U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
The image of Texas around the world often centers on a cowboy herding longhorns or a roughneck working on an oil rig. Texans cherish their western, and oil and gas heritage, but we also know that no single portrait can capture the diversity of our land, our people and our traditions.
In Texans One and All, John L. Davis writes, “The land is huge and varied – with more than 12,000 years of immigrant history – and remains one of the remarkable crossroads of the world. Here are individuals, families, and settlements representing every major cultural, geographic, ethnic, and political group in the world...and nearly all smaller groups as well.”
The multicultural vitality of Texas enjoyed the limelight this summer in our nation’s capital during the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This 10-day event presented “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine.” Also featured were NASA and the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
Texas musicians, artists, food lovers and winemakers gathered on the National Mall, “America’s front yard,” to demonstrate their talents and specialties to more than one million visitors from around the world.
A big serving of Texas hospitality was offered and enjoyed. There was music at the Opry House, the Texas Roadhouse and the “Waltz Across Texas Dance Party.” The incredible range of Texas food was found at the Lone Star Kitchen, Taqueria Texas, the Rib Joint and the Texas Noodle House. A virtual tour of a Texas vineyard and samples from nine Texas wineries highlighted the development of our wine industry.
I was pleased to join Governor Rick Perry, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and numerous other visiting or transplanted Texans for festivities, including “Celebration of the Lone Star State,” to kick off this year’s Folklife Festival.
The celebration marked the 40th anniversary of the first time the Smithsonian Folklife Festival showcased Texas. That same year, San Antonio presented HemisFair 1968, an international fair that included more than 30 participating nations from Central and South America, Europe and Asia, and brought global recognition to the many facets of Texas culture. A signature landmark built for HemisFair, the Tower of the Americas, continues to soar above San Antonio.
A significant legacy of HemisFair 1968 was a new museum, the Institute of Texan Cultures, created to highlight the many cultural groups that settled here. Through exhibits, research and education, it explores the ethnic and cultural history of Texas and hosts the annual Texas Folklife Festival, patterned after the Smithsonian event.
Other museums across the state also contribute to the world’s knowledge of Texas’ varied cultures and the rugged individuals who shaped the destiny of the Lone Star State. Throughout the year, communities across the state host fairs and festivals that celebrate their unique part of Texas’ heritage.
Texans embrace the variety in our geography and culture, respect the mixture of ideas and opinions within our borders, and find common ground. Texas has inspired the hopes and dreams of people for generations. Here they discover boundless opportunities and a rock-solid commitment to education, free enterprise and hard work. They realize that no matter where they started, the blessings of a fulfilling life in Texas await those who exert their freedom to achieve it.