Alpine, TX: Heart of the Big Bend
By Chris Ruggia
Alpine, TX: Heart of the Big BendAug 14, 2021
Marfa's Blackwell School becomes a National Historic Site
Chris talks with Blackwell School Alliance Board member Daniel Hernandez and Fort Davis NHS Superintendent David Larson about the Blackwell School, Marfa's segregated school campus which closed in 1965. The school is an unusually well-preserved example of the sort of institution that could be found across the south, both before and after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision put an end to legal segregation in schools. The Blackwell School Alliance is a group of alumni and other community members who have acted to save the building from demolition and created a small museum to share the experiences of the students. Since Congress approved the addition of the Blackwell School as a National Historic Site, the National Park Service has begun the long process of working with the community to collect and tell its story.
Far West Guitars - Honoring a Legacy of Music in Alpine
Chris talks with Will Snodgrass, who has just opened Far West Guitars on 6th Street in downtown Alpine. Will shares his love and passion for music and how his mission is to welcome everyone to enjoy the art and beauty of fine musical instruments. Chris and Will also talk about the inspiration they have gotten from two guitar legends, Mark Pollock and Michael Stevens, and their contributions to the Alpine community and far beyond.
Summer Travel to the Big Bend - National Travel & Tourism Week
Chris and Heather recognize National Travel & Tourism Week with a talk about the best ways to enjoy a summer trip to Alpine and the Big Bend, from the surprisingly cool summer temperatures in the mountains, to a few choice spots to while away a warm afternoon in comfort, to enjoying the starry night skies on a deliciously cool – even chilly! – desert evening.
Wassermann Wranch: It's All in the Family!
Chris and Heather talk with Heidi Wassermann about visiting Wassermann Wranch and meeting the extended family: hobnob with Donkeys, Alpacas, Kangaroos, and Carl the Camel!
2023 Alpine Gem & Mineral Show
Chris is joined by Big Bend rock shop impresarios Judith Brueske, Paul Graybeal and Sue Franklin to discuss to Alpine Gem & Mineral Show, April 14-16, 2023 at the Alpine Civic Center. One of the finest small gem and mineral shows in the country, the vendors and displays combine science, art and much more!
2023 Spirits of the West Festival
Chris talks with Kerri Blackman and Krista Kirkland about the 2nd annual Spirits of the West Wine & Beef Festival, coming up April 21-22 in downtown Alpine. Visitors can taste and meet wineries, breweries, and distilleries from across Texas, paired with specialties from West Texas beef producers. Before April 5, 2023, go to visitalpinetx.com and enter to win two VIP wristbands for the event!
Big Bend Day Trips - The Spring Break Edition
When you have one day – or four! – in the Big Bend, it's hard to decide what to do, there's so much to choose from! Heather and Chris lay out four different day trips from your home base in Alpine that can fill out a nice Spring Break visit, or you can pick just one or two if you have less time on your trip. This is definitely an episode to come back to each time you are thinking of coming out to Alpine and the Big Bend!
Museum of the Big Bend: A GRAND OPENING!
Chris talks with Mary Bones, Director of the Museum of the Big Bend, about the completion of the new Emmet and Miriam McCoy building expansion and its Grand Opening on March 10, 2023. The new building, connected to the current historic structure, doubles the Museum's footprint with multiple areas for art exhibits and special events.
Birding in the Big Bend
Chris talks with Bill Sain, a long-time leader in the American Birding Association, and Maureen Frank, Associate Professor of Conservation Biology at Sul Ross State University about BIRDS! The Big Bend area hosts a tremendously rich diversity of bird species, and watching them is an endless source of pleasure for newbies and veteran birders alike. What are the easiest birds to find? What are the rarest birds in the area? What bird did Bill's dad want to be reincarnated as? Listen and find out!
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2023
As we look forward to Feb 17-18, 2023 and the next installment of the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we look back to grammy-winning poet Joel Nelson's keynote address to the 2020 Gathering – which provides a history of the event – and then Chris visits with musician Jim Wilson about his history with the Gathering and we share a couple of tracks from Wilson's "Border Bravo" album.
Books in the Big Bend: Front Street Books and Author J.J. Rusz (rebroadcast)
One ill-timed corrupted audio file, and CONGRATULATIONS! We are rebroadcasting this great earlier episode: Chris talks with Alpine-based author J.J. Rusz about his ongoing series of "Big Bend Country Mysteries" and with Front Street Books manager Julie Green about Alpine's excellent downtown independent bookstore.
Alpine 2023 Events Preview
Chris and Heather talk about Alpine happenings for 2023 that we are all looking forward to. Have your calendar ready for this one!
2022 Alpine Year-End Recap
What happened in Alpine in 2022? Chris and heather are joined by Alpine Radio's Martin Benevich (KVLF 98.7FM & KALP 92.7FM) to talk through the last year's highlights for visitors!
Public Safety North of the Border
Chris and Heather talk with Alpine Police Chief Darrell Losoya about questions of public safety in Alpine and the Big Bend.
The Alpine Art Scene (Rebroadcast)
In honor of this weekend's ArtWalk 2022, we are revisiting our conversation with Jan Moeller and Carol Fairlie of the Big Bend Arts Council!
Alpine's 29th Artwalk for 2022
Chris talks to Keri Blackman (founder) and Ty Muennink (incoming director) about Artwalk, Alpine's biggest arts festival: https://artwalkalpine.com
Held every November during the weekend before Thanksgiving. There will be art exhibits at 25 different locations, more than a dozen food vendors, and free live music on three stages around downtown! November 18 & 19, 2022.
Visiting the Alpine Public Library
It's National Friends of Libraries Week! Chris talks to Alpine Public Library Director Don Wetterauer and past President of the Friends of the Alpine Public Library Lee Smith about APL's tremendous visitor services including free public use computers, a welcoming place to rest, relax and hang out, and the Re-Reads Used Bookstore!
The Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve
Chris talks to Stephen C. Hummell of McDonald Observatory about the newly designated Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve - the largest (and ONLY international) Dark Sky Reserve on the planet! So, what's a Dark Sky Reserve? What can we all do to help keep our skies dark and our stars bright? And what's up at McDonald Observatory these days? Listen and find out!
Visiting the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Chris and Heather talk with Lisa Gordon, Director of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, about the variety of activities and exhibits available to visitors there. A network of moderate-difficulty hiking trails, a botanical garden, geology and mining exhibits, and a charming gift shop await you! What's Chris's go-to hike at the Nature Center? We know you're DYING to find out!
2022 Big Bend Bluegrass Festival
Chris talks with Cyndi Perdue, founder of the new Big Bend Bluegrass Festival as well as visiting artist Edgar Loudermilk and Alpine-based musician David Keller. What IS Bluegrass, really? And what pioneering country legends can Edgar claim in his family tree? Find out here, along with how to get those tickets!!! October 7-8, 2022 in Alpine!
Trappings of Texas: A Talk with the Artists
Chris talks with Mary Bones, Director of the Museum of the Big Bend, about the upcoming Trappings of Texas exhibit and sale of fine contemporary western art and cowboy gear. They are joined by master engraver Buddy Knight and veteran painter/illustrator Mike Capron for some fascinating insight into their artistic process! Don't miss the opportunity to see these two at work during the Trappings of Texas Opening Weekend events, September 15-17, 2022!
Fiesta 1888 with Tejano Legends Little Joe and Ruben Ramos
Chris is joined by Fiesta 1888 event organizers Mary Ann Lujan and Elidia Polanco, Tejano Sundays host (and Puro Party All Star) Robert Alvarez, and legendary musicians Little Joe and Ruben Ramos. Little Joe y La Familia and Ruben Ramos & the Mexican Revolution will appear August 20 on historic Murphy Street with Puro Party All Starz opening up.
Rodeo in Alpine 2022
Chris talks with Mattie Sargent of the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo and CJ Aragon, Sul Ross State University Rodeo Coach, about the upcoming Ranch Rodeo and College Rodeo in August and September at the S.A.L.E. Rodeo Arena in Alpine.
Alpine Visitor Center FAQ's
Chris and Heather talk Frequently Asked Questions! What do visitors want to know before they come out to the Big Bend? What do they want to know about the Alpine Visitor Center itself? It's non-stop question and answer ACTION!!!
Viva Big Bend 2022 - Live Music in the Big Bend
Chris and Heather talk with Viva Big Bend music festival organizer Stewart Ramser and Doodlin' Hogwallops vocalist and bassist Neil Trammell. Viva Big Bend is a music festival held the last weekend of July and featuring almost 70 live shows at 18 venues in 5 communities (Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, Marathon and Terlingua).
Visiting South Brewster County
Chris talks with Sandy Price and Monte Mudd from the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce about visiting South Brewster County. A small group of communities in a BIG landscape, Terlingua, Study Butte, Lajitas and Terlingua Ranch offer a unique culture, first-class outdoor activities and vibrant small businesses right at the edges of Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. But be aware – during the busiest seasons (especially Spring Break), the high number of visitors is putting a strain on the infrastructure and services of these little towns, so please do your part to help keep your impact to minimum!
Alpine Cowboys Baseball at historic Kokernot Field
Chris talks with Alpine Cowboys General Manager Kristin Cavness, Team Manager Sean Persky and Third Baseman James Prockish talk small-town baseball! Alpine's beloved Cowboys baseball club start their 2022 season off at the start of June and face some brand new oppponents in the Pecos League. And all of the action happens in beautiful, historic Kokernot Field, built in the 1940s on the o6 Ranch by Kristin's Great-Grandfather, Herbert L. Kokernot, Jr.
Alpine, Texas meets the Hotel Occupancy Tax
Chris is joined by Justin Bragiel, lead counsel for the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association to talk about...hotel taxes! What?!? Taxes!?!? No, really – What are they for? How do they help the community? Why can't we use the money to fill that pothole or fix the sewers? Find out how Alpine uses HOT funds, and you'll even get to hear Justin say nice things about us!
Alpine's Music Scene
Chris talks with local musicians Rick Ruiz and John Ray about Alpine's small but vibrant and welcoming live music scene: the local bands, the venues, the events and festivals. We'll even tell you where to bring your instrument whenever you are ready to jump in and join us!
Spirits of the West Wine & Beef Festival
Chris talks to Kerri Blackman and Rachel Maxwell, masterminds behind a new and unique culinary event in Alpine: the Spirits of the West Wine & Beef Festival, May 27-29, 2022! Eleven Texas wineries, distilleries and breweries will offer three days of exquisite pairings of wine and spirits with signature appetizers, most using Big Bend ranch-raised beef. The event will also feature live music, fine art, workshops and more.
The Alpine Gem & Mineral Show
Chris talks with four members of the Chihuahuan Desert Gem and Mineral Club about the booths, displays, demonstrations and more that visitors will find at the annual Alpine Gem & Mineral Show in mid-April. We also talk about the history of rock collecting in the Big Bend, the region's distinctive agates, rock hunting trips in the area and the small rock shops in Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis and Balmorhea.
Visiting Big Bend National Park
After giving a general overview in our last episode, Big Bend National Park Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg returns to tell Chris and Heather the details about actually visiting what we lovingly call "THE Park". Entrance fees, speed limits, camping reservations, river trip outfitters, and info on the ONLY official US border crossing into Mexico where there is a burro waiting to take you into town for tacos!
Big Bend National Park Basics
Chris and Heather finally make it to Big Bend National Park! They talk with Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg about some of what makes BBNP the best park anywhere ever. Did we say that out loud? Anyway, we cover the Basics – the unique convergence of desert ecosystems that makes the Park truly special and, of course, Tom's favorite hike. What is it? Listen and find out!
Chris and Heather talk to Linda Beranek, President of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce, about visiting Alpine's sister to the East. From the Gage Hotel to the Post Park, and all of the restaurants, gardens, galleries and shops in between!
75 Years of Alpine Radio
February 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the first broadcast of our podcast production partner KVLF radio in Alpine. In this episode, Chris talks with Martin Benevich, the current owner of KVLF (AM) and KALP (FM), and with Ray Hendryx, who ran the stations for almost 40 years after taking over from his father Gene Hendryx, who started working at KVLF within weeks of its founding in 1947.
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Chris talks with Kay & Gene Nowell and Bob Saul about the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, coming to the Sul Ross State University campus on Feb. 18 & 19, 2022. They discuss the origins of cowboy poetry as an art form, the tradition of cowboy poetry gatherings and their long history in Alpine, and details about the 2022 event.
The Texas Mountain Trail & The Big Bend Travel Guide
For our 20TH EPISODE(!), Chris talks with Wendy Little, Director of the Texas Mountain Trail Region, and Stewart Ramser, publisher of the Big Bend & Texas Mountains Travel Guide.
2022 Events Preview & A Look Back at 2021
Chris and Heather review a few of the happenings around town in 2021 and then give a rundown of the busy events calendar for Alpine in 2022. Pull out your calendar for this one!
The Alpine Art Scene
Chris talks with Jan Moeller (Painter and Big Bend Arts Council President) and Carol Fairlie (Painter and Sul Ross State University Professor of Art) in a wide ranging conversation about the Big Bend Arts Council, Alpine's downtown art galleries, the local arts community and more.
Books in the Big Bend: Front Street Books and Author J.J. Rusz
Chris talks with Alpine-based author J.J. Rusz about his ongoing series of "Big Bend Country Mysteries" and with Front Street Books manager Julie Green about Alpine's excellent downtown independent bookstore.
Visiting Fort Davis
Chris and Heather talk with Melissa Henderson, Director of the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, about Alpine's picturesque neighbor to the north. We discuss history, stars, science, shopping and more!
Alpine's Artwalk, a Free 2-Day Art & Music Festival
Chris is joined by the co-founders of Artwalk (formerly Alpine's Gallery Night), now in its 28th year! Kerri Blackman and John Davis talk about the past and present of the event, held the weekend before Thanksgiving every year with activities, art shows and live music all over downtown Alpine.
Chris talks with Abby Boyd, Director of Tourism for the City of Marfa, about Alpine's lovely neighbor to the west. We talk architecture, art, and hours of operation! Pro Tip: when in doubt, go to the Visitor Center!
It's Awards Season in the Big Bend!
Chris and Heather talk about the recent Texas Travel awards and the four wins received for Alpine: Museum of the Big Bend, Viva Big Bend music festival, Alpine's downtown murals and Visit Alpine, Texas' social media accounts.
Sul Ross State University
Heather and Chris talk with University President Pete Gallego about everything Sul Ross has to offer to visitors, to students and to the community of Alpine! Museum of the Big Bend, Sports, Art & Theatre, Hiking Hancock Hill and more!
Alpine Historical Association
Chris and Heather talk with Abbey Branch, the President of the new Alpine Historical Association, about their plans and programs including Historic and Hispanic Heritage Walking Tours, Ghost Tours and more!
Trappings of Texas at the Museum of the Big Bend
Chris and Heather talk with Mary Bones, Director of the Museum of the Big Bend, about the upcoming Trappings of Texas – the nation's premier exhibit and sale of contemporary Western Art & Cowboy Gear.
Rodeo in Alpine!
Chris talks with Chachi Hawkins and Sul Ross State University Rodeo Coach CJ Aragon about the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo (2nd weekend in August) and the SRSU Rodeo (4th weekend in September), the differences between Ranch Rodeo and College Rodeo, and the skill and talent that visitors will get to see when they attend these two great programs!
Big Bend Ranch State park
Chris and Heather visit with Park Interpreter Amber Harrison for a deep dive into the biggest state park in Texas, Big Bend Ranch State Park!
Family Adventures in the Big Bend
Chris and Heather discuss a few of the great outdoor (and indoor) activities families can enjoy in Alpine and the Big Bend region.
Viva Big Bend music festival
The last weekend of July is VIVA time! Chris talks with event founder and organizer Stewart Ramser (vivabigbend.com) and Two Tons of Steel's Kevin Geil (twotons.com) about the return of Viva Big Bend for 2021, featuring 65 performances over 5 days in 5 towns across the Big Bend!
Night Skies in Alpine and the Big Bend
Chris and Heather welcome Bill Wren of McDonald Observatory for a discussion of the incredible night skies in the Big Bend region, stargazing activities, and ongoing programs to preserve the precious resource of our dark night skies.
Alpine's Museum of the Big Bend
Chris and Heather welcome Mary Bones, Director of the Museum of the Big Bend, for a conversation about the Museum, its history at Sul Ross State University, its excellent exhibits and upcoming programming. The Museum of the Big Bend tells the rich story of the region's history and many cultures, and is a must-see starting point for any first-time visit to the area.
Alpine's Downtown Murals
Chris talks with Kerri Blackman and John Davis of Alpine's ARTWALK about the development of the many murals in downtown Alpine, as well as plans underway for two new ones. Hint: Come see us for the Viva Big Bend music festival July 29-August 1, 2021 to enjoy the unveiling (and a 5K run!) for a mural celebrating Texas Musicians!
Big Bend Day Trips from Alpine
Join Chris, Heather and Erik for a discussion of some of the many fantastic scenic drives around the Big Bend region from your home base in Alpine, Texas. Also: sights and attractions along the way, and some Big Bend travel tips!
Welcome to the Heart of the Big Bend
In this first episode of our podcast about visiting Alpine and the Big Bend region, Chris, Heather and Erik discuss some of the things that make Alpine a great place to visit: the weekly Midweek Mercantile & Music street fair; beautiful Spring weather and stunning dark night skies; and upcoming events like the 4th of July celebrations in Alpine and Fort Davis and the Viva Big bend music festival.