Category Archives: Entertainment

Grapevine steps back to its prehistoric roots

By Stacey Doud

DinoSignGrapevine Parks & Rec is once again transforming the Botanical Gardens into Jurassic Park (without all the violence) from March 21 until April 5. This exhibit honors Lake Grapevine’s place in the Woodbine Formation, which consists predominately of sandstones and shales, and occurs in exposed outcrops in north central Texas and southern Oklahoma,

Called Jurassic Gardens, visitors can enjoy and learn about the many animatronic, life-size dinosaurs that once roamed the land they’re standing on. There are many other activities, such as a “bone dig,” some simple carnival games and many opportunities for learning.

The cost is $10 per person, with children 2 and under receiving FREE admission. Tickets go on sale Sunday, March 1, 2020 at https://gograpevine.com/event/jurassicgardens/.

But wait! There’s more!

After the sun goes down, visitors can experience the exhibits in a whole new “light” during Dinos After Dark. On Fridays, special guests will give special presentations about paleontology. On Saturday nights, popular dinosaur movies will be shown. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Both activities will be held from 7pm – 10pm and the cost is $10 per person (children under 2 are free).

The Movie Line-Up:

Jurassic Gardens Basic Info:

  • When: March 21 – April 5, 2020
  • Where: Grapevine Botanical Gardens, 411 Ball Street
  • Times: Monday – Friday: 12pm – 6pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 6pm

For more information, directions and tickets (after March 1), visit Grapevine Parks & Rec.

Grapevine, TX: Not JUST ‘The Christmas Capital of Texas’ Part 1: Hotels

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Photo Courtesy of Grapevine CVB

It may still be a bit cold and rainy in Grapevine, TX, but that doesn’t stop us from having fun! The Christmas Capital of Texas is also a must-see town all year long, with several festivals and more vendors, stores and entertainment venues than I can count!

Keep reading to get a peek into what’s worth it (on a budget), what’s family-friendly and what’s the most fun – all from a local resident!

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If you’re coming to town with no real agenda, make sure you stop at the Grapevine Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, located at 436 S. Main St., which is the “main drag” here in Grapevine. The knowledgable folks there will be able to give you advice and literature to tailor-make your vacation into what you want it to be.

The Usuals – Hotels:

Of course, Grapevine is famous for the Gaylord Texan Resort and the Great Wolf Lodge year-round. If you’re planning a vacation at either of these venues, check sites like GrouponGrapevine CVB and the venue’s site to learn about any deals or specials that are going on.

Both venues are located minutes from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW). If you fly into Love Field, I’d recommend renting a car with a GPS if you’re not familiar with the area. There’s lots of construction going on on the highways and many drivers never replace their “blinker fluid.” 🙂

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The Gaylord Texan Resort

The Skinny: The Gaylord Texan is hard to beat. No matter what time of year it is, they always have something special going on. They recently installed a water park to compete with Great Wolf – it’s smaller than the Wolf, but there are less children running around and all of the amenities are first-class, but so are the prices. The Gaylord is operated by Marriott, so if you are a Marriott Rewards member, you can cash in your chips for discounts, free rooms, etc.

The Great Wolf is, well, full of children. The amazing indoor/outdoor waterpark and inside games guarantee that your little one (and probably you, too) will have a blast! You can go get breakfast in the morning in your pajamas, have all kinds of souvenirs made, and the kiddos can play “MagiQuest,” which is described on the Great Wolf website as such:

Explore the lodge and take part in the adventure of a lifetime! MagiQuest turns Great Wolf Lodge into a live-action game where you’re the star. You’ll choose a special magic wand, top it with extra powers, and set off on a quest. Play for a few minutes or all day. Be sure to take your wand home and continue your adventure on your next trip to Great Wolf Lodge.

Or “ShadowQuest:”

Take your quest to the next level, young Magi! We need your help to battle the Shadowlord and collect runes in this challenging interactive adventure. The ShadowQuest guidebook provides secrets and clues to help you cast spells and complete your mission to save the light before it vanishes forever. When you succeed, you’ll receive a medal for your courage!

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Photo Courtesy of the Great Wolf Lodge

The rooms can be fun, with a separate area for the kids that resembles a treehouse, while the adults have a traditional King or 2 Queen bed set-up adjacent to the bunk beds. Of course, “regular” rooms are also offered, housing one King or two Queen beds and no bunks.

The bottom line is if you don’t want to be surrounded by children, then skip Great Wolf. Go to the Gaylord or the many hotels located in Grapevine, such as the Embassy SuitesHyatt PlaceHilton Garden Inn or Springhill Suites. There are also plenty of motels – Super 8 and Motel 6 being among them.

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Photo Courtesy of the Great Wolf Lodge

Restaurants abound in these areas, so you can have your pick of whatever you’re craving. For some guidance on local fare, click HERE.

NEXT: LOCAL DELIGHTS THAT YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

Texas Renaissance Festival announces multi-year expansion with new pirate museum, giant slide

By Rebecca Hennes

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Photo: Texas Renaissance Festival

The Texas Renaissance Festival recently announced it will expand its enchanted forest area with two large attractions come the 2020 season.

The festival is the largest Renaissance-themed-event in the nation and attracts nearly half a million visitors each year, according to the event website.   Located about an hour’s drive north of Houston in Todd Mission, the nine-weekend event features hundreds of shops, performers, musicians and dancers set on a 55-acre, 16th-century European-inspired village.

For more information, visit https://www.texrenfest.com/.

North Texas Comic Book Show offers thrills for collectors and Cosplayers … and Deadpool’s hiney

The North Texas Comic Book Show was held February 15 and 16 at the Irving Las Colinas Convention Center. This decade-old show caters to comic fans, superhero movie fans and Cosplayers [costume play] of all ages. I was fortunate enough to get a peek behind the scenes.

The Show featured the comic writers and artists that enable characters such as Spider-Man and Batman to come to life on the page, with many characters eventually making it onto the silver screen.

Attendees come to get autographs, buy comics and character-related merchandise and participate in the Cosplay contest, where they can win cash and prizes.

The electric enthusiasm was in the air, as “fanboys” and “fangirls” got to meet some of their childhood heroes.

“This is actually my first convention ever. It was a great experience,” said attendee James Gadsden. “There were a lot of friendly dealers. Even the other patrons were amazing, helping me out, pointing out deals.”

The Show is the brainchild of Chris Latshaw, who found himself dissatisfied with a comic convention he had attended as a dealer in 2011, and decided to start his own show.

I caught up with Chris and some friends in the VIP lunch room, where the comic celebrities and organizers came to grab a sandwich, a drink or just a much-needed break.

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Jose Delbo clowning around with his family

“This show is my baby,” Latshaw said. “This year, we have the oldest living Batman artist, Joe Giella, who started back before Marvel Comics was even Marvel Comics. We have Jose Delbo, who is another artist who comes from a long time ago. He worked on both the Transformers as well as Wonder Woman and a Western Comic at one time called Billy the Kid. We have Bob Layton, who is famous for Iron Man and has been an integral part of what you see in the movies today. He developed a lot of [what you see on the screen] in the comics,” said Latshaw.

There were many artists, including both niche and well-known, who autographed comics and chatted with attendees.

One of the busiest booths housed Spider-Man artist Randy Emberlin, who is now retired from Marvel Comics.

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Randy Emberlin talks to attendees about his run at Marvel Comics

“I have been drawing since age four,” Emberlin said. “Comics actually taught me how to read, so I was reading at age four as well. I mostly drew stuff that was already in comic form back then. I still have a lot of my stuff from back then. They’re drawn in crayon and stapled to look like comics. It’s hilarious to look at now.

“I started inking Spider-Man at the end of 1988. I did it because Erik Larsen asked me to do it. I had met him years before, when he was a kid. He went to DC [Comics] and then to Marvel and then worked on the Spider-Man books. So, when he asked, I said, ‘I’ll take that hand-up any day!’ That was a book anybody would kill to work on,” Emberlin said.

Emberlin retired from Marvel in 2009 after 24 years of employment and now travels around the nation to comic shows and teaches drawing classes to local Portland students.

The other major offering at the Show was the Cosplay contest, which falls under the command of Jacob Long. “Cosplay is basically costume plus play [acting the character]. We just want people to have fun with it,” said Long.

“I came on board with this show in 2014. Cosplay is a natural extension of mainstream media, but it’s also an extension out of comics,” Long explained.

“There’s a community of about 6,000 Cosplayers, mostly based in North Texas,” Long told me. “We are all part of a community called North Texas Cosplay. I’ve been involved in Cosplay since 2012 and I am actively involved behind the scenes.”

The Cosplay contest was different from other contests in that the contestants did not have to be “pre-judged” to enter. Pre-judging in other competitions include minute attention to detail, which excluded many would-be participants.

The contest also emphasized the “theatrical” side of Cosplay. For example, if someone dressed up as Spider-Man, he/she would be judged on the look for the character plus how the contestant stayed in character behavior-wise.

Awards were handed out for best performance, best costume and best in show, which is a combination of both. The adults got cold, hard cash ($100 for first place, $50 for second and third place) and the winning kids got bags full of toys and other goodies.

I was fortunate enough to be able to help out with the contest, directing participants to go to the proper photo spot so the Show photographer could record their appearance for posterity.

The Show is held twice a year in February and July. For more information, visit https://www.comicbooksdallas.com/.

[P.S. I still think Captain America sports America’s Hiney. Sorry, Deadpool]

Former Colleyville resident McKenna Grace returns to Grapevine to showcase her new movie on Amazon “Troop Zero”

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McKenna Grace

By Nelson Thibodeaux

Long time Colleyville resident Fred Monks is the Great Grandfather of McKenna Grace, born in Grapevine 13 years ago and a previous resident of Colleyville before she was moved to the Los Angeles area to pursue her movie career.

McKenna made an appearance at Grapevine Tinsel Town for a private showing of her new movie Troop Zero. Local News Only (LNO) was invited to the premier and attended with approximately 300 friends and relatives of McKenna.

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Read more from NewsBreak…

Charlotte Holmes: Texas author puts a spin on Sherlock

By Stacey Doud

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Author Sherry Thomas

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Texas author Sherry Thomas at the Irving South Public Library. Thomas is the author of the “Lady Sherlock” books. The library has hosted an “Adult Winter Reading Challenge” every year for the past three years. This year’s theme is “Sherlocked.” Participants are required to read five books of his or her choice within the theme and log them online. Upon completing the task, readers will win a limited-edition puzzle book, a Sherlock Holmes keychain and a free book.

Thomas’s “Lady Sherlock” book series puts a new spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular Sherlock Holmes character from the 1800s. Thomas imagined Sherlock as a woman named Charlotte Holmes and she compares and contrasts Charlotte’s behavior, personality and methods with the well-established Sherlock character.

ArtOfTheftSenior Librarian Karen Wong explained that, “This year, we wanted to focus on the mystery genre, but there are just so many great mysteries, so what book to pick? Eventually we realized that we should go with the most famous detective of all-time, Sherlock Holmes.”

Wong was tasked with finding an author that has altered the Holmes character in some way. “My first thought was Sherry Thomas,” Wong said. “I had just read her first book in the ‘Lady Sherlock’ series and enjoyed it so much.”

Sherry Thomas was born in China and left the country when she was 13 years old, when her family immigrated to Louisiana. She credits American romance novels as her English tutor, as Chinese was her original language. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of Texas (UT).

With Bachelors and Masters degrees in accounting, life eventually led Thomas in a different direction. When asked where the idea of Lady Sherlock came from, Thomas said, “I had been a fan of Sherlock Holmes for my entire life. I read ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ in Chinese. I also watched the TV show in China in the mid-80s.

“Around the same time, I discovered ‘The Seven-Per-Cent Solution: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. (The Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.).'”

This book was written by Nicholas Meyer and was published in 1993. It looked at events from the perspective of Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson, and includes Dr. Sigmund Freud as Holmes’s counterpart, with Watson chronicling their adventures.

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A video wall at the Irving South Library

“That showed me that a lot of other people have been writing Sherlock Holmes stuff. Right around the time I went to UT, I read ‘The Beekeeper’s Apprentice,’ which is the first book in a series called ‘Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes’, [which was written by Laurie King and published in 1994]. I loved that book so much that I would listen to audio cassettes of the book series,” said Thomas.

“It wasn’t until the new BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] show with Benedict Cumberbatch came out that I thought, ‘I wonder what else people could do with Sherlock Holmes to bring him into the 21st century?’” Thomas said. “It was about the same time that CBS came out with their show, ‘Elementary,’ in which Dr. Watson was now a woman. That made me think about what would happen if Sherlock was a woman?”

Thomas’s Charlotte Holmes mirrors Sherlock in some ways but is completely different in others. When asked if Charlotte might be Autistic, Thomas answered in the affirmative and said that the original Sherlock was most likely “on the spectrum” as well.

“Sherry Thomas has a wonderful way with words, and she’s very funny and down-to-earth. She kept me captivated with her fascinating comments, and I think everyone left the event as either new fans or even more devoted long-time fans of this charming writer,” Wong said.

Thomas has written books in a variety of genres and plans to write ten “Lady Sherlock” books. She is currently writing the fifth installment of the series.

For more information, visit SherryThomas.com or The South Irving Library’s website.

Vetro Glassblowing offers visitors several treats

There are many things to do in Grapevine, but some interesting activities and shops lie “off the beaten path” from Main Street.

One such shop is the Vetro Glassblowing and Fine Art Gallery, which is located at 701 South Main Street, across from the historic railroad depot.

Their website describes the gallery: “Vetro (Italian for ‘glass’) is a nationally-recognized, active glassblowing studio and Fine Art Gallery. Vetro offers an extensive variety of professionally crafted glass art, ranging from hand-made sculptures to small glass art gifts.”

They offer classes, team building exercises and party packages year-round and visitors can sit in a small set of bleachers to watch the artists work. They also make custom orders. 

If you’ve never seen the amazing art of glassblowing, make sure that Vetro is on your list of places to visit when you’re in Grapevine!

Vetro Glassblowing and Fine Art Gallery, 701 S. Main Street, Suite 103; 817-251-1668

  • Summer hours: May 19 – August 31st, Tuesday though Saturday from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Winter hours: September 1st – April 30th, Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

 

Popeye the Sailor Man really existed

60356775_1251963668294665_149174994557992960_nHis real name was Frank “Rocky” Fiegel. He was born in 1868 in Poland. He was a retired sailor contracted by Wiebusch’s tavern in the city of Chester, Illinois, to clean and maintain order. He had a reputation to be always involved in fighting, so he had a deformed eye (“Pop-eye”). He always smoked his pipe, so he spoke only with one side of his mouth. He loved to be around children.

There is no accounting of his imaginary adventures which boasts about the exploits of his physical strength, ensuring he never lost a fight. The author of Popeye, Elzie Crisler Segar, born in Chester, met Frank when where the young man was to listen to their stories and years later honored him with the character Popeye the Sailor Man. Olive Oyl also existed, she was Dora Paskel, owner of a grocery store in Chester. She is also described to dress just like Olive Oyl. Segar kept in touch with Frank and had always helped him with money. Frank and Popeye also carried some inherent features like courage, chivalry and virility. 

Special Weekend Service for the 2019 State Fair of Texas

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TRE will operate special weekend schedules during the 2019 State Fair of Texas (see schedules here). The State Fair of Texas is open from Friday, September 27 through Sunday, October 20.

TRE passengers can easily transfer to the Green Line at Victory Station. The fairgrounds are connected to two DART Rail Green Line stations — Fair Park, located on Parry Avenue at the entrance to the fairgrounds, and MLK, Jr., located south of R.B. Cullum Blvd. and convenient to the Gate 6 entrance and the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Departure times of the last TRE train to Fort Worth:

  • Monday-Thursday: 10:24 p.m. from Union Station and 10:33 p.m. from Victory Station (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station Monday through Thursday is 9:48 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 9:51 p.m. from Fair Park Station.)
  • Friday: 12 midnight from Union Station and 12:05 a.m. from Victory Station (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station Fridays is 11:18 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 11:21 p.m. from Fair Park Station.)
  • Saturdays and Sundays during the fair: 11:30 p.m. from Union Station and 11:35 p.m. from Victory Station. (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station weekends is 11:08 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 11:11 p.m. from Fair Park Station).

View the DART Rail System Map

View more information about DART State Fair service

Save money, hassle: Buy your 2019 State Fair of Texas tickets on the GoPass app
In addition to buying your transit passes, you can also use the GoPass app for Android and iOS smartphones to buy your State Fair of Texas general admission tickets. Show your purchased fair ticket on GoPass at the gates to get in. To make the deal even sweeter, you’ll save two dollars on every fair ticket by using GoPass!

  • Remember: Buy your tickets ahead of time but wait until the day of your visit to the State Fair of Texas to activate your tickets.
  • When approaching the gate, please have your State Fair of Texas GoPass general admission ticket(s) activated and ready to be scanned.

Sunset Live at the Gardens this weekend

71109372_10157664322307328_9014636213952315392_oThe Grapevine Botanical Gardens will feature 3 FREE nights of live music, delicious food trucks and an abundance of fun activities for the whole family! Join us October 3-5 for a FREE music-filled weekend! With bands like The Spazmatics (80’s Tribute Band), Infinite Journey – The Music of JourneyPOO Live CREW (Cover Band), Me and My Monkey (Beatles Tribute Band) and Motowners, you can have your live music experience any way you want it! Bring your chairs and blankets for a night under the stars with the family.

Doors open at 6:00 pm; bands take the stage at 6:30 pm. Looking for a VIP experience? We still have VIP tickets available for $25 at GoGrapevine.com/SunsetLive.

Sponsored by Grapevine Parks and Rec