUNTY PARK in Port Mansfield features include: restrooms, a fishing pier and picnic tables, no RV hook-ups. The nature trail starts at the NW corner of the N parking lot. Approximate distance is a ½-mile to ¾-mile thru native Texas brush. Contact Information: 956-944-2354. PORT MANSFIELD NATURE TRAIL is 1.5 miles and crosses several habitat types including about 15 acres of ephemeral freshwater marsh supporting brackish marsh plants (due to soil salinity). No facilities, hours, or fee. Fred Stone County Park, about 1 mile away, has restrooms. Contact Information: 956-944-2325. Port Mansfield Nature trail is across from TPWD public boat ramp. Wildlife viewing and hiking; good for waders, shore birds, and water fowl, and could support some interesting butterflies. Visit: for a large selection of Hunting & Fishing Guides Photos courtesy of Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

With South Padre Island to the east and Mexico’s allure to the south, the warm gulf breezes make the Rio Grande Valley a choice vacation destination. And, there are scenic golf courses, too; many designed by some of the best course architects in the country. Our golf courses will challenge you, whatever your skill level; with carefree atmospheres that allow you to relax after your spikes are cleaned, and score cards tallied. Brownsville Golf Center

956-541-2582 956-428-0766 956-292-2144 956-585-2324 956-541-0394 956-943-7520 956-565-3351 956-316-0444 956-585-6330 956-581-6267 956-381-0964


Public - 18-Hole, Par-70, Yardage-6144 1800 W. San Marcello, Brownsville, TX 78526 Cottonwood Creek Country Club Public - 9-Hole, Par-3, Yardage-2535 1001 Ed Carey St., Harlingen, TX 78552 Ebony Hills Golf Course Public - 9-Hole, Par-35, Yardage-2983 300 W. Palm Dr., Edinburg, TX 78539 El Nino Golf Course Public - 9-Hole, Par-27, Yardage-1875 3805 W. Business 83, Mission, TX 78572 Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course Public, 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6162 300 River Levee Rd., Brownsville, TX 78520 Long Island Village Golf Course Public - 18-Hole, Par-3, Yardage-1449 950 S. Garcia St., Port Isabel, TX 78578 Llano Grande Golf Course Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6718 370 Golf Course Rd., Mercedes, TX 78570 Los Lagos Golf Club Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-7188 1720 S. Raul Longoria Rd., Edinburg, TX 78540 Martin Valley Ranches Golf Course Public - 27-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6695 7607 Hole in One Dr., Mission, TX 78572 Meadow Creek In the Valley Public - 18-Hole, Par-70, Yardage-6100 1300 Circle Drive, Mission, TX 78572 Monte Cristo Golf & Country Club Semi-Private - 18-Hole, Par-71, Yardage-6392 2919 North Kenyon Rd., Edinburg, TX 78541 Palm View Golf Course Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6771 2701 S. Ware Rd., McAllen, TX 78503 Raymondville Municipal Golf Course Public - 9-Hole, Par-36, Yardage-2990 13839 Emma Ross Rd., Raymondville, TX 78580 River Bend Resort Semi-Private - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6735 4541 US Military Hwy 281, Brownsville, TX 78520 Shary Municipal Golf Course Public - 27-Hole, Par-70,71,73, Yardage-6025 2201 Mayberry, Mission, TX 78572 Short Shot Golf Course Public - 18-Hole, Par-54, Yardage-1290 304 N. Cesar Chavez, Alamo, TX 78516 South Padre Island Golf Club Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6800 1 Golf House Road (FM 510), Laguna Vista, TX 78578 Stuart Place Country Club Public - 9-Hole, Par-36, Yardage-2666 155 Highland, Harlingen, TX 78552 The Palms at Mid Valley Golf Course Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6570 11550 N. FM 491, Mercedes, TX 78570 Tierra del Sol Golf Club Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6767 700 E. Hall Acres Rd., Pharr, TX 78577 Tierra Santa Golf Club Public - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-7139 1901 Club de Amistad, Weslaco, TX 78596 Tony Butler Municipal Golf Course Public - 27-Hole, Par-71, Yardage-6320 2640 S. M St., Harlingen, TX 78550 Treasure Hills Country Club Semi-Private - 18-Hole, Par-72, Yardage-6960 3009 N. Augusta National Dr., Harlingen, TX 78550 Valley International Country Club Public - 18-Hole, Par-70, Yardage-6538 Public - 9-Hole9, Par-31, Yardage-1563 95 Country Club Rd., Brownsville, TX 78521 Village Executive Golf Course Public - 9-Hole, Par-31, Yardage-1563 2 Mi. S. of Bus. 83 on FM 1015, Weslaco, TX 78596



956-681-3444 956-746-6907 956-548-0192 956-580-8770 956-702-1818 956-943-5678 956-428-2000 956-565-3211 956-702-2320 956-973-1811 956-216-5970 956-425-1700

956-546-5331 956-968-6516

NOTE: Numerous private golf courses are available and should be considered when choosing a home in this region. Source: Rio Grande Valley Partnership


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


The Valley celebrates life through monuments and memorials. We honor those that served our country through the military and helped shape our great nation. You will find statues and plaques across the Rio Grande Valley memorializing those that gave their lives for our freedom. Since they are spread out, it is hard to visit all of them on foot. However; once you arrive at each destination walking the grounds is recommended.



BOOTS ON GROUND – Early November The City of Los Fresnos hosts an Annual Veterans Memorial Endurance Mud Run – called “BOOTS ON GROUND” at the Los Fresnos Rodeo Grounds. Come test your strength and endurance! For more information, contact the City of Los Fresnos at: 956-233-5768 Logo courtesy of City of Los Fresnos

Photos courtesy of Brownsville CVB

SAN BENITO VETERANS’ WAR MEMORIAL The San Benito Veterans’ War Memorial operates to acknowledge and honor the value and sacrifice of the men and women soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the United States, and of all who rendered faithful, loyal, heroic and self-sacrificing service at home and overseas especially those Killed or Missing in Action. Located at: 151 E. Rowson, San Benito Open: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. No admission.

Veteran’s Parks and Memorials

BROWNSVILLE VETERANS PARK Recognizing the service and sacrifice of our military veterans and their families; Brownsville’s history of heroes tells the stories of its fallen warriors who are memorialized on signage throughout the park. Located at: 2500 Central Ave., Brownsville (located immediately next to Brownsville Library) Open: Sun. – Thurs. 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Mon. – Fri. 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Facility reservations call: 956-542-2064

Photo courtesy of City of San Benito

SAN JUAN’S LIBERTY PARK - VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK Liberty Park was the brainchild of a local area businessman and San Juan resident. Tributes to all veterans of military service and especially those that served in conflicts and helped preserve the American way of life. The park features the tallest flagpole in South Texas. A granite war memorial was dedicated and engraved with the names of servicemen from San Juan who died while on Active Duty, during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Liberty Park is located on Business Highway 83 just west of Standard Avenue.

Photos courtesy of San Juan EDC



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

STATE VETERANS CEMETERY The State Veterans Cemetery located in the Rio Grande Valley is a special place to those who have served their country. The Valley’s long history of military service is revealed in this 75-acre cemetery including a visitor’s center, a computer system for locating specific graves and an assembly area for special occasions. Located at: 2520 S Inspiration Rd., Mission

Veteran’s Parks and Memorials

Photos courtesy of The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce

HISTORIC AMERICAN LEGION HALL The first American Legion Hall built or owned by any post in the world is located on South Main Street, in Donna, Texas. Built and Owned by Border Post No. 107, it was dedicated in 1920 and recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1969. For Legion Information please call: 956-274-7017. Located at: 316 S. Main Street, Donna Photo courtesy of Bruce Kalter

HIDALGO COUNTY VETERANS WAR MEMORIAL The Memorial, located on the courthouse lawn in Edinburg, honors individuals from Hidalgo County who were killed in action during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam. Hidalgo County was also home to three heroes awarded the distinguished Medal of Honor. Located at: 100 N Closner Blvd, Edinburg For more information contact the City of Edinburg at: 956-381-5631


Photo courtesy of Edinburg Chamber of Commerce

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Veteran’s Parks and Memorials

Photo courtesy of Marine Military Academy


IWO JIMA MONUMENT On the morning of February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions invaded Iwo Jima after a somewhat ineffective bombardment that lasted 72 hours. The 28th Regiment, 5th Division, was ordered to capture Mount Suribachi. Located at: Marine Military Academy 320 Iwo Jima Blvd., Harlingen Phone: 956-423-6006

VETERAN’S WAR MEMORIAL The American Spire of Honor in McAllen is located on a 5-acre site, featuring a 105-foot-tall, black granite-covered war monument. It represents the courage, spirit and fearlessness of sacrifice by our forces. The war memorial includes “Guardian Walls” that surround the spire, thanking donors, and flagpoles dedicated to the memory of Rio Grande Valley soldiers that died during operations. Located at: 2901 Galveston Avenue, McAllen (near McAllen Convention Center) Photo courtesy of City of McAllen MCN 12


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

The ARTS have the capacity to trigger reflection, generate empathy, create dialogue and foster new ideas and relationships and offer a powerful and democratic way of expressing, sharing and shaping values. The ARTS can help us build new competencies and understand how to imagine and rehearse a different way of being and relating. Focus on the world of ARTS and culture as a vital source for ways of finding solutions to a whole new belief of what a treasured life really means.


GO BEYOND ART FOR ART’S SAKE They make art for our sake ... ARTS VENUES – Theatre/Music/Visual ARTS ALBERT L. JEFFERS THEATRE UTPA, 1201 W. University Dr., Edinburg 956-665-3581 •

HARLINGEN PERFORMING ARTS THEATRE 1209 Fair Park Blvd., Harlingen 956-412-7529 •

AL FRESCO WESLACO - JAZZ ON THE STREET Texas Blvd. – Historic Downtown Weslaco 956-969-0838

JARDIN DEL ARTE Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library 1906 S. Closner Blvd., Edinburg 956-383-6246 •

BORDER THEATER 905 N. Conway, Mission 956-585-4122

CINE EL REY THEATER 311 S. 17th St., McAllen 956-278-0626 CINEMARK THEATRE The Metropolitan Opera - Live in HD 100 W. Nolana Loop, McAllen THE COOPER CENTER FOR COMMUNICATION ARTS South Texas College 3200 W. Pecan Ave., McAllen 956-872-2301 or 956-872-2639 GALERIA 409 409 E. 13th St., Brownsville 956-455-3599 •

MCALLEN CONVENTION CENTER 700 Convention Center Blvd., McAllen 956-681-3800 MCALLEN SYMPHONIC BAND Trinity Worship Center (performances) 4801 N. Cage Blvd., Pharr 956-681-3355 • NARCISCO MARTINEZ CULTURAL ART CENTER 225 East Stenger, San Benito 956-367-0335 PHARR CULTURAL ARTS 119 W. Newcombe Ave. 956-648-2488 PHARR EVENTS CENTER 3000 N. Cage, Pharr 956-475-3434 •

17TH STREET ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT 11th to 18th and Business 83 to Dallas, McAllen Shuttles available/Parking in city garage SOUTH TEXAS LYRIC OPERA PO Box 3690, McAllen Maestro: 956-236-3265 Admin: 956-236-4588 STATE FARM ARENA - EVENTS 2600 N. 10th St., Hidalgo 956-843-6688 • TEJANO WALK OF FAME (Edinburg City Auditorium Courtyard) 415 W. McIntyre, Edinburg

Art Venues

CAMILLE PLAYHOUSE 1 Dean Porter Park, Brownsville 956-542-8900

MCALLEN CREATIVE ART INCUBATOR/MCA2 601 N. Main St., McAllen 956-687-2787 •

RIO THEATER 516 Doherty, Mission

UT BROWNSVILLE PATRON OF THE ARTS One West University, Brownsville 956-882-8587 UTPA CHARLES AND DOROTHY CLARK ART GALLERY Located in the Fine Arts Complex Department of Music and Dance 1201 W. University Drive, Edinburg 956-665-3471 VALLEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA & CHORALE SOUTH TEXAS YOUTH SYMPHONY Neuhaus Tower 200 S. 10th Street – Ste. 104, McAllen 956-661-1615 • WESLACO TOWER THEATER 120 S. Kansas Ave., Weslaco 956-969-2368 WILLACY COUNTY ART LEAGUE CULTURAL ART CENTER 427 South 7th Street, Raymondville 956-689-6604


Photo courtesy of Brownsville Latin Jazz Festival (BSPA)


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Bravo! Bravo! From ballet to hip hop dance; symphonic music, opera and jazz, or community theatre to star-studded concerts - Music has a special ability to pump us up … or calm us down. BROWNSVILLE SOCIETY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS - Latin Jazz Festival integrates old with the new and releases the very best in Latin Jazz music. Magnificent, hi-tech and tantalizing, deeply Latin but, so American as well! When jazz musicians improvise, their brains turn off areas linked to self-censoring and inhibition, and turn on those that let self-expression flow. They often play with eyes closed in a distinctive, personal style that transcends traditional rules of melody and rhythm. A consistently outstanding display of common heritage, the music we will all remember and the music they will remember us by.

Music of the Valley

AL FRESCO WESLACO – “JAZZ ON THE STREET” is an exceptional example of the elevated worth Weslaco’s business community places on supporting the ARTS, but more than that; it's an exciting musical event. It’s an incredibly powerful FREE outdoor jazz festival that's fun for the entire family; the third Thursday of each month, year round. VALLEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA & CHORALE - Passion, we hear it; and we feel it when we attend world-class performances by the Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. When the sun sets, head out for a night on the town; enjoy the Season Series or perhaps one of their many community concerts. The Valley Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Peter Dabrowski’s authentic character will revive your spirit! The VSO leaves the audience and musicians alike on the edge of their chairs. PHARR CULTURAL ARTS CENTER/PHARR CULTURAL ARTS COUNCIL -“Pharr Live” is an indoor Tejano and Cunjunto concert series that takes place in the Pharr Cultural Arts Center every third Friday. It’s a cultural event intended for the entire family.


Photos courtesy of Valley Symphony Orchestra & Weslaco EDC

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Public Art Exhibit by Sebastián Brings Community Together The metropolitan cities of Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Paris, Berlin, Jerusalem, Mexico City, New York, Tokyo, and now McAllen, share one thing in common... Sebastián; or to put in more eloquent terms, these cities are home to the monumental sculptures of one of the world’s leading sculptors. However, the City of McAllen stands out amongst these. Not only does it have on display one sculpture from the artist, but FOURTEEN works of his art will be exhibited in the City of McAllen until the fall of 2015; seven on the grounds of the International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS), located on the corner of the Bicentennial Boulevard and Nolana Avenue, and the other seven can be found in key locations around the city.


The Artistic Side of McAllen

Viewers might find the end result to be spellbinding; the process might be overlooked, but that is exactly where the real magic happens. It may not seem as much to the average person, but it was a triumph in itself to coordinate, schedule, and finalize exhibit details amongst all the key players and institutions: IMAS, the sculpture sites, the City of McAllen, the McAllen Public Arts Committee, and the Sebastián Foundation. .

Where in McAllen are the sculptures displayed? In addition to the seven sculptures found at IMAS, the City of McAllen counts with another seven works of art throughout significant areas where its people congregate, socialize, and create. 1. “Almendra” (Almond) at McAllen Public Library Metallic Structure, approximately 9’8 ½” x 3’ 4 ½” x 3’ 10”, finished in yellow acrylic enamel, 900 pounds

2. “Pochycereus” (Pochycereus) at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Metallic Structure, approximately 7'6 ½ " x 2' 11 ½" x 1'11 5/8 ", finished in black acrylic enamel, 1,300 pounds

Sebastián Exhibit

Through its metallic body, Almendra epitomizes all things fertile. It represents mother Earth who lavishes her gifts so that all may grow. In times of rain, all sprouts, while during droughts all dies. Life dies, resurfaces, and regenerates.

Pochycereus is a personal piece of the artist as it depicts the Pachycereus cacti that surrounded his childhood environment of Chihuhuahua, Mexico. These giant cacti are characterized by their vigilant longevity, who submit their lives to behold time, as faithful witnesses of the evolution of human beings. 3. “Protocolo” (Protocol) at the McAllen Art Incubator Metallic structure, approximately 6’ 10” x 3’ 11” x 3’ 3”, finished in red and black acrylic enamel, 1,700 pounds Protocolo is a formal exchange between the obvious and the hidden, infatuation and a passion for lines, light and movement. It is a formal exchange between the object capable of evoking a visceral response, and the observer, daring enough to attune to his nature. 4. “Anillo Conspicuo” (Conspicuous Ring) at City Hall Metallic structure, approximately 10’ 10” x 7’ 8 ½” x 4’ 9”, finished in blue and black acrylic enamel, 2,600 pounds Anillo Conspicuo represents the circle of life. It shows an evident beginning and end , in which a divine union encourages the viewer to commence his path to infinity. As matter we can transform and transcend to an infinite future that projects us beyond time and space. It is conception and obliteration, center and periphery, duality and unity.



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

5. “Aguila del Bicentenario” (Bicentennial Eagle) at McAllen-Miller International Airport Metallic structure, approximately 9'11" x 5' 10" x 5' 7", finished in blue acrylic enamel, 3,300 pounds The Eagle is the symbol that in Mexico takes us back to the founding of Tenochtitlan, and resurfaces in the artist’s Aguila del Bicentenario on the Bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, the eagle resurfaces in Sebastián sculpture. The artist’s eagle pays homage to the ideals of freedom and equality in a nation that crosses through some extremely difficult times. 6. “Celosia Borunda (Borunda Lattice) at Quinta Mazatlán Metallic structure, approximately 8 feet tall and 5'1" x 1' 8" thick, finished in red acrylic enamel, 1,500 pounds Borunda Lattice pretends to live in a distant and magical land, it hides the simplicity and delicacy of three-dimensional drawings that are bathed in light and shadows. It calls upon humans to live in harmony with nature while simultaneously appreciating its roots to engineering and architecture. 7. “Binomio Azul” (Blue Binomial) at the McAllen Convention Center Metallic structure, approximately 21 feet tall and 5 feet wide, mounted on a metal base of 12 x 12 feet and ½ inch thick, finished in blue acrylic enamel, 12,000 pounds

Sebastián Exhibit

Binomio Azul emerges from the soil of the semi-desert which is the Valley. While it seems to be spinning, Binomio Azul leads the viewer to imagine its infinite continuity to the universe and its lack of limitations. WHO IS SEBASTIÁN? Enrique Carbajal, or better known as Sebastián, was born in the small town of Santa Rosalía de Camargo, Chihuahua, Mexico on November 16, 1947. He studied at the National School for the Plastic Arts in Mexico City and has had over 190 individual exhibitions worldwide. Sebastián is considered by national and international art historians and curators as Mexico’s foremost living sculptor and one of the Top 5 most famous monumental sculptors in the world. His sculptures are infused with simple and clean aesthetics and geometry and physics concepts that gently compliment the surrounding landscape.


Story & photos courtesy of IMAS

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Location Matters!!!


Sell it · Find It · Buy It Living in the Rio Grande Valley is a gift, where families are grateful for local traditions and customs. There aren’t many places like the Valley; a region flourishing in exotic birds, flora and fauna, with picturesque Resacas. Kick-back, bask in the sun, enjoy our exceptional restaurants offering a flavor of local heat, cool your thirst buds (drench them in citrus), and engage in our breathtaking sunsets. This region has nationally recognized economic strength and stability unlike any other, benefiting from both ends of the state we have Mexican National tourists and “snowbirds” (also known as “Winter Texans”) that come to play, shop and capture a piece of our beautiful winter weather. Unlike the rest of the country, the Rio Grande Valley did not suffer a real estate rumble during the past recession. This speaks loudly for the strength of our economy and endurance or spirit of our people.

Housing Choices

Welcome to a world where your dreams of owning a beautiful custom-crafted home by artisans with an exceptional attention to detail; makes finding your search easy for a perfect home. From classic Mediterranean architecture to elegant Mexican haciendas, newly modern, minimalist or contemporary - The Rio Grande Valley has a vibrant real estate industry. Master builders and craftsmen who love to design and build for the most dependable of real estate agencies. It is a “buyer’s market”, with the arrival of professionals relocating for our vibrant medical community, new medical school, increasing federal government agencies and industry. This is a great time to invest in South Texas real estate. And remember, South Padre Island is Totally Beachin’. Our beaches are considered by some to be the widest, and cleanest in Texas. Perfect for building sandcastles, wind and parasailing, bay or deep sea fishing, dolphin watching, horseback riding, birding, and dinner cruising. Or, you can just rent a beach umbrella and lay back, listen to the waves, and watch people walk by. Don’t forget to visit South Padres’ nightlife, with a multitude of delectable restaurants. Whatever you do; make sure you’re having fun! Enjoy the magic of our Valley home, and come back soon y’all! Texas. It’s like a whole other country! Source: Cesar Villarreal - Reliance Realty Chris Casperson, Photograph RGV:



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

HOT PICKS! Vintage Willow by Melissa - Rio’s coolest store for vintage clothing, jewelry, and Texas style rustic décor – is located in the historic district of Rio Grande City. This boutique has been serving up remarkable stuff; showcasing a curated collection of one-of-a-kind vintage clothing.


Super Charged Shopping

Yearning to bring her own distinct flair for dressing to others in the Valley; Melissa Perez delivers the spirit and panache of big city style. Imaginatively, Perez brought life back into the historic Lopez Tijerina Courtyard, which compliments the vintage fashion items she buys from all over the world. It’s a place to find the unique, eclectic, maybe even eccentric, one of kind clothing, extraordinary accessories and trinkets. Providing an elegant look with lace and vintage feel of crochet carried by the store, it was only obvious to bring in the uniquely handcrafted, one of a kind Vincent Peach jewelry collection. This brilliant meshing of vintage clothing with leather and pearls evokes a nostalgic feeling only found in this exquisite store. Photo courtesy of Vintage Willow, Vincent Peach Jewelry

Gabii’s Unlimited located in Progreso Lakes, is an exciting shopping experience of the finest handcrafts from Mexico in a huge warehouse. From incredible silver and beaded jewelry, to original paintings, a warehouse of pottery, upscale women’s clothing, handbags or that bottle of vanilla! Progreso Lakes is 9 miles south of Weslaco - In the U.S. at the MX border! Photo courtesy of Armando Rodriguez Aguilera – Gabii’s Photography

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Annual Retail Sales Exceed $13.5 Billion in Valley – It’s those big numbers that attract big retailers to McAllen, and into locating multiple stores within a city of 140,000+. Included in this list of retailers are national-level chains such as: Home Depot (2), Target (3), Wal-Mart (2), Walgreens (5), Sam’s Club (2), Best Buy (3), and Payless Shoe Source (5). Along with the numerous retail outlets throughout the city; McAllen’s premiere shopping malls, La Plaza Mall and Palms Crossing, continue to be Simon Property’s premier shopping venues. With sales consistently ranking among the highest; per capita, within Simon Properties’ shopping venues. Recent renovations include remodeling the food court and front entrance. Additionally, plans to create a second floor will provide a venue for retailers looking to expand into this lucrative market.


Super Charged Shopping!

Photo courtesy of La Plaza Mall, McAllen

Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets, Mercedes - Find impressive savings of 25% to 65% every day on 140 designer and name brand stores at Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets located at 5001 East Expressway 83 in Mercedes. For more information including a complete list of stores, sales and events throughout the year and to register for the FREE online VIP Shopper Club for exclusive coupons and savings offers, visit

Super Charged Shopping

How Does a City McAllen’s Size Sustain So Many Retailers? McAllen’s investment in infrastructure and marketing has created a venue where shoppers know where to go for products and can get there quickly. Furthermore, recognizing international shoppers as an indispensable asset is not unheard of. International shoppers account for 37% of retail sales in McAllen; make an average of ten (10) shopping trips per year to McAllen; and spend an average of $219 each trip. Monterrey, located just two hours from McAllen, boasts a population of more than three million people and has the largest concentration of millionaires per capita of any Mexican city. These brand-conscious shoppers take advantage of the close proximity of McAllen with its diverse offering of retail venues. All of this leads to McAllen having higher retail sales per capita than the National average. City officials unveiled an ambitious $10.7 million, city coordinated development project designed to transform property west of McAllen’s Convention Center into an upscale, urban area. The plan features mixed-use development along the city’s premiere green space; showcasing McAllen’s native vegetation and attractive retail space.

Photo courtesy of Simon Properties/RGV Premium Outlets

Regardless of what you’re looking for, Harlingen has it – from national retail stores to luxury boutiques and bargain antique shops. Restaurateurs serve up the best dining experience at any time of day - breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The restaurant selection offers so many flavors, you're sure to find a menu that dishes out just what you crave. Enjoy cool sounds, rock to forgotten favorites, and unwind at one of many music venues, bars or clubs where the fun continues late into the night.


In the Texas heat, try climate controlled, indoor, Valle Vista Mall conveniently located right off the US 77 & 83 interchange. The select tenant mix offers shoppers an unparalleled experience with over 80 lifestyle shops featuring Dillard’s, JC Penney, Victoria’s Secret for a strong


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

line-up of national brands perfectly complimented by a collection of unique boutiques like Bath & Body Works, Perfumania, Rack Room Shoes, Express Men, Kay Jewelers, and many more. Between shopping, customers can experience a diverse selection of delectable dining options from China Pantry to the Texas Branding Iron in the food court. Across from Valle Vista Mall; you’ll find Lincoln Corners! This notable shopping area has developed far beyond Wal-Mart, Anna’s Linens and Payless Shoe Source to include; Hobby Lobby, Bealls, Ross and Shoe Depot along with a selection of eateries including Panda Express. At Harlingen Corners; anchors like Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshalls Famous Footwear, Lane Bryant, and Rue 21 have made Harlingen home. Additionally, Logan’s Roadhouse and Chuck E. Cheese are located within Harlingen Corners and Burlington Coat Factory is slated to open during the summer of 2013.

Super Charged Shopping

Whether you’re in the market for business or pleasure, education or entertainment, the picturesque Palm-lined Jackson Street has served as Harlingen’s “Main Street” for more than a century.

Photo courtesy of Harlingen’s Downtown Merchants

Jackson Street Market Days First Saturday of Every Month - January through December Shop for treasures at an old-fashioned, open-air street market featuring antiques, collectibles, plants, fresh produce, live music, and more. Located between 4th & Commerce, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


Brownsville offers a unique shopping experience like no other. With a wide selection of shopping centers and popular stores like BestBuy, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Pier 1 Imports, shoppers will find plenty of options to choose from. At Sunrise Mall; you will enjoy over 100 stores, Cinemark 16 movie theater and great restaurants. With department stores such as Dillard’s, JCPenney, Bealls, and Sears, you are sure to find something for everyone. Amongst its diverse store options are Aldo, Aeropostale, Bath and Body Works, Coach, Gap, Express and GameStop. Charlie’s Grilled Subs and The Kitchen Collection are the newest additions to this property.

Tierra Dulce offers a unique collection of rustic home accessories, handcrafted by skilled artisans. The handcrafted nature insures individuality — no two pieces are alike. This not only satisfies those in search of "one-of-a-kind" furnishings and accessories, but also provides an element of surprise and discovery with every visit to the showroom. They recast massive pieces of aged wood, worn metal and found objects, giving them new life as modern antiques. Each is built strong for everyday use and carries the markings that reveal a bygone life and purpose before our time.

For several years, Jesse De Leon operated a successful Tex-Mex restaurant in West Houston. Customers returned not only for the good food, but also for the festive atmosphere of unique décor. Customers repeatedly asked to purchase the whimsical accents and antiques. After repeated requests, De Leon realized a unique opportunity and agreed to "sell anything but the tables and chairs!" As a result, he quickly watched his responsibilities grow with the exceeding sales of mere food service, to include continual redecorating of the restaurant. After a succession of years and steady increases in sales, he realized bigger opportunity — if only he had room for them! It was time to grow. In May 2000, the first Tierra Dulce location opened in Houston's Galleria area, offering large works of art, furniture, architectural antiques and more. A second Tierra Dulce location opened in 2001 in McAllen, and now serves as the company's sole retail location and center for operations. In addition to handmade rustic antiques from around the world, Tierra Dulce now offers beautiful custom furniture built to your specifications. One of their biggest areas of growth has been online business. From their own site:, to, and additionally selling on Amazon, EBay and many other online merchants. Stop by to enjoy the full Tierra Dulce experience! Whether you're an individual looking for that perfect small gift, a piece to complete a room, or a decorator furnishing an entire living space, they’ll help find just what you're looking for! Photos courtesy of Tierra Dulce

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Photos courtesy of Brownsville CVB


A Taste of Mexico - At Mercado Juarez, shoppers will find vendors from across the border as they bring a little bit of Mexico to Brownsville. Here you’ll find a variety of artisan goods including clothes, pottery and jewelry for sale. Make a stop to get some of the most authentic arts and crafts you can find in the Rio Grande Valley.

Shabbe’ Chic Boutique & Art Gallery - Making art out of recycled materials is nothing new, but McAllen-based artist Carlos Villarreal has concocted his with a new twist. His environmental awareness for collecting what otherwise would be burned, decayed or disregarded began at an early age. Carlos found enjoyment in building toys out of scraps of wood, while other children were playing video games.

Carlos is an extraordinary, innovative local artist whose collaboration with disregarded elements produces uniquely personal and intense works of art. His goal is to present work which encourages viewers to explore their own thoughts and emotions through contemplation. Photo courtesy of Nancy Loren

Super Charged Shopping

Villarreal worked in the fashion industry as an interior decorator in Houston before launching in McAllen. Largely self-taught, Carlos began expressing himself by building, painting, and designing works of art. “Shabbe’ Chic Boutique & Art Gallery”, in McAllen’s ART District, is a unique and charming venue he shares with his sister. Clients can’t seem to get enough of Carlos’ talent – he’s either decorating private homes or creating breath-taking pieces for private collectors, museums, restaurants, schools, fundraisers, non-profit organizations and other local settings.


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


I’m Country from My Cowboy Boots to My Homegrown Roots Rios of Mercedes Boot Company - The Official Boot of the RGV! Rios of Mercedes boots are known worldwide for quality and durability. Since 1853, these boots have been made by hand with only the best materials and attention to detail that is second to none. For the past 160 years, cowboys and professional horsemen, who expect only the best from their equipment, rely on Rios of Mercedes. There’s a lot to be said about the weight of a boot.

ALL LEATHER Rios of Mercedes boots are made with all leather construction. But, not just any leather will do. They use premium hides because they’re naturally more durable, look better and will stand up to your demands. Before cutting, the hides are situated so that each cut is made across the width of the hide instead of the length. This allows the natural fibers of the hide to move as the good Lord intended. After the hides are cut to their specific instructions the life of the boot has begun. Each pair of Rios of Mercedes boots is hand lasted, hand stitched, hand pegged and hand finished. Again, they take more time to make their boots because it’s worth it. Come on down to South Texas and visit: 1750 E. Expressway 83 Mercedes, Texas 78570

Rios of Mercedes Boot Company

DETAILS It’s the little things that make a pair of Rios of Mercedes unique. If you ever have a chance to visit Mercedes, Texas, we invite you to stop by and see how it’s done for yourself. It is truly amazing to see the skill and natural ability that the craftsmen put into each pair. All of the artistic inlays are done by hand under the watchful eye of a master of the art of leatherworking. Old Singer sewing machines hum rhythmic tunes as each top pattern is stitched much as it was over a century ago. The sound of hammers keeps time as the hides are lasted and the soles of the boots are pegged. A faint carving sound can be heard as each leather toe box is sculpted and sanded by hand. These random sounds of percussion may seem like noise to some but to us they are a symphony of tradition.

Photos courtesy of Rios of Mercedes Boot Company



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Local Gifts We believe you’ll be impressed by the diversity of products; all unique and made in Texas. Each made with ingenuity, pride and care by folks around South Texas. Whether you’re looking for a perfect reminder of your visit or a gift for someone special in your life --- buy a gift that’s Texas made!

River’s End

Available at: Brownsville Historic Museum Edinburg Wetlands Quinta Mazatlan River’s End Nursery

Local Gifts

Homemade jams, jellies, fruit butters, marmalades and pickled fruit. Bud tantalizing flavors available include: Calamondin marmalade; Barbados Cherry, Grapefruit, Guava, Passion Fruit, Star Fruit, and Bignay jellies, Hot Passion or Jambolan Plum jam, Guava butter, and pickled Star Fruit. Created the way your grandmother did – one batch at a time. Affordably priced, made by River’s End Nursery & Farm. Photos courtesy of River’s End

The Gift Shop at Museum of South Texas History Hand painted & etched gourd boxes. Beautifully decorated and collectible, super affordable!

Take a wash on the wild side! 100% REAL. A Wild Soap uses the goodness from natural ingredients preserved by handcrafting their soap with the slow cold process. Adding only pure essential oils extracted from plants with fresh clean scents, the way mother nature intended.


Photos courtesy of Museum of South Texas History

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


Books filled with Texas humor, campfire stories, legends and folklore tales, or recipes handed down from earlier times.

Hand Cut Hill Country Cutting Boards - Mesquite known for its beauty, strength and tenacity. This native wood has survived on the rugged Texas landscape since before the Spanish Conquistadors set foot on North America. The color and grain characteristics are enhanced with defects, ingrown bark & mineral streaks. Pick up a piece of Texas rustic!

Local Gifts

Handcrafted leatherwork - genuine cowhide pillows, table runners, coasters and throws. Unlike other cowhide pillows, these pillows are two-sided, so you get the hide on both sides! Enjoy the rustic, ranch-like charm.

Genuine horsehair braided and hitched horsehair bracelets and fobs. Give them the southwest equestrian look! Featuring mostly stones and sterling. Finds of one-of-a-kind, handcrafted works of art. Creations made from molten metals and beads run a gamut of size, shape and color. This series of Texas History is available at museum gift shops across the Rio Grande Valley and Barnes & Noble. The Images of America series chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the country.


Photos courtesy of Museum of South Texas History


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

The International Museum of Art and Science Gift Shop

Local Gifts

Photos courtesy of IMAS - Serena Pandos

Specializing in fun and funky jewelry. Offering handcrafted jewelry that incorporates wire wrapped beads, clay, figurines, and stones. All types of mixed materials from leather and lace to sterling and copper. Original designs, necklaces, earrings and bracelets from varied local artistes. Additionally, they host a wide variety of kid friendly gifts!

Great gifts found at the Nine World Birding Centers

National Butterfly Center & Alamo Inn


From Birding Field Guides and binoculars, to collector T’s, caps, and totes, jewelry and neck ties. Whether you’re looking for notecards in original artwork or prints, feeders, magnets, posters, and youth friendly gifts --- our Nature Centers stock Texas size!

Photos courtesy of Edinburg Scenic Wetlands & Alamo Inn

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

National Butterfly Center Upcycled birdhouses made in Texas with lumber from gently aged fences and barn woods; distinctively decked out with junkshop treasures from drawer pulls and teacups to silverware. Rustic pieces with a western flair for home and garden.


Exclusively at the

Photos courtesy of National Butterfly Center

Repurposed Rockers for the kids! Made individually at the National Butterfly Center from discarded tires. Repurposed and recycled as indoor-outdoor rockers featuring nature’s critters – choose from a caterpillar, bee or ladybug.

Local Gifts

Watercolor Artist, Juanita Gibson creates handmade products that encompass the spirit of the National Butterfly Center; offering the unique; timeless designs for T-shirts, prints and cards. Juanita's love for nature is evident in every painting she creates. A member of the Upper Valley Art League, she may be contacted for commissioned works through the National Butterfly Center.

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Never give a random gift when you can choose original art or unique pieces that stand out – but wait; they are only available once each year during the RGV Birding Festival. There are ornaments, hot sauces, artistic T’s, caps, patches, water and wine bottle holders, bird aprons, bookmarks, magnets, fleeces, posters, and DVD's. Be there!!!


Photos courtesy of RGV Birding Festival


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Real Farmers · Real Food FARMER’S MARKETS OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY SOUTH PADRE ISLAND FARMER’S MARKET: Sundays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Year-round at The Shores (north end of Island) just past the Convention Center. Join local farmers, bakers and artisans for an afternoon at the beach! The SPI Farmer's Market features unusual varieties of locally grown fruit and vegetables, Texas honey, olive oil, grass-fed beef, handcrafted soap, delicious food and entertainment.

Farmer’s Market

THE BROWNSVILLE FARMER’S MARKET brings local flavor home year-round from 9 a.m. to 12 (noon) every Saturday morning. Located at Linear Park along 6th Street between Ringgold and Harrison, the Brownsville Farmer’s Market presents a great selection of farm-fresh fruits and veggies, herbs, flowers, raw honey, gulf coast shrimp, baked goods, homemade jams, handcrafted soaps, and so much more. HARLINGEN’S FARMER’S MARKET: Harlingen Farmer’s Market (every Saturday) draws crowds from near and far. Shop the market's just-harvested seasonal vegetables, eggs, meats, seafood, herb plants, dairy products, flowers and beyond! Location: “A” Street between Jackson & Monroe. Open: Saturdays from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. WESLACO FARMER’S MARKET: provides the opportunity for farmers to sell and consumers to buy produce directly from one another. By doing this, the Market increases the local food supply and production, and hopes to create, expand and enhance the economic strength of farmers in South Texas while contributing to the health and wealth of Valley residents. Located in front of the Visitor & Event Center found at 275 S. Kansas Blvd. - Wednesdays from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. PHARRMER’S MARKET: The Market is an eco-friendly, educational and festive, family event. Highlights may include: Fresh produce, plants & flowers, herbs, farm fresh meats, candy, honey, cheese, dairy products, and food preparation demonstrations. Located at the Food Bank of the RGV; 724 N. Cage Blvd., Thursdays from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. GROW’N GROWERS: Produces food by organic methods. They carry tropical fruits, including citrus; a large selection of vegetables and herbs, goat milk soap and fresh goat milk kifer (drinkable yogurt), 100% certified grass-fed beef, honey, pecans, and adobe baked bread. Additionally you may find certified organic chocolate and organic coffee, as well as jams and jellies. Open year-round. A fully Organic Farmer’s Market, located at Fireman’s Park in McAllen (1st Street & Business 83) Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.


MARKET AT MCALLEN: To get the best tasting dishes you need to start with the best ingredients. These can only be found through local farmers and ranchers where the products are harvested at the peak of freshness. With a “Texas Green” footprint, they provide the best tasting menus possible, and a nice selection of craft items that support local business. Located at: McAllen Public Library (4001 North 23rd Street) Open: Saturdays from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sources: SPI CVB, Brownsville CVB, Harlingen Downtown Merchants, Weslaco EDC, City of Pharr & McAllen CVB Photos courtesy of Harlingen Downtown Merchants & Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley




Pan de Campo: The Official State Bread of Texas

Valley-Style Pan

de Campo

• 4 cups unblea

Local Cowboy: Wally De La Garza • Edinburg, TX • (956) 569-1583

Nopales con Huevos (Cactus w/Eggs) Fresh Cactus (approx. 2 cups) • Remove thorns with paring knife or razor. Run knife around outer edges of the cactus paddles and along the bottom. Rinse and pat dry • Cut into strips or dice if you desire smaller pieces Blanching Cactus • In a medium pot of water, add 1 tbsp. salt, ¼ of Vidalia onion, 3 garlic cloves, and 1 bunch of cilantro. Bring to a boil (it will boil faster if you cover it with a lid). • Add cactus, cover and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 20 minutes • Drain cactus and discard aromatics

Local Treats

ched all-purpose The translation for pan de campo is flour • 1/2 cup shorte ning • 2 teaspoons sa "camp bread". Also called cowboy lt • 1/4 to 1/2 teas bread; this simple baking powder poon baking po wder • hot water bread was a staple of early Texans. It's still popular today, and there are Mix dry ingredie nts in a large bo several pan de campo cook-offs wl. Cut in the sh to make thick do ortening. Add ju ugh. Turn the do in South Texas annually. Flour, st enough hot wa ugh onto a flour minutes until sm ter ed surface and oo th . Don't overwork baking powder, salt, lard, some knead two or th covered with a it. Di vid ree e th e do da ug m p h clo in to two portions. th for 15 to 20 m water and “know how”, is all that's oven is the tradi Let it rest inutes. Form in tional method if to rounds and ba a conventional required. Wally De La Garza at 350F degree ke. Dutch oven is used, ba s. ke until golden works with the McAllen Chamber brown by day, but by weekend (or night) he and his sister Mary Chavez hire out for award winning pan de campo. Make it part of your next fiesta!

NOPALES CON HUEVOS (CACTUS W/ EGGS) Local Favorite: Camperos Grill & Bar 2500 N. Expressway 77/83 Brownsville, TX (956) 546-8172

Sauté Ingredient List: 1 tbsp. canola oil, salt to taste ½ Spanish or Vidalia onion (diced) 1-2 cloves garlic (minced) ½ tomato (diced) 1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. chili powder Black pepper to taste ½ cup chopped cilantro 3 eggs

• Add 1 tbsp. canola oil over medium-high heat to a large sauté pan • Add cactus mixture and sauté 7 minutes • Add onions and cook 5 minutes • Add garlic, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and black pepper. Stir and add cilantro Make a well in the middle of your vegetables and add the eggs. Stir to mix and scramble, then start to mix in the vegetables from around the outside. Cook about 3-5 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Portion and serve in fresh Flour Tortillas.



Local Treats


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Named one of “The 50 Best BBQ Joints … in the World” – TexasMonthly - June 2013

You’ll smell the pecans burning in the smoker before you pull into the parking area. Their “Stuffed Potatoes” dissolve in your mouth as the old west atmosphere melts your heart! Choose from delectable barbequed brisket, chicken, turkey, chopped pork, beef fajita or sausage – you can’t go wrong. The potatoes are nearly a foot long and the toppings make this meal a South Texas winner every time. The Original Willie’s Bar-BQ 320 S Alamo Rd., Alamo, TX (956) 702-1370

2012 First Place “World Championship Shrimp Cook-Off”

TEXAS RANGERS “The Ryan Express” Nolan Ryan Beef

When looking for seafood, visit South Padre Island and order the “Shrimp Bayou” at PadreRitaGrill. They nestle Texas sized shrimp into a garlic and cheesy whipped potato base, then slather the potatoes with shrimp bisque, and top it with cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped, grilled Texas Gulf shrimp. YUMMY!

Bygone double-doors, an unexpected fountain, and hand hewn turquoise laced mesquite bar at this Historic Hotspot are warm and welcoming. Featuring Nolan Ryan’s; Guaranteed Tender brand of beef (and freshly made sides); you’ll be beckoned back for more of baseball Hall of Famer and Texas rancher, Nolan Ryan’s Texas Hand-Cut Steaks. Taste the grass fed difference! Casa De Adobe Restaurant & Bar 101 N. Avasolo Street Rio Grande City, TX (956) 487-8216

PadreRitaGrill 4001 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX (956) 761-RITA

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Texas Red Grapefruit Pie uit • 3 to 4 cups Texas Red Grapefr e • 1 cup prepared strawberry glaz ll she pie • 1 (9 inch) baked • Whipped cream - optional Directions absorb all juice. drain well using paper towels to 1. Peel and section grapefruit, wberry glaze. 2. Carefully fold sections into stra te until firm. gera refri 3. Pour into pie shell and ired des if m crea ped 4. Top with whip


Texas’ State Fruit – RED GRAPEFRUIT In 1993, Governor Ann Richards signed the legislation naming Red Grapefruit the State Fruit of Texas. Texas grapefruit is treeripened and hand-picked to ensure the best quality possible. After picking, area shippers wash, inspect, grade and hand-pack the fruit. It’s then shipped to supermarkets across the United States and around the world.

Rio Star Grapefruit is not only delicious, but it’s good for you; nutrient packed, deep red in color and super sweet! It’s high in Vitamin C, contains Lycopene and only 120 calories. The Grapefruit Pie is a traditional recipe in the Valley. Most people never thought of putting grapefruit in a pie, but it is scrumptious! Treat your family to this delicious dessert!

Local Treats

Local Favorite: Klement's Citrus Grove and Country Store 4508 N. Taylor Road (located at Buddy Owens & Taylor – near Mission) McAllen, TX • (800) 580-1002 Open Monday - Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (November through April)

RGV Cupcake Factory “Winning Cupcakes” Cabrito al Pastor (Tender Chargrilled Baby Goat) Cabrito al Pastor is a regional specialty of Monterrey, MX and the surrounding state of Nuevo Leon, based on the Jewish cuisine of the city founders. The goat at about 3 months old is slow-cooked over a charcoal fire. The whole carcass is opened flat and skewered for the grilling process. The spit is placed over a bed of glowing embers and roasted slowly in open air without seasonings other than the light scent it absorbs from the slow-burning charcoal, for about eight hours, turning it every 15-20 minutes. Local Favorite: Arturo’s Bar & Grill 2303 W. Expressway 83 Weslaco, TX (956) 351-5772

Sisters Erica Rodriguez and Sabrina RodriguezLouck, along with best friend Johanna Saenz, owners of the RGV Cupcake Factory in McAllen, TX applied for the show “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Network, got accepted, and took home the $10,000 grand prize. Their little shop located at 1414 North 10th Street in McAllen, TX and has never been busier as people from all over South Texas come to taste their famous cupcakes.



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Word Match

This word match puzzle is one designed for y’all to match a word (or phrase) to its corresponding description to learn unique words of the RGV!

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Tejano Matachines Folklórico Mariachi Cunjunto Norteño Caldo de pollo Carne asada Día de Muertos Barbacoa Menudo Hola Adiós Muy bien, gracias Buenos días Buenas tardes Buenas noches Picante Papa Papasito [papacito] Mamacita Muchas Gracias Cocina Cantina Casa


Answers on page 95

____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

A. Goodbye B. Spanish for chicken soup C. Spanish for “babe” or sweet chick - a common pick-up line “hey gorgeous” D. Home E. Latin American dance emphasizing ballet and folk culture characteristics F. Kitchen G. Good day, good morning H. Spanish settlers in the region known as Texas I. Traditionally, meat from head of cow, lamb or pork - slow cooked and tender J. Bar or saloon K. Good afternoon or early evening L. South American-Indian sword dancers performing rituals M. Good night N. Thank you very much O. A form of folk music from Mexico P. Sugar daddy, sexy boyfriend Q. Very well, thank you R. Grilled and marinated (thin cut beef steak) S. Potato in Spanish T. Translates as "group," and is regionally accepted in Texas as a category of music U. MX soup made from beef stomach (tripe) - Known as hangover medicine V. Spanish for spicy W. Mexican music that uses the accordion and bajo sexto (Spanish “sixth bass”) Y. Spanish for Day of the Dead a holiday honoring deceased loved ones X. Hello

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

FAMOUS FACES OF THE RGV Despite destitution it is possible to overcome just about anything; from loss of loved ones, to extreme adversity, unspeakable assignments – and more. Through hard work, talent, grit, ruthless antics and a bit of luck, something inside these famous faces made them persevere escalating their tale to a rise of glory. We celebrate the lives of these iconic figures from the Rio Grande Valley.

RAMÓN AYALA (Musician Hidalgo, TX)

LLOYD BENTSEN (U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Mission, TX)

Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. (February 11, 1921 – May 23, 2006) was a four-term U.S. Senator (1971 until 1993) from Texas and the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in 1988 on the Michael Dukakis ticket. He served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. In his later political life, he was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. Treasury Secretary during the early years of the Clinton administration. Bentsen was born in Mission to Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Sr., a first-generation Danish American, and the former Edna Ruth Colbath. Bentsen was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1942. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. After brief service as a private in intelligence work in Brazil, he became a pilot and in early 1944 began flying World War II combat missions in B-24s from southern Italy with the 449th Bomb Group. At the age of 23, he was promoted to the rank of major and given command of a squadron of 600 men, overseeing the operations of 15 bombers, their crews, and maintenance units.

CATHY BAKER (T.V. performer Edinburg, TX)

Cathy Baker appeared in TV shows such as Hee Haw. She was the cute, bubbly blonde who was distinctive from the other Hee Haw Honeys. In that show she always wore overalls and played with the big bloodhound. Baker also appeared in movies including Trouble on the Corner 1998, Love God 1999, Wirey Spindell 2000. Baker is a graduate of Edinburg High School.

Famous Faces

Accordion King Ramón Ayala, was born (December 8th. 1945), son of local musician Ramón Cobarrubias, began playing his favorite instrument when he was six years old. Inspired and supported by his parents, he performed in different public places to help his modest family. Ramón Ayala's first band experience was a group called Los Jilgueros de Marin; he later joined Los Pavoreales. After moving to Reynosa, the talented musician met Cornelio Reyna and formed Relampagos del Norte; the group soon made a self-titled debut album which featured the hit single "Ya No Llores." When Cornelio Reyna decided to leave the act, its name was changed to los Bravos del Norte. Ramon has been awarded American and Latin Grammy’s a total of ten times with both markets combined. He has more than 105 albums in his trajectory and he also took part in 13 movies Ramon owns a home in Hidalgo.


Breaking Barriers

HARLON BLOCK (Iwo Jima flag raiser, died on Iwo Jima, Weslaco, TX)

Block was born in Yorktown, TX and raised in Weslaco, TX, the third eldest of the five sons and one daughter of Edward Frederick Block and Ada Belle Block. In hopes of improving the family farming fortunes, the Block family moved to Weslaco, a small town in the middle of the Rio Grande Valley. The family became dairy farmers and the children went to a Seventh-day Adventist School. Harlon Block was kicked out when he refused to tell the principal who had vandalized a school building. Block then transferred to Weslaco High School where he was an outgoing daredevil with many friends. A natural athlete, Block led the Weslaco Panther Football Team to the Conference Championship. He was honored as "All South Texas End."Harlon Block was a United States Marine during World War II. Block joined the Marine Corps where he was killed in action at Iwo Jima. He is best known as one of the six men photographed raising the flag on Iwo Jima.



Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley



(Lawyer, U.S. Secretary of State, Mission, TX)

(Actor, Harlingen, TX)

William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States in 1896, 1900 and 1908, a lawyer, and the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. One of the most popular speakers in American history, he was noted for a deep, commanding voice. Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, a critic of banks and railroads, a leader of the Silverite movement in the 1890s, a leading figure in the Democratic Party, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, an opponent of Darwinism, and one of the most prominent leaders of populism in the late 19th - and early 20th century. Because of his faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner." Nebraska politician and three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan was one of the first to buy a plot of land from Conway and Hoit, upon which he built his winter home in Mission.

Thomas Haden Church (born June 17, 1960) is an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated. Church has participated in films like “3000 Miles to Graceland” (2001), Spider-Man 3 (2007) and Don McKay (2009) among other movies. Church, the third of six children, was born Thomas R. McMillen in Yolo, California, to an Army officer/health care worker father and a homemaker mother. He was raised under his stepfather's surname, "Quesada", and later changed his surname to "Haden Church" (both names are in his family tree). He was raised in Laredo, Texas and graduated from Harlingen High School, Harlingen, Texas in 1979, going on to attend the University of North Texas.



Famous Faces

KIKA DE LA GARZA (U.S. Representative, Mission, TX)

Eligio “Kika” de la Garza, II (born September 22, 1927, in Mercedes, Texas) was the Democratic representative for the 15th Congressional District of Texas from January 3, 1965, to January 3, 1997. De la Garza grew up in Mission and at seventeen he entered the U.S. Navy serving for two years. De la Garza continued his education at Edinburg Junior College and the U.S. Army Artillery School at Fort Still in OK. For two years beginning in 1952, he was a lieutenant in the Army while deployed in the Korean War. He completed his law degree at St. Mary's University in San Antonio upon his return home. After practicing law in the Rio Grande Valley, he was elected into the Texas House of Representatives. In 1965, de la Garza, a strong supporter of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, assumed his seat in Congress. De la le Garza was also a civil rights supporter and called for smoother relations between the U.S. and MX. He worked to improve trade between the two nations and was critical in passing the legislation that enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). De la Garza's nickname was made famous by Andy Rooney in the early days of his TV show as he referred to “Kika de la Garza” as one of the names that stuck with him most. He resides in McAllen, Texas with his wife Lucille.

(Musician/Actor lyricist, San Benito, TX)

Freddy Fender (June 4, 1937 – October 14, 2006), born Baldemar Huerta in San Benito, Texas. He was an American, Tejano, country, and rock and roll musician, known for his work as a solo artist and in the groups Los Super Seven and the Texas Tornados. He is best known for his 1975 hit "Before the Next Teardrop Falls". As a child, he and his parents traveled throughout the United States as a circus act. At age 5, he turned a sardine can and screen door wire into a homemade guitar and by age 10, had his first radio appearance where he sang "Paloma Querida", and on KGBT he reportedly won a tub of food worth $5. At 16, Fender quit school and started a three-year hitch in the U.S. Marine Corps. Returning to Texas, he played nightclubs, bars and honky-tonks throughout the south, mostly to Latino audiences. In 1957, he was known as El Bebop Kid, and released two songs with moderate success in MX and South America: Spanish-language versions of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" (as "No Seas Cruel") and Harry Belafonte's "Jamaica Farewell." In 1958, the musician changed his name from Baldemar Huerta to Freddy Fender. He took Fender from the guitar and amplifier, and Freddy because the alliteration sounded good to him and it would,"... sell better with Gringos!"

MIKE FOSSUM (Astronaut, McAllen, TX)

Michael Edward Fossum (born December 19, 1957 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is an American astronaut. He flew into space onboard the NASA Space Shuttle missions STS-121 and STS124 as a mission specialist. Michael Fossum spent his early life in McAllen, Texas. He graduated from McAllen High School in 1976. He then attended the University of Texas–Pan American in Edinburg, Texas and later went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1980, followed by a Master of Science degree in systems engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1981. In 1997, Fossum received a Master of Science degree in physical science from the University of Houston–Clear Lake.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


(U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Brownsville, TX)

(Highly distinguished U.S. Marine Veteran, Edinburg, TX)

BILL HALEY (Musician, Harlingen, TX)

MATT GONZALEZ (2008 Vice Presidential candidate; former president of the San Francisco, California, Board of Supervisors; McAllen, TX) Matthew Edward Gonzalez (born June 4, 1965) is a U.S. politician, lawyer, and activist prominent in San Francisco politics. Gonzalez was a member and president of San Francisco County's Board of Supervisors. He was also one of the first Green Party candidates elected to public office in the Bay Area. In 2003, Gonzalez ran for mayor of San Francisco but lost in a close race to Democrat Gavin Newsom. In the 2008 presidential election, Gonzalez ran for vice president as the running mate of candidate Ralph Nader. Matthew Edward Gonzalez was born in McAllen, Texas, to a Mexican mother, Oralia, and Mexican-American father, Mateo. Gonzalez spent his first four years in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Gonzalez family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; and Louisville, Kentucky, before the family returned to McAllen when Gonzalez was 11 years old.

CATHERINE HARDWICKE (Film director, writer, producer, McAllen, TX)

Catherine Hardwicke (born Helen Catherine Hardwicke; October 21, 1955) is an American production designer and film director. Her works include the independent film Thirteen; which she co-wrote with one of the film's co-stars, Nikki Reed, the Biblicallythemed The Nativity Story, and the vampire film Twilight. The opening weekend of Twilight was the biggest opening ever for a female director. Hardwicke was born in Cameron, Texas, the daughter of Jamee Elberta (née Bennett) and John Benjamin Hardwicke. She grew up in McAllen, Texas.

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (Musician, actor, song writer, Brownsville, TX)

Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson was born June 22, 1936 in Brownsville, Texas, and is an American writer, singersongwriter, actor, and musician. He is best known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It through the Night". Kristofferson is the sole writer of most of his songs, but he has collaborated with various other figures of the Nashville scene such as Shel Silverstein and Fred Rumfelt.


William John Clifton Haley July 6, 1925 – February 9, 1981) - better known as Bill Haley, leader of the first-ever rock & roll band The Comets - was one of the first American rock and roll musicians. He is credited by many with first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets and million selling hits such as Rock Around the Clock, See You Later, Alligator, Shake, Rattle and Roll, Skinny Minnie, and Razzle Dazzle. He has sold over 25 million records worldwide. His recording of "Rock Around The Clock" was used in the MGM movie Blackboard Jungle (1955). It gave Haley his first #1 hit, which was one of the greatest-selling single records of all time. From 1955 to 1960 Haley enjoyed 22 Top 30 Hits and appeared in four movies. Haley was quickly given the title "Father of Rock and Roll" by the media, and by teenagers who had come to embrace the new style of music. He also recorded the theme song for the hit TV series "Happy Days" (1974). On February 9 1981, he passed away at his home town of Harlingen, Texas.

Sergeant Alfredo Cantu Gonzalez (also known as Alfredo Gonzalez and Freddy Gonzalez) was born on May 23, 1946 in Edinburg, Texas and passed away on February 4, 1968 in Hue City, Vietnam. He was a United States Marine Corps Sergeant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for service in the Vietnam War during the Battle of Hue. The United States Navy guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez is named in his honor. There is an elementary school in Edinburg, TEXAS (his hometown) named Freddy Gonzalez Elementary also in his honor.

Famous Faces

Antonio Oscar "Tony" Garza, Jr. (born July 7, 1959, in Brownsville, Texas), an American lawyer and former county judge in Texas, was the U.S. Ambassador to MX. Garza, the grandson of Mexican immigrants to the U.S, graduated from Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, the seat of Cameron County. Antonio O. Garza, Jr. was named U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President George W. Bush in the summer of 2002. He presented his credentials to Mexican President Vicente Fox on November 22 of that year and took charge of one of the largest diplomatic missions in the world. At the time, he was the United States’ youngest Chief of Mission serving abroad. Announcing the appointment, President Bush said, “The United States and Mexico share not only a border, but a rich history of common economic and cultural interests. Tony Garza has an in-depth understanding of the relationship between the United States and Mexico and its impact on the people of both nations.” During his tenure, Mr. Garza has focused his attentions on American interests abroad, as well as the law enforcement and counterterrorism aspects of this most important, and indeed unique, bilateral relationship.




Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley



(American football coach, Mission, TX)

(Medal of Honor Recipient, Mission, TX)

Thomas Wade Landry (September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000) was an American football player and coach; legendary for his successes as coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He is ranked as one of the greatest and most innovative coaches in NFL history. Landry won 2 Super Bowl titles (1972, 1978), 5 NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6 record, the 3rd most wins of all time for an NFL coach. His 20 career playoff victories are the most of any coach in NFL history. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1966 and the NFC Coach of the Year in 1975. Yet his most impressive professional accomplishment is his record for coaching the Dallas Cowboys to 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-1985), an NFL record that remains unbroken or unchallenged, it remains one of the longest winning streaks in all of professional sports.


Famous Faces

(Musician, Harlingen, TX)

Jim Messina, born December 5, 1947, is an American musician, songwriter, singer, recording engineer, and record producer. He was a member of folk rock group Buffalo Springfield, a founding member of country rock pioneer Poco, and half of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina. As a singer, writer, guitarist, producer, and engineer, Jim Messina made major contributions to music in the 1960s and 1970s as a key contributor to the Buffalo Springfield at the tail end of their history, as a co-founder of the country-rock band Poco, and as one half of Loggins & Messina. Messina was born in California in 1947, and raised in Harlingen, TX until he was eight years old. As a child, his life was divided between his mother's home in Texas and his father's home in California. BOBBY JOE MORROW


(Olympic gold medalist, San Benito, TX)

Bobby Joe Morrow (born October 15, 1935) is an American athlete, winner of three Olympic gold medals in 1956. Bobby Joe Morrow was born in Harlingen, Texas and raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas. Morrow, won the 1955 AAU 100 yd. title, and had his most successful season in 1956, which led to his choice by Sports Illustrated as "Sportsman of the Year." Morrow won the sprint double in the national college championships and retained his AAU title. Morrow went to Melbourne as a leader of the American sprint team and came back with three gold medals, setting a World Record.

Jose Mendoza Lopez (July 10, 1910 – May 16, 2005) was a U.S. Army soldier awarded with the highest military decoration for valor in combat — The Medal of Honor — for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge, where he single-handedly repulsed a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops. Lopez was raised by his mother in Veracruz, MX. As a young boy he helped sell clothes that she made. Time was cut short due to tuberculosis; which took her life when he was only eight years old. Jose moved to Brownsville, TX to live with his uncle's family and began working various jobs to bring in income; never returning to school. He caught the attention of a boxing promoter and traveled the country fighting a total of 55 fights in the lightweight division over seven years. In 1934, during a boxing match in Melbourne, AU, he met a group of Merchant Marines; signed a contract with them, was accepted in the union in 1936 and spent the next five years traveling the world. In route to CA from HI on December 7, 1941, he learned about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Authorities in Los Angeles believed he was Japanese and forced him to prove otherwise. Lopez returned to Brownsville in 1942, and married Emilia Herrera. That same year, he received his draft card and relocated to San Antonio where he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Lopez was first sent to Fort Sam Houston, TX, and then to Camp Roberts, CA, where he received his basic training.

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley


(Musician/Singer, Edinburg, TX)

(Horse Trainer, Dancing Horse Show, Weslaco, TX)

Roberto “Bobby” Pulido Jr. (born April 25, 1971), was born in Edinburg, Texas and is a Mexican-American Tejano music performer. His father, Roberto Pulido, Sr., is an accomplished singer and Bobby frequently attended his father's concerts as a child. His sister Alma Pulido is a fellow singer. Bobby attended Edinburg High School, was a drum major and also was part of Edinburg High School’s Mariachi group. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards , he was nominated for Best New Regional Mexican Artist.


NICK STAHL (Actor, Harlingen, TX)

DAVID SPIELBERG (Actor, Weslaco, TX)

David Spielberg was born on March 6, 1939 in Weslaco, Texas. He is known for his work on One Life to Live (1968), Christine (1983) and The Practice (1976). He gained 137 credits for his work between the years of 1968-2011.

Nicolas Kent Stahl (born December 5, 1979) is an American actor. Starting out as a child actor, he gained recognition for his performance in the 1993 film, The Man without a Face; and then embarked on a successful career as a child actor. He later transitioned into his adult career with roles in Bully, Sin City, In the Bedroom, the HBO series Carnivàle, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, in which he took over the role of John Connor, originally played by Edward Furlong. Stahl was born in Harlingen, Texas, the son of Donna Lynn, a brokerage assistant, and William Kent Stahl.

Famous Faces

Valente Rodriguez is originally from the Rio Grande Valley and attended the University of Texas Pan American. He has been featured in advertising for the UTPA aired across the Rio Grande Valley. He has also participated in sitcoms like “George Lopez”, “Mad About You”, “The X Files” and films like “Erin Brockovich” among others.

Al’s career began showing quarter horses in halter, cutting, reining, western pleasure, and racing. He has won over 300 trophies and awards and is a champion charro (Mexican Cowboy), and a rejoneador (Bull Fighter on horseback using Portuguese style, bloodless) method of bullfighting. Al has been featured on CBS, Real TV, and RFD TV, PBS, and FOX, and is an author that has trained horses in nine different disciplines including dressage and owns and trains the only true Dancing Horses in the world. Al has performed at the Rose Bowl and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, traveled north to Rapid City, South Dakota, east to Orlando, Florida, south into Mexico and many cities in between. His show consists of him singing Country, Rock and Mexican music, in both English and Spanish as his horses follow the rhythm of each song right on beat. He continues to travel doing training clinics as well as the Dancing Horse Show. He now lives in Weslaco, Texas.



BENITO TREVIÑO (Rancher, Rio Grande City, TX)

Cindy Vela was born in Brownsville, Texas. At the age of ten when she took an interest in music her father handed her a family owned saxophone. Throughout her high school years she was very involved academically and won numerous awards in music competitions. Cindy Vela, graduated from Los Fresnos High School, is now a resident of Los Angeles where she is a model and an aspiring actress. She recently appeared in an independent film titled ENDGAME.


Mr. Trevino lives on a ranch in Starr County, north of Rio Grande City, a part of a land grant that can be traced back in his family to Spanish times. There he manages the Rancho Lomitas Native Plant Nursery, which has provided close to 200,000 native plant seedlings for habitat restoration at the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, various Texas Nature Conservancy sanctuaries, and on private lands throughout south Texas. In addition, Mr. Trevino is well known as an expert in the biochemical makeup of native plants, and in their traditional uses, which he has shared with high school students, gardening groups, birders, and others through lectures and in tours of his ranch.

CINDY VELA (Actress/Model, Brownsville/Los Fresnos, TX)


Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

THE DAY OF THE DEAD Dia de los Muertos the Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated on November 1 -2 throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Although marked throughout Latin America, Dia de los Muertos is most strongly associated with Mexico, where the custom began. The belief is that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.

Certain that the dead would be offended by mourning and sadness, Dia de los Muertos rejoices the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a expected part of the human experience, a gamut with birth, childhood, and growing into a contributing member of society. The most familiar symbols of Dia de los Muertos may be skeletons and skulls, which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, parade masks, jewelry and dolls. They are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.


Photos courtesy of Harlingen Heritage Museum, Museum of South Texas History, Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce and Tierra Dulce, McAllen

Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, minor holidays in the Catholic calendar. Additionally they believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families.


Dia de los Muertos

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

If you’re into the paranormal, and enjoy sitting around the campfire sharing ghost stories, we’ve got a treat for you. The Rio Grande Valley is full of things that go bump in the night, strange mysterious occurrences and tales of the unexplained. We invite you to come discover our spooky places. Sleep in a haunted hotel, explore graveyards, and investigate the stories of strange and creepy events that are still happening today! Roma Cemetery: An unnerving spirit of a lady dressed in black; perhaps she is in mourning, has been spotted regularly in Roma’s cemetery.

Matz Street Harlingen: Planning a visit to Harlingen? Legend has it that on Matz Street a young girl walks the street, after 12 a.m. midnight, she’s crying, but will not answer when you try to talk to her, she’ll vanish.

Valley Haunts

The Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg: The historic part of this museum, the Old Tower, was a well-known jail where criminals were incarcerated and hanged. You can sometimes see the hanging rope swinging, and even see shadows of former prisoners.

Historic Hidalgo County Courthouse & Jail: Prisoners were hung over the years as Hidalgo County was a haven for outlaws from both sides of the river. The walls spoke; from the two-story building when paranormal investigators used equipment to record the noises from within. Imprints of grasping hands on chairs and furniture movement proved life beyond. Additionally, the shutters of the old jail open and close frequently.


Valley Haunts

Casa de Palmas Hotel McAllen: A former employee has been seen often over the past few years, even though she died a long time ago. Be especially watchful for her and her antics on the third floor. Brownsville Museums: From time to time, guests and staff alike report disturbances such as footsteps, noises, voices, and the occasional light problems that cannot be explained by normal means. Various groups have lead paranormal investigations at the Stillman House Museum, the Brownsville Heritage Museum, and the Old City Cemetery Center. The Banks of the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo: The story is that a beautiful peasant girl had several children by an aristocrat who wouldn’t marry her. In a fit of despair, she drowned her children and then herself, dooming her spirit to wander the shores forever. You can still sometimes see her ghostly outline and hear her wails.

Willacy County Courthouse: Willacy County was formed back in 1911 and local chitchat conveys that the courthouse had a long-abandoned jail on the third floor. Locals have voiced hearing chairs shoved around upstairs. What ghostly past lurks? No one really knows. Whalen Road Pharr: Travel down Whalen Road and you’ll find the site of a house that burned to the ground many years ago, killing all the occupants. To this day people report sightings and hearing the mother and children running through the nearby woods, as well as the father calling after his cattle. Watch out for sticks and stones, too - the family apparently doesn’t like visitors!


Restlawn Cemetery Edinburg: Restlawn Cemetery, the area’s only African American cemetery, is the site of frequent strange noises-moaning, groaning, and other mysterious sounds … even though no living soul is around.

Guerra Building Roma: The Manuel Guerra House and Store, (702 Hidalgo Street) near the Plaza, was constructed between 1878 and 1884; a young girl died a hideous death when a large mirror fell onto her – the girl’s image has been witnessed over time.


Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

Haunted Tours La Borde House Haunted Tours: Stop by and live it for yourself, one thing for certain; built in 1899, La Borde House has been host to well over 100 years of souls. The question is, did they walk out the door or do they still linger in this mystical place? For more information on Group Tours, please call: 956-487-5101

Valley Haunts

La Borde House Rio Grande City: A growing interest in all things haunted has placed La Borde House at the center of many nationally renown paranormal investigations, and they have all come to the same conclusion, there is definitely a presence in the house. The stories recounted by past guests, telling of their beckoning of spirits and ghoulish apparitions, support these claims. There will always be skeptics, but the truth can only be known by those that have experienced. The Wallace Property Pharr: Back many decades ago, the Wallace family lost their beloved daughter, Olivia, when she was almost nine. To this day people still report seeing a small girl at the window, and her image has actually been caught on film. Ghost Depot in Edinburg: The old train depot, now a Chamber of Commerce office, is visited often by ghosts of travelers past. Sometimes a music box starts apparently on its own, footsteps are often heard passing by the reception desk and voices sometimes muffled and sometimes distinct - can be heard when no one is around. The Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum: Lively sounds of the past; pump house workers emanate from within late at night and employees from the Immigration & Customs Reinforcement have reported seeing people in the windows - gazing from the inside out. Healthcare Facility Harlingen: The old Harlingen Insane Asylum is no longer in business and the location is disserted. Local legend is if you go there at night you can hear people screaming and see apparitions walking. Many people died during their stay – perhaps these spirits will never rest.


McAllen City Hall: The McAllen City Hall is located on the site of a former hospital, and is often a spooky place to work at late. Doors open and close, footsteps echo down the hallways, and people have actually been seen entering the second floor restroom - and then disappearing.

Museum of South Texas History: Discover the historic culture and heritage of South Texas and North Eastern Mexico. View an extensive collection of artifacts and archival documents and enjoy programs and seasonal events, including their Annual Dia de los Muertos festival, where the alter exhibit is highlighted. For more information call: 956-383-6911 Port Isabel Historical Museum: Visit an incredible exhibit of original paintings featuring skeletons, altars, and pieces of art on display during the Day of the Dead. This has been a Port Isabel Historical Museum tradition since 1996. For more information on this seasonal exhibit call: 956-943-7602 Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum: Annual Haunted House – “Terror at the Museum” is a real scream! The horror, shock, panic and candy are FREE – Don’t come alone! Call: 956-843-8686 Port Isabel Ghost Tours: Port Isabel is home to some haunting history. The area was Fort Polk during the Civil War, a favorite sheltering destination of fierce Pirates, a wandering ground for the legendary local Indian tribe of great height and great appetite, and a site of multiple tragic shipwrecks. Port Isabel was a swinging hot spot during Prohibition and a beacon of light for many lost travelers. The local lore and legends are fascinating. So fascinating that many who experienced it are still hanging around! Come and learn about all the local haunts on the Port Isabel Historical Ghost Tour. The tour starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday. It is a night time walking tour so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for an adventuresome evening. For reservations call: The Museums of Port Isabel 956-943-7602 (ask for Jeannie) or call 956-433-1015

Official Guide of the Rio Grande Valley

International Museum of Arts and Science: Members from the staff of IMAS in McAllen have caught more than a glimpse of a little boy at closing time. At times he creates disarray with the retail displays by moving (or dropping) items inside the gift shop.

Boo at the Zoo is an annual event alternative to trick or treating on the streets. Over 60 carnival-style games and treat stations along with a spectacular Haunted House are available for everyone to enjoy. For more information call: Gladys Porter Zoo at 956-546-7187 Fantasmas, Brujas, y Espías: The Haunted World of Mexican Cinema from the Agrasanchez Collection: Mexico is country of ghosts, witches and spooks that haunt the dreams of children and adults. The golden age of Mexican cinema captured the haunted world of Mexico that both terrified and thrilled its audiences. Featuring original posters, lobby cards and other memorabilia from the Agrasanchez Collection

Annual Murder, Mayhem, and Scandal Tour: Since the city of Brownsville's founding in 1850, the town has been a hotbed of action and intrigue as the town was built by personalities larger than life. While those citizens are no longer with us today, their stories live on and even death can't hide some of the juicier tidbits of the city's colorful past. The Brownsville Historical Association has dusted off these stories of intrigue, murder, and of mayhem to share them with the public during their annual tours. Hear of brave men who died by a rival's hand or of politicians who were interested in more than just civil engagement. The stories revealed during the tour are a reminder that history does repeat itself. For more information contact: The Brownsville Heritage Complex at 956-541-5560

City of Hidalgo: On the grounds of Hidalgo City Hall; one can only imagine the past. Perhaps a gentle flicker of lanterns that lit the stables and the smell of mesquite burning from the fireplaces of the homesteads that once lain there. Today, long after employees leave for the day, a gentle sound of horses whinnying and gallops can be heard in the silence of the night. City of Mercedes: Mercedes Economic Development Corporation and the Mercedes Chamber Offices are located in a beautifully renovated building that was the original location of H & H Meats in 1947. Rumor is; if the spirit doesn’t like you – you’ll know it! Dishman Elementary in Harlingen: Teachers have reported that fifty years ago a child was beaten to death by another student in the old girl's bathroom and if you stay alone in there you can hear soft cries coming from the last stall. Day of Dead & Valley Haunts Provided by: McAllen CVB, IMAS, Edinburg CVB, City of Hidalgo, Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum, La Borde House, City of Roma, Harlingen CVB, Brownsville CVB & Historical Museum, Gladys Porter Zoo, San Juan EDC, Mercedes EDC, Port Mansfield Chamber, Port Isabel Chamber & Historical Museum.

Answers for Word Match on page 84 1.


H ____


Muy bien, gracias

Q ____



L ____


Buenos días

G ____



E ____


Buenas tardes

K ____



O ____


Buenas noches

M ____



T ____



V ____



W ____



S ____


Caldo de pollo

B ____


Papasito [papacito] ____ P


Carne asada

R ____



C ____


Día de Muertos

Y ____


Muchas Gracias

N ____



I ____



F ____



U ____



J ____



X ____



D ____



A ____


This is just a sampling of weird and spooky places in the Valley. Come see for yourself!

San Juan Hotel: The Historical San Juan Hotel is no longer in business, however; locals know the location on Business 83 where a prostitute was once murdered. Folks say you can hear ghostly screaming and crying for help coming from the building and a spirit has been seen calling and waving from a second-story window at night.

Valley Haunts

Annual Shades of Haunted History Walking Tours: Downtown Brownsville, Fort Brown and the Old City Cemetery. Participants in each of the tours will learn the haunted history, legends and folktales associated with some of Brownsville’s most historic sites.



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.