Texas: A Cultural, Economic and Entertainment Powerhouse
Thank you Todd [Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner] for that kind introduction and for your tireless work on behalf of our state. Many thanks as well to Novartis and AT&T, long time supporters of our efforts to bring businesses and visitors to Texas. Thanks also to all the meeting and convention planners here today for exploring what the Lone Star State has to offer you and your clients. I’ve heard that location is a key to success in planning a convention or corporate getaway. So, if you want to plan the best possible event, you need to come to Texas.
Of course, choosing Texas will create one big challenge for you: choosing where exactly you should go in Texas—we have PLENTY of great choices. It’s also a real treat to kick off a festival that features two of my favorite things: Texas and aviation, specifically space aviation. During my years flying C-130s, no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to escape the earth’s atmosphere. But I have always held the folks associated with our nation’s space program in the highest regard. We Texans are proud of the role our state has played in space exploration and extend our congratulations to all the leaders at NASA for 50 amazing years of space exploration. Organizations like NASA have surely helped Texas grow into one of the top business and tourist destinations in the country.
I am honored the Smithsonian has chosen to showcase Texas in its annual Folklife Festival, and have enough Texas pride in me to say I think they made a great choice. There are some places in the world you might say “it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Texas is not only a great place to visit, but also a fantastic place to live. In fact, I’d say there is no better place to live, work and raise a family than the Lone Star state. We’re certainly an economic powerhouse with more new jobs created in our state than any other over the past few years. But we also have much to offer on the cultural, historical and entertainment fronts as well.
The food, music, wine and festivities over the next few weeks will allow you to sample just a few of the endless opportunities awaiting travelers from all over the world. Texas has its own unique mystique, a sense of identity that people recognize and admire all over the world. A few weeks ago, I was in Europe on a trade mission, touting our state as a prime destination for business. I ran into one person after another whose eyes lit up when they heard I was from Texas. And each of them had a special connection of the state, either from hearing the story of the Alamo, watching a movie like Giant, or spending time somewhere in the state.
As good as our state looks onscreen, nothing can match the unique experience of actually being in Texas, meeting our people, enjoying our culture and taking in some of our diverse scenery. You can enjoy the rugged terrain of San Angelo or the West Texas charm of Abilene. Whether you want a peaceful getaway in the Hill Country or something a little faster-paced in an urban area like Houston or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas has it all. Growing up on a tenant farm in a place called Paint Creek, Texas, I can also testify that our rural communities offer much more than just wide open spaces. Our state is dotted with rustic guest ranches that showcase the cattle and ranching operations that are tied so closely to our state’s identity. Cowboy cooking, with contributions from the cultures that make up our diverse population, has profoundly influenced Texas cuisine.
Fortunately, you’ll be able to taste more than your share of it all over this festival in the next few days. If you need a nice wine to enjoy with our food, don’t worry--we’re the 5th largest wine-producing state in the nation. So you’ll find plenty of vineyards scattered all across Texas, more than 220 of them in fact, and just about every one with a nice bed and breakfast nearby. Ten of them are featured here at the festival.
If vineyards aren’t your thing, our state has something to offer all across its 267,000 square miles. Stretching from El Paso in the West to The Valley in the far South, Texas is loaded with activities. Outdoor activities like kayaking our rivers, watching for exotic birds or hiking our rugged terrain will revitalize and re-energize you. No matter where you go in Texas, you are never far from a city with hotels, convention centers and activities that will accommodate even the largest groups and entertain them for days.
Visit Houston, where you can catch an Astros game at Minute Maid Park, tour the Houston Zoo, or visit the renowned Museum District. Head to Fort Worth, gateway to the West, and watch bull-riding and barrel-racing at the Fort Worth Stockyards, or enjoy Sundance Square, where the city’s best restaurants and entertainment are located within walking distance of each other. You can also day trip to San Antonio and check out The Alamo, the Riverwalk and Sea World.
A description of our state’s treasures would be incomplete without mention of a little place in the Hill Country that Anita and I call home: Austin. Home to our state capitol, a high-energy social scene, and festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, Austin has been dubbed the Live Music Capitol of the World. The town backs up that claim with more than 1,000 local music groups and nearly 200 live music venues, where visitors can catch any type of music show any night of the week. The influence of Texas musicians runs deep, stretching beyond Austin’s city limits through every Texas community, large and small. That’s why we proudly say, “You can’t hear American music without hearing Texas.” I also believe you can really get a feel for the heartbeat of our state when you hear our best musicians perform.
As much as I might tell you about our state, two minutes of their music will transport you right to the heart of Texas. And so, we have a special treat for you this evening in the form of two genuine Texas treasures: Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis. If listening to them doesn’t make you want to head for Texas, I don’t know what will.
We hope to see you in Texas soon! Enjoy the show!
Promoting Texas Music »