By Mallory Hisler
The Baylor community can expect a large dose of Texas over the next month.
“A Celebration of Texas: Literature, Music and Film” will be on Wednesday and run through April 26, and will feature writings, music, swing dancing and movies about Texas.
Although the original idea was not meant to be such a long-term, large-scale event, organizers said they are very excited about the scope of the project.
“The more we thought about it, it just went in this direction. We started with a big beginning and a big end, and we just filled it in with great stuff,” Kathy Hillman, director of special collections and one of the event coordinators, said.
Programs, such as reading sessions with two Texas authors, will be offered to “enrich the Baylor, Waco and surrounding communities in Central Texas,” according to the event’s website.
All of the events are free and open to the public, and coordinators said they encourage people to join in the celebration.
“We went all in and planned some series of events to draw more people in,” Alison Pruett, digital media and communication specialist for the libraries, said.
The celebration’s first event will be a workshop by Jan Epton Seale, 2012 Texas Poet Laureate. The workshop will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Armstrong Browning Library.
The two biggest events of the celebration will be the “Celebration of Texas Music: Getting in the ‘Swing’ of Things” at 7 p.m. Thursday in Moody Memorial Library’s Albritton Foyer, and the “Celebration of Texas Film: The Cultural Impact of ‘Giant’ (1956) on the Idea of Texas” at 7 p.m. April 26 in the Bill Daniel Student Center den.
“We are going to kick off with the main event on March 29,” Pruett said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff planned for that day to celebrate the swing dance culture in Texas.”
As part of the Celebration of Texas music, Dick Gimble, McLennan Community College professor and Texas swing expert, will be playing Texas swing music with his band while the Baylor Swing Dance Society dances. Gimble and his band will play at 7 p.m. Thursday in Moody Memorial Library’s Albritton Foyer.
“The Swing Dance Society will also help teach attendees how to do the famous Texas dance, which should be really fun,” Pruett said.
The event will also feature Jean Ann Boyd, a Baylor musicology professor who will talk about her writings on Texas and Western swing.
The last big event will be an exploration of the impact of the film “Giant” through clips, a panel and a viewing of a documentary about the making of the film by 1974 Baylor graduate Kirby Warnock.
“This movie was a really big deal. It did for Texas what ‘Gone With The Wind’ did for Georgia. It helped shape a lot of the country’s view of Texas,” Pruett said. “It was also James Dean’s last movie.”
Two other events will honor two writers — one Texas children’s book writer, Mary Brooke Casad, and Judy Alter, a writer focusing on women in the American West. There will be question-and-answer sessions at both events.
The event featuring Casad will take place April 3. For time and location information, contact Hillman at Kathy_Hillman@baylor.edu.
The event featuring Alter will take place at 4 p.m. April 16 in 101 Carroll Science Building.
Initial planning for the celebration began a year ago, and Hillman said she hopes to see a good turnout.
“We would love to have an overflow crowd,” Hillman said. “We have never done anything like this before.”
All of the events have sponsors, including Baylor University Libraries, Baylor English department, House of Poetry, Baylor School of Music, Baylor School of Education, Historic Waco Foundation, the Baylor Film and Digital Media Division of the Department of Communication Studies, and Baylor Student Activities.
The libraries also received a grant from Humanities Texas, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, that helped fund the event.
More information about individual events, times and places, can be found at the event’s website.