Category: Spotlight

For Goodness Snakes…

Rattlesnake Roundup continues to educate, entertain

by MICHAELA CHAMBLEE//Staff Writer

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SWEETWATER – Rattlesnakes are only as dangerous as you make them.

Watching where you step, place your hands when sitting down, and resisting the urge to harass or kill a snake are among the ways you can avoid having any bad encounter you could possibly have with a rattlesnake, according to experts.

Rattlesnakes are native all over America, but mostly in the Southwest. There are 36 known species and more than 65 subspecies. The name ‘Rattlesnake’ was given to the reptile species for their ‘noisemaker,’ also known as the rattle, at the end of the snake’s tail. The rattle is an effective warning sign. A new segment gets added every time the snake sheds its skin.

Rattlesnakes go into hibernation during the colder months, and do not come out until the weather gets above 60 degrees fahrenheit, typically around the month of March.

During the time that the rattlesnake is out of hibernation, it typically moves through the area, sunning itself or looking for a place to hide. Rattlesnakes tend to move around in the area that it considers its ‘home range,’ but they are not territorial.

Rattlesnakes are usually born between August and October, and are about 10 inches long at birth, with a small button on the tip of its tail. Rattler babies have venom, short fangs and are dangerous from birth.

Newborns are unable to make a rattling sound, and the youngsters throw themselves into a defensive pose and strike repeatedly when disturbed.

Rattlesnakes reach sexually maturity at about 3 years of age. Mating usually occurs in the spring after emerging from hibernation, but can also occur in the fall. Females are able to store the semen for months, allowing them to fertilize the ova sometimes six months later.

The female rattler may carry anywhere from four to 25 eggs, with an average of about 10 young born live. A female rattlesnake usually reproduces about every three years.

The Sweetwater Jaycees have held the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup every year during the second weekend of March for the past 58 years in the Nolan County Coliseum at Newman Park in Sweetwater, Texas. The event attracts more than over 25,680 attendees each year, with about 21,314 non-local attendees ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old, and about 4,366 local attendees, ranging from the age of 18 to 50 years old, according to a 2015 event survey.

The Rattlesnake Roundup starts on Thursday night with the Rattlesnake Parade, followed by a carnival featuring rides, food, and games for everyone to enjoy. The Miss Snake Charmer Pageant also is held that same night in the Municipal Auditorium, where the young ladies in the pageant have a chance to show their talent, dress up, and try to charm the judges, just like at any other pageant, except this one is more for the community to enjoy.

On Friday and Saturday, they open the doors to the Nolan County Coliseum, where rattlesnakes can be seen at four different stations: Safety and Handling Demonstration, Milking Pit, Skinning Pit, and Research Pit. You can also participate in a guided hunt early in the morning, and see the rattlesnakes in their natural habitat. But participants are required to have a non-game Texas General Hunting License.

The Safety and Handling Demonstration is represented by David Sager and Dusty Hoskins. They talk about what to do around a rattlesnake, and what to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake.

“The Safety and Handling Demonstration is mostly for you to know how to safely live in the same area as the rattlesnakes,” said Hoskins. “Most of the time, the rattlesnake won’t want to bite you. It is just as afraid of you as you are of the snake.”

Learning the safety of rattlesnakes and what to do if you come across one, whether they are highly populated in the town or city, such as Sweetwater, is really important.

“I work at the Abilene Regional Medical Center,” said Hoskins. “I see a lot of patients who come in with rattlesnake bites.”

The rattlesnakes are milked in the Milking Pit by Dennis Cumbie and Brad Willis, who demonstrate the process of grabbing the rattlesnake and milking out the venom.

“Milking the rattlesnake is important for medical research,” said Cumbie. “I originally hunted. But one day, the Jaycees were shorthanded and asked me to fill in. I’ve been milking them since.”

The venom from rattlesnakes is sent off to medical labs, where they use it in more than 70 different drugs. The snakes’ venom extracted during the milking is used to create anti-venom. Medical research is showing that venom can be used in medicines to help with strokes and malignant tumors.

Miss Texas can also be found during the Rattlesnake Roundup entering the pits and getting involved with the Sweetwater Jaycees crew and the crowd.

“Miss Texas shows up every year,” said Shannon Sanderford, 2015 Miss Texas. “It is a Miss Texas tradition.”

Sanderford, a 23-year old graduate of The University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism, learned how to a hold the rattlesnake with the help of Cumbie. She even posed for the audience to take pictures of her and Cumbie holding the rattlesnake.

Just on the other side of the Milking Pit is the Skinning Pit, where you can watch Jaycees volunteers skin snakes, and roll up the snake skins. They also have a section where you can gut and skin your own rattlesnake, and put your snake’s blood on the wall behind the pit with your hand print. They use the skin to make different unique items, such as souvenirs, pens, snake heads, and even just the skin dried up and flattened.

At the end of the Coliseum is the research pit, where they measure the length and weight of the rattlesnakes. The Sweetwater Jaycees harvested 24,262 pounds of rattlesnakes for 2016, which broke the 34-year record with 17,986 pounds set in 1982.

The McIntyre team had the most pounds of rattlesnakes at 3,428 pounds, and Eric Timaeus had the longest rattlesnake at 75-1/2, just under the record of 81-1/2.

The Rattlesnake Roundup ends on Sunday with a snake eating contest, beard contest, longest snake, and the person with the most pounds of snakes. Rattlesnake Roundup has visitors from all over the country, as well as the surrounding areas of Sweetwater.

Jaycees Junior Chamber International is an international organization with nearly, 200,000 young active members, more than 5 million alumni, including several world leaders, and spreads across more than 5,000 local communities and 100 other countries around the world.

Downtown Funk…

SXSW fills downtown Austin with sound of music

by SERGIO MADRID/Staff Writer

AUSTIN — No need for anything other than open ears, an empty stomach, and possibly an extra pair of shoes. We’re going to South by Southwest Music Fest.

Annual festival SXSW is a week-and-a-half-long event featuring film, gaming, and music expos highlighted by guest speakers, upcoming technology, video games, and instruments from several manufacturers. The music portion of SXSW showcases more than 2,000 acts, some of which are not very well known, along with household names such as “Drake” and “Blue October.”

From the time you check into your hotel to when you hit 6th Street, you’ve already seen so much of what Austin has to offer. No, I’m not including the traffic on Interstate 35.

Chances are you were smart and had nothing to eat while traveling. That way you show up ready to scarf down a few of those famous tacos from “Juan and a Million” before you get to the actual festival.

Parking spots are scarce, so get up bright and early so you don’t spend all day stuck in traffic looking for a decent parking place. Unless you plan on spending a fortune on petty cabs, you will be doing a lot of walking. Thankfully, every venue has coolers full of water to help with exhaustion.

The walks are not all bad. In fact, you might just stumble upon a sound you like and discover a band or artist you like. That’s what I did around 12 a.m. on March 18 at Friends Bar on 6th Street, as I stumbled upon a very creative Canadian three-piece band, “Close Talker.” The band features Will Quiring (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Morien (drums, vocals), and, most impressively, Matthew Kopperud (lead guitar, keys).

Kopperud was very active on stage, changing his FX levels and playing his leads using a tabbing technique with his left hand and keeping a smooth melody on the keys with the right. All while singing back-up to Quiring. The band produces a sound that captivates the ears into a soothing trance.

Music is alive, no note goes unheard, and melodies stretch across the downtown Austin area. Whether it be street performers or festival attendees blaring their stereos, currents of sound are moving in all directions.

Later that morning, on the way to Whole Foods Markets for breakfast, we came across Bear Mountain outside of Grove’s Wine Bar on 6th Street. Another band out of Canada, Bear Mountain pulls you in with their sound and makes you want to move and jump around. After their set, I was sold and went to talk to lead singer Ian Beavis. He was a very gracious man who humbly thanked everyone for coming out to their show that went unscheduled. He gave me an awkward and sweaty handshake, adding “Thank you so much for coming to the show. We’re Bear Mountain, and my name is Ian Beavis, like Beavis and Butthead.”

The historic Waterloo Records was the site of a big showcase featuring The Heavy, a British indie rock band that will make you jump along with their upfront-and-personal lyrics. After sitting through half an hour of a dreadful Lady Gaga impersonator called Peaches, I got to enjoy good music. They played fan favorites “How You like Me Now” and “What Makes a Good Man.” I was intoxicated with energy due to Monster Energy giving out free Monster drinks.

Almost every street had tents giving out free stuff, such as Monster drinks, cup warmers, pain medicine, key chains and shirts. There is no excuse for not taking home any souvenirs.

For me, the night to really rock out was March 19, as “The People the Poet” and “Emily Wolfe” headlined venues and played what I thought to be two of the best showings. Behind Lucille’s Bar on Rainey Street, “The People the Poet” came roaring out of the gates as they started off with their most popular song, “Matchday.” During the set and after playing “Take,” lead singer Leon Stanford says, “You know, every time people hear this song, they ask us things like, so, are you a Christian rock band or something? To that we just say. Well, you see how much we drink, so I think that should answer your question right there.”

Emily Wolfe played at the Old School Bar on the corner of Trinity and 6th Street. She came on around midnight and blew me away with her impressive guitar skills. A Singer-songwriter and possibly a great stand-alone guitarist, Wolfe began her set at level 10 and ended at 12. The energy was so high within the crowd that fed off the powerful efforts put forth by Wolfe’s three-piece band.

Solo after solo, Wolfe showcased musical talents that would put the best musicians to shame. Her third to last number was her big song, “White Collar Whiskey,” and the crowd went berserk, singing along with the chorus. After being told she only had three minutes left on her set, she announced she had two more songs and played 10 minutes after her set time. I feel bad for those who missed the show.

After a week-and-a-half-long festival, the streets were clear and seemed almost empty on March 20. Driving through downtown Austin the following morning, I was amazed at how only hours ago thousands of people from around the world huddled inside a portion of the city, all for the love of music and entertainment.

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by RILEY GOLDEN/Editorial Assistant

AUSTIN — As you walk the streets of downtown Austin, it’s very obvious that there’s something going on.

Many young people are walking around with artist badges around their neck or a music pass on their wrist. You are constantly in earshot of live music, whether walking right by a concert or even eating in a restaraunt.

South by Southwest is an annual festival of film, video game, and music showcases that takes place all over Downtown Austin.

SXSW began in March of 1987. This year, the festival took place from March 11 to March 20. I arrived on March 17 excited to see Travis Scott, the artist set to headline the showcase I was going to.

Later that night, while my friends and I were standing in line for the show, one of them said that Travis Scott had tweeted that he was not going to make it to Austin for the show. As bummed as we were, we decided to wait in line to see the other artists perform. Lil’ Uzi Vert, Flatbush Zombies and Kevin Gates are all rap artists that I know and wanted to see, though I had been really looking forward to seeing Scott.

Once we got in the show, they announced all the artists that were performing, and they had to have said Scott was going to be there at least five times. I assumed that he had just tweeted what he tweeted to make the show smaller, because it isn’t unheard of for artists to do something like that, or to just make a guest appearance because it makes the show smaller and more exclusive. Sadly, that was not the case, and Scott never showed up because he was sick.

That being said, the show was a blast. DJ Drama came out to play some songs he produced and to hype up the crowd, which he did a really good job of. A while after DJ Drama performed, Lil’ Uzi Vert came out on stage and performed a few songs.

One of my biggest complaints was that there was so much time in between each headlining artist when they were just playing music and lying about Scott making an appearance. But after Uzi performed, Flatbush Zombies came out and the crowd went crazy.

Flatbush Zombies is a rap group that consists of Erick Arc Elliot, Meechy Darko, and Zombie Juice. Flatbush came out performing their hit, “Bounce,” and the crowd loved it. After one more song, some of their sound dropped out. The crowd was trying to tell them that they couldn’t hear them, but it took at least 10 minutes to get their attention. Once they realized what wss being said, they stopped performing to get it fixed.

Once it was fixed, they apologized before performing “This is it,” “Bring ‘Em Out,” and “Bath Salt.”

After they left the stage, an amateur rap artist performed. He was alright, but the crowd was really waiting on Gates to perform.

Gates came out performing “Aight Yeah,” and the crowd got wild. Last year, when Gates was at SXSW, no one knew who he was. This year, people knew his songs and were extremely hyped up to see him. He made a point in between songs to point that out, and give love to Austin. I really liked this because you could hear the sentiment in his voice.

Gates is a genuine person, much like his song “Really Really” points out. Gates performed “Really Really,” one of his most popular songs, and the crowd loved it. Everyone was getting into the chorus, and it was really just a great atmosphere. Gates also performed “2 Phones,” and it was an awesome performance. Gates was the last person we saw that night, and it was an OK way to end the evening.

Even though we didn’t get to see Scott, I really enjoyed watching Gates and Flatbush Zombies. Although I really enjoyed those performances, I did not get to see many other shows, because only those age 21 and older could enter some venues. The 2 Chainz show we tried to go to the next night was also cancelled due to the venue being shut down.

South by Southwest was an incredible first-time experience to explore downtown Austin and have the opportunity to see a lot of big-name artists. I can’t wait to go back next year.

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Winds of Change…

Turbines creating green energy from West Texas winds

by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in- Chief 

Electricity is an everyday necessity.

Electricity is so important that scientists are developing ways to produce energy without harming the planet. Wind energy is one of those developments.

According to Salvador Molinar, Title V instructor in Wind and Solar Energy at the Plainview campus of South Plains College, the program teaches students everything they need to know about wind energy.

“Our program basically contains starting the students off with simple electronics and digital electronics where they get the basics on how electricity starts to work and produced,” says Molinar. “Then we go a little a higher, such as working with electricity. We teach them how the motors are hooked up and the contactors. We teach them things that have to be used to make that motor run. We go over it in great detail and get the students to understand how the motor is going to run with all the components.”

Molinar explains that he also takes his students through troubleshooting classes, which will help the students fix a turbine when they are working on one.

“We teach them how to fix motors and find the faults that are causing the turbines to go haywire,” Molinar says. “ELPT (Electrical and Power Transmission Technology) is a class that we teach about electronic controllers, the sensor, and the motors, everything that is going to be operational. ELPT does read anything that might be going wrong with that turbine.”

The ELPT will read it, and as the technician looks at it, he or she can actually go to the turbine, find the problem and fix it, according to Molinar.

“With the ELPT, they also call it escape assistance,” Molinar explains. “They can actually control the turbines miles away from where it is. So, that’s another reason why we teach the ELPT program. That way the students know how to interface those ELPT with the turbine, and not only that, but let’s just say the students decide to go to another company. In a different type of industry, they use the ELPT towards that.”

The wind energy program also teaches students a networking program, which is the communication in the ELPT, according to Molinar. The networking deals with trying to connect the headquarters of the wind energy farm to communicate to the turbine or any other equipment.

“We will even take them through a climbing scenario out at the Reese campus,” explains Molinar. “We take them there. That way they know that climbing a wind turbine is actually for them or not. Because some people are scared of heights, we take them through those scenarios to let them decide if the wind industry is right for them, or they figure out and think,‘This may not be for me. You have to climb.’ We kind of get them ready for the climbing part of it. We get the students ready for all the aspects of it.”

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According to Molinar, the instructors only let the students climb the little tower, which is located near Building 6 on the Reese Center campus.

“It’s about 30 feet, and we take them through the scenarios and they have to actually repel off of it and do a climb rescue,” says Molinar. “So, they can get the hang of it. If you’re going to be scared of 30 feet, there is no reason why you should be going 200 feet up in the air. Because of safety reasons, we don’t let students go up to the turbine, because there is a lot of liability things that can happen.”

The wind energy program teaches the students how to tie their equipment to themselves.

“We show them how to use the equipment, and when they do go to work, even when they do go through some training on their own, each company will train them on how they want, at least they will know what’s going on,” says Molinar.

Molinar explains that wind energy is produced by magnets rubbing against a wire that is in the generator of the turbine.

“What wind energy does is inside on top of the tower there is a little square box, and then you have the blades right in front of it,” says Molinar. “Inside that square box, there is a generator. When the wind is blowing and making those blades turn, the generator is turning and the generator has magnets in it. When those magnets are turning, they are producing electricity, which is passed on to some transformers. From there, the transformer pushes it up to the electrical lines and sends it and distributes it to different areas.”

According to Molinar, when someone rubs magnets around a piece of wire, they will get some type of electricity.

“That generator has magnets in it, and it has wires inside of it,” explains Molinar. “When you turn those magnets around, the wire will produce some type of electricity. But that’s a lot of magnets and a lot of wires, which produces a lot of electricity. That wind is what’s making that turbine turn.”

Molinar believes that wind energy is becoming more popular, and more companies are trying to build bigger and taller wind turbines.

“The bigger the turbine is, the more wind mass it will capture, and the more energy it will produce,” explains Molinar. “Some companies look into building 500-foot wind turbines. There is also new inventions that they are trying to figure out, such as sending some in an air balloon. They put the turbine way up in the atmosphere, and they produce electricity that way.”

According to Molinar, wind energy is mostly profitable, meaning electric companies won’t lower the electric bill. But there are other ways to benefit from it.

“You can have a small turbine in your yard that will produce electricity for your house,” says Molinar. “A lot of those wind turbines you can get a grant to help pay for it. You can also get the government to help out, and you can get tax breaks. If they put a wind turbine on your property, then you will get a check for them to have it there on your property.”

Molinar says that the reality is that fossil fuels can’t be replenished, and our society needs something to fall back on.

“We probably won’t see it in our life time when the fossil fuels deplenish,” Molinar explains. “For right now, they are thinking of ways ahead of time to produce electricity for our household and our needs. We will always have the wind. Whether it’s 10-mile-per-hour wind or 50-mile-per-hour wind, we will always be producing some type of electricity. It is something that is going to stay here for a long time, and we’re not going to see it go away anytime soon. It’ll be here for the long haul.”

Not Fade Away…

Legend of Iconic musician survives test of time

by:NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief

The day that the music was born changed the music industry forever.

Charles Holley, also known as Buddy Holly, was born on Sept. 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas. He attended Roscoe Wilson Elementary School and Hutchinson Junior High School, later graduating from Lubbock High School in May of 1955.

“All through his junior high and high school years, he was interested in music,” said Jacquie Bober, assistant manager and curator at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock. “He had some early musical partners, and when he was 15 and 16-years-old, he had an half-an-hour radio show on Sunday afternoon. His first musical partner was Jack Neal, and after Jack and got married, he played with a friend from middle school named Bob Montgomery, who went on to have a big career in Nashville as a writer and producer.”

Holly’s performance at the radio station led him to having a manger named Hipockets Duncan. According to Bober, Duncan agreed to be Buddy’s manger so he wouldn’t be taken advantage of when he played.

“Sometimes, the people would offer money, and sometimes the people who would offer money didn’t come through,” Bober says. “Mr. Duncan made sure if someone promised to pay, then they would pay. His His affairs led to them being booked at places around town.”

Holly had a contract to play every Friday night at the Lawson roller rink, which is a building that is still standing in Lubbock, according to Bober. It would lead to other gigs too, such as playing at supermarkets and high school dances. Holly and his band mates would travel in a car to Amarillo, Oklahoma and  New Mexico to play for special events.

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“He met with Elvis Presley on more than one occasion when Elvis came through Lubbock,” recalls Bober. “And that was at the time before Elvis had any major hits on the Billboard charts, so it was late ‘55 into 1956. For a couple of those meetings, Buddy and Elvis played at a car dealership downtown. It was called Johnson’s Pontiac Dealership. Buddy even opened for Elvis at the Fairgrounds, where Elvis was going to perform. He also opened for several performers who would end up becoming famous later on, such as Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Bill Haley and the Comets.

According to Bober, it was during one of those performances that he was seen by Marty Robbins’ agent, Eddie Crandall, who happened to be a talent scout based out of Nashville. His efforts were responsible for Buddy getting his first recording contract in Nashville. Holly was signed with Decca Records, where he got his stage name, Buddy Holly, instead of Holley.

“The family name ‘Holley’ is engraved like that on his headstone,” explains Bober. “When he first received his recording contract, it was received with his named misspelled, and being young and not wanting to rock the boat, he signed his name the way they spelled it. That became his stage name.”

Before going to Nashville and recording his songs, Buddy and his band were recording their songs how they wanted to, according to Bober. The record label wanted Holly to record songs in a country fashion with slower tempo and a country accent.

“One of the songs was ‘That Will be the Day,’ and it wasn’t the song that everyone is used to hearing now,” Bober explains. “It was the country version of the song, and he was signed to the contract in ‘56 for a year. Come January, in 1957, they didn’t renew the contract, and he was a little despondent, of course. But he was told to try to have his records produced by a gentleman where his recording studio was in Clovis, New Mexico named Norman Petty.”

Petty allowed Holly to come in and record his music the way he wanted it recorded. However long it took, Petty would allow it, according to Bober.

Since Holly was still under contract with Decca, he couldn’t use his name. So, Holly, bassist Joe Mauldin, and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan decided that a band name must be used. Thus, ‘The Crickets’ was formed.

“It was that recording of ‘That Will be the Day,’ which was recorded in May of ’57, and by October ’57, it was number one on the Billboard charts, and from that time, him and his band rose,” says Bober. “They traveled extensively throughout the country, up and down the East Coast with other up-and-coming rock n’ rollers. At the time, you couldn’t rely on the Internet. You had to get up and perform your music. He was one of the first rock-n-roll stars to perform overseas.”

According to Bober, Holly traveled to Australia for a few weeks. He spent a month in the United Kingdom in March of 1958.

“From that single tour in the United Kingdom, Buddy, to this day, has a lot of fans, a very strong fan base that are from the United Kingdom,” says Bober. “They will come to the center, come to Lubbock to see where Buddy was born, where the music was born. It was a neat thing. There are also large fan bases from Australia, from Germany, the Netherlands. We’re seeing more visitors from the Pacific Rim and from South America.”

In June of 1958, Holly met his future wife, Maria Elena Santiago. They met in New York when Holly was visiting a publishing company and she was working there as an administrative assistant.

“Maria said Buddy was very driven and very determined,” Bober explains. “You could tell. Within hours of their first date, Buddy asked Maria to marry him. They knew each other for two months before they got married.”

Holly died in Clear Lake, Iowa, where a plane crashed on Feb. 3, 1959, that also was carrying musicians Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) and the pilot, Roger Peterson.

“He lived a very short life,” Bober says. “He was only 22 years old when he died. His musical career was only 18 months long, and out of those 18 months, he recorded 60 songs. Many of them would chart in the top 10 of the Billboard charts. Some of them during his lifetime, many after his passing.”

According to Bober, Holly’s music was very different from what a lot people had heard before.

“Buddy and his band mates wrote the majority of his music,” Bober explains. “They wrote the lyrics and music. That’s something that’s very special. It’s a unique feature for their band. He influenced people like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Graham Nash. So many musicians can trace their musical lineage back to Buddy.”

Bober says that Elton John credited Holly for being brave enough to wear glasses on stage.

“John Lennon, who had to wear glasses, said, ‘Buddy did it, why shouldn’t I,’” explains Bober. “’Why should I be embarrassed? I don’t need to look like a rock star to people.’ And that was one thing Buddy was all about. He didn’t allow people to dissuade him from exploring his musical creativity in ways that he wanted to.”

Bober says that the center gets multiple phone calls every day. On the anniversary of his death, they have a live band and anyone in Lubbock is welcome to come.

“The day of his death is Feb. 3, and it doesn’t matter what day that falls on,” says Bober. “The anniversary of his death and his birthday is the busiest times for us.”

The Buddy Holly Center recently had their dedication to Holly as his 57th anniversary of his death was marked. The center gets at least 45,000 visitors a year, according to Bober.

“He has a star now on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he counted musicians that would go on and become famous as his friends like Waylon Jennings,” says Bober. “It just seems sort of strange that someone coming from Lubbock would have such wide appeal. But it’s true, and we see that evidence every day. His appeal continues to this day.”

Hot Stuff…

Experiment with red chile peppers turns into prosperous crop

by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief

It started off as an experiment.

Local farmer Steve Newsom says that he didn’t know the first thing about growing chile peppers. But, he succeeded.

“It was all new to me,” says Newsom, who lives in Sundown. “But when they grew late, it really inspired me because I have given up on them. I thought, ‘It’s over,’ but they just turned to chilies.”

Newsom adds when the chilies started to grow, the market was all out of chilies.

“Interesting thing,” says Newsom. “The same chilies that are red are great. That same chile was originally green. Over time, each chile is going to turn red. You have that tight market, and if you watch in the future in the stores, it’s been a great marketing scheme when they say, ‘Hatch green chilies.’ That window you can get a green chile of any sort is only a few weeks. After a while, it’s going to turn red. When we harvested, there were no green chilies around. We had some good response from that.”

Newsom began his search for chile peppers when he was looking for other crops to grow, since the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) killed the cotton program, according to Newsom.

“Finding the seed wasn’t that hard,” Newsom says. “My thought was we’re looking for alternative crops. We know we have to maximize our water. The water table is dropping, so we’re looking for more valuated crops, and one of the things that appealed to us is with the chilies. Our long-term goal is to brand some of our food products.”

According to Newsom, red chile peppers aren’t usually found in Texas, but they are a New Mexico crop and many people get protective of the chilies.

“People are more protective about [the peppers] when you start talking to people from New Mexico, because they probably don’t want us to grow chilies,” explains Newsom.

Newsom, says he has a friend who used to grow red chile peppers in New Mexico. So, that’s how he got and maintained the seed.

“He had contacts and got the seed for me,” explains Newsom. “He essentially gave the seeds to me and said, ‘Try them.’ He had a dealer friend. So, we grew four varieties. The Big Jims are the most popular for size, and they’re medium hot. The Barkers are pretty hot. So if you like really hot, then you want a Barker. It’ll hurt you. The New Mexico 6s are just slightly mild, and anyone can eat it. Sandias are medium, but a slightly different flavor structure.”

Newsom, who is experienced in growing other crops, says he thought that growing chilies was similar to growing wine grapes and conventional cotton.

“We think it’s because of our elevation, which is pretty high,” says Newsom.  “People don’t think we have a high elevation, but we do. The high elevation creates a 30-degree swing almost all summer long. You’ll have 95 degrees and 65 degrees, and if your high is 100 degrees, and then your low is probably going to be 70 degrees. We knew that’s why our wine grapes were so good, because it builds sugar. The sugars and energies that develop carbohydrates are similar to chile peppers. So, we decided to try it. I think our flavor profile is good.”

Newsom planted the chilies in early April, beginning with six acres.

“We lost three of them to chemical drift, and half of that really got a bad hailstorm,” explains Newsom. “We probably ended up having the equivalent to a full acre harvest. We farm around 4,500 acres, so we were looking for just an experiment this year. We planned originally 10 acres, but different things happened with some of them.”

According to Newsom, growing the chilies is similar to growing conventional cotton.

“There’s nothing really unique about growing chilies,” Newsom says. “You really don’t have a lot of hand harvest. In wine grapes, we say we touch the wine grapes, literally. Every week, you’ll touch them, but not chilies. They’ll just grow.”

Newsom says when they grow the chilies next year, they will take the seeds to the greenhouse and sprout in February and transplant.

“The reason we’ll do that is because we want to start hitting the market earlier in the summer,” explains Newsom. “As far as the grow cycle, it’s similar water, similar fertilizer. Cotton and chilies seem to grow in similar patterns, but I haven’t found the pesticide for them here.”

Newsom says he encountered a problem when he was growing the chiles.

“The battle we’re up against here is everyone is round-up ready,” says Newsom. “All of the cotton planted in Texas now is sprayed with glyphosate. Glyphosate is a weed killer, and if you have a crop like conventional cotton that is not round-up ready, then it’s going to kill it. We had some chile peppers that got killed because of that. So, we have to be really careful. People don’t really think about chile peppers around here. They just think about cotton, cotton, cotton and…cotton.”

According to Newsom, he has heard nothing but positive reviews about the chiles. He sells them from home, and he has sold to some restaurants. They are currently working with a company in Fort Worth that’s going to brand their own salsa in the future.

“Next year, we’ll have chilies, onions, and we’ll plant a little bit of garlic,” says Newsom. “We’ll have most of our products farm raised and just bring in the tomatoes from somewhere in south Texas.”

Newsom says it’s great to grow your own products when you’re branding your own items, so that way you know the customers better.

“What we discovered with wine grapes are when you can trace a product from a farmer from all the way to a table,” explains Newsom. “You get to know your customers; they’re more loyal and committed. And the other thing is when you build your own markets and you’re not dependent on a middle man so much, we find that you don’t have to seek out every single market. That’s what we were seeking, the valued product on an alternative crop.”

Newsom began farming when he was still attending South Plains College 26 years ago. He was part of the Livestock Judging Team, and he majored in agriculture. He also grows other crops, including wine grapes ,cotton, alfalfa, peanuts, corn, milo, and squash.

“People think of agriculture as more antiquated than what it is, and the technology is far advanced,” says Newsom. “I can monitor my irrigation, my water pressure from my iPhone. I can monitor when my guys are planting chile peppers. I can see the seed count that’s going down, what field is being done from my computer.”

Newsom adds that the United States food safety is the greatest in the world.

“As a farmer, we will put the least amount of chemicals,” explains Newsom. “The lack of education that goes on about the farm is really missing, and not many people are coming back into agriculture. This is a tough life sometimes, but it’s a good life. This is a good life.”

Life in Death…

Annual Dia de los Muertos event celebrates deceased loved ones 

by: SARA MARSHALL/Photo Editor

Mexico is a country with a culture rooted deep in family traditions, especially holidays such as Día de los Muertos.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrates loved ones who have departed this world throughout Latin America, but is more commonly seen in Mexico. The living members of the families create alters of baked goods, paper flowers, sugar skulls, candles and photos of the departed to help welcome the dead. In Mexico, families fill the streets, singing and dancing to honor the loved ones who are believed to be visiting these alters from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

Los Hermanos Familia, a Lubbock, Texas nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting family engagement, sustaining culture and building awareness in the Latino community, hosted the fourth annual West Texas Latino Artist Exhibit and Día de los Muertos Celebración on Nov. 1 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Exhibit Hall to celebrate this auspicious holiday.

If participants came to the Día de los Muertos event in costume or with their faces painted, as many did, they received a discount on admision. All proceeds benefited family and children’s programs organized by Los Hermanos Familia, such as the children’s art area.

The West Texas Latino Artist Exhibit and Día de los Muertos Celebración honored the holiday and Mexican culture by showcasing the work of Latino artists, traditional and modern local performers, as well as a variety of vendors, with more than 3,000 people in attendance.

Upon entering the celebration, participants were greeted with the sight of brightly-colored vender booths full of Latino art, traditional Mexican food and popular sales vendors.

“We took over the event from previous years, and, overall, our organization has a strong connection to the community and more volunteers, so it was definitely bigger, and showcased and offered more activities and culture,” said Christy Martinez-Garcia, founder of Los Hermanos Familia.

Various Latino artists were showcased during the West Texas Latino Art Exhibit and Día De Los Muertos Celebración through displays of their work. Latino artists in attendance included Joey “Wize” Martinez, a graphic designer and graffiti artist, Melissa Nichole, a local tattoo artist based out of Lubbock, and Kelly J. Reyes, a local portrait and oil painter. Art vendors were selling several pieces of their collections and even offering information on how they created their works.

“I feel the event brought a lot of exposure for the artists,” Reyes said. “Being here to share my art with everyone was such a great opportunity.”

Mexican and Latino culture is very rich in music and dance, which was shared through many live performances during the celebration. Local musicians, mariachis and bands showcased both traditional and modern songs, while ballet folklorico groups portrayed the traditional dances of Día de los Muertos throughout the evening.

“We are still new, so it was a great way to showcase our group and give out information about us to people in the community,” said Jessica Rodriguez, co-manager of Mariachi Gema. “I feel like the event went very well. A lot of people came and had a good time.”

The celebration also included a variety of contests, such as a Día de Los Muertos cake decorating contest. The 12 contestants entered in the Día de los Muertos cake decorating contest had to create entirely edible cakes which reflected the key elements of Dia de los Muertos, such as sugar skulls, monarch butterflies and marigold flowers. Extra adornments needed were the sacred heat, pan de muerto, or dead bread, and papel picado, which is paper with elaborate cutout designs. The contestants were then scored on cultural, history, execution, and creativity by a panel of judges, who judged based on a separate cake to sample the taste, as flavor was a new addition to the score sheet.

“Día de los Muertos is about celebrating life, not death,” said Lisa Reyes, who won the Judges’ Choice in the cake contest. “My goal was to tell our story. We all lose people in our lives, and although it is very painful, their legacy continues. My cake was an altar-themed cake, with the focal point being the church that sat on top.”

Día de los Muertos altars, or ofrendas, were showcased near the vendors to honor those loved ones who have passed on. Families and adults, as well as college student organizations, the De Colores Girl Scouts and students from both Ralls ISD and South Plains Academy prepared each altar. Next to these altars, many vendors had booths set up with giveaways, free candy and information about their companies.

“I’m so impressed with everything,” volunteer Jo Ann Martinez said. “Everyone is showing their respect and amazing appreciation for our culture. It’s not that often people and artists can express themselves in this way.”

The children who attended the Día de los Muertos celebration were not excluded from the festivities, as many booths were set up specifically for them in the Children’s Area. Activities held in the Children’s Area were led by the De Colores Girl Scout Troop, along with the Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority and several other Latino groups. This area offered projects such as creating paper flowers, masks and Ojo de Dios crosses. Children also had the opportunity to have their face painted or to decorate their very own sugar skull.

By sharing the rich Mexican and Latino culture with the people of West Texas, Los Hermanos Familia brought the community together by hosting the West Texas Latino Artist Exhibit and Día De Los Muertos Celebración.

“As the Hispanic population continues to grow in the United States, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, has also started gaining traction, and businesses are paying attention,” Martinez said. “The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. For our local community, it is important to build awareness, more so, sustain culture and tradition.”

Maize Runner…

Family business becomes seasonal tradition

A crop of corn has been grown, and the Simpson family has prepared a new, challenging maze for the public on their farm.

Every year since 2001, James and Patti Simpson have created a unique type of entertainment for people of all ages to enjoy during the fall. For those not interested in walking through The Corn Maize, they have plenty more to offer. The hayride, cow train, shots with the corn cannon, a barnyard filled with farm animals, a hay bale maze, and scrumptious food  all contribute to one of the most memorable and exciting experiences one can ever imagine.

Also, families with younger children wanting to explore the maze can choose an easier route called the Fairy Tale Trail. This is a smaller maze that includes storyboards to read along the way. If the kids want to explore the big and mighty corn maze, but mom and dad are too tired, then feel free to stop at the halfway mark and take a break!

At’l Do Farms, owned by the Simpsons, is located in Shallowater, Texas. The Corn Maize, now in its 15th season, is closed on Mondays, but open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Horse rides are offered on Saturdays and Sundays until dusk for $5. Hayrides are also available, with one leading to a pumpkin patch where participants can pick pumpkins ranging from $1 to $15. The other hayride to Pumpkin Hollow begins as soon as the sun sets. More than 150 carved pumpkins are on the trail to see. Campfires are also available to reserve for $30.

Both of the owners grew up from a family of farmers. However, they wanted their crops to be used for something more than just corn to eat.

“We were looking to diversify,” says James Simpson.

He explained that the idea came from a place in Utah that they discovered in a magazine. With the help from the farmers in Utah, the first maze design was a windmill. The Simpsons come up with the design they want, and then they send it to the maze company in Utah to come up with a graph pattern for them to follow in order to create a maze in the corn.

After the first year with the Maize, something new was added the following years. The pumpkin patch came around the second year, the corn cannon the third, and the barrel cow train the fourth. They have had the barnyard with animals for three years, and started hosting weddings two years ago during offseason. A concession stand is open during the fall that includes the well-known roasted corn. They make this corn themselves, and James Simpson said that it is his favorite, although it can definitely get old after a while.

This year’s design, based on the painting of American Gothic by Grant Wood,  is James’s favorite out of them all. He says that he also looks forward to meeting people every year.

“It’s gotten a lot bigger than I ever thought it would,” said Simpson, who added that it has become a tradition and livelihood.

During a recent October weekend, some visitors were attending for the first time, while others were there for their second time this season. The Batista family was attending for the first time ever. The two parents brought along their younger son and daughter, Sophia. Sophia said that she enjoyed going through the Maize, shooting the corn cannon, and riding on the horses. She was excited to let her parents know that the horse’s name was Jack, and that he was an old horse.

“You get to find your way, and it helps you get smart,” said Sophia of the Maize. Sophia’s parents said they were looking forward to coming back again in a few weeks with their other son.

At the end of the Maize, a couple, Sarah and Dalton, had just completed the maze for the first time during their first visit to At’l Do Farms. They took a picture to capture the memorable moment of conquering the challenging maze. Both of them are from Corpus Christi, but Sarah attends Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She heard about the Maize from other students on campus and decided to bring Dalton along the way to try it out. Both of them were smiling ear to ear as they were on their way to catch the hayride to the pumpkin patch.

A group of high school kids from the Pirate Band at Cooper High School were gathering near the pond and windmill. Most of them planned on coming separately, but found each other as they arrived. Most of the students enjoyed the Maize or the roasted corn from the concession stand the best. Some used to come with family as a yearly tradition, but as they got older they decided to spread the tradition by including friends from school. They encourage people to make their way out to At’l Do Farms.

If you worry about getting lost in the Maize, do not fret! At the very beginning, mailboxes hold different themed passports and a map to help guide you through. There are different passports provided for a variety of age groups. They all have numbers 1 through 10 that ask questions. It is advised to refer to each number as you find it in the maze. Whichever answer you choose will tell you your next steps from that number on the corn. The different themes of the passports are Tiny Tots, Girl Scouting, Movies/Music/TV, Scriptural, and Sports, among others. No matter your area of knowledge, the number marks and questions are there to help!

Admission into the Maize is $10. Children age 4 and younger get in free. Any senior citizen or anyone with a college or military ID receives $2 off the admission fee.

Make your way to At’l Do Farms before you miss your chance at an experience of a lifetime! The maze and other fun activities will close for the season after Nov. 14, 2015, and will not open again until next fall.

Inflatable fun…

Obstacles make their way to third annual Retro Run

by: JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE/Feature Editor

The first wave stood at the starting line, one foot in front of the other, ready to take off toward the first obstacle. The man on the microphone gave the orders to the starter, and the runners were off.

Smiles on children’s faces and laughter from the runners fueled the spectators on either side of the course, giving them energy to cheer.

West Texas Endurance and the Texas Tech Resident Hall Association (RHA) put on the third annual Rockin’ Raider Inflatable Retro Run on Sept. 27 at Urbanovsky Park on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock.

Finally, the runners got to the first obstacle, a simple course through a small inflatable. Taking a right turn to the second inflatable, the runners were greeted by a lengthy inflatable that looked like a representation of a castle. Each tower had a steeple on the tip, and on the end was a drawbridge slide.

The fourth inflatable was different than the rest. It was a short and circular maze with a spinning obstacle on the top so that the runners had to crawl through the tricky turns while trying not to get hit at the same time.

Many of the other obstacles were easier to get through. A quick jump, tumble, and sprint would suffice, but the last inflatable was a blue menace. Standing more than 20 feet tall, the runners had to climb to the very top. However, going back down was the easy part. Gravity prevailed, helping runners slide all the way back down to the ground.

With one last turn to the left from the last inflatable, the finish line was just 100 meters away. A last-effort sprint brought the participants back to where they had started, near the live band and starting line.

Along the one-mile course, there are eight exciting inflatable obstacles. Some inflatables have you climb, slide, duck, and run, but all are fun.

“It’s a great family event that has obstacles that are well suited for kids and kids at heart,” said Ainsley Nelson of West Texas Endurance.

The Retro Run has been put on for three years, but the students recently added the inflatable part of the run.

“I heard from students on campus about the inflatable idea,” said Tera Stines, a sophomore at Texas Tech and RHA vice president of programming and public relations. “It would be something different than a normal 5K.”

The race is open to anybody in the community, and this year there were more than 150 participants.

“A little bit of both students and community runs the race,” Nelson said.

In addition to the attraction of the inflatables, there was also a live band performing. The band, Allison Firefly, played acoustic covers of pop hits and many retro hits from the 1950s through the 1990s. When the band wasn’t playing, retro hits filled the gaps in between performances.

After the race, the runners, and even non-participants, were able to enjoy many fun games and activities that were not part of the course.

Just to the left of the starting line were a couple of small inflatables. Students, children, and families also enjoyed playing tic-tac-toe and jenga.

The most popular side activity was the gladiator jousting. Two people stood on individual platforms wearing head gear and holding a jousting stick. When the referee started the match, both opponents started whacking each other to knock the other person off of their platform.

In the race, there were six waves of runners who started 15 minutes apart from each other. This organization of the race kept the runners from being packed and waiting at each of the inflatables.

After the waves were completed, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. any registered participants wearing a green armband were allowed to go “Footloose,” roaming free and playing on any of the inflatables as much as they wanted.

Before the first wave, runners checked in and were handed packets with their numbers. Each received a free lime-green tee shirt, as well a pair of mix-and-matching, pink and green socks to the first 300 runners.

Four friends wearing pink poodle skirt outfits participated in the race.

“My friends wanna do it for fun,” Hannah Rebong said. “I’m anxious, though! This is my first time! They’re runners, and I’m not.”

One of the four friends in pink poodle skirts, Ronda Dalton, was excited.

“It’s gonna be fun!” she exclaimed. “It’s my second race.”

Just before the first wave of runners, a family wearing rainbow afro-wigs and matching orange “Team King” shirts were excited to begin the run.

“This is out first family race,” Michael King explained. “This is our family’s first time running this race. But I have done triathlons for seven years, and Hanna has done triathlons for two years.”

The run was family-friendly, with an energetic atmosphere. Raising Cane’s fed the volunteers before the run, and refreshments from Bahama Bucks were served to everybody after the run next to the finish line.

Helping facilitate the event were many people from West Texas Endurance and volunteers from Texas Tech. The friendly volunteers at every obstacle ensured that everybody who entered the inflatable was safe and had a great time.

After running the race, the Kings said that it was fun, and they had an awesome time.

“We’re definitely coming back next year!” King said.

Taking Flight…

Balloon Roundup successful despite windy weather

by: MATT MOLINAR/PLAINSMAN PRESS

A hot air balloon festival filled with entertainment and excitement was set to lift off on a sunny weekend.

The South Plains Balloon Roundup was held Sept. 12 – Sept. 13 at Buffalo Springs Lake in Lubbock.

The event included many attractions such as craft and food vendors, musical performances, a balloon glow show, and, of course, the actual balloon flight.

On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, owners of hot air balloons set up on the lake-side campground, inflated their balloons, and prepared to lift off. Pilots pulled their aircrafts on trailers to an empty field next to Buffalo Lake. However, because of high winds on Saturday morning, only a few balloons got the chance to take flight. On Sunday morning, balloon pilots were not permitted to lift off of the ground, as it would have called for a very hazardous landing to the aircraft as well as the passengers.  However, one balloon owned by Glen Campbell of Lorenzo, was inflated near the campgrounds on Sunday morning. Campbell was very concerned about the hazard of the high wind speeds. However, he didn’t want to leave festival attendees without a close-up view of a hot air balloon.

“We like to have the winds stay at about 5 miles-an-hour,” Campbell explained. “We were expecting winds to be about 10 to 15, and then at about 8 a.m., they were forecasting about 20 miles-an-hour, which is too windy for us. We like to have calm winds. There is damage that comes with high winds. When you land with high winds, the balloon will drag. Nobody wants to take that chance.”

Campbell has been piloting hot air balloons for about five years. He had been a part of a rally for hot air balloons on the South Plains that lasted for about 10 years. Campbell is now a part of a newly put together rally of balloons, which he says is constantly growing with new pilots, along with events where pilots can show off their balloons.

Rebecca Gonzales has been attending various festivals at Buffalo Springs Lake for many years. She owns a lake house in the small village that surrounds the lake, so she tries to enjoy every event that happens at the lake.

“In 2013, there were quite a bit of balloons out,” Gonzales said. “They had a lot of them flying around. We come out here every year. But last year got rained out. And the lake is very beautiful, especially knowing that we’re in West Texas.”

Paige Lollar, from Tokio, along with many other visitors, took advantage of the campgrounds where the festival was held and stayed overnight to enjoy the sunrise and the early morning balloon flight.

“We’re camping out for the whole weekend,” Lollar said. “It’s a beautiful day. Seventy-five degrees. You couldn’t ask for anything better during this time of year. It’s a very nice environment.”

The energy of the festival was not hurt by the balloon flight cancellations. On Saturday evening, the community got to enjoy a variety of vendors that were set up around the campground. The vendors in the area sold a range of items such as dog clothes, shaved ice, and even Mary Kay products.

Among the many vendors stood the H9 Hydrogen Structured Water distributor, Hollie Smith, from Lubbock. Smith says that drinking one bottle of H9 water is six times more hydrating than a regular bottle of water and is infused with minerals and enzymes that you wouldn’t typically find in your regular bottle of water.

“It’s the same water that’s inside the cells of your body,” Smith says. “When you drink it, your body just absorbs it, as opposed to regular water, which has to be converted into the water that your body uses. One bottle of H9 is equal to six bottles of regular water.”

Smith says the discovery of the water was pretty recent.

“Right now, the only way you can find it is if you know a distributor,” she explained.

They hope that someday, the water will hit major distributors such as Target and Wal-Mart. Smith says the only thing the water needs is an explanation and further marketing.

When the vendors start putting up their tents, festival attendees start getting ready for the balloon glow, which happened on Saturday night. When the sun went down, balloon pilots used the burners in the balloons, along with decorative lights, to light up their balloons for nighttime viewing. This was a beautiful sight for the people who were camping out at the lake.

Debbie Orsak came from Midland to attend the festival. She says her favorite event at the festival was the balloon glow.

“The glow was very fun,” Orsak said. “There were not that many balloons, because of the wind, but it was very beautiful to watch. There was a very big balloon that was from the nursery rhyme, ‘The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.’” The balloon was shaped like the house made out of a shoe from the nursery rhyme.

Although the pilots had a hard time trying to get the balloons to lift off, the festive energy still remained throughout the weekend.

Family Fest… Hub City Comic Con Weekend brings fans to Lubbock

by: SKYLER McCLESKY/Staff Writer

Cosplay, comic books, and Red Ranger, oh my! The first ever Hub City Comic Con was held Aug. 29 at the Lubbock Civic Center. It included more than 40 booths, Call of Duty and Smash Brothers tournaments, celebrity guests, and cosplay contests.

One of the many booths was Toymatric.com. The owner, Gary Harmon, travels to about 25 shows a year, including the San Diego Comic Con. This was his first time traveling to Lubbock, Texas. Toymatric is mostly known for their t-shirts, but has recently starting adding exclusive Funko Veinal Pops to their website. Harmon said his best t-shirt seller this year is anything Dead Pool and big-faced Star Wars characters.

Harmon is one of the many booth owners who commuted. However, there where some locals. Robert Mora owns Star Comics, the original local comic book shop that has been in operation since 1977. Mora is passionate about what he does and could not be more excited about a Comic Con finally coming to Lubbock.

“Comic books are a growing and exciting industry,” said Mora, “we are glad to have people come out and experience what we have been trying to share with the public for decades.”

For those interested in horror, up-and-coming author, Tim Miller, was also present at the Comic Con. He was signing and selling books, as well as talking about his recent best seller, “Hacked.” “Hacked” is about a guy who is an Internet stalker who is talking to girls online. When they start to reject him, he stalks, kidnaps, and tortures them.

Miller is from San Antonio, and Lubbock is the farthest he has traveled for a Comic Con. But says he looks forward to coming back when he has a chance. Through out the weekend, there was a Call of Duty and Super Smash Brothers station where people of all ages could compete to win prizes. Call of Duty players could pay a $5 entry fee, with the winner receiving an Xbox Live or Playstation network monthly subscription. The person finishing in second place won a $15 store gift card. For the more advanced players, they had separate levels to enter. Level one was a $20 entry fee, and the winners received cash prizes, with $75 for first place and $40 for second place. Level two was a $10 entry, with the winner receiving an Xbox One or Playstation controller. The person finishing second won $35 store credit. Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U was a $5 entry, with double elimination and cash prizes depending on the entree.

Guest stars at the Hub City Comic Con included: Austin St. John, who played Jason, the Red Ranger, Nakia Burrise, who played Tanya Sloan, the Yellow Ranger; David J. Fielding (voice of Zordon from Mighty Morphin); Clive Revill (voice of Emperor Palpatin, “Star Wars V Empire Strikes Back”), Tina Nishimorn (anime voice actress, Nadie from Desert Punk); Sean Schemmel (voice of Guko from Dragon Ball Z); and Catherine Sutherland (Kimberly Heart, the Pink Ranger).

St. John said this was his first time in Lubbock. After arriving in Lubbock on Friday, he had not seen much of the city besides the airport and his hotel. However, he said that he had the best steak from local steak house Triple J’s Brewery. St. John was born in Roswell, New Mexico. He had his first major role in 1993, as Jason the Red Ranger. “Mighty Morphin Power Ranger” was a success and quickly became one the highest rated children’s television programs.

After 22 years of being out of the entertainment industry, St. John is now working on a doomsday post apocalyptic action movie. “My character is an ex-military specialist leading an uninfected group from town to town, trying to stay ahead of the wide spreading disease and corrupt government,” St. John said when describing his new movie, “Survival’s End.” He added that they hope to be done with filming this year. For more information on this movie, check out St. John’s Facebook or Twitter page.

A big part, and, for some people, the most exciting part of comic cons, is the cosplay. There was a Hub Cities first-ever cosplay Contest. Cosplay is defined as the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game. Taylor Matlock, Joe Henson, and Michael Lewis, dressed up as a group from the popular video game series, Borderlands. They portrayed Tiny Tina, Krieg the Psycho, and Scooter. The group traveled from Midland to partake in the cosplay contest. They said this was their second comic con but their first time doing cosplay.

“We will definitely continue to dress up and travel to comic cons,” said Matlock. “We are excited to figure out different costumes to try out.”

As the night went on, first place in the cosplay Contest went to Senja Collins, who portrayed the Evil Queen from popular ABC TV show, “Once Upon a Time.” Second place went to a group dressed up as the Payday Crew, from the video game series Payday. Third place went to Skyler Stevens for his elaborate portal of Fiddlesticks from the PC game League of Legends.

Cosplay is not as easy as it sounds either. There are a few rules to follow, such as cosplay must be at least 40 percent hand made, and all prop weapons must be non-working and peace bonded. Also, all costumes must be self-contained.

The Comic Con is not only for diehard comic book fans, but is fun for all audiences. SilvrFire, the company that puts on the traveling Comic Cons, is trying to erase the idea that people have to travel to Dallas or Austin for a good comic con, but create a local one that fans can be proud of. They are hoping to make this an annual event and look forward to next year.

Who we are…

The Plainsman Press is a junior collegiate newspaper run by the students and advised by Charlie Ehrenfeld.

The staff consists of Devin Reyna, Sergio Madrid, Tovi Oyervidez, Steven Gehegan, Michaela Chamblee, Haiden Hawkins, Alexandria Perez, Elias Hernandez, Dominick Puente

Editor-in-Chief/ Chesanie Brantley, Editor-in-Chief/Nicole Trugillo, News Editor/Jonathan Brookshire, Opinion Editor/Matt Molinar, Feature Editor/Mallory Carver, Entertainment and Online Editor/Jennifer Garza, Sports Editor/Joshua Ramirez, Photo Editor/ Sara Marshall, Editorial Assistants/Riley Golden, Dariella Hernandez, Nick Alvarado, Brandi Ortiz, and Marcella Ivins.