Given the chance to promote Stephenville, Julie Smith took the ball and ran with it — and is taking big strides forward.
Smith became the manager of the Stephenville Tourism and Visitors Bureau on April 2.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Smith, noting that she is a fourth-generation Erath County product and has a background in marketing and public relations. “I worked previously with the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council.
“I love Stephenville and I’m excited to tell our story. There’s a lot to tell.”
Smith grew up in Stephenville and is a Tarleton State University graduate. After living in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, Nashville, Little Rock and Minneapolis, Smith moved back to Stephenville eight years ago.
Smith noted that rodeo has long been a top attraction for Stephenville, and live music events here have also been growing in frequency and popularity.
WE GO RODEO
Stephenville’s annual Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo is right around the corner, Sept. 28-30. The city is also home to a junior rodeo in November as well as Tarleton State University’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association event each spring.
“What I see for some of (Stephenville’s) greatest tourist assets are rodeo, and I’m learning we are also a live music destination,” Smith said. “We are working on getting a Texas Music Friendly certification through the music office of the state of Texas governor. It’s a new initiative.
“Also, we were recently included in the national registry of historical places. It’s exciting for Stephenville to be included in the registry because we have a beautiful downtown square, and it’s a great dining and shopping destination.”
Only four Texas cities — San Antonio, Austin, Denton and Fort Worth — have earned the Music Friendly certification through the state’s Texas Music Office.
“It’s a new initiative. We are hoping that Stephenville is the first small town to be Texas Music Friendly certified,” Smith said.
She said Stephenville won’t be “music friendly” in name only.
“It will drive the music industry here,” Smith said. “The Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center at Tarleton has been in place for 38 years, and they’ve just gone through a multi-million-dollar renovation. The Arts Council was formed (in 1980) to support that.
“Then there is the Larry Joe Taylor Music Festival (fall and spring events, attracting thousands of guests), which is over 30 years old. We have Birdsong Amphitheater (dedicated in 2001) at the City Park.
“We have had live music concerts in Stephenville for over 17 years. Twisted J Live opened in January. It’s a 2,000-person indoor venue. This (pending) music certification gives a real validation to the live music destination that is Stephenville.”
Smith said that an economic impact study is in the works, “to demonstrate what a driver music is for our economy.”