The Wondrous Grandscape Wheel

From left to right: Jeff Lind, President of Grandscape, Joe McCourry, Mayor of The Colony and Jim Riggs, Managing Partner of Southwest Wheel Partners

A special grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held October 27, 2021, outside the immense and wonderous Grandscape Wheel in The Colony. Following the brief ceremony, excited guests were invited to line up and enjoy a ride on the newest Grandscape attraction. Soaring 180 feet above The Colony, the observation wheel offers spectacular, never-before-seen views of Grandscape, The Colony and Frisco. Since its opening September 10, 2021, nearly 35,000 passengers have enjoyed this 360-degree bird’s eye view of North Texas.

The Grandscape Wheel displays a beautiful spectrum of colors.

Designed by Netherlands-based Dutch Wheels, The Grandscape Wheel is the tallest structure in The Colony, and it can be seen from far and wide. The Colony is one of only 13 cities in the U.S. that has an observation wheel of this magnitude. The Colony Major, Joe McCourry said “Grandscape has a fantastic attraction here – making this the destination to be. What a unique place this is.”

Approaching The Grandscape Wheel from the nearby walking path

The impressive wheel features 42 climate-controlled music-playing gondolas, including a 4-person silver VIP car that includes Ferrari-style leather seating and a glass floor. The standard gondolas seat up to 8 guests and the VIP gondola seats up to 5 guests.

Jim Riggs, Managing Partner of Southwest Wheel Partners said “We’re off to a really great start, and we’re extremely happy to be here. The Colony is on the map in a big way. This is just the start of what’s happening at Grandscape.”

Breathtaking view of North Texas Sunset

Grandscape promises that the wheel is nothing short of spectacular! The experience lasts approximately 15 minutes (3x revolution), and every passenger can witness astounding views, regardless of where they are seated in the gondola. Several staff members are at the base of the wheel to assist guests aboard – and the transition between guests is seamless.

The Grandscape Wheel sits adjacent to Jurassic World: The Exhibition and is located at 5470 Grandscape Boulevard, Suite 300. The hours of operation are Wednesday – Friday, 4pm – 10pm and Saturday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm and closed Monday – Tuesday. General admission is $15.94 (12+), juniors (4-11) $12.01, seniors and military $14.31. The VIP Experience is $49.88 per person and includes front of the line access, the VIP gondola (max 5 passengers) and an upgraded stereo and a souvenir photo (per person). Tickets can be purchased online or at the onsite ticket counter. Also available for purchase are drinks (prior to boarding) and souvenir photos.

To follow COVID-19 guidelines, the Grandscape Wheel only allows families in the same household to ride together. Hand sanitizer is provided, and each gondola is sanitized between guests.

Grandscape is an outdoor retail and entertainment destination that offers world-class amenities. The mixed-use development has rolled out the welcome mat for millions of visitors a year, making this a very appealing destination for families and business travelers alike. Grandscape was recently named the most innovative retail and entertainment project in the world by Retail and Leisure International, the world’s only global magazine for the retail and leisure industry.

by Gina Wiklund

State Fair of Texas Announces Heritage Hall of Honor

heritage hall of fame

The State Fair of Texas recently announced its two newest inductees to the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor. This biennial program was established in 1992 to recognize men and women who have made significant contributions to the agricultural heritage of Texas. These individuals have been accomplished farmers, ranchers, drovers, inventors, innovators, educators, authors, legislators, and preservationists. Their achievements span 170 years, reaching back to the birth of the Texas Republic and extending out into a limitless future.

Since 2019, the induction of nominees both living and deceased are considered annually. This year, Laurence M. Lasater and Frances Richmond Cooper are being recognized for their achievements and contributions that helped establish Texas as a premier agricultural leader in the nation. They join more than 70 men and women previously inducted into the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor.

Laurence M. Lasater of San Antonio was born to Tom and Mary Lasater, the founders of the Beefmaster Breed. In 1964 he and his wife, Annette, moved to Coahuila, Mexico, where their cattle became the foundation herd of the breed in Mexico. In 1971 they moved their family to San Angelo, where they established another Beefmaster herd and founded Isa Cattle Co. He is the author of The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising, which was first published by the University of Texas at El Paso in 1971 and is now in its 16th edition in multiple languages. He was elected President of the Foundation Beefmaster Association and Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers. In 2019, he was inducted into the Beefmaster Hall of Fame. Laurence and Annette’s children, Lorenzo and Isabel, have since taken the reins of the family business and continue the Lasater legacy.

Frances Richmond Cooper of Mercedes began her career in 1954 as the secretary to the manager of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show (RGVLS). In 1959, she became manager of the show, and was a key factor in the rise of the RGVLS to its position of being one of the 10 largest livestock shows in Texas. She was known as the heart and soul of the RGVLS. Upon retirement as manager in 1986, Frances was elected to the RGVLS Board of Directors, where she served until the time of her death. The Texas Association of Fairs and Events awarded her with its Lifetime Achievement award in 2002. In 2004, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions presented her with the prestigious Heritage Award. Frances was loved and respected by everyone that knew her, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but throughout the state of Texas.

Prior Heritage Hall of Honor recipients include: Perry L. Adkisson, L.D. “Don” Anderson; Anne Armstrong; John B. Armstrong; Tobin Armstrong; Henry M. Beachell; Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Sr.; Othal E. Brand, Sr.; Dolph Briscoe, Jr.; Eugene Butler; Ogbourne Duke “O.D.” Butler, Jr.; Fred Campbell; Hoover Carden; John S. Cargile; Ben H. Carpenter; Sr.; John W. Carpenter, Sr.; Edward Cline; Susan Combs; Roy B. Davis; Eligio “Kika” De La Garza; Isaac Leonard Ellewood; Dr. Edward B. Evans, Sr.; Harold M. Freeman; Charles Goodnight; J. Evetts Haley; J. Walter Hammond; Cornelius Taylor Herring; William S. Ikard; Morgan Jones; John S. Justin, Jr.; Elmer Kelton; T.A. Kincaid, Jr.; John H. Kirby; Robert Justice Kleberg, Jr.; Herbert L. Kokernot, Sr.; Herbert L. Kokernot, Jr.; Tom Lasater; George Washington Littlefield; Watkins Reynolds Matthews; John Louis Merrill; Robert Lee “Bob” Miers; Thomas Volney Munson; Wade Lewis Pennington; Jim L. Peterson; Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce; Lonnie A. “Bo” Pilgrim; Dr. Alfred Nelson Poindexter; Charles William Post; James L. Powell; Foy Proctor; B.J. Pryor; Col. Ike T. Pryor; J. Roy Quinby; Clarence Scharbauer, Sr.; Charles Armand Schreiner; Charles G. Scruggs; William M. (Bill) Sims; Christopher Columbus Slaughter; John B. Slaughter; Bob Stallman; Wenzel Louis Stangel; Charles W. Stenholm; Hallie Crawford Stillwell; Svante Magnus (S.M.) Swenson; Ann Burnett Tandy; Dr. T.D. Tanksley, Jr.; T.L.L. “Tom” Temple; S.M. True, Jr.; Daniel Waggoner; W.T. “Tom” Waggoner; W.R. “Billy Bob” Watt; W.R. “Bob” Watt, Jr.; and Mary Nan West Clayton Wheat Williams, Sr.

The State Fair of Texas is a celebration of all things Texan, and a great way to learn about agriculture and Texas heritage is by taking a walk through the Livestock barns or the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center during the State Fair. Visit The Heritage Hall of Honor inside the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center or visit to check out all of the inductees and learn more about the program.

The 2021 State Fair of Texas begins September 24 and runs through October 17 at historic Fair Park in Dallas. Hours are Sunday – Thursday, 10am – 9pm and Friday – Saturday 10am – 10pm. Tickets can be purchased online at:

by Gina Wiklund

Texas Foodie Adventures at Elmwood Gardens in Palestine Texas

“If You Love Flora Farms in Cabo Then Check Out Texas Foodie Adventures at Elmwood Gardens in Palestine Texas”

Real Farm to Table Goodness!

From country roads, rolling hills, prairies and Piney Woods, East Texas has always had a great deal of appeal to those seeking a bit of solitude in the countryside. Tucked away in a quiet corner just two hours from Dallas, is the ultimate Epicurean experience — Texas Foodie Adventures and Cottages at Elmwood Gardens by Provence. This sophisticated, gourmet food experience is certain to tantalize each of your senses.

The juncture is set on 32 acres of beautiful, captivating gardens, complete with rustic cottages and mouth-watering meals you won’t soon forget. This indulgent escape is a popular destination for guests who are looking for a nearby staycation, a mid-week getaway, family celebrations, milestone moments or romantic rendezvous. This unique and authentic Texas homestead has also become a popular destination wedding venue featured in Vogue magazine as one of the most beautiful venues in Texas.

Onsite accommodations at Elmwood Gardens by Provence offer a comfortable, cozy, and a casual escape. Three one-bedroom cottages are available, and each can accommodate up to 4 guests. The romantic Honeymoon Suite – complete with an opulent purple tub – is best suited for couples seeking a starry-eyed stay with their significant other. An adjoining cottage, The Texas Rose, is perfect for families. For more seclusion, Annette’s Hideaway, situated near the Wildflower Gardens is a perfect retreat. Each enchanting countryside cottage comes complete with lazy-day porches, and an abundance of character, warmth, water views, and infinite charm. Each cottage is also air conditioned, quaint, and curious. These unique cottages are packed full of Texas history and filled with wonderment and a wow-factor unlike any other.

After a restful sleep in one of the intimate and welcoming cottages, the Foodie Adventures begins with a bountiful gourmet breakfast prepared by acclaimed Executive Chef Pamela Horowitz of Provence Catering. Breakfast is included in all overnight stays and may be served at the charming Wisteria House, one of the lush gardens, on the back porch of your vintage cottage or the mystical rock garden.

Following breakfast, guests are free to explore the engaging and winsome property. From photography to bird watching, hiking or a property-wide scavenger hunt, the homestead offers many distinct and memorable activities.  Other happenings might include harvesting from the onsite vegetable gardens, painting the striking scenery with waterclors or even a met and greet with the horses.

After reveling in all that the property has to offer, guests can delight in a bountiful picnic basket lunch filled with scrumptious delights or indulge in a delicious 3-course luncheon from Chef Pamela’s farm-to-table kitchen. Or you may opt to kick back and relax, take an afternoon nap before you wallow in an exquisite 6-course dinner tasting menu. Each course is masterfully prepared and presented elegantly in a charming, enchanting setting.

Global fusion and trend-setting fare always abound from Chef Pamela’s gourmet, made-from-scratch kitchen. If you enjoy decadent sauces and rich flavors, this Foodie Adventure was designed with you in mind. The talented team of Chefs make sure each meal is a feast of beautifully plated dishes and a symphony of farm fresh flavors. Romantic candle-lit dinners are a specialty, and they can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, Halal, Kosher-style or special diets or food allergies. After dinner enjoy an outdoor movie under the stars at the outdoor Sunset Cinema boasting one of the largest outdoor BBQ kitchens in Texas.

So, when you find yourself seeking refuge from your hectic lifestyle, this is the perfect place to unwind and indulge yourself in an experience that fills the senses. Reservations for Texas Foodie Adventures and Cottages at Elmwood Gardens by Provence can be made by calling: 903-549-2716 or 214-557-3351 or you can email: To learn more about the property, view a sample menu, or book your trip, visit their website at: Whether you are seeking an intimate affair for two or a rock star worthy wedding for 200, they can fulfill your every dream.

Cottage accommodation pricing for Annette’s Hideaway is $229/night; Texas Rose Cottage – $249/night and the Honeymoon Suite – $299/night. Lunches Start at $39.95 per person; 3-Course Dinners start at $75 per person and Tasting menus start at $150 per person. Dine-in only Texas Culinary Adventures require one-week advance reservation. Due to weddings and events, the weekend reservation policy states that your stay must be booked within 6 weeks or less of your desired dates. Call to inquire about seasonal flexibility on reservations.

This hidden gem is just a short jaunt from Dallas, Shreveport, Houston, or Austin. Driving there from any direction is a serene journey on beautiful, winding country roads that are sure to rejuvenate the soul. And, after you traverse the amazing property and relish in gourmet meals, the area boasts world-class golf, boating, fishing, hunting, mudding, yoga, zip lining, spa treatments, wineries and horseback riding nearby.  


Throughout her career, Chef Pamela’s creative cooking style and flair has attracted a great deal of national attention and she has been featured on CNN, FOX-TV, NBC, New York Times, New York Daily News, and Food Network. She has also catered parties for many high-profile events and notable clients, including CEO’s, American Presidents, a Supreme Court Justice, the Duchess of York, the King of Spain, David Letterman and Howard Stern.

by Gina Wiklund

Hutchins BBQ Reopens McKinney Restaurant

The long-awaited reopening of Hutchins BBQ in McKinney is projected to reopen at the end of August. McKinney area residents have been feverishly awaiting this event – and with all this enthusiasm stirring – fans and foodies better get crackin’ to be the first in line.

This year-round phenomenon is simply a way of life here in Texas… and no one knows BBQ better than the Hutchins Family. For years, they have been serving top-notch smoked meats and made-from-scratch sides and desserts. People have come to know and love Hutchins BBQ as “The King” of BBQ – and patrons’ line up outside to prove it. So, when you find yourself craving authentic Texas-style barbeque, make your way to one of the greatest BBQ joints around — visit Hutchins BBQ in Frisco or McKinney.

Over the years, family-owned Hutchins BBQ has received a slew of accolades from various publications, patrons, and establishments. Their excellence in the BBQ culinary circuit is well-founded and renowned. They have been recognized as one of the 50 best BBQ joints in the world and they were invited to cook dinner for the James Beard House — twice! This honor is bestowed upon only a select few, and Hutchins BBQ is proud to be among them.

Trey Hutchins, one of the four partners, said he has been a part of the business since he was a young boy, and he was – quite frankly – born into barbeque world. “We promote authentic Texas barbeque year-round, by attending a variety of events,” Hutchins said. He continued, that his barbeque contenders are undoubtedly his friends, and that the competitions are more like sibling rivalries. You’ll find Trey to be a family man, kind and very modest when it comes to his craft.

The Frisco restaurant sits back a bit from the road, and the custom-made barbeque smokers are lined up a mile long, or so it seems. From the expansive parking lot, the sweet smell of smoked meat permeates the air, and even the slightest hankering for barbeque is immediately elevated to an all-new high.

The rustic charm of Hutchins is warm and inviting. Behind the weathered exterior, you’ll find a cozy interior with complete nicks and the scratches that are clear sign the tables have been frequently occupied. The wood paneled walls are adorned with black and white photos, each telling a story of fond memories of days gone by. These permanent markers simply add to the overall character and appeal of the restaurant.

At first glance, the choice of meats may seem like typical fare of any barbeque establishment — but Hutchins BBQ is far from typical or ordinary! They undeniably rise above the competition by serving only hormone-free, never frozen meats which are slowly smoked over 100% wood-burning pits. They start with post oak and finish with pecan woods. The meats are then sliced to order on a butcher block countertop near the entrance of the restaurant.

There are so many meat choices, no one could ever walk away hungry. Some of the selections include tender sliced or chopped brisket, pulled pork, ribs, succulent turkey, juicy chicken and even made-from-scratch sausage that is produced in-house — to mention just a few.

The freshly prepared side dishes are made in-house and are plentiful, satisfying and scrumptious too. A few distinctive options include broccoli salad, potato casserole, corn, and the most lip-smacking side of all – their version of the world-famous Texas Twinkies. These enormous jalapeños are stuffed with cheese and brisket and wrapped in thick-cut bacon. What’s not to love?

While dining in, staff members flitter around the restaurant ensuring that all guests are well attended to. The employees are happy, helpful and they are committed to providing each patron with a favorable dining experience. Many of the staff members have spent their entire career with Hutchins BBQ. Hutchins said that “you cannot pay passion,” and his employees are just like family.

No meal at Hutchins would be complete without topping it off with one of their exemplary free desserts for dine-in customers. The dessert counter offers a rich banana pudding that is generously topped with vanilla wafer cookies. The warm, deep-dish peach cobbler is an all-time favorite, and it is often topped with vanilla ice cream that’s close by and always readily available.

Hutchins BBQ relies almost entirely on word-of-mouth advertising. While they have seen a great deal of success in the four decades they have been in business, Hutchins said that the prosperity is merely an added bonus. His motivation is waking up to attending to his craft daily. “Our mission has always been about serving the highest quality smoked meats and sides while providing exceptional customer service,” he said.

Hutchins BBQ is open year-round, from 11am – 9pm with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can dine-in, order call ahead take-out or delivery from the Frisco location at 9225 Preston Road. The McKinney location is 1301 N. Tennessee St., McKinney.

Smoked brisket, Hutchins merchandise, gift certificates, sauces, seasonings and other tasty treats are available online at Nationwide shipping makes online ordering easy and convenient.

The prices are reasonable and competitive. You can easily feed a family of four with their family pack for around $65, plus tax. For a larger crowd, the party pack feeds 6-8 and is another great choice for just $105. Hutchins also offers catering, and they have served crowds are large as 5,000 at these events.

As they say, everything is larger in Texas — and the partners’ plans for the future are definitely vast. They have been fabricating custom barbeque pits for some time, and they are targeted and on track to launch their own line – Hutchins Fabrication – in January 2022. Plans to break ground on an all-new facility are also in the works. The land is adjacent to the Frisco restaurant, and they have their sights set on breaking ground in approximately 18 months.

by Gina Wiklund

State Fair of Texas Health & Safety Briefing

30 Days Until Opening Day

Today marks 30 days until Opening Day and the State Fair of Texas team continues to work hard to ensure a safe environment for everyone during the Fair this year.

Big Tex needs every fairgoer to do their part and most of all, be respectful of others and do the right thing. The current health situation makes for a challenging backdrop for the 135-year State Fair of Texas tradition. Of course, we would love for everyone to attend the State Fair this year and continue the great family traditions that make the event special to so many, however, we understand that some will be hesitant. We ask that those who attend do so because they are willing to follow our health guidelines – not because it’s mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do.

During these times, we acknowledge that no event can be completely risk-free, and we’re counting on you to do your part to help us present as safe of an event as we can by following the below health guidance, which is subject to change:

Get vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated, thank you! If you’re not, now is the time to be protected for when the Fair’s Opening Day arrives. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone, especially children under age 12 and others who cannot currently get vaccinated. It’s widely recognized that the vast majority of all current COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. While we will not (and cannot legally) require you to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter the Fair, if you’re not vaccinated and plan to attend, we urge you to do your research, talk to your doctor, and consider a vaccine, both for your safety and the safety of others. If you can’t get one beforehand, our friends at Dallas County Health & Human Services are offering free vaccines at Big Tex Circle from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. all 24 days of the State Fair. Dallas County plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine for those who are receiving their first dose (Note: As of August 23, 2021, the FDA has granted formal approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine). Dallas County will also have the Moderna vaccine available for people who are receiving their second dose of that vaccine. Dallas County is planning to offer an incentive of $20 in State Fair food and ride coupons to those who are eligible and receive their vaccine while at the Fair.

Make an informed decision about attending the Fair. Before you visit, make sure you’ve considered your personal health situation and how you can best keep yourself and those close to you safe and healthy. The Texas Department of State Health Services has a comprehensive webpage on COVID-19 with the latest information on testing, vaccinations, symptoms, what to do if you feel ill, protecting yourself and others, and more. Visit for more information.

Wear a face covering. Masks protect everyone. Plan to bring a mask for yourself and everyone in your party with you to attend the 2021 State Fair of Texas. Wear a mask in the following settings if you are older than age 2 and medically able to wear one:

  • Indoors, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As of August 25, given the current situation with increasing COVID cases in Dallas County and the current Dallas County order on the Required Use of a Face Mask in Certain Public Space, masks will be required when indoors. Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status, can help protect you and everyone in close proximity to you.
  • Outdoors in crowded settings, especially if you are not vaccinated.
  • At some independent vendor booths who may require everyone in their booth to wear a mask.

We are largely an outdoor event with plenty of eating and drinking. Approximately 80% of the State Fair is held in outdoor settings. Mandating masks fairgrounds-wide would be extremely difficult for our organization to enforce, so we are urging you to pitch in and do your part by following the above guidelines. Particularly if you go inside, simply put a face covering on for the time you’re shopping, attending a show, or visiting an exhibit.

Again, we ask that you bring your own mask with you to the Fair, but if you forget yours, we’ll have a supply at our gates for you. Just ask the gate attendant when you enter or at an information booth on the fairgrounds.

Wear a face covering if you take DART to the Fair. Many guests arrive at the Fair via DART or other forms of mass transit. Federal regulations require all public transportation passengers to wear masks while they are waiting for and on a train (those under age 2 or who are medically not able to tolerate a mask are exempt). Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft may have their own mask requirements.

Social distance. Please spread out when you can and wear a mask when you can’t. The fairgrounds are huge, and most activities are outdoors where social distancing is much easier. We’ve created more space in some high-traffic areas and we are adding many more outdoor seating areas. If one area of the Fair is busy, explore new places. Wherever you go, there’s plenty to eat, to do, and to see.

  • Consider attending on a weekday instead of a weekend. Weekdays traditionally are much less crowded than weekends and attending on a weekday provides you with many discount admission offers. 

Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently. More than 500 free hand sanitizer stations are made available by the State Fair throughout the fairgrounds. Plus, there are hand sanitizing stations throughout the barns and livestock areas, where it’s especially important to wash your hands after visiting the animals.

Stay home if you’re not feeling well or you’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Get tested and get well before you visit the Fair. If within the 14 days before you attend the Fair you have tested positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19, experienced any related symptoms or been in direct contact with or in the immediate vicinity of any person who is confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms, please stay home.

Most of all, please respect your fellow fairgoers. We’re all in this together. And please remember that some operators may be short-staffed due to labor shortages. Please practice patience and be kind to those who showed up to work and serve you at the great State Fair of Texas.

Please visit the CDC’s website for more information on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals:

CDC guidelines for non-vaccinated individuals:

COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that can lead to severe illness and even death. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place regardless of precautions that may be taken. By entering the fairgrounds, you voluntarily assume all risks, hazards and dangers related to exposure, contracting and/or transmitting COVID-19, and voluntarily waive all claims and suits against the State Fair of Texas.

All information is subject to change. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate updates as Opening Day draws closer. All health and safety updates will be posted to

The 2021 State Fair of Texas opens on Friday, September 24 and runs through Sunday, October 17. You can purchase season passes and premium tickets online at

The Sky Tower at Choctaw Casino and Resort

With leisure air travel escalating this summer, airlines have been struggling to keep up with the demand. This resurgence has had a huge impact on air passengers alike. From the long lines at airport ticket counters, to thousands of delays, and cancellations — air travelers are frustrated, exhausted and in some cases downright angry.

But many astute Americans have chosen to avoid the chaos at airports and have taken to the roadways instead. Metroplex area residents should follow this lead and take the short drive north to visit the new $600+ million expansion of Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma.

This new addition, The Sky Tower, officially opened the weekend of August 6, 2021. The festivities and events included $1 million in cash drawings, live entertainment, photos ops, a DJ in The District, and a spectacular firework display. The grand opening celebration will continue through the end of August 2021 with an additional $800,000 in cash giveaways. 

If you missed the grand opening shindig, don’t despair… the celebration was merely a kickoff for what’s to come! The 21-story Sky Tower has raised the roof in more ways than one. From sophisticated and modern hotel rooms, to gaming, top-notch entertainment, dining, and fine art commissioned by local Choctaw artists – the flurry of action and activities is unlimited. Everyone in your group will be satisfied and contented – even the children!

From the outside, the main entrance of the Tower is grand and impressive. With the stately circular driveway, it’s easy to imagine stretch limos arriving with famous, prominent, or celebrated guests. In the coming months, some of those live entertainers include Clint Black, Carrie Underwood, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Dave Matthews Band. If you have an interest in any of the upcoming entertainment, act fast – tickets are selling out at warp speed.

The old and new sections of the resort are seamlessly connected. However, the first note of distinction is that the new section is completely smoke-free, and it will remain as such for the foreseeable future. Every single detail was well planned, researched and employees had a voice in the final selections of their work areas. With the tasteful design, even most esteemed guests will be dazzled. The stunning decorations include bright, colorful fresh floral arrangements in varying shapes and sizes. The décor is contemporary, opulent, and eye-catching. The walls and walkways are lined with a world class collection of paintings, drawings, and sculpture — created solely by Choctaw artists. Several works were exclusively commissioned for the new tower, and hotel guests receive a guide to the expansive collection upon check-in.

If you choose to spend the night, you’ll sleep easy in any of the impeccable and luxuriously appointed, spa-like accommodations. The Sky Tower includes 1,000 rooms ranging from luxury suites, traditional king, or double queen beds, as well as hospitality suites. Many amenities are included, such as HDTV, complimentary Wi-Fi, a coffeemaker, and free parking.

Novice and experienced gamblers alike will enjoy the expansive, well maintained and fully staffed gaming floor. Guests can spin the reels at any of the 3,300 classic, progressive, or high-stakes slot machines.

If you are seeking some live action, check out the 40 new table games that include craps, roulette, baccarat, pai gow, and everyone’s favorite – blackjack. Also, an all-new 30-table poker room with its own dedicated staff and guest services will ensure a good time is had by all.

Many bars and lounges are strategically placed throughout the resort. For a unique game-day experience, check out The League Bar, a quintessential hot spot for sports enthusiasts. The League houses 88 big screen TVS, and an unforgettable 100-foot video wall that weighs in at more than 13,000 pounds! Sports themed artwork from local Choctaw artists also adorns the walls. In the center of the gaming floor is Prizm Lounge. Designed as a central meeting place, it’s the perfect spot for guests to reunite with others in their party. Don’t miss the astonishing surface that separates light into an immersive spectrum of color.

In addition, The Sky Tower has an array of shopping, eating, and entertainment venues. It includes 2 new retail shops, 3 new restaurants, 2 new movie theaters with reclining seats and a three-acre tropical oasis – Aqua. This swimming and lounging paradise has an adult-only with swim-up bar and a family friendly pool with waterslides. Four outdoor areas for food and drinks round out the Aqua experience.

Due to weather-related construction delays, Aqua is closed, but is expected to open soon.

The two new retail shops are Envi, a premier boutique that carries designer merchandise and Essentials, a retail shop for Choctaw-branded souvenirs, apparel and assorted snacks and sundries. When hunger sets in, be sure to visit Salt & Stone for round-the-clock eats that feature the “SALT” (surf) and “STONE” (turf). Boasting unparalleled flavor and exquisite luxury is 1832 Steakhouse. The menu includes a vast selection of fine wines, and the unequaled steak and seafood dishes are expertly plated. Reservations are strongly suggested, and the restaurant is only open for dinner.

The entire Choctaw Casino and Resort is profusion of fun, food, and festivity. Whether visiting for business or pleasure, the merriment and cheerfulness abound. The people are friendly and accommodating, and each inquiry is answered with a smile.

No stay is complete though, without visiting the all-new Choctaw Cultural Center. Just minutes from the resort, the Cultural Center and is a lesson in the rich culture, history and experiences of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and its community.

Today, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is thriving with nearly 200,000 people. They celebrate a vibrant heritage of resilience and spirit. Their mission is to empower each Choctaw to live a life filled with possibility. Some of their business endeavors help support the health and education of Choctaws.

by Gina Wiklund

Finalists Announced for 2021 Big Tex Choice Awards

big tex choice awards

Ten lip-smacking and delectable deep fried dishes have been chosen as this year’s finalists for the 17th annual Big Tex Choice Awards. The contestants will each present their creations to a distinguished panel of celebrity judges at the event on Sunday, August 29. Entries are divided into three distinct categories: best sweet, best savory and most creative. Judges may select from either the sweet or savory category for the most creative entry.

Each crazy, creative, concoction will be evaluated on four distinct components: uniqueness, creativity, presentation, and taste. From brisket brittle to Pork Shots to the Lucky Duck Dumplin’, judges will taste-test and cast votes on their favorite deep-fried dishes..

The ten finalists hoping to secure a win are:

Savory Finalists

Crispy Crazy Corn, Ruth Hauntz

Individually battered sweet whole kernel corn fried and dusted with a secret seasoning, and topped with slowed-smoked pulled pork, tangy pineapple slaw and dribbled with freshly made jalapeño crema and fresh cilantro.

Deep Fried I-35, Clint and Gretchen Probst

A fried brisket kolache drizzled with a peach and Dr. Pepper infused BBQ glaze served with a dusting of powdered sugar and sliced peaches.

Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Gourmet Royale

Seafood gumbo balls packed with Gulf Coast shrimp, blue crab meat, stewed chicken, and andouille sausage, that are rolled in saltine cracker and breadcrumb mixture. Served with a dark roux, chicken fried okra spears, saltine crackers and a small bottle of hot sauce.

Lucky Duck Dumplin’, Bert Concessions

A pastry dumpling filled with duck bacon that is blended with with cream cheese, sweet corn and herbs and spices. Served with a mild, and slightly sweet Thai chili glaze.

Pork Shots, Glen and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller

Pork sausage wrapped in hickory smoked bacon and stuffed with creamy mac and cheese. The outside is sprinkled with a secret spicy BBQ rub.


The Armadillo, James Barrera

A cookie butter ice cream sandwich that includes two deep fried Armadillo-shaped cookies filled with cookie butter semifreddo, drizzled with cookie butter and dusted with sugar.

Brisket Brittle, Ruth Hauntz

Similar to old-fashioned peanut brittle, but the peanuts are replaced with smokey Texas brisket. Just a hint of heat.

Deep-Fried Halloween, Isaac Rousso

A deep-fried pretzel soaked in candy corn syrup and topped with colorful sprinkles, powdered sugar, and orange and white buttercream icing before being stacked with Halloween favorite candies, then drizzled with both a chocolate and caramel sauce.

Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake, Winter Family Concessions

Lightly glazed cake doughnut chuncks, English toffee bits, and almonds mixed with custard, then dipped in an egg product and rolled in panko and vanilla cookie crumbs. Once fried, it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, toffee tidbits and a mocha coffee whipped cream. Topped off with a miniature chocolate covered toffee bar.

Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake, Michelle Edwards

A Texas-shaped pumpkin cake with vanilla glaze and caramel, topped with whipped cream, and dusted with a secret spice.

This year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event will be closed to the public. However, the event will be broadcast during a Facebook Live event:

Be sure to sample these tempting treats at the fair this year. You’ll be glad you did! The 2021 State Fair of Texas begins Sept. 24 and runs through Oct. 17 at Fair Park, in Dallas, Texas.

by Gina Wiklund

Pushing RESET – The Rx for Burnout Recovery

Sponsored Post by Inspired Leadership Group


If you are feeling drained and depleted after an arduous and emotional departure from your former life and all you want to do is run away to a warm beach and lounge about . . . for the rest of your life, you’re not alone. The truth is, a global pandemic shutdown, or any significant life event, takes a toll on your emotions and your state of mental health and a myriad of symptoms in your physical body.

Adulting can be hard work, especially when you’re experiencing burnout.  These days, too many are in that boat and finding it difficult to hold it all together, even while the world is beginning to open back and we are hopeful the pandemic will quickly become a distant memory. 

Whether you’re experiencing anxiety and stress from life- disruption caused by COVID -19,  the end of a marriage, the loss of a parent you’ve been caring for, or mounting financial concerns, the truth is – any major life event produces trauma. Plain and simple.  Trauma impacts every fiber of your being.  It manifests itself not only physically, but it seeps deep into your very soul. The stress from such trauma often strips the body of every ounce of energy. In turn, your will to do anything at all often vanishes.

Burnout actually became a medical diagnosis code from the World Health Organization   in May of 2019, well before the pandemic ushered in a new ‘strain’ of burnout.  Often brought about by chronic stress at work, the WHO defines burnout as a syndrome that includes depleted energy, exhaustion, negativity, cynicism and reduced productivity. Does this sound like anyone you know?

Daily Habits for Burnout Recovery, Remedies to Employ Now

sleep better

If you are so burnt out that you just want to ‘check out’, but your obligations are preventing you,  you can still take action right now.  Do yourself a favor and take a mental health afternoon or full day, spend some time in nature, or with a friend that makes you laugh. These suggestions are not trivial or trite, any of them can be a step in the direction of a little mental and physical renewal.  Though the root cause of  burnout may be exhaustion or cynicism or a number of other things,  according to a recent article from Harvard Business Review, a common theme among the remedies for those suffering with the condition is compassion; compassion for self and for others.

Let’s start with self-compassion, it must  begin  with getting some sleep! To put it bluntly,  our mental capacity goes down the tubes without quality sleep!  The dramatic impact of sleep deprivation includes; decreased brain function, memory loss, depression and even psychiatric disorders. Let alone all of the physical impacts we will look at later. Sleep is truly one of the most important factors affecting your mental health. I mean, how many of you are a completely different person when you haven’t slept for a night or two?  So, whatever measures you must take to ensure a couple of days in a row of solid sleep, I urge you to do them.  I’m not suggesting prescription meds.  In fact, just the opposite, there are many high quality, natural remedies to calm your brain and body for a night of rest (one of them is physical activity in your day).  You can consult with a Naturopath, Nutritionist or  Lifestyle Medicine Doctor for specific herbal remedies and hear more about a four-pronged approach to mitigating burnout in this video 








Prayer Really Is The Answer

 Talking with God each morning and throughout the day brings peace and sets the tone for how we will show up that day.  For years I diminished the power of a deep relationship with my Creator.  Now I understand how critical it is  to put time with Him first.  In fact, instead of rattling off the words; mind, body, spirit,  I’m flipping my approach and practice of holistic health to; Holy Spirit, then mind, then body.  I believe this is the proper order that will drive divine health and wellbeing from the inside out.  Whether you are a first responder on the front lines in military, healthcare, business or at home, the old adage prayer works is true. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose but stress & peace and joy to gain.

Restorative yoga or Yin yoga a couple of times a week specifically for the physical aspects of  helping to unwind all of the muscles you have ‘wound up’ during the week. It lengthens muscles, reduces tension and you will leave the class truly restored and ready for another intense workout or another hectic day.

Breathwork is also a game-changer; with as little as 10 minutes of breathwork, meditation or prayer, you can literally change your mental state. While these suggestions may sound a bit ‘soft’ to some people, they are simple and practical ways you can start immediately to  replenish your mental energy and improve your overall well being. 

If you engage in any of these activities; prayer, meditation, yoga or breathwork, the physical and mental effects are the same; more peace, calm, lower heart rate and a brighter outlook.  Any can be a first step to honoring yourself and your mental state in short time frames throughout the day.  You can learn more in a recent article on Thrive Global about cultivating a lifestyle of well-being in those areas.

Along with some practical day-to-day actions,  let’s face it, many of us may be in need of an even stronger, rehabilitation type remedy. With the skyrocketing numbers of both adults and youth living with the effects of burnout, mental health practitioners and online mental health apps are bursting at the seams with hurting people.  Still, there is a gap in the industry and an overwhelming need for a more comprehensive, in-person, and more effective solution to fully recover and sustain a healthy lifestyle once out of the woods

If  you are like most of us and need more than a day, a vacation or spa retreat will certainly help a bit.  But if you are seeking lasting change, you may want to consider an immersive, life-affirming, holistic program that is specifically designed for burnout recovery.  These rare, exclusive offerings are highly specialized at discreet locations with concierge wellness practitioners trained to get you energized and back to your purpose, that created the vision, that built a passion to do what is needed to reach your goals.

 Whatever you decide, take the first step, your mental and physical health are of the utmost importance. You can choose to break free from the state of burnout. If you need more tips, additional resources or just to talk, please reach out.

Linda Mullins is Founder of Inspired Leadership Group Retreats and Luxury Executive Wellness.  She and her team are fueled by a passion to help others become their best selves.  Inspired Leadership Group is certified by The John Maxwell Team and includes holistic concierge health practitioners offering proven methods to increase your balance and effectiveness by addressing each critical piece of the whole person; Spirit mind, and body.

inspired leadership dallas

E:  P: 707-722-7032

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Find Out Why Dallas was Named the #1 Restaurant City in the U.S.

As a longtime resident of Dallas, I was thrilled to hear that our city had finally been recognized by a national food magazine as the top restaurant city in the U.S. Since editors at Bon Appetit named Dallas the #1 Restaurant City of the Year in a recent issue, everyone seems to be standing a little taller. That’s especially true of those in the hospitality industry.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Bon Appetit as its 2019 Restaurant City of the Year, and we look forward to welcoming the many visitors this distinction will bring,” said Sam Coats, Interim President and CEO of VisitDallas. “Dallas’ dining scene is as vibrant as ever, and the city’s many talented chefs create a diverse range of cuisines that continue to elevate and bring recognition to a wide range of establishments.”

Find Out Why Dallas was Named the #1 Restaurant City in the U.S.

Photo: Tammany Stern-Best of Guide

The magazine article also singled out Chef Donny Sirisavath and his Laotian food restaurant, Khao Noodle Shop, for high praise. The restaurant was named the #2 Top-rated Restaurant in the Country. Chef Sirisavath was applauded for his made-from-scratch boat noodles and other delicious recipes. Since the Laotian dishes are served on small plates, the food writer recommended their readers should take a group and order everything on the menu. High praise indeed!

Petra and the Beast (brainchild of Chef Misti Norris, pictured with Eric Federlain, Executive Chef of Sevy’s Grill) is another Dallas restaurant that received special recognition in the magazine’s top 50. The small restaurant, located in a former gas station in East Dallas, is decorated with animal skulls. Chef Norris uses a variety of animal parts in her recipes, and oversees a charcuterie board called “Meatums.” The board changes daily, and it’s one of their most popular items.

Grasshoppers Anyone?

Find Out Why Dallas was Named the #1 Restaurant City in the U.S.

Karel Anne Tieszen, a Dallas-based Chef for KXII TV, also teaches a variety of culinary classes in the area. Chef Tieszen said the Dallas restaurant scene is extremely diverse now. She noted that the most difficult question she’s ever asked would have to be “What’s your favorite restaurant?” The only proper response is to fire back with some important questions, like what type of cuisine? What area of the city? A newly-opened place or long-time favorite?

Deep Ellum and Bishop Arts Historic Districts are mentioned in the article as areas known for their diversity. I recently attended a Mezcal pairing at Coco’s Fire & Ice in Bishop Arts, a Mexican restaurant specializing in authentic Mexican food (not your mama’s Tex-Mex) found in Oaxaca. I recoiled when our starter course, chili-grilled grasshoppers, arrived. Some of us may not be ready to explore all the diverse cuisines found in our newly famous #1 Restaurant City in the U.S. Thankfully, they also brought a side of guacamole!

By Jo Ann Holt | October 14, 2019

City Cafe Your Neighborhood Bistro

We have long been a fan of the beloved City Cafe of Dallas. Located in University Park, this gem of an exceptional white-tablecloth neighborhood bistro offers a seasonal menu and impeccable service.

City Cafe is a sophisticated boutique restaurant offering lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, Sunday brunch, and gourmet to-go.  At the helm of an impressive Chef Mario Flores, the food is impressive. The menu changes seasonally, and you’ll find regional American cuisine featuring rotations of seafood, veal, game, pasta, fowl, beef, pork and lamb. Chef uses highest-quality ingredients to prepare every item on their creative world-class menu and you can taste (and see) the well-thought planning of each dish.

They offer a wonderful selection of wine varied in selection and at pleasing prices. Their talented pastry chefs create decadent desserts. City Cafe has invested a lot of time and effort into having the right people on staff and it shows.

While the fare is truly delightful, equally so is the gracious service. One of the things most restaurants lack in this day and age is courteous, refined service. Certainly not missing that genteel service at City Cafe. Here you’ll find sophisticated and attentive service from the waitstaff to the Maître d’, Karim Alaoui.

Hours of operation:
Lunch  | Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 2pm
Dinner | Monday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 9pm
Brunch | Sunday: 11am – 2pm

To Go Bistro Hours

Monday – Friday: 10:30am – 8pm
Saturday: 10:30am – 3pm
Sunday: 10:30am – 2pm

5757 W. Lovers Ln., Dallas, TX 75209
Northwest corner of Lovers Lane at the North Dallas Toll Road

(214) 351-223