Texarkana's heritage gets the red carpet treatment on Saturday, Nov. 24, with a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Scott Joplin's birthday.
Held downtown at the new Flying Crow railcar restaurant project of David Peavy and organized by the Regional Music Heritage Center and Scott Joplin Support Group, the event features a red carpet entrance for guests, live jazz music, hors d'oeuvres, a maple-flavored cake, champagne toasts, art and more.
Live music features ragtime and jazz pianist Allen Batts, saxophonist Desmond Smith and singers Candace Taylor and Valerie Cooper. At the 1894 Gallery nearby, a silent auction will be held for a commemorative portrait of Joplin painted by Texarkana native H.M. Fort Jr. and two round-trip Amtrak tickets between Texarkana and Austin-San Antonio.
The festivities start at 7 p.m. for all, but at 6 p.m. a VIP reception gets things going early. Guests will be welcomed by a red carpet entrance, and they are asked to wear dress with the theme "cocktail fantasies," said Carol Collins-Miles of the Joplin group and a RMHC board member.
Attendees will also get a sneak preview of renovations at the 1940s-era, art deco-styled, lounge railcar, which used to be known as the Super Chief as it transported the stars between Los Angeles and Chicago.
"We will be christening The Flying Crow and hosting the birthday anniversary of Scott Joplin," Collins-Miles said. Joplin is the famed ragtime composer who, while growing up as a youngster, lived in Texarkana and first studied the piano here.
"We are looking at it as a movable birthday celebration," Collins-Miles said about the celebration. The patio at the railcar will be open with tables, and a second bar will be situated in the 1894 City Market, where the gallery is located. The video "Scott Joplin—Hometown Hero" will play at the 1894 building, as will a 15-minute trailer for it edited by the RMHC's David Mallette.
About the "cocktail fantasies" dress recommended, Collins-Miles said, "It doesn't have to be something contemporary." If attendees would like to wear fashions from the days of Joplin, go for it. Have fun with it, she said.
Collins-Miles said the groups holding this celebration would like to expand it in the future, but for now there couldn't be a better time to celebrate Joplin's 150th birthday anniversary.
"We just want to be able to support this event year after year, and I'm happy that David (Peavy) has such vision," Collins-Miles said about their plans and the venue.
The birthday celebration revels in two aspects of Texarkana heritage: Scott Joplin and Texarkana's founding as a railroad town.
Peavy said The Flying Crow is looking good with working bathrooms, historical photographs and pictures on the walls. It's exciting to host this occasion to honor Joplin, "a musical genius," he said.
And about the railway car's condition, Peavy said, "It's going to be in immaculate condition. It looks really good right now." He is donating the use of it and the gallery, and all this is happening where Texarkana started, he said.
"It's exciting to be involved in something like this," Peavy said.
Collins-Miles said the groups are looking for sponsors for the red carpet banner. If interested contact her at the phone number listed below.
(Tickets: $15 general admission, $50 for VIP reception. Get tickets at the 1894 Gallery, Keathley's General Store, Verona Restaurant and Main Street Texarkana. The Flying Crow is located at Front and Olive streets downtown. For more information, call the Scott Joplin Support Group at 903-490-5471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)