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Event Alert: 4th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair April 6- 9

14th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair April 6-9

Epicureans to celebrate the region’s diverse food and drink culture

On April 6, Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair will officially kick off, celebrating the region’s diverse food and drink culture while telling the untold story of its epicurean traditions. The four-day festival is gearing up for its biggest year to date with award winning chefs, sommeliers and mixologists via dinners, events, learning experiences, the Grand Tasting and a two-day Sip & Stroll.

Tickets will go on sale for this unique event on January 20, 2017 via SugarLandWineandFood

Located in Fort Bend County, which is the most ethnically diverse county in America, the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair will focus on the untold stories of the region’s melting pot of African, Asian, Latino, European and Southwestern flavors that are drawing attention from food and drink lovers from around the country. By partnering with leading regional and national culinary talent, expanding the weekend’s educational programming and adding curated dinners and events, Sugar Land is poised to showcase why the region is gaining a reputation as the next global food mecca.

In 2017, Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair partnered with IWSC Group North America, a globally-recognized events company dedicated to delighting, inspiring and connecting people and brands through great experiences.  “We are thrilled to have IWSC spearhead this year’s affair. The elevated level of talent, programming and consumer options will excite and delight guests. We look forward to Sugar Land providing the stage to tell the stories of our region and to welcoming food and drink lovers from around the country,” said Keri Schmidt, president of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.

Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair will include:

1) Dinners & Events – from unique seated dinner experiences to a meat-lovers lunch, these new dinners and events will educate, entertain and delight attendees:

  • The Boiling Point – Thursday, April 6 | 7:30pm 

Double, Double Boil and Bubble … seafood lovers delight! The seafood boil is a long-standing southern tradition that showcases the freshest local shellfish and ingredients while bringing together community. Most notable are the Cajun crawfish boils from Louisiana and the shrimp boils of the Low Country, but boil fever has taken over most coastal towns throughout the South. Join Chefs David Bancroft (AL), Bryan Caswell (TX), and Edward Lee (KY), as they put their own spin on the boil, including Bryan’s hit Texan BBQ blue crabs. No boil is complete without refreshing libations specially selected to tame the spice … so guests can “Keep Calm & Boil On!” But there’s more ya’ll! The evening will boil down with Texas’ own “Sugar Fairy,” Rebecca Masson, and her magical confectionaries. Adding to the sweetness, a portion of proceeds from this dinner will benefit the Southern Salt Foundation.

  • The Italian Invasion: Italy and the Rest of the World– Thursday, April 6 | 7:30pm

Prepare for your palate to be blitzed by bold and vigorous Italian wine served alongside equally exhilarating wines from the rest of the world in this ultimate oenophile’s match up. Guests will play judge as these wines (identities concealed) battle course by course on a culinary tour showcasing Italian regional specialties prepared by Chef Andrew Curren (TX). In true “dolce vita” fashion, we’ll dine alfresco in the Piazza (aka: Sugar Land Town Square). Hosted by Master Sommeliers, Craig Collins and Drew Hendricks, you are sure to leave feeling that “La Vita e Bella!”

  • Cured & Fermented Lunch at Bacon Bros. Public House – Friday, April 7 | 12:00pm – 2:00pm

Explore the art and science of curing and fermentation which began long before refrigeration to preserve food.. To this day, hunters, gatherers, chefs and cooks around the globe use salt, brine, smoke and mold in everything from salumi and charcuterie to kimchi, kraut, yogurt, cheese and pickles. Chefs Kevin Ouzts (GA) and Joseph Zerwas (TX) will educate and enchant you at a family-style lunch showcasing this age-old art! Author and Sommelier, Jason Tesauro (VA), will host and select the perfect beverage pairings.

 2) Learning Experiences – Friday, April 7 | 3:00pm-4:15pm, Saturday, April 8 | 10:00am – 11:00am and 11:30am – 12:30pm

  • Experience entertaining and delectable tastings of cocktails, wines as well as food and beverage pairings, all led by award-winning chefs, mixologists, distillers and sommeliers.


3) The Grand Tasting – Friday, April 7 | 7:30pm – 10:00pm

  • Delight in mouthwatering creations from top culinary superstars from both near and far, perfectly paired with the most delightful libations. Beverage-focused, the offerings will showcase Roses, Killer B’s (Boudreaux, Burgundy, Brunello, etc.), Bubbles and Crafts (spirits and beers). Held in the elegant ballroom of the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, this exquisite tasting is a night not to be missed. Meanwhile, The Grand Auction, benefiting the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management, will offer guests the chance to bid on exclusive items as they indulge.

4) Sip & Stroll – Saturday, April 8 | 3:00pm – 6:00pm and Sunday, April 9 | 11:00am – 2:00pm

  • Eat, drink, savor and stroll at this all-you-can-indulge experience, the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair’s popular Sip & Stroll is back again with an expanded schedule and a deliciously curated experience. Eat, drink and enjoy fantastic bites from the area’s best restaurants, carefully crafted cocktails and a great selection of wines. Ale aficionados won’t want to miss the exciting beer garden. Cheers to that!

or tickets, the full lineup and more information, please visit SugarLandWineandFood

US Virgin Islands Offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

The US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has announced a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale, providing travelers with a value-added getaway to experience St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas in the new year.
Beginning on Friday, November 25 (Black Friday), through Monday, November 28 (Cyber Monday), travelers can save 25 percent off rates at participating hotels and receive $500 in VI Spending Credits that can be used for activities, dining and shopping throughout the destination. A minimum five-night stay is required to take advantage of this special offer.
“Toys and televisions are not the only gifts on holiday wish lists this year – travel experiences are in demand too,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism for the United States Virgin Islands. She explained that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days in the United States and “we want to offer travelers an opportunity to escape to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a value-added experience.”


With no passports required for U.S. Citizens, a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands is affordable and accessible, offering visitors the chance to enjoy great duty-free shopping, award-winning beaches, cultural activities and festivals.
Participating hotels include:
St. Croix
Caravelle Hotel & Casino
Club Comanche Hotel
Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino
Hotel on the Cay
Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa
Sand Castle on the Beach
Tamarind Reef Resort, Spa &  Marina
The Buccaneer Hotel
The Palms at Pelican Cove
St. John
Caneel Bay
Concordia Eco-Resort
Gallows Point Resort
St. Thomas
At Home In the Tropics
Bellavista Bed & Breakfast
Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
Emerald Beach Resort
Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
Galleon House
Lindbergh Bay Hotel & Villas
Sugar Bay Resort & Spa
The Green Iguana Hotel
Virgin Islands Campground (Water Island)
Windward Passage Hotel
Airfare is not included in travel packages, and a five-night minimum stay is required to qualify for savings and spending credits. Certificates will be provided upon check in. Valid travel dates vary by property. Offer not valid on pre-existing reservations and cannot be combined with any other promotion. Other restrictions may apply.
For more information and to book the Black Friday/Cyber Monday offer, visit: using booking code “BFCM16”.

Texas Voters Now Have Equal Access to Ballot in Major Voting Victory

Today, in a major victory for voting rights advocates nationwide, a federal district court entered an order to ease Texas’s strict photo ID law — and allow voters without ID to cast a regular ballot this November.

The Texas requirement, as written in 2011, is effectively struck down. Approximately 600,000 registered voters did not have acceptable ID required under the original strict law.

The full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found Texas’s photo ID law racially discriminatory last month. Today’s agreement addresses the discriminatory effects of the law — and will help ensure all Texas voters can cast a ballot that counts this fall.

The original Texas law required voters to show one of a very limited number of government-issued photo IDs to vote, such as a state driver’s license, a passport, or concealed carry license. Under today’s agreement, any voter without these forms of photo ID can sign a declaration stating they have a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining one, show an alternative form of identification, and vote a regular ballot. Voters who have one of the acceptable photo IDs must still show them to cast a ballot.

Many additional forms of ID are acceptable under the “reasonable impediment” alternative, including a voter registration certificate, driver’s license or personal ID card from any state (regardless of expiration date), utility bill, government check, paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and address. Texas also agreed to spend $2.5 million on voter education efforts to let residents of the state know about the new changes before Election Day.

The Texas ruling is part of a string of recent court decisions — in Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Wisconsin — rolling back or striking down voting restrictions ahead of the November election. Across the board, courts ruled that states passed restrictive laws with “surgical precision” to exclude certain voters, including minorities, students, and the elderly.

Still, 15 states have new restrictive voting laws in place for the first time in a presidential election in 2016. Texas remains on that list because the voter ID requirement remains more burdensome than what was in place for the 2012 election.

Three federal courts have found that Texas’s ID law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by denying African-American and Latino voters an equal opportunity to cast a ballot. The law was also previously blocked under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. It was implemented in 2013, immediately after the Supreme Court gutted a core provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives (MALC) challenged the law in September 2013. That case was consolidated with other similar cases and is now known as Veasey v. Abbott. The attorneys representing the groups include the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the national office of the NAACP, Dechert LLP, The Bledsoe Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose Garza, the Law Office of Robert S. Notzon, and the Covich Law Firm, P.C.

“The terms of the interim remedy order will help address the discriminatory effect of Texas’s law — the most stringent voter identification law in the country — as voters go to the polls this November,” said Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project. “Texas must now do everything possible to educate voters and to train election officers to ensure full access to the polls during the general election cycle.”

“No American should ever lose the right to vote because they don’t have a photo ID,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “This agreement in Texas and other decisions nationwide mark a meaningful turning point. As we approach this November’s elections, courts are stepping in to block discriminatory laws that prevent certain people from participating. Today is a tremendous victory for our democracy and our country, with real benefits that will be felt by Texas voters this fall.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Texans, who would have been stopped from voting by the old law, will now be able to cast a ballot in November, and exercise the most fundamental right in American democracy,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “This hard-fought victory is good news, and a big step in our continuing fight to push back against discriminatory laws that have no place in the Lone Star State. We applaud those judges from both parties who have put politics aside to give true meaning to our Constitution and laws.”

“The state’s discriminatory voter ID law is an example of bad public policy. The law has suppressed Texans’ ability to exercise their right to vote, while the perceived problem of in-person voter fraud is a fantasy,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of MALC. “Fixing the law required changing it to such an extent as to render it ineffective. Unfortunately, it took three years and millions of taxpayer dollars to spoil this cheap ploy to disenfranchise African-American and Latino voters. We cannot rely on the courts to protect our voting rights or trust that the campaign to disenfranchise Texas minorities has ended — too much damage has already been done. Instead, we must make ourselves heard at the ballot box and use our collective voice to call for a restoration of the Voting Rights Act.”

“This settlement really does take the bite out of Texas’s voter ID law,” said Amy Rudd of Dechert LLP, pro bono counsel for the NAACP Texas State Conference and MALC. “It is particularly significant in this presidential election year that Texas voters have many additional options for identifying themselves and casting a regular ballot at the polls.”

“The fight is not yet over, but we have secured an important expansion of the franchise for the Latino community,” said Jose Garza, legal counsel at MALC. “Eligible Texas voters with an inability to secure one of the limited forms of ID acceptable to the state can still vote.”

“There is a great sense of relief here in South Texas and the Corpus Christi community that thousands of voters need not worry about their ability to vote on Election Day,” said Daniel G. Covich of Covich Law Firm LLP.


A federal court in Washington, D.C. blocked Texas’s voter ID law in 2012 under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that the law would have a disproportionate negative impact on minority citizens in Texas. In June 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a separate case) ruled that the formula used in the Act for specifying the states covered by Section 5 is unconstitutional. As a result, Texas is not currently required to comply with Section 5. Just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would implement the voter ID law.

At the September 2014 trial, the Texas NAACP and MALC, among others, presented evidence showing the state’s ID requirement would erect discriminatory barriers to voting. At trial, experts testified that 1.2 million eligible Texas voters lack a form of government-issued photo ID that would have been accepted under the new law — and minorities would be hit the hardest. For example, the court credited testimony that African-American registered voters are 305 percent more likely and Hispanic registered voters 195 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack photo ID that can be used to vote.

Read more on the case here and here.

Taye Diggs Begins Broadway Performance In Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Taye Diggs begins performances tonight in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the 2014 Tony Award winning Best Musical Revival. Diggs will play the title role for a limited 12-week engagement at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre (111 West 44th Street).

Hedwig marks Diggs’ first New York stage role since the 2005 revival of A Soldier’s Play.

He can currently be seen in the second season of Steven Bochco’s crime drama “Murder in the First.” He made his Broadway debut in 1994 in the Tony Award-winning revival of Carousel. Soon after, he landed the role of Benny in in the landmark musical Rent, a role he recreated in the 2005 film version. Diggs other New York stage credits include Chicago, Wicked, and Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. His many film and television credits include How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Go, Chicago, The Best Man, its follow up The Best Man Holiday, and six seasons on ABC’s hit drama “Private Practice.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, directed by Michael Mayer, also stars Rebecca Naomi Jones as Yitzhak. The production has received rave reviews and is winner of four 2014 Tony Awards and won Best Musical Revival by the Tony Awards, the Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. The Grammy nominated Original Broadway Cast album for Hedwig and the Angry Inch is available from Atlantic Records.

“Internationally ignored song stylist” Hedwig Robinson (Taye Diggs) brings her fourth-wall-smashing rock and roll saga to New York to set the record straight about her life, her loves, and the botched operation that left her with that “angry inch.”

Hedwig has inspired a generation of young theatre writers and audiences. This wickedly funny and heartbreaking show was called “the Best Rock Musical Ever” by Rolling Stone and “the most exciting rock score written for the theatre since, oh, ever,” by Time Magazine.

Hedwig and The Angry Inch was originally produced by David Binder off off Broadway at Westbeth and then, under the direction of Peter Askin, ran over two years at the Jane Street Theatre beginning in February 1998. The musical won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical and both John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask won Obies in 2001. It won a 1998 New York Magazine Award and Entertainment Weekly’s “Soundtrack of the Year” Award. Time Magazine named Hedwig the Top Musical of 1998.

The film of Hedwig and The Angry Inch, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, won the Audience Award and Best Director Awards at Sundance. Mitchell won the Best New Director from the National Board of Review, the Gotham Awards, and the LA Critics Society. Stage productions have played for many years in Japan and in 2008, Korea hosted a popular televised reality show about the search for a new star to play Hedwig.

The creative team for Hedwig and The Angry Inch features Emmy Award nominee Spencer Liff (musical staging), Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Julian Crouch (scenic design), Tony Award and two-time Oscar nominee Arianne Phillips (costume design), four-time Tony Award winner Kevin Adams (lighting design), Mike Potter (hair and makeup design), Tony Award nominee and platinum-selling record producer Tim O’Heir (sound design), Benjamin Pearcy for 59 Productions (projection design), John Bair/Phosphene (animation), James Calleri (casting), Tony and Grammy Award nominee Ethan Popp (music supervisor & music coordinator), Justin Craig (music director), Liz Caplan (vocal supervision), Stephen Gabis (dialect coach), and Johanna McKeon (associate director).

The members of “The Angry Inch,” Hedwig’s band, are music director Justin Craig (guitar and keyboards), Matt Duncan (bass), Tim Mislock (guitar), and Peter Yanowitz (drums).

David Binder, who first produced Hedwig in 1997, is producing the musical on Broadway with Jayne Baron Sherman, Barbara Whitman, Latitude Link, Patrick Catullo, Raise The Roof, Paula Marie Black, Colin Callender, Ruth Hendel, Sharon Karmazin, Martian Entertainment, Stacey Mindich, Eric Schnall, and The Shubert Organization. 101 Productions, Ltd are the executive producers.

Tickets for Hedwig and The Angry Inch are available now by calling 212-239-6200 or visiting, or via the Belasco Theatre Box Office (111 West 44th Street). Ticket prices range from $142 – $47.

· THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 26: Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM (six performances this week).
· MONDAY, JULY 27 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM (seven performances per week).

Leadership In The Arts Summit

April 6, 2015
Student Center Ballroom
9:30 – 5pm
Registration opens at 8:30am,
program begins at 9:30

Free – registration required – (online registration is closed, but people can still register at the door)

The upcoming Leadership in the Arts Summit focuses on the best practices and ramifications of audience engagement initiatives that move the arts from a transactional exchange to a long-term stewardship model. With the shifts in demographics, technology, funding streams and an increase in “competition,” many organizations nation-wide are attempting a broader array of tools to engage audiences. Efforts range from increased artist engagement, marketing efforts, technology-initiatives, and advisory groups and special event programming. These initiatives call for new competencies, new levels of partnership and working outside of comfort zones.

Keynote speaker: Roberto Bedoya

Lunchtime Keynote Conversation: Sandra Bernhard, Shannon Buggs, and Robin Reagler

Speakers and presenters include:

Reginald Adams, Annie Arnoult,Regina Agu, Emily Chambers, JooYoung Choi, Janette Cosley, Jon Deal, Max Fields, Zachary Gresham, Rachel Hull, Ana Laurel, Marian Luntz, Debbie McNulty, Paul Middendorf, Michelle Mower, Rocko Stedy Narvios, Assata Richards,Susan Rogers, Stephanie St. Sanchez, Kristian Salinas, Diane Schenke, Jack Young, Dana Whitco, Sandra Zalman, Brandon Zech

Registration opens at 8:30am,
Program begins at 9:30
Free – registration required – (online registration is closed, but people can still register at the door)

More at

Madonna Surprises Fans With Six New Tracks From New Album


Following the leak of 13 very unfinished demos earlier this week, Madonna has just released six brand new songs on iTunes in advance of her just-announced full-length album, Rebel Heart, set for release on March 10. Among the new track is a song called “Bitch I’m Madonna” which features a biting verse from Nicki Minaj, who earlier this week played coyed when asked about her possible role on new music by the queen of pop. There’s also “Illuminati,” a name-dropping rapped track that features references to Beyoncé (whose surprise-release playbook Madge seems to have taken a page from), Jay Z, and more.

“I was hoping to release my new single ‘Living For Love’ on Valentine’s Day with the rest of the album coming in the Spring,” the iconic singer said in a statement on her official website early Saturday morning. “I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift.”

Continue reading Madonna Surprises Fans With Six New Tracks From New Album

Kenneth Cole: ‘Look Good, For Good’ Ending Homelessness Campaign

Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole, a pioneer in the fashion industry who has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to social change for over 30 years, is introducing a new campaign for fall, LOOK GOOD, FOR GOOD.
Building upon the company’s heritage of promoting “style with a purpose,” as well as Kenneth Cole’s personally vested interest in raising awareness for these causes, the new campaign will support specific charitable projects under three company pillars – Collective Health, Civil Liberties, and Artistic Activism. For the Fall ’14 launch, The Kenneth Cole Foundation will support projects through the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, HELP USA, and the Sundance Institute. As an extension of the campaign, Kenneth Cole enlisted three photojournalists to chronicle the work of each charity partner. The campaign is being brought to life digitally at that will feature exclusive photographer and video content from Haiti, Sundance and Help USA, as well as an interactive timeline meant to educate the consumer on the brands 30 year philanthropic history.


More at

[Photos of the work of Sundance Institute, St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, Help USA]

Houston Texans to Raise Money for Lymphoma Research in Honor of David Quessenberry

David Quessenberry

[Press Release]

OUSTON – The Houston Texans are raising money for the Lymphoma Research Foundation with the proceeds fromTEXANS FOR DQ t-shirt sales, in honor of David Quessenberry, their second-year offensive lineman who was diagnosed with lymphoma in June.
The entire offensive line, led by Chris Myers and Duane Brown, have dedicated the 2014 season to their teammate while he battles for his life.  Brown and Myers have set a goal to raise $100,000 with the sale of the TEXANS FOR DQ t-shirts to be donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation in David’s name.


“You sit back and think about David Quessenberry dealing with what he has to deal with and we have no complaints in the world,” Myers said. “With everything going on with David right now, this season is obviously going to be dedicated to him.”


The final open practice of training camp on Aug. 14 will be #DQStrong Day.  All staff will wear the shirt on this day and the Texans encourage the fans and Houston community to purchase a shirt and wear them alongside the team.

Shirts will be sold at the Go Texans Store at NRG stadium and online at beginning today for $20.


Gamers: EA Access For XBox One



Introducing you to EA Access,  a new membership service that let’s you subscribe to  “the Vault” – EA’s collection of their most popular games. Currently, the Vault is offering 4 games:  Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, Battlefield 4.  More titles coming soon.

How it works: 

Games available for  full download/unlimited play (as you’re subscribed).  Cost is $4.99/month or $29.99/year.  Any progress will be saved in case you want to purchase the retial copy of the game.  Digital content for each game will be discounted at 10%.

This is a win-win.

If you buy one game a year (Madden) at $60+ tax, you already come out ahead $30 if you subscribe because you have access to a library of games versus just the one game, saving you hundreds of dollars. In addition, you get access to betas.

I don’t know about you but I’m excited about this!