Hometown Highlight: Cultural Foundation of the Texas Panhandle
Beginning in 1960, Margaret Harper was inspired when she read an article in Reader’s Digest about a playwright and author named Paul Green. Harper reached out to Green because of her interest in learning more about the play and the two eventually formed an idea of starting a local outdoor theater within Palo Duro Canyon – a plan that would combine the history and stories of the High Plains area and its people; eventually resulting in the creation of the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation (TPHF) that supports the theater and the TEXAS Outdoor Musical.
With Palo Duro Canyon’s history and beauty, it was the perfect place to start a theater. Cast members were chosen including actors, singers, and dancers to perform their first show that people from all over the world came to see. The TEXAS Outdoor Musical focuses on the history of the Texas Panhandle during the 1800’s and presents the show in a humorous, fun and family-friendly way. Today, the show includes food for patrons, spellbinding lighting, special effects, and fireworks and is currently putting on their 55th season of the Official Play of the State of Texas.
“Our mission of the TPHF is to preserve the history and the culture of Texas through education and entertainment. We strive to be the best outdoor musical drama production in America,” said Anna Parsons, Marketing Assistant at Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation.
As the foundation has grown throughout the years, it has partnered with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum to now form the new Cultural Foundation of Texas Panhandle that was announced in February 2021.
“The Cultural Foundation of the Texas Panhandle (CFTP) has brought the biggest Texas history organizations in Canyon under one roof and they’re all integral,” Parsons said. “All three organizations are valuable and impact the surrounding economy that provides opportunities to everyone that enters their doors.”
With the creation of CFTP their goals are to continue to grow and support their community, sponsors, and members while increasing their memberships and private donations.
“By supporting the foundation you’re putting money back into the community that guarantees yearly jobs and opportunities to fellow students while keeping the spirit of the Texas Panhandle alive,” Parson said. “With the support of our community through memberships we have the opportunity to make major developments and were even able to make updates in our office and the Pioneer Amphitheater.”
Community members can support the foundation and the TEXAS Outdoor Musical through private donations, memberships, and ticket sales. They also have numerous employment and volunteer opportunities throughout the summer.