“I think this is the most excitement I have seen from our community about an event in a long time,” former Three Rivers Mayor James Liska said. “Without Murrell (Foster) and Mike (Pierson) we wouldn’t be nearly as organized. They really have done a good job of putting this together. It’s something I’m proud to be a part of and something we will remember for a lifetime.”
It took a team of 24 on the centennial committee to get the festivities lined up along with city and chamber of commerce employees and volunteers. The centennial is actually a year-round celebration with events scheduled throughout the year in addition to selling custom-made throw blankets, commemorative plates and a book detailing the town’s history.
“I have to commend Mike Pierson; he has taken the ball and run with it,” Centennial Committee Chairperson Dianne Kuenstler said. “Everyone that worked hard needs to be thanked, but it’s hard to recognize everyone for what they did.”
Putting next Saturday’s big event and the entire year’s celebrations together took extensive planning and collaboration, but that’s just half the battle. The other half was funding it so it could be free of charge with the exception of food and drinks. This was made possible thanks to funds from the hotel occupancy tax. Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Murrell Foster and Liska each said these funds can only be used for events that bring people to the community in an effort to promote local tourism.
“It has been good since the Eagle Ford came in,” Foster, said. “We wanted to do something free for the whole community. We decided early on that we weren’t going to charge admission.”
Festivities kick off at 4 p.m. with vendors of both food and drinks, and arts and crafts. Although most of the entertainment will be geared towards adults, there will be about a dozen small carnival rides available for children.
Foster said there will be two beer tents with 24 stations, so he doesn’t anticipate the estimated 10,000 guests will have to wait in long lines.
“I think it’s going to be a fun event, something our city has never seen before,” Liska said. “This might be one step higher than what we are used to; it ought to be fun and enjoyable.”
Then at 7 p.m. there will be approximately 30 minutes of speeches from elected officials including Texas Sen. Judith Zaffirini, State Rep. Ryan Guillen, Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff, County Commissioner Donna Mills and Mayor Sam Garcia. As of June 19, invitations have been sent to the governor’s office and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa but they hadn’t confirmed yet.
McMullen High School graduate and K-99 Corpus Christi DJ “Big Frank” will emcee the event.
“A lot of people know him because he grew up here,” Foster said.
Speeches will end at approximately 7:30 p.m. with Gary Glenn and the 20 X Band taking the stage as the crowd hits the dance floor from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Glenn is a Three Rivers High School graduate who started his music career as the lead singer of Wildcard, a “show band” that toured Texas dance halls from 1995-2008 until the formation of his current band with many of the same musicians.
Local Tejano band Ruben Salazar and Grupo Patron will follow from 8:30-9:30 p.m. with approximately 30 minutes of fireworks afterwards.
“The ‘big bang’ has to do with the fireworks,” Liska said. “I’m not talking small fireworks; these are ones for huge events. It should be a really nice fireworks display.”
Once the fireworks die down, things will heat back up again as the Randy Rogers Band takes the stage as the Big Bang’s grand finale. The band’s last four studio albums have made it to Billboard’s Top 10 Country Albums and their most recent album debuted as the most downloaded country album on iTunes.
Foster said Liska suggested the band with the intention of drawing in a younger crowd.
“He is one of the top country bands; a lot of people like him,” Liska said.
The Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce started searching for the Big Bang’s big act over a year ago and the Randy Rogers Band was booked late last winter. Liska said Randy Rogers was “the most sought-after” band as the city was working with booking agents.
In order for the town to accommodate the large crowd the Randy Rogers Band typically attracts, the chamber organized six designated parking lots. Parking will be available at the Three Rivers Independent School District campus, on city property behind the Rialto Theater and Valero offered the use of its property across the street from the refinery which is typically used for turnarounds.
As a fallback plan, additional parking will be available at the Live Oak County Fairgrounds with three shuttle buses operating before, during and after the concerts for free.
Safety has also been bulked up for the event with 28 law enforcement officers patrolling the area and 20 security guards tending to parking, according to Foster.
“I think people need to come out and have a good time to celebrate our 100th birthday,” Liska said. “Most of us living today will not see the next 100th year.”
See next week’s edition of The Progress for a detailed list of upcoming Three Rivers centennial events for the remainder of the year.