Archive for: November 2013

Fable Fest 2013: A Reading Renaissance

By Kari Counter, Alsha Khan, Caroline Manning, Monica Zhang

The sound of clanking metal, classical music, and screaming children cut through the crisp autumn air. Rows of tents filled with food, crafts, and games surrounded the park grounds. Crowds of people wandered throughout the area, among them: Prince Charming, Hansel and Gretal, Katniss Everdeen, and a plethora of Disney princesses.

This was the scene at the Cedar Park Public Library Foundation’s fifth annual Fable Fest, held Nov. 2 at Millburn Park. This year’s event was its biggest and most profitable year to date according to Julia Mitschke, Cedar Park Public Library operations manager, Fable Fest Committee Member, and Fable Fest Founding Committee member.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be fun for the library to have a cool festival that was imagination and fantasy-themed and something that really spoke to literacy but also to storytelling?” said Mitschke. “The Cedar Park Parks and Recreation Department had a lot of really popular family friendly festivals in the past where the whole community came out, so we thought we could do the same thing for the library.”

Fable Fest was created in 2009 as a way to promote and raise money for the Cedar Park Public Library, specifically towards services and technology resources. Part of Fable Fest’s goals is to encourage children to read. To this effect, the winners of the libraries summer reading program are honored at the event, playing a large role in promoting and raising involvement in the program. According to Rebecca Leo, Board Member and chairman of Fable Fest, the emphasis on literacy and the importance of the library are the key reasons for the event.

Cotton Candy was made onsite for festival-goers by Nathan Clements. Photo Credit: Kari Counter

Cotton Candy was made onsite for festival-goers by Nathan Clements. Photo Credit: Kari Counter

“It’s been shown that literacy is extremely important for success in school and all throughout live,” said Leo. “A library is really important to a community because without it, it’s difficult for the entire community to be well-read and to be an intelligent contributing part of the community.”

However, raising money for the library and promoting the summer reading program are not the only goals of Fable Fest. Mitschke says the event is truly a community event focused on bringing Cedar Park together in the context of the library.

“Another goal we have is community outreach and something out in the community that raises visibility of the library,” said Mitschke. “We have a lot of people that come into the library who are already aware of our services, but when we have a festival out in the community, there are people who come who have never heard of the library. They can see the impact it has on the community.”

Since Cedar Park is largely a community of families with young children, Fable Fest encompasses a range of activities and booths to keep children entertained and spark parent’s interest. Troubadour’s Court is the main stage located next to the entrance where the program is directed from and members of the community can put on plays. Acts this year included community theatre group Way Off Broadway and local high school bands and theatre classes.  For the parents, Cobblestone Market provides attendees the opportunity to explore local vendors. This year the vendors included banks, jewelry shops, insurance companies, book stores, and chiropractors among others.

When the kids get hungry, Pig’s Pub contains tents offering a variety of food from cotton candy to grilled corn to hot dogs. King’s Carnival includes three areas for kids to enjoy offering games sponsored by local companies, opportunities to win toys, Mother Goose’s reading tent, face painting and other craft activities, and bouncy houses. There are also activity areas with jousting shows, two blacksmiths at work, a petting zoo, and a train for kids.

Blacksmith at Fable Fest demonstrated how to make steel instruments and decorations. Photo Credit: Kari Counter

Blacksmith at Fable Fest demonstrated how to make steel instruments and decorations. Photo Credit: Kari Counter

“The blacksmith helped kids make rods out of steel. They took a hammer and when it was red hot, they’d hit the steel with it,” said Leo of the blacksmiths.

The myriad of events and tents at the festival called for a number of volunteers from the community to make Fable Fest successful. According to Mitschke, most the volunteers are members of the community with no direct affiliation to the library, which indclude high school students, service organizations, and community groups. The help of these volunteers and the variety of offerings at Fable created for a successful event all around.

“It was really fun to see happy vendors, happy people at Fable Fest, and to see the library being promoted as well,” said Leo.

That success transferred into the profits Fable Fest yielded. According to Leo this was the best year yet and financially more successful than any prior year. Profits come from vendors, sponsors, and ticket sales. This year’s title sponsor was Signature Eyecare, a local eye care facility run by Dr. Lou.

When the event first started in 2009 it raised $2,500 for the library, this year Fable Fest provided the library with $21,000. Even from last year’s profits, that is a 21 percent increase in profits. Mitschke has been pleased to see an increase in profits and participation over the years.

“We’ve had an increase in the number of people that come every year and an increase in the amount of money we’ve been able to raise for the library every year,” said Mitschke. “It’s just gotten bigger and bigger.”

Attendance at the festival and profits are not the only aspects of Fable Fest to increase. The event itself has expanded over the year especially from last year to this year. For example, the number of vendors nearly doubled from 22 last year to 42 this year. Despite all the success the event still had room to grow according to Mitschke and Leo. Mitscheke says the board wants to incorporate falconry and archery to accompany jousting and the blacksmiths in the activities area next year. While Leo says the board is looking to expand the appeal of the festival beyond families with young children.

“We want to make it a little more teenager and adult-oriented so our plan is to go to other Renaissance festivals and tailor it to older crowds,” said Leo.

These possible improvements serve the common goal of the board towards the continued success of the festival and promotion of the library and literacy in the Cedar Park community.  Or as Mitschke puts it: “We just want to grow every year.”

Fable Fest

Mexican Dead Gone But Certainly Not Forgotten During Día de los Muertos

Castle Hill Graffiti Park

Castle Hill Graffiti Park on Make A Gif

By: Jeffrey Kahn, Lauren Giudice, Sheila Buenrostro

The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is one of the largest outdoor galleries in Texas and provides people the opportunity to display their artwork on a large-scale. The goal of the space is for people to paint or spray inspirational and motivational messages on the wall.

The three-story project is located at 11th and Baylor and although artists had used it for many years, the HOPE Project officially opened it in March of 2011.

Texas Commission on the Arts Deputy Director Joe Bob McMillan believes there is a need for public art in cities. “Public art can be an enhancement, it can lighten up communities, it can be a point of discussion, it can be a way to bring the community together,” McMillan said.

“So there are various reasons that public art is commissioned for different places. It is a way that the city can beautify and enliven the city. They’ve chosen to put resources into it.”

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) focuses on helping non-profit organizations, art organizations and institutions. The commission gives these groups grants and support.

The HOPE Outdoor Gallery and the other HOPE Projects have unique goals. According to the HOPE website, “We create events that mobilize people to get involved and help projects and organizations around the world. Through events and our ongoing projects, HOPE provides ways for artists and musicians to collaborate and donate their talent and influence – contributing creative value instead of simply writing a check.”


McMillan said public art has special value when it helps make the public aware of social, environmental or public issues. He specifically mentioned an installation in Houston that draws attention to water shortages. It can play a role in making the public aware of certain issues,” McMillan said. “It can promote discussion.”

The Artists


Stiletto Stampede: Stomping out Breast Cancer One Heel at a Time

Austin Nonprofit holds 100-meter high-heeled dash to raise funds and awareness about breast cancer.

By Shawna Reding, Mary Ellen Knewston, Rachel Marino and Rebecca Wright 

Ladies walk the Stiletto Stampede like a catwalk. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Ladies walk the Stiletto Stampede like a catwalk. Photo by Rebecca Wright

Austin, TX —200 people in high-heeled shoes teetered through a 100-yard dash Oct. 26, making a point beyond the spikes on their stilettos: Austin’s fifth annual Stiletto Stampede, benefiting the Seton Breast Care Center, got young people and families talking about breast health and cancer awareness.

Aimed at generating breast health awareness among a younger demographic, the unconventional 100-yard dash held in Triangle Park included heats for women, men, pets, survivors, strollers and a “boot scoot”. Through its registration fees, the Stiletto Stampede organization raised about $8,000 for the Seton Breast Care Center, due to open in early 2014.

Stiletto Stampede Co-Founder Michelle Patterson said she created the event, and the organization by the same name, to engage 18-39 year-olds. She said the age group typically detects breast cancer in the later, more life-threatening stages.

“If we’re going to be doing something for young folks, it’s gotta be different, maybe a little bit harebrained,” Patterson said. “A 100-yard dash in heels is maybe right up a young person’s alley.”

Patterson helped to found the organization and event in 2009 in Austin. Since then, Stiletto Stampede has expanded to Houston, Waco and Dallas, partnering with other local organizations and beneficiaries in each city. The organization has also added other annual events to its schedule, including “Fashionably Pink”, a spring runway show held at the W hotel, and a mini-golf tournament — “Fore! Boobs”.

“What we’re really trying to do is educate through relaxing and upbeat events,” Patterson said. “We don’t want to have a gala setting (or) a sterile educational environment.”

Read more

Three Years Later


By Sheila Buenrostro, Lauren Giudice, Austin Powell

History of Mass Shootings in America

UT Tower

Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 9.08.04 PM Charles Whitman, age 25, opened fire from the 28th floor of the UT Tower on August 1, 1966. Whitman injured 45 people and killed 14 others during his 90 minute shooting rampage, after which he was shot and killed by police. This became one of the first mass shootings to take place in the United States.

Columbine High School

Eric Harris, age 18, and Dylan Klebold, age 17, carried out one of the deadliest high school shootings in American history. On April 20, 1999, the two teenagers went to school armed with semiautomatic rifles, explosives, and pistols. Within 20 minutes they killed 13 people and injured 21 others as well as taking their own lives.

Virginia Tech

On Monday April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, age 23, killed 32 people and wounded 17 others during two separate attacks. The shootings took place at Virginia Tech Campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The first attack occurred at 7:15 in the morning leaving 2 pope shot and killed in a dormitory. The next attack happened more than 2 hours after the first and left 32 people dead, including the gunman.


UT Students Share Their Stories From The Day

Skylar Isdale

Jackie Kuenstler

Becca Cerk

Sergeant Bonnet

Living Life in Flexion

A first world problem affecting millions

By: Sheila Buenrostro, Joshua Fechter and Sarah Foster



An epidemic has slowly creeped into nearly every crevice of society. It affects children in classrooms, people working in office buildings and families on the couch watching television.

The name of this disease: sitting.

Several studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods puts people at higher risks for mental illness or death caused by heart disease. Sitting also causes long-term muscle imbalances, muscle aches and joint discomfort. The muscles in the neck, back and glutes to be long, but weak and the muscles in the chest, hip flexors and hamstrings to be shortened and tight.

In 2012, a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that people spent a weekly average of 64 hours sitting, 11 hours engaging in non-exercising walking and 28 hours standing. The study found it didn’t matter whether study participants exercised for the weekly recommendation of 150 minutes.

Another 2012 study conducted by the Obesity Society found that adults spend more time sitting while they work than they do on off days.

This can lead to depressive symptoms — as a September 2013 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed — or heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Austin chiropractor Dr. Jim Lay said sitting for long stretches can also affect muscle conditions and how people move because bodies are designed for more activity and diverse movement patterns than spending eight to 10 hours sitting.

“If you jumped on one foot for 8 hours, you would see that foot start to wear down,” he said.

He said if one or two joints aren’t functioning correctly because of misuse, other joints take up that range of motion and “that’s when dysfunction starts happening.”

Lay said “authentic posture,” or proper posture, could alleviate some problems he sees from his patients, who often complain of pelvic dysfunction caused by long periods of sitting or neck pain caused by holding themselves in a fixed position — say, in order to look at a computer monitor — for elongated stretches.

“It’s like wearing out a tire and then doing a race,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to keep the car on the track.”

Exercises to strengthen the weakened muscles:

Stretches to loosen up the tightened muscles:

Elise Lai
Elise Lai, ACE certified personal trainer at the University of Texas and a Senior Assistant at San Jacinto Chiropractic