THE REAL DEAL
By JERRY DEAL
In looking at Harlingen’s record in the entertainment industry the past couple of decades and maybe a bit beyond, it does not look well. This reporter and a couple of friends did a bit of research since the city is planning to spend millions of dollars on a new convention center, which falls into that section of business.
Of course, there have been some events which have been successful, like the annual Birding Festival and the smaller summer Blues on the Hill event at McKelvey park.
Also, I need to say. some of the failures that I am about to point out were not especially due to those promoting them.
What I am trying to show here is that for some reason or other some highly planned facilities or events failed — usually by lack of leadership or failure of city or civic officials to know what the hell they were doing or not caring.
I remember the much ballywhood Six Shooter Junction, back in the 1970s, which went down the tube for lack of interest. It was a good idea gone wrong. Perhaps it was promoted badly, you who were there, can tell me. Anyway, it failed.
Most notable to me, is the Rio Fest, which I loved. But it seemed to get stagnet after a few years and crowds were smaller. Perhaps with some professional assistance it could have survived, because attendance dropped due to t he same old things.
One of my pets, no secret there, was the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings. The club survived for 20 years, but the last few were always in jeopardy, due to lack of interest and attendance.
I believe that with a bit more promotion and better following of some good players, a few now in the major leagues, it and the league could have survived. But there was also a terrible problem with league ownership and the fact that there were city leaders who did not want the club to survive.
I was much involved in the Valley Morning Star’s Rio 10 K Run-5K Walk, during my last years at the newspaper. It grew every year while I was there and ;in it last year that I was there, more than 3,000 runners and walker took part 30 scholarships were given out to needy graduates.
Unfortunately, after I left in 2001, interest by those at the newspaper diminished and after one year, it was stopped. Another lethargic situation.
The Valley Race Park is another situation that has not been great by any means. It might have done better had it been located in another location nearer the mid and upper valley, instead of where it is. Hopefully, it can be rescued this fall when some races resume.
I saved the biggest mistake of all until here, that being the then-Confederate Air Force and now called the Commemorative Fir Force. Of all the great things that the late Mayor Bill Card did, he and his administration failed on that one by letting it slip away and move to Odessa. Winter Texans, who had been coming here mainly for the CAF, were infuriated, Who from the north wants to spend the winter in equally cold West Texas?
I am not going to even get into the boondoggles the city commission has made, like the soccer fields, with no place for fans to sit, so that the state sports leaders go to Brownsville and elsewhere, where they can.
I do not know if I have made my point clear, but the Harlingen track years is pretty bad, right? Or do you disagree?
THE REAL DEAL