CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENTOrange County EDC
Among the highlights of Orange County is the Stark Museum of Art. A selection of American Western Art is permanently on view in the museum, and others are showcased in special exhibitions. Other collections on view include the American Indian Collection of baskets, pottery, and weaving; the Decorative Arts Collection featuring the only complete set of The UnitedStates in Crystal by Steuben Glass and American Birds in porcelain by Dorothy Doughty; and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection featuring John James Audubon’s personal copy of The Birds of America.
With a full program of activities and an impressive permanent collection at the Stark Museum of Art, visitors can share the passion of H.J. Lutcher Stark and learn about the stunning land, dramatic people, and diverse wildlife of the American West.
Another Orange County attraction is The W.H. Stark House, a fully-restored 1894 Victorian home built and occupied by the parents of H.J. Lutcher Stark – William Henry Stark and his wife, Miriam M. Lutcher Stark – who were also prominent philanthropists in the city of Orange in the early 1900s. Today, the three-story, 14,000 square-foot structure stands much as it did at the turn of the 20th century, with fifteen rooms of original family furnishings, personal effects, and decorative arts. The Heritage House museum is another great venue that provides a glimpse into Orange County’s past. The 1902 home is currently being restored to its 1919 condition and has vintage clothing, ship building tools, timber and shingle making tools as well as oil field equipment used during the oil boom of the early 1900s and many other fascinating artifacts and records.
The renowned Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts is a central part of the Orange community and the largest performing arts center from Houston, Texas, to Jacksonville, Florida. It opened in 1980 with a performance by Liberace and since then has featured only world class Broadway musicals, music stars, and international sensations. Its 2008-2009 season included, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Drowsy Chaperone, Menopause The Musical, and a performance by The Ten Tenors.
Of course, part of what makes Orange County such a unique setting is the incredible scenery. The county is home to a variety of scenic, serene retreats, from the award-winning Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center to nature trails, campgrounds, and fishing spots that allow the public to interact with the natural world. One such highlight is the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, which offers some of the finest bird watching in the country. The city of Orange also offers the annual S.P.O.R.T. speedboat races on the Sabine River, a popular event that brings the entire community together for a celebration of nature, boating, and fun.
Outdoor swimming and boating fun can be had at Smith Lake near Vidor. The lake is a great place to cool off from the heat and humidity of the Southeast Texas summer and nearby Boomtown Water Park provides splashing fun with curving slides and other great water action for the kids and adults alike.
The Bridge City area was so named due to the number of bridges one must cross to enter the community. At one point in history, the Rainbow Bridge was one of the tallest in the country. It was recently renovated and the addition of the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge is an impressive sight to see. Also, one of the last true swing bridges can still be seen crossing the Cow Bayou in Bridge City. These structures have a played a significant role in the history of the community and can be viewed year-round in Bridge City.
Festivals are also popular with Orange County residents and visitors, and various organizations throughout the county offer a multitude of them throughout the year. One main event is Art in the Park, a one-day festival held annually to celebrate local and regional artists. Revelers can purchase unique art pieces while enjoying the sounds of blues and jazz music in Stark Park. Another popular celebration is the annual Vidor Barbeque Cook-off held at the scenic Claiborne West Park. National and regional entertainers perform throughout the weekend and great food and a carnival atmosphere is enjoyed by all.
From museums to historical sites, nature trails to festivals, there is something in Orange County for everyone to enjoy. Through the joint efforts and support of residents, city and county leaders, and local organizations, Orange County has become the premier cultural destination of Southeast Texas.
Its world-class facilities may draw you here, but its charming community will make you never want to leave. Discover Orange County, Texas, today and experience the best in culture and community.
For more information about the recreational, cultural, historic opportunities in Orange County, please visit some of these additional sites.