She has been around the world and served in both world wars. Thousands of servicemen have called her home and even more visitors have walked her decks. She is a living piece of history, and now the Battleship TEXAS celebrates the 100th anniversary of her commissioning in March.
The celebration, which includes a private World War II crew member reunion on March 12, will be highlighted by a public Centennial Festival on March 15.
The Battleship TEXAS is the last remaining big-gun battleship in the U.S. Naval fleet. The ship holds many “first” distinctions including being the first ship to be designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, first to launch an airplane, house anti-aircraft guns, feature commercial radar, serve as base for a permanently assigned contingent of U.S. Marines and first to be named a permanent museum ship.
The Battleship TEXAS Foundation, in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is hosting the public festival, on the grounds of the San Jacinto Battleground Park, featuring Robert Earl Keen’s “A Texas Uprising” with additional performances by Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, Charlie Robison and Reckless Kelly. The event also will include children’s activity zones, gourmet food trucks and a fireworks show. The ship will be open for public tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit http://battleshiptexas.org.
The Midland Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking a new approach to reaching visitors with the release of the Midland Experience Guide and Map and launch of its augmented reality advertising campaign.
The guide concept is enhanced with the Midland Experience Guide & Map, aimed at promoting unique and memorable experiences for digital savvy visitors.
“With the growing use of smart phones, visitors have instant access to information such as a list of nearby restaurants and their addresses,” says Midland CVB Vice President Gaylia Olivas. “These experience guides are designed to suggest experiences to visitors rather than act as a finite listing of locations. We encourage visitors to visit our mobile-friendly website for that type of information.”
The Midland Experience Guide’s suggested experiences include a Girlfriend Getaway, The Foodie, The Sports Enthusiast, A Fun Family, The Outdoorsman, The History Buff, The Night Owl and The Art Lover.
“They are perfect for a weekend getaway in Midland, which are also the best days for our leisure visitors to find the most competitive hotel rates,” Olivas says.
The guides also include information on accommodations, annual events, transportation, regional attractions, history and statistics, as well as books, TV show, and movies about Midland.
Midland also is ahead of the game as one of the first destinations in the United States to use augmented reality in its marketing strategies. The ad campaign features six actual CVB clients –– three sports planners, two meeting and event planners and one tour operator –– showcased at a Midland location with a quote about their experience with Midland and the CVB. Through the use of their mobile technology partner’s free BestBuzz image recognition app, each client featured in the interactive print ad comes to life to give a 30-second testimonial. Each testimonial ends with a link to request a free Midland Destination Planning Guide.
“The Midland CVB prides itself on the customized, hands-on services we provide our clients,” says Brenda Kissko, tourism & public relations manager of the Midland Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We wanted to use a responsive technology to help convey this message to potential clients hosting events in Midland. We have found peer-to-peer testimonials are most powerful and we integrated those into our concept.”
The BestBuzz platform gives the Midland CVB the flexibility and control to create mobile-enhanced experiences, in addition to gaining access to data, analytics and user activities for tracking ROI from print media campaigns in real-time.
“These are the types of brands people want to do business with because they are creative and forward thinking,” says BestBuzz CEO Carry Layne. BestBuzz is just a technology platform, so I am very impressed with how the CVB used our image recognition technology and platform to create such an innovative and interactive marketing campaign.”
The Midland augmented reality ads will be published in several industry publications as well as direct mail pieces.
For more information on the Midland Convention & Visitors Bureau or to request a free Midland Experience Guide and Map, call (800) 624-6435 or visit www.visitmidlandtexas.com/Guides-and-Brochures.
In recognition of February’s designation as Black History Month, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Buffalo Soldiers will pay homage to the 19th century African-American military unit’s unique heritage through living history programs this month – Feb. 16 in San Antonio and Feb. 22 in Austin.
The Buffalo Soldiers, who got their name from the Plains Indians because the African-American soldiers’ hair to them resembled bison fur, were former slaves and freedmen who comprised the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments formed in 1867 after the Civil War. They were reputed to be fierce and skilled fighters and served at frontier military posts from Texas to the Dakota territories to help with the westward expansion of the Unites States.
The Buffalo Soldiers usually performed routine garrison chores, patrolled the frontier, built roads, escorted mail parties, and a variety of difficult civil and military tasks, but a few, such as Henry O. Flipper, became commanding officers.
The two primary goals of TPWD’s Buffalo Soldiers Program are to tell the mostly forgotten stories of the soldiers and to add more inclusiveness to the activities and workforce of the agency.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16, the University of Texas at San Antonio is hosting Buffalo Soldiers Day with soldiers setting up base camp at the Institute of Texas Cultures downtown. They will display artifacts and tell stories about the Buffalo Soldiers.
The Buffalo Soldiers also will be part of the 15th annual African American Community Heritage Festival at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. Visitors will hear the soldiers tell historical stories and partake in activities within the encampment.
For more information about the Buffalo Soldiers program, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/programs/buffalo-soldiers.
Campers planning to visit Lake Livingston State Park in the Piney Woods are now able to select a specific site –– out of more than 170 campsites and 10 screened shelters –– while making a reservation.
This new feature is courtesy of a one-year pilot program, implemented on Jan. 13. Previously, campsites were only available on a first-come, first served basis.
“We wanted to explore new options to provide the best possible park experience while ensuring better access for late arrivals,” says Sheldon Kauitzsch, assistant park superintendent. “This pilot was driven in part by past visitor comments and a recent survey of park users that overwhelming confirmed they wanted this option.”
During the first two weeks in operation, reservations were made for 10 screened shelters and 34 full-hookup, 50-amp service campsites participating in the program. In total, the state park has more than 170 campsites and 10 screened shelters.
One of the keys to implementing the site-specific reservation program was the development of an interactive park map of the campgrounds that includes two photos and a brief description. Visitors to the park’s website can click on a “map” button that allows them to virtually see a specific screened shelter or one of the campsites before making a reservation.
“It provides a visitor, who has never been to our park, the ability to see the sites beforehand,” Kauitzsch explains. “The RV owner, for instance, can find out the orientation, slope and measurements of the campsite, where the trees are located that might interfere with slide-outs and the location of sewer drops.”
For more information and reservations, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/lake-livingston.
Royal Caribbean’s revamped Navigator of the Seas cruise ship – reportedly the largest and most advanced ship based at Port of Galveston – has resumed year-round service. It will sail seven-night western Caribbean itineraries that include Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Falmouth, Jamaica; and George Town, Grand Cayman.
The 1,020-foot long ship features 81 virtual balcony staterooms, giving guests a real-time view of the ocean and destinations through an 80-inch high-definition screen. Officials say that offering is a first in the cruise industry. The ship also has added, for a Texas debut, a surf simulator, “FlowRider.”
With the Port of Galveston’s plans to invest $10 million to expand Cruise Terminal No. 2, Royal Caribbean is agreeing to bring more cruises and a bigger ship.
The Hill Country viticultural area is garnering international attention as evidenced by Wine Enthusiast Magazine naming the Texas Hill Country as one of the Top 10 Wine Travel Destinations of 2014.
Texas came in third on the list, ahead of such well-known wine hotspost of Sonoma, California, and Umbria, Italy.
“The explosion of new wineries and tasting rooms along scenic Highway 290 west of Austin hasn’t lessened Hill Country’s old-fashioned country charm,” the magazine effuses in its feature. “It’s still a sea of cowboy hats and pickup trucks, a place where you can sip award-winning wines in a landscape dotted with as many cacti as vines. Visitors may flock to Hill Country to sip wine, but they end up drinking in the romance of the Old West, too.”