*Downtown Live photos by Michael Cavazos
By Christina Cavazos
On any given Friday evening in the spring and fall, hundreds of people gather in downtown Longview to catch up with friends, talk, laugh, and watch children play, all while music plays in the background.
For 10 years, the Downtown Live concert series has given local musicians a place to showcase their talents, and it’s also helped bring people together as a community to support downtown.
“We have a great space, and we’re happy that we get to provide this for families to give them something nice and fun to do with the community,” said Nick Mayfield, Longview Main Street coordinator.
“Downtown Live brings out families,
more than just the people living downtown; it really makes downtown a community.”
“Downtown Live brings out families,
more than just the people living downtown; it really makes downtown a community.”
Downtown Live, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2022, evolved out of the former Brown Bag Lunch hour which featured musicians performing during the lunch hour. The One Hundred Acres of Heritage board sought to expand the concert series, so they transformed it into an evening event on Fridays at 5 p.m.
In the past 10 years, Downtown Live has grown into one of the premier events in the Longview Main Street district, routinely drawing anywhere from 250-350 people to each concert at Heritage Plaza. The number of concerts held each year has also grown to about 18-20 per year, divided among the spring and the fall. As people are encouraged to visit downtown businesses during the concert series, Friday evenings often mean that restaurants, the brewery, and the coffee shop are packed.
For the fall 2022 season, Mayfield said Downtown Live celebrated its 10th anniversary with an expanded concert series that included the Downtown Double Shot. The two-night event opened the fall season on September 9-10 with Jake Williams performing on September 9 while Jenn Ford and The Wide Eyed Devils and the Darrin Morris Band played on September 10. As the season closed with a performance by Ryan Matthew on October 28, Longview Main Street encouraged families to attend for a special Halloween celebration that included trick-or-treating.
*Image from the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center
*Image from Artsview Children’s Theatre – Photo by Kasey Whitenack
*Image from LongviewWow
From top: Longview Arboretum and Nature Center, ArtsView Children’s Theatre, LongviewWow
ArtsView Children’s Theatre, established in 2004,is committed to a progressive theatre arts education and outreach program for area children. It provides children’s programs as a way to educate tomorrow’s audiences about the joys of the performing and visual arts. It also nurtures the development of the performing arts in our community through education, and it creates, produces, and performs works that engage the entire family. Productions, summer camps, workshops, after school classes, and seminars are offered throughout the year.
The East Texas Symphonic Band (ETSB), founded in 1988, is a volunteer wind symphony made up of area musicians under the direction of conductor Dr. James Snowden. Its music spans the entire gamut of symphonic wind literature with a high emphasis on outstanding local musicians as soloists, both vocal and instrumental. The season typically consists of three formal concerts at LeTourneau University’s Belcher Performance Center and an informal summer outdoor “Pops in the Park” concert at Teague Park Amphitheater.
Long a fixture in the downtown marketplace, the Gregg County Historical Museum resides within a historic bank building with a colorful past. Several permanent and new exhibits enthrall guests with the booms and busts of a town built by the railroad and put on the international map because of oil. With a heritage begun by Native Americans and expanded by settlers, the story of Longview is both rich in mysteries as well as blessed by the generosity of the human spirit.
Big names, big performances, and big fun are always in store at the Belcher Center, the premier performance venue in East Texas. Each season, the center attracts Broadway shows, concerts, comedians, and world-class performers for audiences of all ages. The beautiful venue is also the home of Longview’s symphony and symphonic band. View performance dates and ticket options at the website.
Longview is located in the heart of the East Texas piney woods, and no place is that more beautifully evident than the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center. The outdoor gardens host open air concerts on Thursdays in the spring and fall, as well as special events throughout the year.
An artistic venture begun by the Junior League of Longview in 1958, the LMFA has grown into one of Texas’ jewel boxes for modern and regional art, with over 700 pieces in its permanent collection. In downtown Longview, the repurposed facility has also been home to nationally treasured traveling exhibits, the annual Holiday Tea Room & Market, Breakfasts with Santa, spooky art shows, unplugged-style music sessions with artists from jazz, pop and blues, showcased events from regional artists, a plethora of art classes, quarterly family days, yoga sessions, corporate meetings, fundraisers of every type, and some of the classiest weddings this side of the Sabine. The much anticipated Magic & Mayhem annual fundraiser is held off-premises due to the ever-growing crowd. The cool, modern interior is ideal for wandering the curated rooms designed to complement the artistic talents of our current age.
More than 30 parks and trails provide green space, playgrounds, and athletic opportunities across the city. The department also hosts recreation programs, athletic leagues, and special events throughout the year.
The library is so much more than books. You’ll find weekly activities for all ages, book clubs, craft days, game nights, plus community events. Don’t miss the Chautauqua Festival in April, Summer Reading Club for children and adults will be in June and July, the hugely popular Haunted Library in October, and the 2nd annual Cheermeister Party in December.
The fully professional Longview Symphony Orchestra has provided beautiful orchestral music to Longview patrons for over 50 years. Seasonal concerts delight audiences with classical and popular music. As part of Longview Symphony’s outreach to the community, they offer free Bach’s Lunch Concerts, lunchtime concerts at various downtown Longview churches. LSO also presents music education programming through partnerships with schools and local organizations. Longview Symphony is a symphony for everyone!
*Image above from the Longview Symphony Orchestra
LongviewWOW is a creative, imaginative, and exploratory discovery center for children, designed to create a life-long love of learning. The educational environments offer hands-on discovery of Longview’s various career and technology fields through interactive play. Exhibits include Invention Garage, The Factor, The Market, Build-It, Build-It Jr., The House, and The Park, along with special events throughout the year.
One of the most prolific inventors of oil and earth-moving equipment, the museum contains personal memorabilia of R.G. LeTourneau (1888-1969). Scale models of many of his inventions, as well as the first offshore oil drilling platforms, are on display. Tours of the museum on the LeTourneau University campus are available and welcome with prior arrangement.
Staging everything from comedy to drama, musicals to improv, Theatre Longview produces entertaining, challenging, and inspiring theatrical productions throughout the year. Theatre Longview’s goal is to provide a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere for theatre artists of all levels and backgrounds to use their talents, express themselves, and develop their expertise in theatre arts.
*Image above from the Gregg County Historical Museum Dalton Days
The LeTourneau University Automotive Society presents its annual Car Show with proceeds benefiting missions around the world.
A perennial favorite for antique hunters of all stripes, this event typically draws jewelry, carpet, and furniture vendors to the Maude Cobb Convention Center. One of the longest running antiques shows in East Texas, it also hosts a tearoom and its famous Pie Bar. Sponsored by the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas.
*Image above from the Downtown Longview Wine Swirl
*Image above from the Longview Public Library Chautauqua Fest
The Longview Public Library hosts this free event in April celebrating diverse culture with music, performances, local authors, artists, and artisans.
A family-friendly event recapturing the drama and nail-biting frenzy of one of Longview’s most iconic pages of history, the infamous bank heist by the Bill Dalton Gang. Recreated on a blocked-off portion of Fredonia Street, and coupled with a fair-styled afternoon of activities, Dalton Days brings the bang and pop excitement that professional actors create when putting Longview citizens in peril, and all straight from local history
Each year in April at the Maude Cobb Convention Center, the Crawfish Boil brings thousands of people together for music and amazing food. The Crawfish Boil, a fundraiser for the Harvest Festival livestock show and sale in October, provides scholarships to area 4H and FFA students.
Define a perfect Spring Saturday: strolling through Downtown Longview, sampling wines from across East Texas and beyond, listening to live music, and shopping from unique local vendors.
The Greggton Rotary Longview PRCA Rodeo is one of the hottest tickets in town. Fans say it’s one of the most popular bull-riding, calf-roping, bareback-riding, saddle-bronc-riding, stick-horse-racing, clown-dodging rodeos ever to stir up dust at the Longview Rodeo Arena. The Rotarians say it’s just good, family fun. The Longview (Greggton) Rotary hosts this annual spring-time event to the delight of rodeo fans of all ages, and, as their primary fundraiser, allows the Rotary to give back $30,000 – $50,000 to the community in support of local non-profit organizations.
*Image from the Great Texas Balloon Race Balloon Glow
Gregg County is the Balloon Race Capital of Texas because this world-class event attracts the best competitive balloon pilots from across the United States and around the world. During the third weekend in June, balloons will fill the skies over Longview on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then concerts, a balloon glow, and entertainment will thrill crowds on Friday and Saturday night. This world-class competition features sport and special shaped balloons and covers a three-day weekend every summer.
The Great Texas Balloon Race was founded by local dentist Dr. Bill Bussey in 1977. Dr. Bussey has held many balloon world records and was inducted into the National U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame, the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions. Ballooning has become a beloved part of the Longview community and local pilots can been seen flying over Longview on any given morning throughout the year.
In conjunction with their annual event, The Great Texas Balloon Race is also hosting three consecutive U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship events starting in 2023. Yet another great opportunity to watch some of the finest pilots in the world compete.
A parade, a dance, and a rodeo are among the many fun activities planned each June for this historic occasion.
An annual LGBTQ+ festival in June, the event features music, vendors, and activities.
Enjoy amusement rides, live music, food and beverages, vendors, and a variety of other entertainment. Festivities take place throughout the day with a gigantic fireworks show set to patriotic music beginning at dark.
Dog breeds from 38 states, Mexico, and Canada compete in the two-day Longview Kennel Club License All Breed Dog Show at the Maude Cobb Convention Center. This exciting and well-mannered, AKC-sanctioned event is great entertainment for children and adults.
Located just a stone’s throw from Longview’s city limits is one of the nation’s premiere summer Shakespeare festivals hosted by Kilgore College. This renowned summer tradition brings a variety of high caliber stage productions and gifted actors to a local platform. From The Queen’s Tea to meet and greets with the actors, this is a fun and affordable departure from ordinary entertainment.
Help harvest and stomp grapes, plus enjoy music, food, and contests during the annual Enoch’s Stomp Harvest Festival in late July and August.
The Longview Jaycees host a week-long, old-fashioned county fair with carnival rides, games, music, petting zoos, cotton candy, and corny dogs. Always in mid-September, the cooler temperatures bring out families and everyone enjoys a variety of good clean fun.
Prost! Hosted by the East Texas Brewer’s Guild, this Oktoberfest-style event provides visitors the opportunity to enjoy unique and varied beers made by home-brewing enthusiasts. Held in September, the event also features music and food trucks.
Every September, several homes and/or businesses of architectural significance are open to the public for a two-day tour benefiting the Gregg County Historical Museum. Always interesting, with a glimpse into the stories of many of the places distinctive to our local culture, the tour provides an opportunity for an easy day spent in homes that have, or will have, an impact on our community’s history.
*Image from the Texas Shakespeare Festival – Photo by John Dodd
*Image above from the Longview Parks and Recreation Splash Pad
*Image above from the Downtown Longview Christmas Tree Lighting
*Image above from Neal McCoy
Longview resident and country singing star, Neal McCoy, invites his celebrity friends to an annual September concert to raise funds for children with serious illness. Always an anticipated autumn event, Neal revs up the show with fun and good times and the result gives back to his fans, and ultimately to the children close to his heart.
The largest show of its kind in East Texas, the Texas Cooperative Extension Office junior livestock show and sale is the highlight of the year for area 4H and FFA members.
Every October Longview gets spooky with hair-raising activities at various venues like the Haunted Library, Graystone Haunted Manor, Doc Wilkes House of Horrors, and Thomas Falls Outdoor Adventures’ Zip-lining with the Zombies.
Benefiting the East Texas Alzheimer’s Alliance, the festival showcases area wineries as well as music, food, and vendors.
Unique community event designed for children and adults to see, touch, learn, and interact with fascinating vehicles like fire trucks, cranes, dump trucks, school buses, helicopters, and more.
*Image above from the Longview Wine Festival
The Gregg County Courthouse is transformed into a beautiful light display, a huge Christmas tree brightens Heritage Plaza, and special holiday events fill downtown. The Longview AMBUCS Christmas Parade proceeds through downtown on the first Thursday of December with an impressive fleet of floats, antique cars, marching bands, and the ever-popular hot air balloon torch glow.
*Image above from Downtown Longview Artwalk
Located just north of Longview, Carmela’s Magical Santa Land offers a free drive-thru Christmas wonderland each year from November through early January. This light show extravaganza is spread across a beautiful 30-acre property and has quickly become an East Texas holiday favorite.
Community celebration featuring concert, parade, festival, and ecumenical service.
*Image above from Big Techs Tour Group
Longview has a long history of inventors, builders, and makers. Explore factories to see how the world’s largest front-end loader is built and learn about other amazing stuff made in Longview. Free tours are provided on this special weekend at industries throughout Longview and give participants a chance to look behind the scenes at the technology that makes our city work.
This annual February bicycle tour is a fundraiser for Special Olympics and takes place no matter how cold the weather. Participants willingly “freeze their fannies” for bragging rights after they’ve completed the Tour-de-East-Texas. Also includes a 10K run which begins at Doris McQueen Primary School.
Several times a year, downtown Longview galleries and businesses stay open late, and exhibit art on the sidewalk, for an after-hours event designed to showcase local art and artisans. ArtWalk provides an urban environment where many retail stores prop open the front door and offer special purchases to complement the live music and restaurant hopping. It’s family and pet-friendly fun.
Heritage Plaza, in downtown Longview, is filled with music, beverages, food trucks, and lots of people on Friday nights in April, May, September and October. This free music series is a family friendly event featuring some of the best regional talent in various music genres.
Under white pop-up tents, regional and organic farmers offer vegetables, herbs, eggs, and specialty items for sale to the public. The HLFM holds a permanent station in the parking lot at High and Cotton Streets on a seasonal schedule. Starting early on Saturday mornings, the 7:30-11:30 a.m. schedule has at times included live music, cooking demonstrations, and crafts.
*Image above from the Historical Farmers Market
The first Saturday from April – November, you’ll find cool cars and trucks of all varieties gathered in Downtown Longview for a free cruise night. Admire the vehicles and then grab dinner or a beverage from one of your downtown favorites.
Presented by the East Texas Home Builders Association in May and November each year, this event showcases several beautiful new area homes. Visitors can learn about the latest home trends and admire the distinct craftsmanship presented by local builders.
2023 Copyright All Rights Reserved. Magazine and Website designed and produced by Forbes&Butler