Deep in the Heart Film Festival

The Deep in the Heart Film Festival has announced the film lineup for its sixth edition, which will combine in-theater screenings from July 21-24, followed by an online encore from July 24-30.

The event will open with a special presentation of short films. The Texas premiere of Juliet Landau’s thriller A Place Among the Dead will be the spotlight screening, and then the festival will close with the world premiere of Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox’s documentary Catwalk 2: The Comeback Cats

The Festival will present 123 films (five features, 109 shorts and nine music videos).
Co-founders and directors Samuel Thomas and Louis Hunter said, “We recognize the impact this film festival increasingly makes on the Waco filmmaking ecosystem, just as it solidifies its place each year as a key stop on the map for filmmakers attending regional film festivals on the national tour. Giving our filmmakers more opportunities beyond the wonderful interaction with our Waco audiences to help with their development as artists, and maybe encourage them to come back to town to shoot their next project here is a central focus for this film festival. Of course, the sense of fun and love of cinema that Deep in the Heart FF will be omnipresent once again as our ability to spread the gospel of our films and what we do has become stronger and made us quite a force to be reckoned with.”

Leading the remaining trio of feature films presented this year is Aaron Hosé’s One Pint at a Time, looks at the heritage, history, and traditions behind American brewing culture. Today, Black-owned breweries make up less than one percent of the nearly 9,000 currently in operation. This documentary follows the Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country who are reshaping the craft beer industry and the future of America’s favorite adult beverage. Adding to Deep in the Heart FF’s genre offerings this year, Zachary Endres’ ghost story Home Body follows a shut-in who dies alone and returns as a housebound ghost, finding himself at the mercy of a world that didn’t even notice he was gone. Rounding out the features lineup is Micah Stathis’ The Sisters Karras, which focuses on two estranged half-sisters who must form a complicated bond in order to retrieve their rare and precious inheritance, which their late father inexplicably left to the mysterious man.
A major focus of this year’s Festival is the celebration of Waco as a film location. Given the proximity to both the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Austin, Waco effectively serves as a connection point between these production hubs.

Those in charge of the Festival say that with a supportive community to filmmakers and filmmaking and the city’s beautiful and versatile location, it is easy to say that Waco is made for movies.

This year, the Festival will launch the “Made Deep in the Heart” screenplay grant. This grant is awarded to the winner of the Festival’s screenplay contest, and it provides a variety of elements for producing this screenplay in Waco. This includes: 

  • Up to four nights of complimentary hotel stay provided by the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. These nights may be used for pre-production scouting or during the production.
  • Up to $2,500 in rebates provided by the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. These purchases must go toward McLennan County people, places, and things. This funding can pay for local cast, crew, catering, costumes, all sorts of filmmaking goodies. All the purchases must be made in McLennan County with receipts provided.
  • Camera and Lighting Package. The Festival has partnered with Vision Vehicle Studios, veterans of stage and screen, who will provide a suitable camera and lighting package for the winning filmmaker. 
  • Five hours of free filmmaking consulting with Vision Vehicle Studios. This could be on equipment, potential revisions, directing, and local production.

To promote the screenplay grant, the Festival wanted to illustrate Waco as a film destination. This led to a collaboration with Blanca Estefania, Will Saurez, and Skcoobavelli Treviño to develop a movie mashup campaign – mixing movie icons and Waco landmarks for a series of distinctive posters for this year’s edition of the film festival underlining how Waco is made for movies.

While visual imagery is an excellent way to connect the Festival to the local community, the best way to reach the film lovers of Waco is through personal connection. To this end, the Festival has enlisted a team of Festival Ambassadors to help us share the mission and purpose of the Festival.
They include:
Sam Brown, Senior Vice President – Commercial Business Development at The First National Bank of Central Texas
Jacob Green, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Katie Selman, Co-Owner of Stay Classy Waco
Michael Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Tracey Larsen, Larsen & Talbert Photography
Eric Linares, Founder of Eastside Market
Doug McDurham, Executive Director of Art Center Waco
Jillian Ohriner, Founder of We Grow the Co
Kennedy Sam, Marketing Director at Creative Waco
David Taylor, Co-Owner of Waco Surf
Ashely Bean Thornton, Founder of Act Locally Waco

The Festival is also teaming up with The Waco Trolley to make it easier for filmmakers to get here. Filmmakers can catch a free ride from DFW Airport to Waco, with a return trip at the end of the festival. 

The Festival will also host a panel with veteran filmmakers and Industry experts who will discuss film festival and film business strategies – including online distribution of short films and real world problem solving toward the challenges of taking the next step and making a feature film. 

The Festival has organized a locations-scouting tour around town to show what Waco has to offer. This year, representatives from the Texas Film Commission, as well as the Texas Media Production Alliance, join members from the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau to talk about the benefits and opportunities found by filming in Texas.

The Festival will kick things off with its Creative Waco Red Carpet Press Party on Thursday, July 21. Local press and photographers will be on hand along with the filmmakers, cast and crew, and attending industry veterans. The Red Carpet is an exclusive event for VIP passholders, sponsors and filmmakers. Each night of the festival will also concludes with an after-party, where local attendees enjoy a more casual connection with visiting filmmakers. 

These parties are hosted at locally owned Waco hot spots: Brotherwell BrewingSouthern Roots Brewing, and Stay Classy Waco, and include party games, free drinks (for VIP passholders), and a mechanical bull. 

The in-person portion of the Festival will conclude on Sunday, July 24, with the Waco Heart of Texas Awards Brunch – including the announcement of the winner of the Festival’s short screenplay competition – which is open to filmmakers, festival sponsors, and VIP passholders.

To purchase passes and tickets, you can visit For more information on the Deep in the Heart Film Festival, you can visit

Bridge Street Holiday Fest set for Dec. 19

By Natalie Galindo

Join the City of Waco as we celebrate the first big event at the newly opened Bridge Street Plaza 3-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, with live performances beginning at 5 p.m. This family-friendly event will feature live music, local food trucks, vendors, arts and crafts, Skate Waco mobile unit, and much more.

Bridge Street Plaza (City of Waco photo)

This plaza was built with the talent and entrepreneurship of the East Waco community in mind, and thus most of our performers and vendors are from East Waco or have ties to it.

Due to construction on Elm Avenue, access to the plaza will be via Taylor Avenue. We are asking the public to park in designated parking lots along Taylor. These lots include the TFNB (715 Elm), Elm Ave Community Clinic (609 Elm), and City Center Waco (801 Elm).

Parking signage will be deployed to direct people, and a shuttle service will be available for those who have to park blocks from the plaza.

East Side Market at Brotherwell Brewing will be occurring on the same day. So, we are excited about the concentration of activity in the Elm corridor on that day.

City Center Waco is a nonprofit agency that serves as a bridge between community and development in
downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Natalie Galindo is public information communications specialist with the City of Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Stars Over Texas Jamboree presenting country legends edition

By Terry Roller

Following a successful first Golden Oldies Edition at the Waco Hippodrome in June, the Stars Over Texas Jamboree will present its first Legends of Country Edition at the historic downtown theatre, 724 Austin Ave. on Tuesday, July 8. Pre-show begins at 6:45 p.m., and showtime is 7 p.m.

Special guests include Danny Ragland as Willie Nelson, Bridgett Huffhines as Patsy Cline, and Jamboree partner Johnnie Bradshaw as Jim Reeves, along with the Jamboree partners, band, and cast. 

Tickets are assigned seating. Seats are $20, $16, $14, and $12 (balcony) plus sales tax and a small processing fee. Tickets are available on the Hippodrome website and at the door on the night of the show, though by that time the remaining seats may most likely be balcony seats. Limited $16 (plus tax and processing) advance tickets will also be available at Lone Star Music, 929 Lake Air Dr. Ample parking is available within a block of the Hippodrome including on and off-street parking.

The Hippodrome location provides visitors the opportunity purchase a selection of adult beverages, water, and soft drinks while watching the show. 

Shows will follow all current CDC and government mandates and Hippodrome policies regarding masking and social distancing at the time of the show. Check the Hippodrome website and Facebook page and the Stars Over Texas Jamboree Facebook page for changes or updates. Should there be another shutdown, this show will be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Terry Roller is a retired graphic design professor from Baylor, having taught there for 33 years in addition to 6 years at Eastern Illinois University and 4 years as a teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee where he holds a BFA and MFA in design. He is also a partner in the Stars Over Texas Jamboree. He acts as vocalist, designer, roadie, and occasional emcee and comic.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

What Toastmasters did for me

By Gary Lee Webb

I have been in Waco 21 years. Before that, I had never heard about Toastmasters International; although, I did participate in some speaking organizations back in high school (Model UN while in California and the Arizona Model Legislature) and thought I was a great speaker. 

It was not until a demonstration of Toastmasters at my work in 2007 that I learned about the organization. It reminded me of the fun I had in high school, and one can always improve their communication skills, so I joined.

This is a Zoom virtual event of Toastmasters and is open to the public.

I quickly learned that I was only good, not great. I had a long way to go. But Toastmasters has taken me from being a good speaker to extremely good, top decile in the world. I learned to use my voice to its full capacity — pitch and intonation, speed and cadence, how to moderate to best effect, when to stage whisper across a room. I improved my use of gestures and movement across the speaking area. I learned rhetorical devices, assonance and alliteration, and even the use of unusual techniques such as the paraprosdokian twist. After all, the voice is the sharpest scalpel within the surgeon’s kit of speaking. If you use it well, people will be intrigued and you can paint pictures. 

I also went from being a horrible humorist to someone who can occasionally win a humor contest. That is something I must still improve, but at least people do not stampede the door, exiting when I tell a joke.

I learned to think quickly on my feet, replying in one to two minutes to off-the-wall questions. In Toastmasters, we not only practice prepared speaking but also impromptu speaking at every meeting. We call it “Table Topics.” A predesignated Table Topics Master queries random people with questions he prepared earlier. Getting good at answering is a very useful skill for job interviews or a quick proposal to one’s boss.

Something else we practice at meetings is the art of constructive criticism: nicely telling a speaker where they can improve and how to do so, in a way that encourages him to take your advice. After all, our goal is to help every speaker to become better. Leaders should know how to evaluate others, whether they supervise paid employees or a group of volunteers.

We also teach leadership skills, much to my personal benefit. When I joined Toastmasters, I was happy to take a supportive role, assisting the leadership team, but never the lead role. Now I have learned to take the reins, if necessary. Thrice within the last 12 years, I have taken on one-year terms as Area or Division Governor or Director (titles have changed). 

Finally, we learn to guide, teach, and train. Every new member gets a mentor to guide them, and when they have become experienced we hope they will do the same. I have mentored three-dozen new members, assisting them to become better speakers and leaders. Some of them have hit heights I have never reached – what better result can any teacher expect? I have also taught the speechcraft seminar sixteen times: eleven weeks on speaking basics. More advanced skills as well. And I have led officer training for multiple leaders and even organized the event held at Baylor University, August 2014: ten trainers, twelve classes, training sixty chapter officers.

In short, Toastmasters International has enriched my life and improved my skills. What can it do for you? 

Gary Lee Webb is the grandfather of two (age 9 and 7), a long-time member of Toastmasters International and the National Storytelling Network, and the author of 17 published short stories. He is also a world traveler (having lived on three continents), an astronomer, and a software engineer. Currently, he is vice president of education for three Waco public Toastmaster chapters and can be reached at [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco’s ‘4th on the Brazos’ returning this year

By Megan Davis

The City of Waco’s annual “4th on the Brazos” celebration is set to return Sunday, July 4, at Touchdown Alley, next to Baylor University’s McLane Stadium. Admission is free, and the community is invited to enjoy the festivities with food trucks, live music, family fun, and fireworks.

Gates will open at 6 p.m., and the fireworks will kick off at about 9:15 p.m. The fireworks will be shot above the river, between Touchdown Alley and the Ferrell Center. They will be visible from both sides of the river, the Ferrell Center, and areas around Baylor campus.

Bag check stations will be located at all entrances. Coolers with drinks and snacks are allowed, but glass bottles and containers are prohibited. Extra hand washing stations will be located throughout the grounds, and guests are encouraged to practice social distancing.

Additional details, including an event schedule and artist announcement, will be available soon. For updates, visit or follow Brazos Nights on Facebook or Instagram.

Megan Davis works the City of Waco’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

The farm is opening up; World Hunger Relief has plans

By Chase Jensen

World Hunger Relief, Inc., is thrilled to welcome Wacoans back out to the farm this summer!

As with so many organizations, our plans last summer were either canceled or seriously reworked to fit into a virtual format. We had a blast with local youth during our online summer program but missed seeing the contagious wonder and curiosity that kids have when they get to explore our farm in person.

While we were able to convert educational opportunities into an online format, all of our community events had to be canceled, including our annual Farm Day and Night on the Farm dinners. But while our city was closed we remained hard at work learning, revising curriculum, and feeding Wacoans through our C.S.A. and our Produce Prescription Program.

We are definitely ready to welcome Waco back to the farm though! In April we were able to host our first Night on the Farm dinner of the year, which featured delicious food, live music, and a beautiful outdoor covered setting (even with a little rain!). Our next Night on the Farm dinner is scheduled for June 3, and we expect it to be just as memorable a time.

These dinners allow us a chance to show off the farm, give people a chance to taste the food we raise on the farm, and share a bit about our current and upcoming activities. There are still a few spots available, so if you’d like a seat at the table register soon at!

The farm is also hosting two weeks of farm-filled fun for children entering K-6th grade during the weeks of June 7-11 and June 14-18. This day camp will occur Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and includes a healthy snack and lunch. Our theme this year is Farm-to-Table, and we will be learning about different trees, plants and animals on our farm as well as engaging in fun games and engaging crafts. This is a great opportunity for kids to get outside and engage with living things after a long year inside and in front of screens! You can learn more and register by visiting

Chase Jensen is director of education for World Hunger Relief in Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Popular long-running music show relaunches in new home

By Terry Roller

Beginning with a June 10 Golden Oldies Edition, The Stars Over Texas Jamboree will join forces with the historic Waco Hippodrome to begin an exciting reincarnation of Waco’s only locally produced music variety stage show. In addition to a new venue, the Jamboree will be moving to a new night, the second Thursday of each month instead of the first. The curtain will open at the Hippodrome at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 10, with a pre-show at 6:45 p.m.

The Hippodrome location will allow fans to enjoy a selection of adult beverages, soft drinks, popcorn, and snacks while enjoying the show. Once the Hippodrome-affiliated restaurants are back in operation, audiences will be able to order food during the show. Patrons will also have the convenience of purchasing tickets online from the Hippodrome website. Ticketing will be for assigned seating with varying prices depending on location in the theatre.

The Jamboree was launched in September 2010 by then partners Johnnie Bradshaw, Jim Guest, Terry Roller, and Andy Schlesser (Andy Thomas) who later withdrew. Local music favorite Ralph Sparks, the Jamboree keyboard player, became the fourth partner. Jim, Lead guitarist, toured with Reba McEntire and lived for a time in Branson, playing in various shows in that popular music-centric tourist destination. Johnnie is a long-time fixture in the Waco music scene, having started numerous bands over the years going back as far as his father’s band, the Bradshaw Gang and the Starlites with Phil Duckett. He also served as a DJ on local radio. Terry, a graphic design professor at Baylor, came on board as a vocalist and promotional designer. Johnnie and Terry share emcee duties, as well. 

Monthly shows rotate between oldies, country, and gospel, providing an entertainment event similar to those in Branson. The show has been very popular, with many loyal audience members having missed very few of the 115 shows in those nine-plus years. That is a long run in Waco. In that time, the Jamboree has presented the best in Central Texas music talent including our band, cast, and over 200 different guest performers. 

As the partners began thinking about reopening, they learned that the relationship with The Lee Lockwood facility would not continue. Searching for a new home, they found the management of the Waco Hippodrome eager to come aboard. The Jamboree appreciates the nine years of support from Lee Lockwood at great cost to them. The partnership looks forward to being at the Hippodrome and the new possibilities it brings while realizing there will be challenges.

We are still in the planning stages. Watch for further details as the concert date nears. Check our Facebook page:, or the Hippodrome website: or their Facebook page: for updates. Email  [email protected] or [email protected] for more information or phone 254-755-7257.

Shows will follow all CDC and government mandates and Hippodrome policies regarding masking and social distancing at the time of the show. Should there be another shutdown, this show will be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Terry Roller is a retired graphic design professor from Baylor, having taught there for 33 years in addition to 6 years at Eastern Illinois University and 4 years as a teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee where he holds a BFA and MFA in design. He is also a partner in the Stars Over Texas Jamboree. He began singing at the age of 50 after having taken a continuing education group vocal class at Baylor with his then 11-year-old daughter. Soon after, he began singing around central Texas and as a regular with the Texas All Star Review at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. With three partners he met through the Music Association of Central Texas, he helped found The Stars Over Texas Jamboree that kicked off its very first show September 2010. He acts as vocalist, designer, roadie, and occasional emcee and comic.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

SummerFest, April 10, to highlight opportunities for students

By Hermann Pereira

In this pandemic and most recently the snow-apocalypse of 2021 we have felt more disconnected. This has truly affected our youth, who are accustomed to being in school face to face everyday along with having the ability to participate in other extracurricular activities. Time away from school is having academic and social emotional impact on youth of all ages. 

The good news is we are getting back to normal as the vaccine has come into the picture and people are feeling more safe. I would like to share an event that is coming up that will give students an opportunity to feel connected. 

Two of our working groups (School Focused Wrap Around Services Working Group and the Informal Learning Working Group) have come together to plan what will be a way for all students to have access and feel connected to summer activities. 

Student Success SummerFest will be 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 10 and will be in partnership with the Waco Downtown Farmers Market. There will be vendors from all over the community that offer summer activities for youth. Families will be invited to visit with the different vendors and will have an opportunity to sign up on site for camps. 

Working groups are a vehicle for community members to come together to collaborate in order to serve a larger purpose. Our working groups are focused on overall student success. They consist of the Early Childhood Committee, Informal Learning Working Group, Mentor Waco Coalition, School Focused Wrap Around Services Working Group, Education, Workforce and Talent Alliance, and the McLennan County College Access Network. 

All of our working groups are open to anyone in the community interested in working hard for all students in our area. Please email me at [email protected], and I can connect you to one of these groups. We hope to talk to you soon. 

Hermann Pereira is chief program officer with Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco Fall Fun Round-up!

By Becca Muncy

Whether you’re looking for something spooky, something cozy, something family-friendly, something crafty, or something relaxing, you’re sure to find something fun to do this fall! Click the links to find out more information about each event.

First up, everyone’s favorite October holiday: Halloween! There’s no shortage of spooky, scary events going on in Waco right now:

  • October 23- Pumpkin Decorating Contest, hosted by Waco Parks and Rec. Submit your decorated pumpkin by October 23 and vote on the best pumpkin until October 30. Winners will be announced on October 30!
  • October 23- Halloween Make & Take Workshop at Board and Brush. Create a fun piece of Halloween decor! All materials are provided. There are two afternoon workshop sessions; sign up for the 1:00 session here and the 1:30 session here. Cost is $15.
  • October 24- Monsters of Waco Escape Game, hosted by Waco Escape Rooms. Grab your team and get ready to race against the clock and other teams as you solve puzzles around Waco! Your mission: to find the mysterious Monster 11 and solve the mystery of Scary O’Ghouligan. Tickets are $31.
  • October 25- Sensory Friendly Treats-to-Trunk from Elite Therapy Center. Vendors bring the treats to you at this drive-thru reverse trunk or treat for kids with special needs and disabilities!
  • October 28- Howl-O-Ween Party with Best Fido Friends. Enter your pup in a costume contest and get a goodie bag!
  • October 29-31- Scared Sober Haunted House, hosted by Sunshine Recovery House. Tickets are $5 and all proceeds fund the work of Sunshine Recovery House. Learn more about this event and Sunshine Recovery House from this Act Locally blog post!
  • October 30 and 31- Halloween DIY Fun with The Rustic Brush. Pick up your kit (all materials included) and have some Halloween crafting fun at home! Kits cost $20. Reserve your kits here.

If spooky Halloween activities aren’t your cup of tea, or if you’re just looking to continue the fall fun into November, check out these other fall-themed events:

  • October 23-31- Blow-Your-Own Pumpkin Event at Stanton Studios. Make your own unique glass-blown pumpkin! Workshops take place October 23, 24, 30, and 31. Cost is $48.
  • October 24- Autumn Uptown Art Walk with The Kieran-Sistrunk Art Gallery and MC Art Supplies. Take a stroll down Washington Avenue and help support Waco artists and musicians!
  • November 21- Virtual Central Texas Turkey Trot. This year, the 15th annual Turkey Trot has gone virtual! Register by November 20 and log your run anytime from November 21-30. Cost is $40.
  • November 27-29- Homestead Fair. Join the Homestead Heritage for a weekend of shopping, crafts, activities, agricultural exhibits, and great food! Check out the schedule of events here.

And, finally, if you’re looking for a way to give back this season, be sure to check out these opportunities:

This is the round up so far, but we are learning about new events and opportunities for fall fun every day, so keep an eye on the Act Locally Waco Events Calendar.

Becca Muncy is an Act Locally intern from Dallas. She is studying professional writing at Baylor University and is completing her senior year.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected]for more information.