Basin PBS to celebrate cultural diversity with new Heritage Festival

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Basin PBS

Centennial Park in Midland, Texas, where the Heritage Festival will take place.

Basin PBS is putting a spotlight on diversity in the Permian Basin region of West Texas with its first Heritage Festival, which will celebrate Midland’s multicultural community.

The event will take place Sept. 30 at Centennial Park in Midland, Texas, featuring local vendors, food, clothing, art and live performances, including a concert from Los Lonely Boys to close out the night. Funding for the festival comes from a private donation and a matching grant from the Abell-Hanger Foundation.

Basin PBS began planning the festival in September 2022 after it created Midland Our City Our Stories, a four-part docuseries about the diversity of Midland, where the station is located. The show inspired the station to work with the Midland Diversity Council to find a way to continue the dialogue, said Basin PBS CEO Laura Wolf.

“We all got together and tried to figure out, ‘How can we expand the conversation? How can we expand diversity and inclusion in Midland, Texas?'” Wolf said. “And we came up with the idea of doing the festival and highlighting everyone’s diverse cultural background.”

The idea came from Carma-Lynn Muscroft, a producer at Basin PBS and the lead for the festival. Muscroft said her hometown held a heritage festival, so she suggested it as a way to celebrate the area’s cultures.

“This is just another way to just showcase all of the diversity and the people of the area and educate the community also on different cultures and traditions and heritages through food, music, dance, storytelling, traditional clothing, wares, books, all of that,” Muscroft said.

‘A lot of moving parts’

The heritage festival is not the station’s first foray into community events. Basin PBS has put on a Back to School Festival for the community for the past three years, as well as Main Street Live, an annual outdoor concert.

The station began reaching out to potential vendors and cultural organizations early this year. Muscroft said that about 28 of the 38 total available booths have been filled, and the station is continuing outreach for late additions. 

“There’s a lot of moving wheels, a lot of moving parts,” Wolf said. “But we’ve got great community leaders that have stepped up to say, ‘Hey, I’ll take the food portion, I’ll take the booth portion, I’ll take the entertainment.'”

French, Rwandan, Burmese, Ukrainian and Celtic cultures are among those confirmed to be present at the festival, Wolf said. In addition, the festival will have performances by mariachis and the International Children’s Choir.

The festival and Los Lonely Boys concert will be free for both attendees and vendors. Muscroft said the station wanted to make sure the festival would be accessible and affordable for the entire community.

“It’s so important for our mission as PBS to make sure that we are accessible to the public,” Muscroft said. “That goes with on-air programming, digital programming, and then obviously our events that happen in the community.”

Six weeks out from the event, Muscroft said the station is in the “nitty-gritty” stages of putting it together, including verifying technical requirements for the performances and recruiting volunteers to help run the event. It’s also preparing to launch a media blitz to advertise the festival.

“The plan is just just to have that presence now that we’re about six weeks out to the event,” Muscroft said. “So this is when we’re going to get everywhere … so that everybody can see us through the billboard posters and social media and then on-air promotion.”

Wolf said the station has already received positive feedback from the community, so she’s “highly anticipating” the festival will become an annual event.

“It’s just been terrific outreach, and people are really responding,” Wolf said. “…The goal of the Heritage Festival is to continue the dialogue and celebrate everyone’s differences and their culture.”

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