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Sunday, June 1, 2003
Last modified at 8:31 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2003
© 2003 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

photo: entertainment

  Top recording acts such as Cher (above) have graced the United Spirit Arena stage since the facility's opening. Top-notch concerts are just part of Lubbock's cultural scene.
t A-j File Photo

With area's growth, cultural opportunities expand

From festivals to concerts, from museums to Broadway touring attractions, Lubbock is home to a diverse cultural scene that somehow remains a secret outside of the West Texas boundaries.

It was Lubbock and the Museum of Texas Tech, after all, that was chosen to be the sole host of an exhibit of art from Rome's Vatican in 2002 called ''Medieval Frescoes from the Vatican Museums Collection.''

Tech's Museum continues to juggle visiting exhibits and also places a spotlight on previously unseen in-house paintings and artifacts.

Visitors from abroad join those who appreciate the Texas Tech International Cultural Center, which features photography exhibits along with a multi-media program and a Hall of Nations.

British, French and German visitors in Lubbock actually may have the International Cultural Center second on their list of places to visit. At the top is usually the Buddy Holly Center, a state-of-the-art rock 'n' roll museum that includes Holly memorabilia, Holly multi-media and interactive exhibits, a gallery devoted to musicians from West Texas and a traditional art gallery at the opposite end of the center.

Rock 'n' roll star and music innovator Charles Hardin ''Buddy'' Holly remains extremely popular in Europe even more than 40 years after his death in 1959.

The Buddy Holly Center also plans to resurrect the Buddy Holly Music Festival in late August and September, along with its third annual grouping of Holly seminars called ''Not Fade Away.''

Located at 18th Street and Avenue G, the Holly Center serves as the eastern border for a section of town called the Depot District, an entertainment district that includes theaters, nightclubs (predominantly offering live music), restaurants, shops and KDAV-Radio (1590 AM), a station devoted to playing music from the 1950s and early '60s.

The Cactus Theater at 1812 Buddy Holly Avenue is a major player in the Depot District, offering either concerts or plays every weekend. More often than not, it is devoted to showcasing local and area talent.

The Cactus first opened in 1938 as a movie theater. It reopened in 1993 under the direction of Lubbock businessman Don Caldwell, who renovated the building and later perfected the acoustics at no small expense.

Also in the Depot District are the Blue Light and Bleachers, both bringing in many of the finest recording artists on the Texas music charts.

Major national recording acts more often are found at the United Spirited Arena at 18th Street and Indiana Avenue. Past concerts at the USA include those by the Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Creed, Elton John and KISS, to name a few.

Lubbock has 33 first-run movie screens, and six screens at a $2 theater showing sub-run films.

The city also offers a wide array of live theater. This marks the eighth year that Celebrity Attractions will bring a complete season of touring Broadway attractions. This year's attractions include ''Seussical: The Musical'' and ''Cats,'' with a new production of ''Oklahoma'' beginning its national tour in Lubbock.

Past touring attractions brought to Lubbock by Celebrity Attractions include ''les Miserables,'' Disney's ''Beauty and the Beast,'' ''Chicago,'' the ''Greater Tuna'' comedy trilogy, ''STOMP,'' ''Peter Pan'' with Cathy Rigby and ''Hello, Dolly'' with Carol Channing.

The Lubbock Community Theatre has found a new home at the Lubbock Regional Arts Center. Remodeling has left Texas Tech's Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre a gorgeous showplace for the wide variety of productions staged by the Tech Department of Theatre and Dance.

A Lab Theater directly behind the Maedgen is the home for an annual Lubbock Summer Rep' season of plays, and smaller shows during the fall and spring. A one-act play festival takes place in the same venue each spring.

In addition, area favorites are produced at the CATS playhouse, Garza Theater in Post, Theatre for the Performing Arts at South Plains College in Levelland and Harral Theatre at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.

Lubbock has enjoyed its own symphony orchestra since 1946. The Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, now conducted by Andrews Sill, performs a full season of classical concerts and additional POPS works in the spring with guest artists.

The orchestra also provides the live music for Ballet Lubbock's annual Christmas production of ''The Nutcracker.'' Ballet Lubbock executive director Yvonne Racz continues to strive to expand the ballet's production schedule, and now offers an annual spring production.

Lubbock's Mexican heritage is celebrated twice each year, in the spring during a weekend of Cinco de Mayo activities and every fall at a week-long event called ''Fiestas del Llano'' that features concerts and traditional foods.

There are three major wineries in Lubbock -- Cap*Rock Winery, Llano Estacado Winery and Pheasant Ridge Winery.

A 199-acre estate vineyard can be found just a few miles from the Cap*Rock Winery, located one-half mile east of U.S. 87 on Woodrow Road, south of Lubbock. The Llano Estacado Winery, founded in 1976, is the largest premium winery in Texas. Llano wines have been served all over the world and to prominent world leaders.

Wineries are open for tastings and tours.

Lubbock residents tend to stay in town each year on July 4 and entertain guests. That's because 4th on Broadway has grown into a huge event attracting tens of thousands of people every year. It includes a morning Independence Day parade, followed by a five-hour street fair and finally a closing fireworks extravaganza and concert at Mackenzie Park, one of the most beautiful of Lubbock's many parks.

''Lights in the Canyon'' opens just after Thanksgiving at Mackenzie Park and continues through New Year's Eve, allowing drivers to follow a two-mile parade route and view more than 40 illuminated sculptures and animated displays.

Early December also finds the Tech campus lit up by thousands of Christmas lights during the annual Carol of Lights, and the Museum of Texas Tech is a new home for the popular ''Madrigal Dinner,'' which continues for several nights. Christmas celebration continues each year with an event called Candlelight at the Ranch at the National Ranching Heritage Center, an event celebrating the area's cowboy culture.

Finally, there is the Lubbock Arts Festival, a major three-day event that celebrates the arts each spring at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. The festival's 25th anniversary was celebrated this year.

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