Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - Part 2

One special thing about the Balloon Fiesta is that you can walk around amongst the balloons, see them up close, and talk to the pilots and crew. You might go from spectator to participant when a crew member yells out for a helping hand. It’s like walking through a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors right there in the middle of the action at the most photographed event in the world.

It’s been so much fun meeting people from all over the world and visiting with the many fellow Texans here. One of them is Bruce Lavorgna from Austin, who pilots his own Texas flag-designed hot air balloon painting the sky above with red, white and blue. He has been ballooning at the AIBF since 1991 and makes us all proud by flying our Lone Star flag in a truly unique way. Thanks Bruce!

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Texas on Tour 2009 is a wrap. We’ve traveled about 15,000 miles spreading Texas hospitality throughout the U.S. and making new friends along the way. Hopefully the little taste of Texas we offered was enough to make you hungry for more. We sincerely hope that you can visit Texas sometime soon and experience it for yourself. We’ll see you on the road again next year!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Whoosh! The sound of hot air balloon blowers can be heard shooting bright blue and yellow flames as the pilots prepare for their early morning flights just before daybreak. Waves of glowing hot air balloons drift up and into the morning sky. It’s the “dawn patrol” at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and Texas on Tour has a front row seat. What started as a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972 has turned into the largest balloon event in the world attracting hundreds of thousands of people for a nine day fun fest of color and excitement.

I couldn’t think of a better place to wrap up the 2009 Texas on Tour road show. The event attracts approximately 900,000 guests and I am told 200,000 of those are from the neighboring Lone Star State, so we have plenty of fellow Texans to share in the conclusion of our successful journey across the U.S. promoting that special place we all know and love.

After experiencing “Ride the Texas Waterways,” “Texas or Not” trivia, the high tech “Discover Texas” dome theater, live SeaWorld San Antonio animal shows, the “Picture Yourself in Texas” green screen room, and live music from Texan Dan Dyer, it is no surprise folks want to learn more about a Texas vacation. It is proof there’s something for everyone in Texas!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the week ahead. Yes, Texas on Tour only has a few more days of fun here at the Balloon Fiesta and it’s sure to be BIG fun. Stay tuned for one last post as Texas on Tour 2009 comes to an end. I’m sure we’ll go out with a bang!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

L.A. County Fair

Lights, camera, action! It’s showtime for Texas on Tour near Los Angeles, famous for its glitz, glamour, movie stars and the L.A. County Fair. Ahhhh, the scents of a nearby taco stand, candy apples and popcorn fill the Southern California air, and you can hear the carnival rides and games buzzing in the distance. The Fair is in full swing. The carnival atmosphere spills onto the Texas on Tour display as fair-goers flock to the various interactive elements of our exhibit. “There’s so much to do in Texas! It really is like a whole other country!” one visitor said after he and his family had their photo taken in the green screen room.

Carnival games are always a popular attraction at fairs so we decided to add one of our own at Texas on Tour - the Bean Bag Toss. It was a huge hit! Of course games of skill aren’t complete without prizes and ours was no different. Winners received their very own Texas on Tour T-shirt, a sought after prize by the many participants.

It’s also worth noting that the music of Dan Dyer is not just an accessory, but a staple to our show here in L.A. His improvisational melodies and antics captivate the Texas on Tour crowds here. He truly has a contagious Texas flare and charm that many people enjoy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Colorado Balloon Classic

Texas on Tour drove in for the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic over the Labor Day weekend and boy was it a hoot! It was amazing to see the Texas on Tour exhibit with all the colorful hot air balloons drifting off into the sky with the picturesque mountains in the background. What a scene!

The event started bright and early every morning at 6:00 a.m. The sun peaked out over the mountains and Texas on Tour came to life offering consumers a little Texas flair at daybreak. “I didn’t expect to visit Texas this morning!” a Colorado Springs native said as she enjoyed a virtual kayak trip on the “Ride the Texas Waterways” experience. We’re happy you got out of bed early to join us!

We were also happy to introduce Texan Dan Dyer to the Texas on Tour stage with his melodic, soulful music being the perfect soundtrack for this beautiful setting. We’re certainly delighted to have him on board with us for the remainder of the tour. He is quite a talent!

Yes, the Colorado Balloon Classic was yet another classic Texas on Tour affair and like one of those beautiful balloons it’s time for us to fly off to our next destination...the Los Angeles County Fair. Look out LA, Texas is on the way!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Illinois State Fair

We loaded up our Texas on Tour footprint from Chicago’s Navy Pier and said goodbye to our newfound friends there. It was “on the road again,” as Texan Willie Nelson would say. Next stop…Springfield, home to the Illinois State Fair. Just when I think we can’t conceivably top the fun and excitement in one city, the next destination for the Texas on Tour road show is always a splendid experience in its own unique way. The Illinois State Fair was another such occurrence.

Now when I think of a State Fair I think about how they always have every kind of food you can possibly imagine fried on a stick. You know what I’m talking about…fried Twinkies on a stick, fried Butterfingers on a stick, fried grape soda pop with maple syrup and cottage cheese…on a stick.

Well, during our set-up on the Peoria Street section of the Fair we met Beverly Beckett, a warm, bubbly lady with a talent for baking and cooking who brought us her delicious chocolate ginger cake. The Texas on Tour team took it as a rewarding treat for all our hard work.

On Saturday, Beverly came back to visit us and received numerous high fives from the Texas on Tour team as she informed us that she had won 1st Place in the Fair’s highly competitive cooking contest for her “Minnesota Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.” We at Texas on Tour were so proud to share with her such an accomplishment. “I’ve got new friends in Texas” she told her daughter (whose boyfriend happens to be from Houston) over the phone. Yes Beverly, you do and we hope you come visit us in Texas sometime soon so we can return the hospitality!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicago Navy Pier

The wonderful city of Chicago or “Chi-Town” (pronounced “shy town” ) was the backdrop for the latest installment of the 2009 Texas on Tour road show…and boy was it exciting! Now “Chi-Town” is considered by many to be one of the greatest sports cities in the country, but for a few fleeting moments Chicago Bears fans became Dallas Cowboys fans when they lined up to get their picture taken with Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders Megan Fox and Elizabeth Davis. I guess even die-hard Bears fans can appreciate the beauty that the Lone Star State has to offer… and I have video to prove it! Sorry Bears fans, but Elizabeth says the Cowboys are going all the way!

It was certainly a weekend for special guest appearances at Texas on Tour. Representatives from SeaWorld San Antonio brought several “Animal Ambassadors” to the delight of the crowd as they were able to get up close and personal with a lemur from Madagascar and even an albino python named “Mellow Yellow” just to name a few. It was literally a wild time at Texas on Tour!

The fun didn’t stop there, though. The Texas on Tour footprint situated in front of the famous Chicago Navy Pier area turned into Dancing with the Texans when one of our brand ambassadors lead a throng of visitors in a group dance routine of the “electric slide.” I, unfortunately, had to dismiss myself from the pack for fear of stepping on toes and disrupting the rhythm. No, I can’t dance.

Bringing a little taste of Texas to Chicago was fun all the way around. We met some interesting and amazing people. We had some good times and we made some new friends. That being said, listen up “Chi-Town”... don’t be shy…come down and visit us in Texas sometime soon!

Monday, August 3, 2009

EAA AirVenture

Texas on Tour landed at EAA AirVenture, the Oshkosh, Wisconsin air show, which is the second largest air show in the world. It was amazing! It’s hard to believe, but the small Oshkosh airport is the busiest in the world for the one week during the show. The event brings an international audience, so we had people from all corners of the world come by and see us. Folks from Poland, Germany, Spain, England, Norway, and even Japan enjoyed our virtual Texas experience. “Viva la Texas!” I heard one visitor say after taking the 360 degree virtual reality kayaking trip. Texas on Tour was quite the melting pot this week!

Although we had many visitors from around the world, Texas was also well represented. We met many Texans who flew their own airplanes up for the show. At times it felt like we had a mini Texas reunion on site. Fellow Texans stopped by for a visit and a little taste of home. “Thanks for making us proud and representing our state with such style! They also said they learned some new Texas facts when they participated in the Texas Trivia contest in the Discover Texas dome theater. “I didn’t know that Texas had over 190,000 miles of rivers and streams.” It just goes to show, whether you’re from another part of the world or from Texas you can enjoy what Texas on Tour has to offer.

Texas on Tour also offered a unique spectacle on Friday morning. You might say we had a mustang stampede on the Texas on Tour ranch as seventy-five Ford mustangs made their way past our footprint to the large display area behind us. It was quite a sight to see so many vintage cars including a few Shelbys worth almost $200,000. Like true wranglers, we did our part to successfully round up the mustangs and get them corralled. It was yet another exciting start to a fun filled day at Texas on Tour!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three Rivers Festival - Part 2

Patricia Vonne and Rosie Flores brought their unique brand of music and entertainment to Texas on Tour’s stop at the Three Rivers Festival. Their stellar guitar riffs and soulful singing brought many patrons back for more. They signed autographs and even taught a few folks the Texas Two Step. Patricia and Rosie proved that rock and roll Texas style is here to stay. Cheers to all those who rocked out with us at Texas on Tour.

We joked with one family that came through that they were like the Griswolds from the National Lampoon's vacation movies as they took a 45-minute high tech virtual reality vacation through Texas on Tour. The father decided he was going to plan his next vacation to Texas after he and the family experienced the 360-degree virtual reality kayak trip. “That sealed the deal for us! We’re going to Texas!” he said. He did his best impression of the Chevy Chase character “Clark” as he ordered the Travel Guide at the “Texas or Not” kiosk and started to plan every last detail for their next family adventure!

Check back next week as we report from AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, WI!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three Rivers Festival

Howdy folks, we are in Fort Wayne, and everyone is having a blast! We are set up at the Three Rivers Festival in downtown Fort Wayne. This is the second largest festival in the state and is known for its food alley area were you can buy everything from deep fried Twinkies to roasted corn and everything in between. I will be headed over there later this week to try some of these Fort Wayne favorites.

We have new musicians performing on tour with us for the next few weeks and they are Patricia Vonne and Rosie Flores directly from San Antonio, Texas. From the very first song they sang the crowd really enjoyed our new music. We had one fan that was enjoying herself so much she actually grabbed me and asked me to dance with her! Since the tour started I am becoming a pro at two-stepping, so I jumped right on in and had a blast with my dancing partner. I have to admit that I had a great time but I did step on her feet a few times - oops! We both had a good laugh and she said she would be back next week for another round of dancing.

The kayaks are a big hit with people of all ages and they just keep coming to try them out. We had a Yee-Haw contest this weekend and the winners were two small children about 5 years old. Who knew they could yell so loud!? Well I have to get back to work now but I will have more stories from Fort Wayne to share soon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summerfest Part 2

We all know that Texas likes to do things in a BIG way, so it was no surprise that “Texas on Tour” made a stop at Summerfest – the biggest music festival in the world. Concerts of all kinds were happening across the vast festival grounds, but we at “Texas on Tour” had a concert all our own. With the tempting Texas tunes of Will Sexton and Charlie Faye guests kicked up their heels in front of our Dallas/ Forth Worth music stage. We even had several dance competitions where participants boogied down “Texas style” for a chance to win their very own “Texas on Tour” t-shirt. The music festival spirit spilled into other areas of our exhibit such as the “Discover Texas” dome theater where show hosts Ben Holt and Nick Vannucci appeared donning disco-fashioned cowboy hats to the amusement of the audience. Once again, “Texas on Tour” left its mark on a terrific event that is Summerfest. We look forward to putting on our dancing shoes…or should I say boots…next year! Stay tuned for our next stop…Fort Wayne, Indiana for the Three Rivers Festival!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summerfest In Milwaukee

Howdy everyone! We are working lakeside in downtown Milwaukee at Summerfest. Summerfest is the nation’s largest live music festival featuring artists ranging from Kid Rock to Stevie Wonder and everything in between. Bon Jovi was the opening act on Thursday night followed by KISS a few nights later. This music festival is huge, and I mean HUGE. Everywhere you turn there are music stages with live bands entertaining enormously, large crowds.

Our first day was on Thursday with the folks here in Milwaukee actually lining up outside the gates to enter the event. We started out so busy that we had people all over our exhibit anxious to see what we had to offer. Our first group of visitors to enter the Dome Theater had such a good time learning about Texas and playing the trivia contest that you could hear them laughing and having a great time from outside of the dome.

The Texas or Not kiosk has been a big hit with families competing against each other to get the highest score to win great prizes. On to riding the kayaks down the waterways of Texas. People here in Wisconsin have been very surprised of learning that Texas has so many different options when it comes to water activities. After riding the kayaks they have told me that they were unaware of so many things that they saw during the kayak ride.

One of the most frequently heard comments comes when our guests visit the next stop, The Gulf Coast area of our exhibit. So many people comment “That beautiful beach with the white sand is in Texas? I had no idea Texas had beaches like that!" We have had such a great time spreading information about Texas to the folks here in Wisconsin so far and have 7 more days in the festival remaining. Our featured Texas on Tour artists, Will Sexton and Charlie Faye have been a hit as well and have been signing many autographs! Well – time to head back to work, I will update you in a few days on the remaining week here at Summerfest. So long till next time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Riverbend Festival

Here we are in Chattanooga, TN at a 9-day show called Riverbend Festival. Riverbend is a big music festival that has something for everyone from the B-52's to the Commodores and everything in between. On opening day country music superstar Willie Nelson played so it was packed! We also brought our own musicians Will Sexton and Charlie Faye and they’ve been getting a great response from the crowd. Will has been signing his autograph onto the free music CD that visitors can win in the Dome Theater. When we tell people that Will is on the CD they can’t wait to listen to it in the car or at home.

Texas on Tour has had some good weather thus far in TN and we’re answering lots of questions about the beaches in Texas. Many people did not know how beautiful it is along the Gulf Coast of Texas. They are even more shocked when we tell them that Austin, Texas is the Live Music Capital of the World!

We sure are getting the message out that Texas is a wonderful place for a vacation and folks are very receptive, especially after they’ve walked through our exhibit. Well, lots of people to talk to, so I’m signing off... Stay tuned for more updates from Texas on Tour!

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York City, baby!

On Wed., May 27, we arrived in New York City, ready to bring some Texas style to the Big Apple. Texas on Tour pulled up to South Street Seaport at 2am and there were still people hanging out and walking around! We spent about 12 hours setting the exhibit up with lots of curious people asking us about what will be taking place during our time here.

On Thursday, the kickoff of our event, we had a jam packed day with two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Kevin Fitzpatrick, the 2008 Champion Trick Roper, Wendell and Connie, our two-step dance instructors and representatives from SeaWorld San Antonio, one of our corporate sponsors. It was slightly rainy but that didn’t stop people from coming out to see what Texas has to offer. The cheerleaders were an absolute hit with the New Yorkers (even Giants’ fans) and the two-step dance lessons were so fun! I enjoyed dancing with two ladies who were from Queens and they had a blast too. Austin musicians Will Sexton and Charlie Faye performed on the entertainment stage and really drew a crowd.

Everyone on the team tried to get to bed fairly early on Thurs. night because Texas on Tour started at 5am on Friday with a live television news broadcast from the exhibit. Larry Hoff with CW11 PIX Morning News did a closing segment for their show, featuring animals from SeaWorld, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Kevin doing trick roping and music by Will and Charlie. I think this encouraged New Yorkers to come out to experience our exhibit and gather more information about a vacation to Texas. We were moving all over the place trying to accommodate the crowds that day. At about 7pm the nine-time Grammy-Award winning group Asleep At The Wheel took the main stage to help us close out the night. There were people crowding around the stage dancing and tapping their feet throughout the performance. What a feeling it was to see the entire experience come together.

Luckily on Saturday we didn’t need to be at the footprint until 9am (which is technically sleeping in), but still New Yorkers really came out in droves to experience Texas with enthusiasm and excitement. We had many, many contests today with trivia and the Yee Haw calling contest. The winner sounded like a cross between actor Joe Pesci and a Texas cowboy. This guy was a crowd favorite after his performance. Other crowd pleasers were SeaWorld’s American alligator named Katrina, a wallaby named Nurra and a Burmese python.

And placed about 15 ft from our exhibit was another very interesting activity taking shape... a sand castle was being built by Amazing Walter and his partner Matt. The castle stood about 10 ft high with a 10 sq ft base. It was huge and everyone who walked by took a picture with their phone or camera. By Sunset it was finished and looked amazing!

Overall it was a very busy week with a lot of New Yorkers being transported to Texas via "Texas on Tour".

Our next stop is Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joint Services Open House

Hello - my name is Keith and I am the tour manager of the Texas On Tour roadshow. The Texas On Tour team will consist of me and my two colleagues, Ben and Jeff. I am so excited about getting started and I invite everyone to join us throughout our travels right here on this blog. Check out the Texas on Tour Schedule to find out where we’ll be so you can visit us! You can also check out TravelTex.com/TexasOnTour to plan your own Texas vacation and register to win a free vacation to Texas. Make sure you visit the website often so you don’t miss anything over the next 6 months.

This past weekend was the first stop of our tour. We were a part of the Joint Services Open House (JSOH) event at Andrews Air Force Base, MD. I was really excited and ready to get to work to meet new people and really show off our high-tech elements, one of which is our interactive touch screen kiosk called "Texas or Not". At this fun spot, you have to choose from sets of two pictures and determine if it depicts Texas or Not. Most people guess wrong, even people who have lived in Texas! Many people do not know about the many different areas in Texas such as the canyons, lakes and beaches.

Another element is our virtual reality, 360-degree kayak experience. You get to sit in real kayaks and feel, smell and see 360 degrees around you during a “ride” down the Texas waterways. The people we met at the JSOH loved this. We had many visitors coming back each day to do it all over again.

The best part of our event was the Texas On Tour-sponsored AirFest Party open to the pilots and sponsors of the JSOH. There, Texas on Tour representatives Paige and Ali, were presented with commemorative coins from the commanding officer of the base, Colonel Steven M. Shepro. It was a very big honor and the team at Andrews Air Force Base made us all feel very welcome.

We were so busy this weekend even though we got light rain almost everyday. Our exhibit is totally free and we have lots of giveaways plus live music on our stage. People were amazed that everything was free. We had thousands of visitors to our exhibit this weekend at Andrews Air Force Base, despite some clouds. We are hoping for sunny days at our next stop, in New York City. I am looking forward to working in the Big Apple at South Street Seaport. Check back soon for details from NYC!

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