It doesn’t get much better than this. The city of Orange and the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau are sponsoring the 10th annual Art in the Park on Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., and it is totally free. The event will take place at Stark Park in Orange. Jay Trahan, director of Economic Development and department head of the CVB, said that there is sure to be something for every member of the family to enjoy.
“The 10th Annual Art in the Park event is an opportunity for us to showcase the city of Orange and invite folks to visit our local tourist attractions,” said Trahan. “Visitors can see the new Central Fire Station, Stark Museum of Art, the famed Stark House, Shangri La, as well as some of our other, perhaps more familiar, sites.”
Trahan said that there will be live entertainment and the family-oriented event will feature over 150 booths. Visitors will enjoy viewing and buying arts, crafts and, of course, some good Southeast Texas food. Neighbors will visit with neighbors, visitors will have the opportunity to visit and chat with the vendors, and make some purchases to add décor and fun to their homes or offices.
Local artists and craftsmen from Center, Friendswood and Jewel have registered to show their wares. As of press time, an artist from Oklahoma featuring World War II aviation art is planning to be on hand. “This should be a sure draw for some of our senior citizens who enjoy this event so much,” said organizers.
Another artist from Denham Springs, La., will display horseshoe nail cross necklaces and beach glass crosses. “There are so many on the list I cannot name them all,” said Trahan, “but the 10th anniversary event is shaping up to be a big one, and for that, we are thrilled.”
The younger ones have not been forgotten in the planning of the event. There will be games for children, pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses, as well as other fun things for them to do while attending Art in the Park. The food vendors are anxious to return to Orange and the variety to be offered is amazing. There will literally be something for everyone.
Entertainment on the main stage will feature the Dixieland Review, the Lone Star Pipe Band, Traveling Roads, Doug Childress and Gone to Texas, Joe Soliz and Band, and the ever-popular Texas favorite Ezra Charles. A street dance will take place between 6 and 9 p.m. Strolling through Stark Park will be the Lone Star Pipe Band, and the well-known Sweet Adelines will also perform. On the CVB lawn, the Orange Community Band will entertain the guests.Ezra Charles and his band are huge draws anywhere in Southeast Texas. In the diverse world of Texas music, the Ezra Charles Band may be the most diverse of all. The features that make their act unique are a long list: a front-man singer-songwriter on piano, a three-piece horn section that is all female, bass lines played by the keyboardist, a repertoire that is almost all original, a range of musical styles from rockabilly to swing to blues to boogie, the ability to shift from infectious dance-hall beats to intimate cabaret-style songwriting presentations to international arena-level concerts, and three decades of longevity.
The present band began in 1983 as a rockabilly trio, but two years later Ezra added a three-piece horn section, and the lineup was born that has survived to this day. A big part of the impact of the band’s live show comes from the fact that Ezra combined the concept of female backup singers with a horn section by recruiting three girls who play trumpet, trombone and sax.
The music they play consists mainly of songs written by Ezra Charles that fill the eight CDs they have released on their own label. Ezra has spent the last 25 years creating a body of work that chronicles his life and the Texas Gulf Coast atmosphere that permeates his music. As the band’s horn arranger as well as songwriter, he has drawn from both the heritage of the “Blue-Eyed Soul” horn bands of the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Louisiana region where he grew up, as well as the rich Houston sound of the Duke-Peacock stable that recorded behind Bobby “Blue” Bland and Gatemouth Brown.
Although their style is hard to categorize, it is fair to say that the band’s music includes elements of everything that makes Texas music special. Concerts by the Ezra Charles Band always include improvisation and exciting interplay between the musicians, epitomizing what great live music is all about. Guests will want to stay for this performance wrapping up the tenth annual event.
The CVB is planning for the popular event to increase hotel and restaurant business for the hospitality industry in Orange during this fun weekend with every member of the family in mind. The CVB is funded by the city’s hotel occupancy tax.
Readers may contact the CVB office at (409) 883-1011 for more information about Art in the Park or visit the Web site at ww.orangetexas.org.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.