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"The Culture Ladies" in scene from the Saledo Legends
"The Culture Ladies" in a scene from Saledo Legends Photo: Cindy Dale

Salado Legends: An Outdoor Musical Drama

This epic outdoor musical drama was written to enlighten the public about the cultural and historical impact of Scottish settlements in central Texas and their contribution to the state. The thousands of tourists who travel to this unincorporated village to attend performances of Salado Legends return home with a better understanding of Scottish heritage in central Texas, and at the same time their visits economically benefit the village.

The village of Salado began because of Colonel E.S.C. Robertson, who moved to land in central Texas that his father was granted from Mexico in 1834. Robertson donated ten acres at Salado Springs for a school and 90 acres to be sold for homesites, which became Salado in the mid 1800s. Salado is located halfway between Austin and Waco, along the Salado Creek, the first Natural Landmark in Texas.

Tablerock Festival of Salado is a nonprofit organization, founded by citizens of Salado and Bell County in 1979, to manage a 450-seat amphitheater that was built on thirteen acres of land donated by the Goodnight family. Three years later, the organization was floundering; its bank account was down to $1.34 when local children's book author, Jackie Mills, was asked to revive the Tablerock Festival. She enlisted the help of her husband, Denver Mills, who was president of the Salado Chamber of Commerce, and the community. After attending an Institute of Outdoor Drama conference, Jackie Mills began researching Salado's history to base a musical play, which she wrote for production in the amphitheater.

Members of the community contributed to its development in their own ways. The Salado Creekside Cloggers choose music and choreographed a historic dance; a Salado artist and blacksmith designed and made a Scottish claymore sword, which is important in the play's plot; Temple Civic Theater Board members loaned their sets and costumes; a book store sold tickets; the Cultural Activities Center of Temple, Texas, loaned lighting equipment; local composers wrote music and lyrics; and many more examples of community support are documented.

When rehearsals began for the musical drama, it called for 35 actors. Descendants of original settlers who lived in the area wanted to participate, so "one liners" were written for them. The cast rose to 75, yet more founding families wanted to participate. To accommodate everyone, families are rotated every other year. Because of the lack of restaurants in Salado that could accommodate the audience, Mills made arrangements with a local restaurant owner to cater meals, so that Salado Legends became part of a dinner theater.

On July 24, 1993, the musical drama opened, and played to three sold-out performances, making a $1,600 profit. Each of the following six years of the musical's run has earned Tablerock more money and attracted a larger audience. In 1999, the gains from Salado Legends were $10,640, and the economic impact to the community was estimated at $182,488.

The legacy project is well documented with an essay by Jackie Mills; the script to Salado Legends; 22 photos; 20 essay attachments that describe aspects of Salado culture and historic attractions; two musical CDs and two audio tapes, both from 1998 and 1999 productions; numerous newspaper articles; postcards; and brochures and programs from the past five years.

Originally submitted by: Chet Edwards, Representative (11th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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