Five stories that have North Texas talking: country music takes over Arlington; the Dallas Museum of Art has a lot of friends; Texas Motor Speedway has a lot of fans; and more.
Country music’s party of the year happens Sunday in Arlington. The Academy of Country Music Awards takes over AT&T Stadium. Tickets to the ACM Awards sold out last spring in just 18 minutes – a record. The ceremony airs at 7 p.m. on CBS. It seems like practically everyone in country music will be either presenting an award or getting one or performing. Performers include: Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Reba, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts – and there’s more. In other ACM Awards news, a tour bus for Lady Antebellum caught fire Thursday morning on Interstate 30 in Garland. A tire blew out. Everyone is OK. Lady Antebellum is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year at the ACM Awards. Learn more here. The Dallas Morning News offers this interactive look at every Entertainer of the Year award winner. [Associated Press/KERA]
Watch AT&T Stadium be transformed into a set for the awards. (It took a month!)
- The Dallas Museum of Art says it has enrolled 100,000 DMA Friends. It’s part of the country’s first free museum membership program. The DMA says it now has the fourth-largest membership of any art museum in North America. “Available to anyone who wishes to join, DMA Friends focuses on activating engagement with the museum and building long-term relationships with visitors,” the museum says. “The museum’s emphasis on creating meaningful arts experiences and an open and welcoming environment has expanded its audience base, with 97.1 percent of DMA Friends self-identifying as new members at the museum.”
- Texas Motor Speedway saw a boost in attendance over the weekend. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “The track drew an estimated crowd of 154,000 for Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500, more than double last spring’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Only 71,000 showed up a year ago in a nightmarish scenario. If you recall: With the Final Four in Arlington, TMS went away from the Saturday night race and moved it to Sunday, the day between the semifinals and championship game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But rain forced the race to Monday, the same day as the championship game, and the sparse crowd said it all. ‘A year ago, it was just miserable,’ said [Eddie] Gossage, the TMS president. ‘Rain is the worst thing.’” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- A pilot program allowing soldiers in hostile fire zones to vote via email is being touted as a success after just eight soldiers from Bexar County cast ballots in Texas' general elections last year. State lawmakers now are poised to expand the program, likely to Bell County, home to Fort Hood, and El Paso County, home to Fort Bliss. Bexar County includes military-heavy San Antonio. A Senate committee has heard a bill that would expand the program by tea party-backed Sen. Donna Campbell. Committee chairwoman Joan Huffman said it would have "no problem" getting to the Senate floor. The Secretary of State reported that 365 ballots were sent to soldiers overseas for the November election. Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen said the eight emailed back represent "a huge success." [Associated Press]
- This allergy season is pretty bad. The Dallas Morning News reports: “If you’re sneezing, congested and dabbing your watery eyes this week, blame your trees. Maple, mulberry and oak trees are blooming their hearts out and loading the air with pesky pollen in recent weeks. Ash, elm and pine are, thankfully, almost done pollinating, while juniper trees finished up last month. ‘The spring tree season is wicked bad in this area,’ said Dr. Richard Sugerman, a Dallas allergist. ‘Every year, we hear, ‘This is the worst year ever.’ I’m not going to say that. But it’s definitely a year that’s historically high in oak pollen.’ As a result, Sugerman said, he’s been inundated with sneezing and sniffling patients at the Dallas Allergy and Immunology Clinic at Medical City Dallas. They’ve ranged from three to 92 years old.” [The Dallas Morning News]