TORONTO — There are plenty of reasons why Texas is a bucket list destination for 2018: Route 66, kiteboarding off South Padre Island and, for die-hard fans of the Ewing family, how about a 40th reunion and fan fest for the hit TV series Dallas?
It’s been 27 years since the show ended its 13-year, 356-episode run but Southfork Ranch, which viewers will recognize as Ewing Mansion, still draws thousands of people every year, and during its heyday the show put Texas on the map for millions of people.
The reunion takes place March 30 – 31 with events at Dallas and Southfork Ranch, and tops the list for any visitor looking to experience a one-of-a-kind trip to Texas. The event comes complete with a Southfork Fan Day with meet-and-greets with show stars Linda Gray, Charlene Tilton and Patrick Duffy, better known to many as Sue Ellen, Lucy and Bobby Ewing.
The fan fest is just one of many attractions for Texas visitors in 2018, says Rosalyn Hunter, representing Texas Tourism with VoX International at a media event in Toronto yesterday.
Texas took a hit from Hurricane Harvey last August but “we’re open for business and certainly welcoming visitors back,” said Hunter.
The 2017 visitor stats will be ready in a few weeks, she added, noting that 2016 brought just shy of half a million – about 498,500 – Canadians to the Lone Star State. Canada remains the #2 source market for international visitor arrivals to the state.
Clients will find plenty of bargains in Texas, adds Hunter. “Texas is very competitively price with good value for vacation dollars.”
Attraction highlights include the new Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences now under construction in Lubbock, Holly’s hometown. The US$140 million concert and performing arts venue is scheduled to open in early 2020 and will be a focal point for downtown Lubbock.
Look out, Austin: Lubbock is home to more live music venues per capita than any other city in Texas. It’s also one of the state’s wine capitals, with 90% of Texas’ wine grapes grown within 10 miles of the city.
Visitors to Houston meanwhile will find themselves in the fourth largest city in the U.S., close to the coast and front and centre for Space Center Houston, gateway to NASA. Direct air connections are available from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Quaint and charming Fredericksburg, billed as ‘Texas Heart, German Soul’, punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants, shops and art galleries, plus 45 wineries and tasting rooms.
And San Antonio, celebrating its 300th birthday in 2018, is marking its tricentennial all year long with special events. San Antonio is “affordable, authentic and incredible” says the city’s rep in Canada, Sana Keller with Pulse Communications. With Air Canada’s daily nonstop from Toronto to San Antonio, launched in 2017, “you can come down to San Antonio in less than four hours,” says Keller.