Alpine is once again a big winner in the Texas Travel Awards! This year we brought home a total of 4 awards. First time winners are The Spirits of the West, Wine and Beef Fest and the Alpine Christmas Stroll. Both the Museum of the Big Bend and Viva Big Bend won tops spots for the 3rd YEAR IN A ROW! All of this years Texas Travel Awards for Alpine were based on population size and Alpine competes among other “small market” cities.
SPIRITS OF THE WEST, Wine & Beef Fest
2023 Best Food Festival or Event- Small Market
Known as the last frontier, Alpine has long embodied the spirit of the west. Now we celebrate the “SPIRITS of the West” with a 2-day festival that brings local agriculture producers and chefs together to give you a taste of how the Big Bend region is making a name in the culinary world.
The “Spirits of the West Wine and Beef Festival” is an event by the nonprofit Alpine’s Gallery Night Inc who also host the city’s annual art festival, Artwalk.
For 30 years the organization has been promoting and celebrating the artist of Alpine, and in 2022 they decided that celebrating the culinary arts of the region would be a great way to build on their mission.
Visitors to the festival can taste and see wineries, breweries, and distilleries from across Texas, paired with beef fare from West Texas beef producers, as well as drinking in the sounds of first-class Texas musicians and fine art vendors.
Activities include a wine tasting class, tastings from wineries, distilleries and breweries as well as the opportunity to purchase the products like craft cheeses and locally grown beef.
Live Music is an important part of the event as well, with visiting and local bands entertaining the street festival and all of this delicious indulging takes place against the beautiful desert mountains of West Texas in downtown Alpine.
ALPINE CHRISTMAS STROLL
2023 Best Community Event- Small Market
Alpine Historical Association’s preservation efforts are mainly directed towards historic homes, but the Alpine Christmas Stroll is also about preserving Alpine’s strong sense of community. “It’s a chance to get the community together,” says Abbey Branch, Founder and President of the Alpine Historical Association. “We just want everyone to come out and enjoy our beautiful town.”
Inspired by the traditions of her childhood, Alpine native Abbey Branch started the Christmas Stroll in 2021. She recalled, “driving along Sul Ross Avenue during Christmastime in the ‘70s was magical.”
The Christmas Stroll, a partnership between the Alpine Historical Association, Sul Ross State University, the City of Alpine and many individual homeowners, now pays homage to that tradition.
Starting with kids crafts and a musical performance at the 1890s-era Old School House, strollers walk east along Sul Ross Avenue towards the Christmas tree in front of Sul Ross State University’s Lawrence Hall. Along the way revelers enjoy a series of musical performances from area high school and community bands and choirs, coordinated by the Sul Russ Music Department. There are also drinks and goodies from neighbors and community organizations.
In addition to the many Christmas decorations lighting the way, there are thousands of luminarias made by volunteers from Alpine High School’s National Honor Society, Student Council, and Cub Scouts.
Once strollers reach the top of the hill, all the participating musicians lead the crowd in Christmas carols before the lighting of the University tree and a visit from Santa Claus.
The Alpine Christmas Stroll is free and open to the public.
MUSEUM OF THE BIG BEND
2023, 2022, 2021 Best Museum- Small Market
The Museum of the Big Bend is a first-class institution, in an entirely different league from your average small-town historical museum. A part of Sul Ross State University, the museum is housed in its original building on the SRSU campus, a stone Works Progress Administration structure dating from 1937 and immaculately renovated in the early 2000s.
A new expansion in 2023 doubles the square footage of the Museum with a striking new building addition by noted international design firm, Page/. Meanwhile, the historic building has received a sizable National Endowment for the Humanities grant for additional restoration work.
The exhibit quality has always been in keeping with its peers in much larger cities, and the content makes the Museum a must-see resource for first time visitors to the region. “Big Bend Legacy,” the permanent exhibit, tells the story of the region’s prehistory and history thoughtfully and from multiple perspectives.
The new building provides greatly enhanced art display galleries for the Museum’s permanent collection and a rarely-viewed series of paintings by El Paso’s Tom Lea, as well as regularly scheduled visiting shows. Significant past exhibitions have included collections of work by such notables as Frederick Remington and Charles Russell.
The Museum’s annual “Trappings of Texas” exhibit and sale, at 36 years and counting, is the longest-running show of premiere contemporary western art and custom cowboy gear in the nation.
A signature asset is the Yana and Marty Davis Map Collection, containing hundreds of original documents dating back to the sixteenth century. A selection of maps are on permanent display and everything in the collection is available to anyone for viewing by appointment.
In 2020 and 2022, True West magazine named the Museum of the Big Bend as one of their Top Ten Western Museums in the US.
VIVA BIG BEND
2023, 2022, 2021 Best Music Festival- Small Market
Viva Big Bend must be the biggest small music festival anywhere, filling almost every stage in five communities across three of Texas’s largest, but least populated, counties every July.
A project of Texas Music magazine in partnership with the communities of Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, Marathon, Terlingua and now adding Presidio for 2023! Each year Viva brings 60+ live performances spanning multiple genres to the Big Bend region.
Unlike most festivals that bring their audiences to a large central area, Viva Big Bend puts a focus on supporting the local venues that are the backbone of the music industry year-round, booking acts for 10+ stages each year.
Popular statewide acts share stages with local favorites, fostering new connections and making a rich musical stew for the venue- and town-hopping visitor.
The festival maintains a balance of ticketed and free events, offering afternoon music in several venues at no cost throughout the four days of the event. Special children’s shows are also scheduled each year.
The distance between the towns and their venues – for example, more than 80 miles between Alpine and Terlingua – is an asset rather than a drawback, as the scenic desert mountain drives between the towns immerse festival-goers in the Big Bend landscape, as much a part of the event experience as the music.