Unique By Nature? Yes, We Are!

24 Aug

On the nature trails at the Heard.

“What’s unique about it?”

That’s a question we frequently get at the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau. Those of who live here, know: it’s that “special something” that brought most of us here, the reason we chose to call it home.

McKinney’s 2012 Honor!

And Money Magazine obviously gets it, too, considering they just named our city the #2 Best Place to Live in America, up from #5 in 2010 and #14 in 2008. (They publish the list for cities our size every two years, and it is practically unheard of for a city to make three consecutive lists, much less move up in ranking each time.)

So what is unique about McKinney? That’ll take several blog entries to explain, so today, we’ll start with a word that is in that description – our nature (which was even incorporated in our logo in the way of a tree). Most cities have trees and nature; we know that. But McKinney’s nature is different.

A predator bird presentation at the Heard amphitheater

Over the years, those who have sculpted McKinney into what it is today have worked diligently to incorporate and preserve nature in as many ways as we can. In this blog entry, we talk about one of those special places where visitors and residents can enjoy nature to its fullest and most pristine.

The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary

The Heard, which will celebrate its 45th  anniversary on Sept. 30, offers so many cool opportunities to enjoy nature, we are devoting an entire blog entry to it. (We’ll cover other McKinney nature in our next blog entry.)

Wetlands Eco-Adventures at the Heard

This museum was the vision of McKinney native Bessie Heard (1886-1988) who donated the land and started the museum back in 1967 when she was 80 years old. The beautiful 289-acre wildlife sanctuary on which the Heard Museum sits features more than six miles of natural walking and hiking trails, some more hilly than others as they wind through woodlands, prairies, and grasslands. More adventurous guests can even call ahead and schedule an Eco-Adventure (a canoe tour of the wetlands) or for groups of 10 or more, challenge themselves on the high and low elements of the ropes course in the Heard’s deciduous forest tree canopy.

Inside the Heard’s butterfly house

A nature museum displaying native wildlife and special exhibits also houses a store that kids and adults alike will enjoy exploring for books, maps, science tools, toys, T-shirts, and do-it-yourself kits of all kinds. Also on the property, guests will find a beautiful outdoor amphitheater where concerts, bird and wildlife lectures, and other events take place throughout the year. In the summer, the Heard’s Native Texas butterfly garden and butterfly house are filled with brilliantly-colored winged creatures and numerous species of flowers.

We recommend you peruse the Heard’s website to learn of all the educational programs and events they offer, including children’s camps, night hikes, birdwatching and tagging, snake feeding, the Animals of the World exhibit, as well as Spring, Halloween and Christmas events, and many more. And their science building and other facilities are available for church gatherings, meetings, weddings and other events.

Watch out for the spitting dino!

The pièce de résistance at the Heard, though, would have to be the Dinosaurs Live! event happening annually from fall into winter. (The animatronic dinosaurs will inhabit the sanctuary starting Oct. 2 this fall until Feb. 3, 2013.) Walk the nature trails to find them hiding along the paths, moving and making noise in natural settings. Their Halloween at the Heard event is especially thrilling for youngsters as they trick-or-treat along the nature trails at dusk, watch an outdoor movie and compete in a costume contest. But be careful – there is usually a water-spitting dino among them, always a favorite with the kids! Bring the camera to capture poses with the 46-foot T-Rex and his friends, who are all made right here in McKinney by Billings Productions.

The 46-foot tall T-Rex is a favorite among kids.

Whether you’re visiting us in McKinney, or that “special unique something” has caught you, too, and you’ve decided to call McKinney home, there is a little piece of nature for everyone.

More examples of how you can enjoy nature in our city will come in this blog entry’s sequel next week.

Visit McKinney Texas: Where to find us!

Remember “everything McKinney” is always at your fingertips with our Smartphone app. Links for downloading it to iPhone, iPad and Android can be found HERE. And if you need to check out McKinney on your computer, you can find us at our website or on Facebook and Twitter. We’re even working on growing a Pinterest page! And if you’d rather pick up the phone, you can contact the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau at 214-544-1407 or tollfree at 888-649-8499.


August in McKinney is Alive with Arts & Music

7 Aug

MPAC stands in the center of McKinney’s downtown square, overlooking a bustling arts scene.

McKinney always offers a wide variety of arts and musical experiences, but August seems to be more chockful than ever! From community theater to a world-renowned rocker (hint: think Fleetwood Mac!), there is no shortage of arts and music from which to partake in McKinney this month.

On the Stage

The McKinney Repertory Theatre is keeping the stage at the McKinney Performing Arts Center busy this month with a couple shows. The first two weeks of the month feature a melodrama, “Return to Calamity Gulch” which encourages audience participation in the way of popcorn being thrown at the performers and much cheering and booing. Then later in the month (Aug. 17-19), the MRT’s Young Actors Guild takes over, bringing “Fox Tales” to the MPAC stage.

Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) to rock the MPAC stage in a sold-out concert Aug. 22.

Rocking the MPAC stage on August 22 is Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. Sorry, though, folks – if you don’t already have a ticket, you’re out of luck on this one. This show sold out last month. But those lucky fans who do have tickets are in for a treat! ENJOY!

Another future show sure to sell-out is another nationally-known act: 2011 winners of NBC’s “The Sing Off,” Pentatonix, coming to the MPAC stage October 18. (Click the group’s name to order your tickets now so you won’t miss that show. And if you aren’t familiar with them, check out videos of them HERE.)

Second Saturday Packed Full of Artists

As always, McKinney’s downtown square comes alive for Second Saturday (August 11) when guests are invited to enjoy a fun filled evening of art, shopping, music, food and spirits. The local art galleries and even a few of the other businesses feature local and regional talents of artists and musicians.  Of course, a trip downtown isn’t complete without eating in at least one of McKinney’s fine eateries. (Why not see how many you can visit by enjoying pre-dinner drinks and appetizers in one location, dinner in another, then stop for dessert somewhere else! All the while, there’ll be great music to set the mood for your evening.  Also, quite a few shops in downtown McKinney will also keep their doors open for this monthly event.

Where to see art on Second Saturday:

Garret Art Gallery is featuring watercolor artist Sarah Buie (from Aug. 11 through Sept. 6). At a young age, Sarah Buie enjoyed both drawing and painting. Sarah studied art history at the University of Dallas but painting remained her passion. Her style falls somewhere between Impressionism and Realism with an endeavor to express the good and the truth through everyday objects and nature. Her primary desire is to glorify God through her art by helping people see that despite the storm there can be peace, despite the sorrow there can be joy, and despite the struggle there is hope.

Sarah works as art teacher and in-home caregiver in Grapevine. She continues to enjoy traveling and giving of her time and talents to people close to home and abroad. Stop by The Garret Art Gallery from 7-10 p.m. during Second Saturday to meet Sarah and see her art, while enjoying refreshments.

Imaging on the Square  is featuring various local artists, showcasing their many different mixes and mediums throughout the evening.  They’ll also feature up-and-coming singer Stacey Whitson during the Second Saturday event.

A sample of art in Laura Moore’s Hideout “open call to artists” juried art exhibit this month.

It’s time for Laura Moore Fine Art Studiosannual open “call to artists” juried art exhibition, this year themed “Hideout.”  Guests can see more than 80 works of art from 45 artists in two locations through September 5 at two locations: the gallery itself at 107 S Tennessee, and hiding out in a second location at the Heard-Craig Carriage House at 205½ W. Hunt Street. There is always an eclectic mix of artists and mediums in this show, so do make a point of seeing it. You’ll be glad you did!

Orisons Fine Art & Framing Gallery  features the work of several professional photographers from the north Texas area who have been invited to show their work in a Group Photo Show.  The public is invited to the gallery to view and vote for their favorite photograph leading up to the event.  Voting patrons will be entered in a prize drawing for free print to canvas services.  Photographers winning the People’s Choice Awards will be announced during the Second Saturday reception.

And something even more special at Orisons: The gallery has acquired three extremely rare Bert Stern photos of Marilyn Monroe.   Taken six weeks prior to her death, these are from Monroe’s final photo shoot commissioned in June 1962 by Vogue Magazine.  All three were originally published in Stern’s 1982 book and are signed and numbered (each is 199/250) with certificates.  The plates used to print these were donated to a museum and will never be printed from again.  During the photo exhibit, these will be on display and for purchase.  Vote for your favorite of these as well through August 10 to be entered in a drawing for a free 16 x 20 canvas wrap.

Main Street Magic & Fun Company’s Chris Gracy performing magic at this year’s Ice Cream Crank Off.

Other businesses featuring local art include:

La Misha European Bistro where you can see the work of artists Catherine Brown and Miles while enjoying a glass of wine or a bite of light Mediterranean fare. 113 N. Kentucky, 972-540-6050; and
McKinney Wine Merchant features the art of Nick Saia. 120 W. Virginia, 972-542-4636.

Main Street Magic & Fun Company hosts their monthly Cabaret Style Magic Show at 7 p.m.  (for adults & children) and again at 9 p.m. (for adults only) in their Magic Attic Theater. Tickets are only $10 and include a complimentary glass of wine for those 21 and older.  Seating is very limited so call 214-274-7802 to reserve your tickets.

The following is the live music you can enjoy during Second Saturday.

The McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau also lists all live music for the month on their Visit McKinney Texas Smartphone app. Click HERE to access a link to download the app for your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Support Local High School Musicians!

The McKinney Boyd Band drumline kicks off their Drum-a-thon on the downtown square.

The McKinney Boyd Bronco Band’s annual fundraiser and teambuilding event, Drum-a-Thon, features high school musicians playing marimbas, tenors, bass drums, snares, cymbals, and more as percussion playing for 18 straight hours at McKinney Boyd High School (600 N. Lake Forest Drive). The event runs takes place on Saturday, August 11 from 6 a.m. to midnight. No admission is required, but the drumline will happily take donations! In fact, any patron who donates $100 or more will be listed on this year’s drumline shirt, which not only will be worn by our percussionists, but also by friends of the band and MBHS students.  You can get a sneak-peek of the event during their kick-off on Friday, August 10, from 5:30- 6:30 p.m. on McKinney’s downtown square. Last year, the group moved around the square, playing for awhile on one corner before moving elsewhere. Just listen for the drums and enjoy! Please contact Derek Stoughton for more information regarding this event at: dstoughton@mckinneyisd.net

Visit McKinney Texas: Where to find us!

Remember “everything McKinney” is always at your fingertips with our Smartphone app. Links for downloading it to iPhone, iPad and Android can be found HERE. And if you need to check out McKinney on your computer, you can find us at our website or on Facebook and Twitter. We’re even working on growing a Pinterest page!

McKinney: Embracing Healthy Eating for Cancer Patients

24 Jul

The McKinney community is all about health and wellness, being looked to as one of the healthiest cities in North Texas. In fact, from our mayor and city government, to our shops and Farmers Market, and even including our hospitals and wellness venues and events, McKinney embraces and encourages a healthy lifestyle for all its residents. And those residents and business owners help promote these same “best practices” to our visitors as well.

McKinney has become a hub for healthy eating, featuring a variety of outlets for “slow food.” Healthy eating, especially organic and locally-grown selections, undoubtedly help people to fight illness. And for those dealing with perhaps one of the scariest of health issues, cancer, McKinney also offers treatment facilities like McKinney’s Rena Tarbet Cancer Center and Cancer Center Associates, and a cancer treatment-certified spa, Spa Esoteric – facilities targeting the wellness of its patients and clients.

We now introduce our guest blogger, Jillian McKee, who approached us with a piece she wrote to help those dealing with cancer and their loved ones to use better nutrition in fighting this disease. After reading her submitted piece, we agreed that, in light of McKinney’s stance on healthy living, her piece offered useful information to our residents, visitors and blog readers.

Wellness Tips: Better Nutrition for Patients Fighting Cancer
By Guest Blogger: Jillian McKee

Cancer treatment has changed radically over the past decades. Former techniques have been refined, and new techniques have been developed. Those fighting breast cancer, mesothelioma cancer, prostate cancer and other cancers have seen a dramatic rise in their long-term survival rates. Some of these techniques, such as good nutrition, can be controlled by the patient and are not completely in the hands of doctors. Here are some tips to help patients fight cancer with good nutrition.

Fruits and vegetables have come to be regarded as a key element of a nutritious diet. Fruits are a healthy, delicious food filled with anti-oxidants and other healthy nutrients. Vegetables, with ample fiber, can help regulate the digestive system. Both fruits and vegetables are good for the cardiovascular system, and each can be cooked or prepared in a variety of ways. Once diagnosed with cancer, a patient should try to eat even more fruits and vegetables than typical daily requirements recommend; vegetables contain valuable nutrients that the body uses to fight against cancer, and the sugar content of fruits gives patients a boost of energy that can help them remain active before, during and after treatment.

Protein is important to give the body the building blocks it needs to fight cancer and repair itself from the damaging effects of cancer treatments, such as those that treat mesothelioma. Proteins from meat products, however, are not as healthy as plant-based protein sources. Additionally, meat contains a variety of components that can encourage cancer growth. The best sources of protein for cancer patients are beans and legumes. These foods are filling, healthy and delicious. They also contain high levels of fiber and iron, which help the body remain healthy. Furthermore, beans go well with both grains and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are necessary to give the body the energy it needs to effectively create cancer-fighting tools and maintain itself. However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Complex carbohydrates are advantageous because they take a longer time to break down, which means that their energy-boosting properties last longer than simple carbohydrates. Rice is generally regarded as the best source of complex carbohydrates, and it goes well with both beans and vegetables; it is also an easy food to digest, which can help when treatments cause nausea. Brown rice even contains moderate levels of fiber and iron. By combining a grain, such as rice, and a protein source, such as beans, patients can easily make a great base for their nutritional intake.

Cancer patients should view their diet and nutrition as one of the primary cancer-fighting tools that they can control. Doctors are ultimately in charge of many of the aspects of treatment, but patients still retain some control over the outcome of their fight. New meals and knowledge gained can be a benefit to patients long after their treatment has ended and their cancer has been defeated, and proper nutrition has been shown to help prevent the recurrence of cancer. Further, cooking and balancing nutritional elements can be fun, and patients can become a valuable source of nutrition information for their family and friends. Thank you, Jillian, for bringing us this information!

About our Guest Blogger, Jillian McKee:

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Stay Connected with Jillian McKee

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/bio.htm#ixzz21ZxKxY7O

About the MCVB: If you learn of something else going on in McKinney this month, please let us know. As always, you can learn more about McKinney’s events by visiting VisitMcKinney.com and by downloading our free Visit McKinney Texas Smartphone app. (For links to the Apple Store and Android Market, click here.)

BOOM! It’s July in McKinney…

6 Jul

McKinney puts on the red, white and blue for the annual July 4th hometown parade.

July started with a BANG in McKinney… or rather with a “BOOM” as in Red White and BOOM! Thousands turned out on the downtown square for the July 4th hometown parade, the street fair and the car show, all taking place under the bright, hot sun and insanely gorgeous blue sky. Even more thousands filled the soccer complex at Craig Ranch that night for a concert by McKinney’s own Jon Christopher Davis and his band Lone Star Attitude followed by the city’s annual fireworks display.

Now as we enter the first full weekend of the month, get ready for some great music by local talent, some great art created by local artists, and even a couple stage productions of popular musicals. Then of course, there is always nature to enjoy in McKinney!

Music, Stage and Galleries in July

  • McKinney Summer Musicals‘ production of “My Fair Lady” kicks of this weekend on Saturday night (July 7) and Sunday afternoon (July 8) – and finishes with four shows next weekend. (Click the show title above for tickets.) The show is at Boyd High School.
  • The McKinney Community Band performs a free concert at MPAC on July 14.

    The McKinney Community Band has a concert on Saturday, July 14, called “Home on the Arrangement” with music honoring McKinney and the state of Texas. Admission is free, but they need you to reserve free tickets on their website to help them track attendance. The concert is at the McKinney Performing Arts Centerin the middle of the historic downtown square. (Hint: This concert falls during the monthly Second Saturday downtown!)

  • During Second Saturday, yes, some of the shops downtown are open late, but regular visitors to this monthly event know it’s really all about the arts – new art gallery exhibit openings with meet-the-artist receptions in the downtown art galleries, and live music rocking-out so many of the restaurants/wineries downtown. Click HERE for a list of participating businesses on the square.
  • In addition to Second Saturday, Orisons Art & Framing will host one of its popular “Art in the Making” events on July 21, featuring the art of local artists Annie Royer, KD Hafley, and David Hobson who will be on hand creating their art as guests to downtown McKinney can watch and ask the artists about their work.
  • Another performance downtown this month is by the talented youth of McKinney! The McKinney Repertory Theatre’s Broadway Bound campers bring their acting and singing gifts to the MPAC stage for four shows of “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” on July 19-21.
  • At the Heard-Craig Carriage House on Friday, July 20, enjoy a free concert “Bluegrass to Jazz” presented by the McKinney Arts & Music Guild. The concert is from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

A boy meets a butterfly at the Heard Museum butterfly house.

Nature in July:

It may be hot out, but that doesn’t stop the butterflies, birds and other nature from being available to commune with people! The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary opened its Butterfly Gardens and House last month, an attraction that will be open until September 30. And this month, the Heard offers a Free Resident Day on July 15 (McKinney residents, bring your water bill with you for free admission)  and throughout summer, the Heard offers its summer camp programs for kids. Also, don’t forget the Animal Superheroes exhibit running throughout the summer.

DID YOU KNOW? There are motion-activated cameras posted on the grounds of the museum that catch the action of wildlife not generally seen by humans as they go about their business day and night. Click HERE to see some of these images. (Those wildlife sanctuary residents are busy as beavers – in fact, some ARE indeed beavers.)

Wet Family Fun!

The City of McKinney Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department hosts its annual Hawaiian Night on July 21 at Juanita Maxfield Aquatic Center. The event features family activities, games, food, music and plenty of cool, splashing fun from 5:30-8:30 p.m. (For a list of all the pool facilities and splash pad parts in the city, click HERE.)

Fresh juice quenches hungry shoppers at Third Monday Trade Days.

Shopping, McKinney Style!

Every month in McKinney offers unique shopping opportunities. Below are links to the usual monthly markets as well as our weekly Farmers Markets:

NEW! Just opened on the square this week (July 4) is Snug on the Square, a place for shopping and eating. Check out their Facebook page HERE!

Visit McKinney Texas: Our App and Social Media!

Remember “everything McKinney” is always at your fingertips with our Smartphone app. Links for downloading it to iPhone, iPad and Android can be found HERE. And if you need to check out McKinney on your computer, you can find us at our website or on Facebook and Twitter. We’re even working on growing a Pinterest page!

Here Comes Summer: Why Not Learn Something New!

6 Jun

Summer is, of course, time for fun in the sun, splashing in the pool, ocean or lake, eating cool summery treats, and spending time with friends and family on vacation. But it can also be a great time to learn something new, be it a musical instrument, a new type of art, a sport or fitness routine you’ve always wanted to try, or even to hone a skill or talent you already have, but just don’t have the time to devote to it when your schedule is full of other commitments.

Residents and visitors to McKinney have all sorts of opportunities to learn something new or to better perfect their talents this summer. Check out these offerings:

Gary Morris Workshop at MPAC on June 13

Gary Morris Workshop at MPAC: Broadway star and award-winning recording artist Gary Morris comes to McKinney on Wednesday, June 13, to share various techniques from his multi-faceted career during “Silence Says It All,” a workshop designed for actors, writers and musicians. The class runs from 1-5 p.m. at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. The “hands-on” session will include an acoustic performance by Morris while providing attendees the chance to ask the veteran entertainer questions about his experiences, working within the entertainment industry, or just creating art in the form of music, acting, writing and more. (Gary is probably best known for his original recording of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which won both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music Song of the Year Awards in 1984. He also performed in thestarring role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” on Broadway in 1987.) Make reservations for the $50 workshop by calling 972-547-2650 or online HERE.

Stained Glass Art Classes: Create your own piece of stained glass art at one of several classes offered this summer by Stained Glass of McKinney, including Yard Art (6/24, 1-6 p.m.); Crash Glass (6/23, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.); and Jewelry Fusings (6/9, 10-11:30 a.m.). Also, many of the classes on their website are available if a minimum class attendance requirement is met. Just ask!

Entrance to The Artist’s Loft

The Artist’s Loft: Owner Debra Linker and the many art teachers with whom she partners always have a lot of classes going on in the loft studio on Louisiana Street proper. (Look for it down the hallway and up a small flight of stairs from Orisons Art & Framing.) Teachers interested in offering classes in this studio need just ask, as Debra offers the space as available for reasonable rates.

Kids’ Camps and Classes at MPAC: In addition to the Gary Morris Workshop being offered at MPAC this month, there is a wide assortment of kids’ classes offered all summer in art, dance, music, acting and more. For more information, call 972-547-2650.

City of McKinney Parks & Rec Kid Camps and Classes: The city’s Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department always offers many options for families or individuals. Kids can enjoy on-going camps (try a week or try the whole summer) while kids and adults can take summer classes offered at the recreation centers or elsewhere. (Once on the site about classes, click the picture of the summer guide to access a complete listing of classes.) Call one of the recreation centers during business hours: Community Center – 972-547-2690, Old Settlers – 972-542-5014, or Senior Center – 972-547-7491.

Swimming Lessons at City Pools: It is summer after all, and if you don’t already know how to swim, or if you want to improve your skills or learn advanced techniques, check out the city’s aquatics oppportunities. To see where to swim in City of McKinney facilities, click HERE.

Heard Museum Camps for Kids and Families: Enjoy the outdoors and nature at the same time with the camps offered at the Heard Natural Science Museum. Also ask them about their Eco-Adventures Canoe Experience and their Ropes Course, both of which require an advance reservation, but provide you with a great opportunity to challenge yourself and learn a new skill! Call 972-562-5566 for more information.

Learn About Pioneer Life: Kids ages 6-15 can take part in camps at Chestnut Square Historic Village from now through July. Check the schedule on their site. What a great way to learn how to do things the old fashioned way – churn butter, make ice cream, hand-sew quilts and buttons, play old fashioned games, and more.  972-562-8790.

Health, Music & More in May

30 Apr

“Health” is the word for May in McKinney. Locals and visitors will spend the month of May involved in a variety of spring activities, many of which focus on healthy living and recreation. Among the events and activities planned in McKinney this month are:

Don’t Worry – Be Healthy!

McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller is challenging the residents of McKinney to adopt healthier lifestyles in an effort to make McKinney the most fit community in the nation. To encourage steps toward this goal, the city is sponsoring a series of events that started with Relay for Life the last weekend in April and includes four events in May. Eligibility passports are available here and need to be stamped at four of the Healthy Challenge events to be eligible for the June 30 drawing for an iPad. The May events include:

Also this month, those interested in fitness may register for these other May races:

Another important event focusing on health and wellness is the Strikes Against Cancer Select Youth Baseball Tournament which brings 248 teams of young ball players and their families to McKinney for the weekend (May 4-6). Not only will the boys be active playing ball all weekend, the event itself is the brainchild of 12-year-old pitcher Geordon Cox as his way to help raise money to fight his mom’s uterine cancer. The website, accessible by click the organization name above, allows site visitors to make donations and buy special Strikes Against Cancer merchandise.

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in McKinney with a free concert and dance at Old Settler’s Recreation Center, 1201 E. Louisiana St. with music provided by Mariachi Michoacan, a theatrical presentation by Teatro Dallas called PIZCAS and other festive activities. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. 972-542-5014.

Arts On Stage & In the Gallery

John Fitzgerald McGill takes the Sanctuary Stage at Zin Zen Wine Bar, 6841 Virginia Parkway. (May 1, 7:30 p.m.)

The popular “Music Under the Stars” concert series continues at Wales Manor Vineyard & Winery (May 12, 7:30 p.m., but gates open at 6:15 p.m. for best seating) with country darling IMAJ (pictured right) taking the stage. Also at this event, you’ll see the Rendola Paso fino horses from Aubrey, where IMAJ has been taking riding lessons.

The McKinney Youth Theatre brings the popular musical “Hairspray” to the Heard-Craig Performance Hall, 306 N. Church St. 972-422-2575. (May 4-13, times vary). Tickets are $8-18

Over at the McKinney Performing Arts Center, U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson will announce the winner of his annual high school Congressional Art Competition & Exhibit (May 3, 7 p.m.). The Arts and Music Guild hosts a Juried Art Show in the MPAC gallery (May 11, 7 p.m.). reception with winners announced at 8 p.m., 972-547-2650). The artwork will be on exhibit for public viewing from May 14-22.

Join the North Texas Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) for their Armed Forces Salute (May 19, 7 p.m.). Patriotic and popular music will be provided by ATOS Theater Organist of the Year Dave Wickerman, musician/composer/arranger Danny Wesley Ray, the Frisco Jazz Band, and other artists.

The McKinney Repertory Theatre presents White Liars & Black Comedy (May 25-26, 8 p.m., continuing in June), two one-act comedies by Peter Shaffer.

Memorial Day in McKinney

Pecan Grove Cemetery hosts their 28th Annual Memorial Day Celebration (May 28, 9 a.m.) featuring state, county and local officials, veterans, Boy Scouts, and local musicians. Attendees can enjoy a free barbeque lunch at the conclusion of the event.

The annual Smiles Charity Concert and Family Festival this year brings Grammy-nominated county singer David Nail on the stage at Adriatica in Stonebridge Ranch (May 27, starting at 5 p.m.). This event also features music by Lantic and local favorites the Maylee Thomas Band.

Garden, Dogs and Horses

Myers Park & Event Center offers a month of wide variety of animal-related as well as garden tours and a race. Myers Park is located at 7117 CR 166.

  • May 2: Collin County Master Gardeners will have a tour of the gardens, 972-548-4219.
  • May 5-6: Alamo Area Whippets Club dog show, 214-616-0918
  • May 5-6: The Red River Welsh Pony Association Silver Show, 469-223-2783.
  • May 12: 5K Life Race, 214-673-2860.
  • May 17: The Spring Horse Herd Health Clinic, 972-548-4233.
  • May 19: Lone Star 4H Horse Club, 972-658-5201.

McKinney Favorites (Weekly and Monthly Events)

The Heard-Craig Center for the Arts hosts the monthly free Art History Brown Bag lunch-time discussion (12:30-1:30 p.m., May 2) featuring local artist, instructor and historian Anne Royer. This month, the focus is on Monet and Pissaro in 19th Century France.

McKinney’s Farmers Market at Chestnut Square Historic Village continues its regular weekly season on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and at Adriatica on Thursdays (check their website for times). Monthly at Chestnut Square, enjoy Ghostly Haunting Tours held the third Saturday; tours of the grounds and homes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.; and trolley tours of the historic district which leave Chestnut Square every second and fourth Saturday at 11 a.m.

Monthly flea market and vintage shopping is on tap at Third Monday Trade Days (May 18-20), Old Red Lumberyard Junk Market (May 18-19), and Treasure Spotters (May 5-6 & 19). And don’t forget the annual Spring McKinney Ladies Association yard sale at Stonebridge Methodist Church (May 5).

Find your inner drummer Saturdays during the 10 a.m. African drumming circle, courtesy of Drums Not Guns,  at Old Settlers Recreation Center or during the Fourth Friday Drum Circle in Mitchell Park.

Second Saturday on the downtown square (May 12, 7-10 p.m.) features new art exhibit openings and meet-the-artist receptions. This month’s offerings and participating galleries include:

  • Laura Moore Fine Art Studios welcomes Waleed Arshad’s exhibit, “Of What is Past, Passing or to Come.” 107 S. Tennessee, 214-914-3630.
  • The Artist’s Loft, 110 E. Louisiana, 972-345-6311.
  • Orisons Fine Art and Framing Gallery, 110 E. Louisiana St., 972-529-1441.
  • Imaging on the Square – 109 S. Tennessee St. – 972-548-7575
  • Dobscha Studio – 111 E. Virginia St., #200 – 972-658-5196
  • The Main Street Magic & Fun Company hosts the 2nd Saturday Magic Show at 7 and 9 p.m. in the Magic Attic Theater upstairs in the shop. Tickets are $10 and include a complimentary glass of wine for those 21 and older. Children are admitted to the 7 p.m. show. Seating is very limited. 211 N Tennessee, 214-274-7802.

Also this month: National Travel & Tourism Week, starting this weekend, May 5. More to come on this event!

From the MCVB: If you learn of something else going on in McKinney this month, please let us know. As always, you can learn more about McKinney’s events by visiting VisitMcKinney.com and by downloading our free Visit McKinney Texas Smartphone app. (For links to the Apple Store and Android Market, click here.)

Dining On the Square…..at Home

17 Apr

By Tom Motley
Guest Blogger

Historic downtown McKinney offers a variety of great food to eat there, or to prepare a home-cooked meal!

The other day we shared a pleasantly late lunch with old friends Sandy and Henry at La Misha, McKinney’s European bistro, downtown on the Square. The girls loved the lush barley soup, made by owner Sonia Sosani. Henry and I wolfed down tasty Turkish-styled gyros, the flavors reminding me of exotic doner-kebabs my Derbyshire students introduced me to years ago in the UK. College students in England enjoy a cornucopia of ethnic cafes serving near any campus, unlike my own Dallas campus-home of decades, which has apparently signed a life-sentence contract with one fast-food sandwich company.

In continental fashion, we McKinney friends talked leisurely at La Misha for hours, finally savoring espressos and cappuccinos.  After visiting Laura Moore at her handsome art gallery on Tennessee, we walked one block back to the Square, with a short detour around the corner from Churchill’s Tavern to pop into The Canine Cookie Factory to buy hand-baked “squirrels,” our puppy’s favorite snack.

Smelling the “canine cookies” baking in the store’s ovens reminded me of dinner needs for the human members of our family unit. We stopped up the street at Patina Green and bought local Texas artisanal cheeses, along with chef Robert Lyford’s delightful crispy toasts. We crossed Virginia Street, heading half a block north from the Square to buy steaks and produce from cheerful Sara Johnson at Local Yocal. Owners Matt and Heather Hamilton stock an amazing array of local organic products.

Summer produce at Chestnut Square Farmers Market

Our canvas shopping bag needed one final item to make dinner complete, a great bottle of wine from Andy Doyle, owner of McKinney Wine Merchant (at Virginia and Wood streets). While we browsed, neighbors arrived in the shop. After making our respective choices, we all walked next door to The Pub for pints of creamy Franconia Dunkel, brewed in McKinney not far from downtown. The stroll home through the historic district was pleasantly enhanced with sweet fragrances provided by antique roses, longtime favorites of McKinney’s east-side homeowners.

Living so close to downtown, we appreciate being able to buy staples like organic milk, butter and eggs from local merchants on the Square. On Saturdays mornings, we walk over to the hugely popular McKinney Farmers Market at historic Chestnut Square (voted no. 5, best farmers’ market in the nation).

Picking out steaks from Local Yocal

For dinner, we made a wilted salad of greens and Swiss chard, along with seared “McKinney Steaks,” all from Local Yocal. Matt Hamilton cuts these unique chuck steaks from Wagyu beef (the best of the Kobe variety in my opinion). The steaks are about 2”X2”X6”. Since long ago becoming a fan of Craig Claiborne’s practical recipes for New Yorkers with tiny apartment kitchens, I still enjoy a nice steak seared in a hot iron skillet on the stove-top. (I wasn’t in a New York flat when I discovered Claiborne, but I was a hungry college student, living in a tiny Denton, Texas studio, cooking on a hotplate). The “McKinney Steak” is ideal for the skillet. The creative shape allows for browning on all four sides, since they’re all the same width. Even my beef-challenged wife agrees that Local Yocal’s Wagyu is like eating butter.

Inside the McKinney Wine Merchant on W. Virginia

Wine guru, Andy, had correctly suggested a Marietta 2008 Petite Sirah to complement the meal. At a reasonable price, the deep-colored, aromatic red was richly layered, and complex enough to stay engaging throughout the wide range of earthy flavors served at dinner. Lastly, we relished apple and pear slices with the three artisan cheeses Robert selected for us at Patina Green: a rich goat cheese from the Bonham dairy, On Pure Ground,  and The Sharp Shooter, a lovely butter-colored Emanthaler-type from Veldhuizen Cheese in Dublin. My favorite was soft and unique, The Eden, wrapped in a flavorful fig leaf from Brazos Valley Cheese in Waco.

Dining on the Square, at home, is well worth the walk.

About our guest blogger: Tom Motley is a professor of Art & Art History at Richland College in Dallas, an artist, and an organic farmer who writes The Motley Farm Report for C&S Media and Tom Motley North Texas Gardens at eatgreendfw.com. Tom also lectures on organic gardening, no-till farming, lovacore dining and ag issues. He and his lovely and creative artist wife, Becca, happily call McKinney’s historic district home.