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Texas Department of Economic Development Press Release: July 15, 1998

Texas is Home to Numerous "capitals"

AUSTIN, Texas (July 15, 1998) --
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The Lone Star state can boast of being home to numerous capitals ranging from the "Alligator Capital of Texas" to the "Vetch Capital of the World," state lawmakers learned today.

The designations often adopted by individual cities and towns -- have sometimes been bestowed by Texas lawmakers to give special recognition for communities in their districts.

Tuesday, tourism officials from the Texas Department of Economic Development joined local tourism supporters who testified before the House Committee on State, Federal and International Relations on the benefits and uses of the capital designations.

"We want to do everything we can to advance economic development," said State Rep. Bob Hunter, R-Abilene, who chairs the House State, Federal & International Relations Committee. ``One way we can do that is with state designations so Texas cities and communities can work to attract tourism and business and industry to their locations."

"Texans like to brag about their communities," said Tracey McDaniel, Director for The Texas Department of Economic Development Tourism Division. "And these self-billed capital designations only add to our legend."

But McDaniel said the designations also spur tourism in individual towns and throughout the state. "Since Burnet was named Bluebonnet Capital' in 1981, tourism has increased 20 percent in the town," she said. "After Caldwell captured attention for its delicious kolaches, tourism increased 100 percent. These success stories can be seen all across the state."

Tourism supporters told lawmakers it was especially useful in attracting tourists to rural areas. They spoke to a subcommittee on Tourism and Official State Symbols and Resolutions chaired by State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. Other members of the subcommittee at the Tuesday meeting were State Reps. Gene Seaman, R-Corpus Christi, Buddy West, R-Odessa and Norma Chavez, D-El Paso.

The Texas Legislature has designated at least four Texas towns official capitals because of distinctive aspects of their communities. Baird was named the "Antique Capital of West Texas;" Burnet was designated "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas;" Caldwell was given the title "Kolache Capital of Texas;" and Elgin was named "Sausage Capital of Texas." But many cities have come up with designations of their own. In addition to Elgin's link to sausage, the city also bills itself as the "Brick Capital of Texas."

-MORE- A delegation from Waxahachie testified about that city's success attracting tourists using their official designation of the "Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas."

Other towns that tip their Stetsons to unique designations include: Anahuac - "Alligator Capital of Texas" where there are more alligators than people; Cuero - "Turkey Capital of Texas;" Georgetown - "Red Poppy Capital of Texas;" Stratford - "The Pheasant Capital of Texas;" Port Arthur - "Cajun Capital of Southeast Texas;" Rocksprings - "Angora Capital of Texas;" and Floresville - "Peanut Capital of Texas." Native daughter Lillian Richard, the model for Aunt Jemima, put Hawkins on the map as the "Pancake Capital of Texas."

And, in keeping with the Lone Star state's penchant for boastful bombast, some towns capitalize on global monikers. Lubbock, hub of the High Plains, boasts of two distinctions - "Chrysanthemum Capital of the World" and "Cotton Capital of the World" while the state's capital city, Austin, claims to be the "Live Music Capital of the World."

Bandera lassoes a lasting impression as the "Cowboy Capital of the World," and McAllen kicks up its heels as the "Square Dance Capital of the World" where dances go on 24 hours day, seven days a week. Other towns with worldly appeal are: Tyler - "Rose Capital of the World," Cooper - "Vetch Capital of the World;" Athens - "Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World;" Hempstead - "Watermelon Capital of Texas;" and Eagle Lake - "Goose Hunting Capital of the World."

Texas Department of Economic Development Executive Director Rick Thrasher said that tourism is the state's third largest industry and employs more than 464,000 Texans. In 1996, travelers spent more than $27.5 billion in Texas, an increase of nearly eight percent from the previous year.

"Tourism means jobs for Texans," Thrasher said. "And some communities are using these special designations to stir up more interest in visiting their areas. That means more Texans employed in the tourism industry and more money spent in local businesses."

Many communities use their special designations on promotional items, letterheads, on billboards and in advertisements to promote their towns. All travelers are paying attention to these unique designations, Thrasher said. That seems to be paying off in tourism benefits for some cities.


Contact:
Judy Hughes


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