Belton music venues provide entertainment
Apr17

Belton music venues provide entertainment

College students like to indulge their musical sides by heading to Austin or Waco for shows. Many do not realize that when it comes to concerts and entertainment, Belton is home to some of the best-kept secrets in the county. The college town has multiple venues perfect for catching live performances. Junior international business major Hunter Glaske is familiar with the local music scene. As a member of the Hunter Rea Band, he has been both an audience member and featured performer. “We go see concerts any time we can,” Glaske said. “We learn by looking at artists and try to figure out what they’re doing, how their sound is set up, stuff like that.” One of his favorite Belton venues is Schoepf’s Barbecue. The family-operated restaurant offers a Texas Music Series during the spring and summer season. “Every Thursday you can go to Schoepf’s and watch amazing talent,” Glaske said. “Pretty cool deal.” Senior Christian studies major Tyler Reed enjoys Schoepf’s outdoor atmosphere and small town feel.    “They’ve got a good thing going over there. That’s my favorite thing about Belton, to be honest, is Schoepf’s concerts,” Reed said. “They bring in some big names …. It’s neat because you don’t get a lot of UMHB people out there. It’s mainly just the local Belton people. It’s a cool atmosphere.” Another hot spot for local music is Dead Fish Grill right on the edge of Belton Lake. “Sometimes when they play music, I go across the lake and sit on the dam,” Reed said. “The sound travels really well, so you feel like you’re right there. That’s pretty neat.” Senior Christian studies major Laura Phipps considers concert attendance a large part of her college experience. “I’ve been to outdoor concerts, coffee houses, you name it,” Phipps said. “I know the music department hosts different concerts, and there are people on campus who play at (campus activities).” The university’s music department also offers shows ranging from performances at the Temple Cultural Activities Center to its C3 and Highways & Byways concert series. The Bell County Expo Center is another big venue, bringing in acts like Lady Antebellum and Three Days Grace. Coffee shop concerts are a college staple. A staff member at Bodega Bean said that the shop is working on obtaining a license to host live music and hopes to hold performances. Check social media for more information on local...

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Salsa Night spices up campus life
Mar14

Salsa Night spices up campus life

Friday nights in Belton can be muy tranquilo, but on March 8, the Spanish Club brought a bit of Latin spice to campus life. The group hosted Salsa Night, an evening filled with dance lessons and Mexican appetizers. The club also collected gently used clothing donations for Helping Hands. Dr. Rubí Ugofsky-Méndez, the adviser for the Spanish Club, said the organization averages between eight and 10 members. The club prepared several types of Mexican food for the attendees to snack on, including tamales, chips and queso. Junior public relations major and president Samantha Garza was excited to help host the salsa lessons. She and the rest of the club advertised through chapel, MyCampus, Facebook and word of mouth. They hoped all the publicity would bring a good turnout. “Last year, we probably had 40 to 50 people,” she said. “There were a lot of international students.” The dance lessons were provided by senior Spanish major Julio Hinkson, a student from Panama. When he heard the club was looking for a new salsa instructor, he gladly offered to help out. “I first started last fall,” he said. “They were looking for somebody to teach Spanish dance — salsa, merengue — and I fit in that place, so I decided to do it.” Hinkson grew up dancing and enjoys sharing his talent with others. “I love doing it,” he said. “If somebody wanted to learn, I don’t mind teaching them. I don’t go to clubs, so my pastime is to teach people the right way, not just any way.” Freshman Tucker Saxton was one of the first students to arrive at the Lord Conference Center for lessons. An avid country dancer, he looked forward to learning a new style. “I love two-stepping,” he said. “I’ve never done salsa before.” Saxton and several friends joined nearly 50 other students and faculty members for a night filled with Hispanic culture. Excitement grew as pairs gathered closely around Hinkson to watch each dance step demonstration. The dancers then stepped back again to try the moves on their own and receive one-on-one help from the instructor. Hinkson gave instructions on three different styles of Latin dance. “I did salsa, bachata, and then I did merengue,” he      explained. “Bachata is basically a slow dance … salsa is a beat of six and merengue is a faster beat.” Ugofsky-Méndez was delighted to see students participate in the event. She enjoyed watching and taking pictures as everyone figured out        each step. Freshman biology major Sahana Gollapalli heard about the event from Garza. She thought the dance lessons were entertaining. The one downside to the evening? The lack of...

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Hot coffee, cool vibe welcome students
Jan29

Hot coffee, cool vibe welcome students

Heads up, caffeine lovers, there’s a new coffee shop in town. Part of the college experience is finding a trendy local business to go study or hang out. Enter Arusha’s Coffee, the latest hot spot in Belton. Named for a coffee-growing city in Tanzania, the java joint boasts more than 100 different types of tea and dozens of other drinks. The latest project of owner Hatem Chouchane, Arusha’s opened in December. Before venturing into the coffee business, Chouchane was based in Harker Heights. As the story goes, he was running errands through Belton and saw a “For Sale” sign in an old building downtown. An idea began to brew. He quickly called up his friend and manager, Ernst Jacques. “He called me and said, ‘Hey, Jacques, we’re going to do something special, something new,’” Jacques said. A month later, Chouchane and Jacques were moving into Arusha’s. The shop has been gaining ground ever since. Junior education major Zach Martin first heard about the place from a friend and has since become a fan. “I think the overall atmosphere is a lot calmer than other places I’ve found around Belton,” he said. “It’s good to see that since they just opened…they’ve been getting so much business from people.” Martin is not the only student who enjoys Arusha’s ambience. Senior criminal justice major Taylor Holleyman found the spacious venue perfect for studying and hanging out with friends. “They have things to do like pool and dart boards,” he said. Sophomore public relations major Jennifer Wassell likes that the business stays open until 10 p.m., an aspect other places around town don’t have. The hours provide plenty of time for students to stop by between classes and into the evenings. In the future, Arusha’s hopes to expand the menu to include more food and to start hosting live music and karaoke nights. Chouchane also plans to accept CruCards soon, a feature which excites students. Barely two months since opening its doors, the coffee shop has plenty of loyal customers. “We already have a lot of people coming in and out,” Jacques said. “I’ve met a couple people who want to try all the teas, which is over a hundred different flavors.” For those who want to take the taste of Arusha’s home with them, the store sells coffee beans, giving visitors incentive to try each roast. The staff’s passion for people and coffee is a key ingredient to Arusha’s instant success. “One of the things that sets this place apart from other places is that (the owners) do take the time to talk to you,” Martin said. “The fact that it’s (them)...

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CruFest celebrates Preview Weekend
Dec06

CruFest celebrates Preview Weekend

Last Friday, letter jackets galore decorated campus. It was Preview Weekend, and high school students from around the state came to get a taste of college life. Thanks to Campus Activities Board, the visitors had an unforgettable experience. An annual Preview Weekend event, CruFest offers visitors the chance to mingle with students through different activities ranging from coffee house concerts to flying down zip lines. CAB puts great effort into planning the events and ensuring that things run smoothly. Junior education major Jessica Hoermann participated in the preparation. “(W)e divide and conquer our events,” she said. The various CAB members sign up for the different time slots to help pull off each event. This year, Hoermann signed up for CruFest and chose to organize the coffee house and concert portion of the evening. “(It’s) one of my favorite events,” she said. The coffee house event took place in Shelton Theater, which was filled with students chatting, coloring and enjoying the evening’s entertainment. Outdoors, another popular activity was the wax hand station. “Literally there’s a vat of wax and you stick your hand in it, make any kind of shape that you want to, pull it out and let it cool,” Hoermann explained. “Last year, we had a ton of people do it. The line was forever long; we actually had to tell people they couldn’t do it by the end.” This year, students stood in line for several hours just to make a wax souvenir. “Apparently people have been lining up since 6:50 p.m., and our event didn’t even start until 7:30,” Hoermann said. “So that means that the wax hands is crazy popular and should be used for a lot of events.” Through the activity, CAB helped host students interact with their high school guests through many fun experiences. Freshman biology major Jennifer Owens and her roommate welcomed two students. She enjoyed getting to know the girls through the Preview Weekend events. Though her guests enjoyed CruFest, they were even more excited to try their luck at Running Man, a popular nighttime campus game. “They really looked forward to playing, and they got all decked out in black,” Owens said. “It was really fun.” Austen Hinojosa, a senior in high school, heard about Preview Weekend from his cousin, freshman sports management major Ryan Ramirez. He and his cousin spent CruFest racing on the bounce house obstacle course and were counting down the minutes to Running Man. “We’ve already got a strategy,” Ramirez said. Freshman exercise sport science major Jake Morrison tagged along with the two cousins and enjoyed meeting other preview students along the way. He recalls the...

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Memories survive the ashes of State Fair’s iconic cowboy, Big Tex

It was his 60th birthday. No one saw it coming. Smoke appeared out of nowhere, and before anyone could stop the flames, he was gone. Big Tex had burned. This was a rough year for Big Tex. His big birthday bash was rescheduled due to large amounts of rain. Just after the celebration concluded, the 52-foot cowboy met an untimely demise. October 19 was a tragic day for crowds at the State Fair in Dallas. Half an hour after the gates opened, an alleged electrical fire sparked inside of Big Tex’s right boot. Passersby first noticed smoke coming from his neck and stood watching as the flames engulfed the beloved icon. News spread almost as quickly as the flames, and supporters around the nation grieved the loss of the Texas legend. “My heart is so very sad,” Resident Director Rebeka Retta said. “It was (a) childhood memory.” Sophomore nursing major Lizzy McElyea grew up visiting Big Tex each year. Hailing from Dallas, she knows how big a deal the fair is and considers it a kind of tradition. Her family would stop to take pictures with Big Tex in the background, waving his arm and welcoming guests to the fair with a booming voice: “Howdy, folks, and welcome to the State Fair of Texas.” When McElyea heard about his tragic end, it was as though a close friend had died. “I actually heard through the grapevine that he burned, and I thought people were joking,” she said. “I had to Google it to find out for myself, and I was so sad and distraught because that was a childhood memory of mine. It’s like a hero burning to the ground.” While some mourned Big Tex’s fiery finish, others chose to handle the circumstances with a hint of humor. “Looks like they couldn’t think of anything else to fry at the fair, so they decided to fry Big Tex,” freshman finance major James Ewing posted as a Facebook status. After the flames died out, Big Tex’s iron frame stood tall and bare, his singed hands the only recognizable survivors of the tragedy. The gentle giant was carted away in a super-sized body bag. Texas’ great loss was recognized around the nation. Despite the tragedy, the State Fair remained open for the duration of its run. Statements issued by officials said that plans are in the making to restore Big Tex to his rightful place by the 2013 grand opening. Rumors are circulating that this new and improved icon will be better than ever. McElyea looks forward to seeing the restoration and improvements at the fair next year. She said, “I...

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