HIDALGO, Texas – Let’s have a shuttle service from the McAllen hotels surrounding the city’s convention center to the city of Hidalgo’s historic district.

That way, all the visiting business men and women who are at a loose end following their conventions can see some historic local attractions. 

A tour of the historic district of Hidalgo would incorporate a visit to the famous Hidalgo Pumphouse, the old county courthouse and county jail, and the numerous boutique stores and restaurants that have sprung up in recent years. 

The idea of the bus rides, first proposed by Rio Grande Guardian International News Service editor Steve Taylor, has gained the support of Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation executive director Prisciliano “J.R.” Treviño, and Marie Garcia, public relations manager for SAMES Engineering and a board member of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

“That is something definitely we can look into. I know you told me a while back ago and it’s just dawned on me that we need to do something like that,” Treviño told Taylor in a recent interview. 

“We’re at a point where we’re starting to go back into the tourism aspect of our city, trying to draw people, not just from the city of Hidalgo, from our 14,000 community members here. We’re trying to draw people from McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville. Edinburg, Rio Grande City, even all the way from San Antonio. So, I think when when people stay at the McAllen hotels we can all work together and try to draw people to all our different towns but especially here to Hidalgo.”

Garcia said she liked the idea also. “I am sure the new president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Josh Mejia, would be interested in helping make this happen. He is very progressive,” Garcia said.

The focus on attracting more tourists to Hidalgo came up during a recent “Commercialization & Investment Tour” organized by the RGV Partnership. Each month the Partnership organizes a trip to a different Valley city to highlight the commercial opportunities on offer. Those participating on the tour are usually brokers, bankers, realtors and land developers. 

However, because the city of Hidalgo has so much history – it was once the county seat of Hidalgo County – the recent tour included discussions on tourism as well as light industrial, retail, and housing development. 

Some of those on the tour took a trolly ride around the historic district. They stopped off at D’Telma’s Cakes & Desserts, Black Diamond BBQ, and Creative Arts Studio, which is housed in the old county jail. Treviño said the number of boutique stores and restaurants in Hidalgo’s historic district has now risen to 13.

“You’re gonna find something here that’s unique, that nowhere else in the Valley you can find, from Rio Grande, from Zapata, all the way to Brownsville,” Treviño said.

“Our little town has a unique history, has unique buildings and unique shops that you you’re not going to find. You feel like you’re in San Antonio, in Buda, in Gruene, in Fredericksburg and Wimberley. Maybe this is the Wimberley of South Texas.”

Elaborating on the culture Hidalgo has to offer, Treviño gave a shoutout to the Payne Arena, which next year celebrates its 20th anniversary. He said Payne Arena is ranked number 55 in the world for small sized venues. 

“As we are a small size 7,000 seat arena, it’s ranked number 55 in the world. Amazing,” Treviño said. “Next year, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary. Big things are coming for Payne Arena in 2023. Hold on to your seats because there’s gonna be a lot of beautiful great concerts and great artists coming.

It was put to Treviño that the City of Hidalgo does not capitalize anywhere near as much as it should on its most prized asset – the millions of Mexican visitors that cross the Hidalgo International Bridge every year. Instead, many of those visitors drive or get a bus to McAllen in order to do their shopping or eat at a restaurant.

Treviño responded: “You’ve got to understand that many, many years ago all this was farmland and it was owned by farmers. Farmers didn’t want to sell their property. They wanted to keep them as farmland. That is why all the development went to McAllen. Hidalgo should have been as big as Laredo, it should have been as big as Brownsville, because we are on the border.”

Things have changed, however, Treviño said. “Now, everybody’s trying to unload those properties, at a very decent price though.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the third in a three-part series on the work of Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation. Click here to watch Part One. Click here to watch Part Two.

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