SAN BENITO, RGV – Tuesday was a good day for residents of San Benito. A dream started to become a reality with a groundbreaking ceremony of what before the end of this year will be known as the San Benito Cultural District Plaza.
The new space of almost 7,000 sq. ft., located at 250 E. Heywood, will be home for the San Benito Community Building and Auditorium, the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, and the new San Benito Cultural and Heritage Museum.
“Groups of people got together and started in very humble beginnings in our San Benito Community Building, inside a 400-square-feet room, where each one had a little section, and they would showcase what they had,” Celeste Sanchez, mayor of San Benito, said.
Sanchez was the voice of many when saying how proud she is of the musical history of San Benito, a town which is considered the Conjunto Capital of South Texas.
“As you know Freddy Fender was born in San Benito, his roots are here, his music is here, so we wanted to showcase his music; but also with Narciso Martinez we wanted to preserve the Conjunto music; and then the history museum will continue helping to showcase those who have contributed to San Benito in becoming San Benito,” she added.
The feeling Tuesday afternoon was all excitement. Authorities are hoping they will be able to provide more information to Winter Texans and people from Germany, since they know the Conjunto music has its roots in German music, as well as to students who often do research about this topic.
“The community is excited and ready for this,” Sanchez said.
She also expects the new building to get many improvements once it opens.
“We have already predicted that we will have to expand,” Sanchez said. “The different historical societies have many things in storage. They definitely they want to showcase it.”
Rey Avila, president of the Texas Tejano Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in San Benito, was also very excited about what lies in store for his city.
“I feel like the Tom Brady of San Benito, I feel like now we are in the third base and once its build, we are gonna go to home,” Avila said. “Luckily in about eight months we will be moving in the new one and triple the space we have right now.”
The San Benito Cultural and Heritage Museum will have the slogan of “The Past, Conjunto, & Bee-Bop.”
“So far, we have around 90 old music pioneers, and there’s a long waiting list,” Avila explained. “This is where you will be able to go to learn more about Santiago “Flaco” Jimenez from San Antonio, Narciso Martinez or Pedro Ayala,” he said.
The idea is also to have a research center, with a computer where locals and visitors can research the artist’s biography and hopefully watch their videos.
“I am very proud!” Avila concluded.
This regional landmark will host its ribbon cutting ceremony, probably in August 2017. The plaza will also feature decorative lighting, fencing and a gate, as well as a mural.