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Abilene, Texas

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Abilene in Texas.

 

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Abilene is a city in Taylor and Jones counties in west central Texas. The population was 117,063 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2006 estimated population of 158,063. It is the county seat of Taylor County. Dyess Air Force Base is located on the west side of the city.

Culture

The cultural aspects of Abilene center around a mix of the local college and university campuses, the agriculture community of the surrounding area, and the numerous evangelical churches present. The Abilene Arts Alliance captured the essence of the city with "Frontiering," a brand name for the city introduced in November 2008 to connect its pioneer spirit with its modern efforts to push the boundaries of education, technology, transportation, energy, the arts, and health care. Abilene is also home to the restored Paramount Theatre, The Abilene Philharmonic, The Grace Museum, the Center for Contemporary Arts, the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, The Abilene Zoo, Frontier Texas!, the 12th Armored Division Museum, Taylor County Coliseum, five libraries (3 private, 2 public), twenty-six public parks, six television stations and several radio stations, including one National Public Radio station (89.7 KACU).

George Hamilton IV had a country and pop hit in 1963 with a song about the city, simply entitled "Abilene". The city also plays an important part in Richard Kelly's 2007 film, Southland Tales, as well as his unproduced 1999 screenplay adaptation of Holes, both of which take place in the years following a nuclear attack on the city, where much of Kelly's family lives.

Recreation and entertainment

Park system

The Abilene park system includes 29 parks, occupying a total of 1,247.56 acres (5.0487 km2). In addition, three athletic complexes located throughout the city are under the jurisdiction of the parks department.
The new Abilene Zoo entrance sign

The Abilene Zoo is a popular attraction in Abilene, boasting several hundred animals of hundreds of species. It hosts educational and summer programs as well as special events throughout the year. Currently, the zoo is undergoing expansion with the addition of a black rhino exhibit this year. Next to arrive will be South American Maned Wolves and cougars as well as an expanded giraffe exhibit and a wetlands exhibit. The Elm Creek backyard area will be built to house locally found animals such as armadillos, skunks, and river otters.
Events

The West Texas Fair & Rodeo, held annually for ten days in mid-September, features exhibits and amusements reflecting early days of Abilene, plus modern attractions of West Texas.

The Western Heritage Classic in early May features ranch rodeo, campfire cook-off, sheepdog trials, farrier competition, Cowboy Poets Society, a Western art show and many other activities.

On every second Thursday evening of the month, Artwalk is held in downtown Abilene. During Artwalk all the local museums are free, local musicians and performers busk, and several crafters and artists set up booths and sell their wares.

There are also several special-interest conventions, festivals, and shows scattered throughout the year, including the Abilene Gem and Mineral Show, the West Texas Book and Music Festival, the Abilene Gun and Knife Show, the Friends of the Abilene Public Library book sale.

Also of note is the annual Abilene High vs. Cooper High football game, the Crosstown Showdown, usually held near Halloween. Two of these games, in 2001 and 2002, were for the district championship and were called the “Showdown at Shotwell” games played at Shotwell Stadium.

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