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53 Delicious Days of Food, Wine and Fun To Celebrate Festival’s 20-year Run at Walt Disney World Resort

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Walt Disney World Resort guests will join the 20-year celebration of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase from Sept. 25-Nov. 16, 2015, as they taste global and specialty cuisine, sip new beverages and eat to the beat of live entertainment.

The 53-day festival at Disney’s Epcot theme park will expand with new Future World marketplaces featuring fresh culinary concepts to pair with select wines, beers, cocktails and other beverages. ABC’s Emmy Award-winning lifestyle series, “The Chew,” will broadcast from the festival for the first time and will participate in two of the new Future World festival marketplaces: Sustainable Chew and Chew Lab. The festival is believed to be the largest food and wine event of its kind in the world.

Here are 20 fun facts about the 20th festival celebration.

  • Now 53 days long, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began in 1996 with a first run of 30 days
  • At the 2015 festival, a record 30 global marketplaces will include the new Sustainable Chew, Chew Lab and Artistry of Wine & Cheese marketplaces
  • Producers of ABC’s “The Chew” will tape 5 episodes of the show before 5 festival guest audiences numbering in the hundreds for each show
  • The 20th festival will feature 32 new marketplace dishes and 75 new cocktails, beers, wines and ciders
  • In 1998, 200 domestic and international wines were poured at the festival. This year, at marketplaces and premium events, more than 300 domestic and international wines will be offered
  • More than 60 wineries and more than 40 breweries from around the world, including local craft beer operations, will be represented at festival marketplaces
  • The 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Cookbook by Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs features 75 recipes from the global marketplaces that span the entire 20 years of the festival.
  • 3 Rockin’ Burger Block Parties and 5 Party for the Senses grand tastings will take place at World Showplace during the festival run. In all, the festival will feature 193 premium events ranging from Signature Dinners and Food & Wine Pairings to Beverage Boot Camps and Festival Events in World Showcase pavilions
  • Guest chefs and Disney chefs numbering 250 will present culinary demonstrations and will cook for festival events
  • Celebrity chefs and visiting culinarians from 6 countries and 26 U.S. states will participate in the festival at culinary demos, book signings, and special tasting events and dinners
  • Nearly 400 culinary demos, beverage and mixology seminars will take place during the 53-day festival
  • During the new Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak festival scavenger hunt, guests can help Remy scour the park for the ingredients to make his signature dish, ratatouille. Along the way, they’ll find 12 Remy statuettes hidden in each of 11 countries of the World Showcase and at the African Outpost location. Guests can redeem the 12 stickers they’ve collected for one of 6 special pins at Port of Entry
  • 159 Eat to the Beat concerts will be performed; 4 musical acts will appear for the first time at this year’s festival featuring entertainment ranging from rock and soul to funk and blues
  • The Marketplace Discovery Passport was introduced in 2010 for the 15th annual festival; today, the free passport will feature pages with all 30 festival marketplaces that guests can have stamped during their dine-around-the-world culinary adventure
  • More than 1,200 fireworks will explode each night over World Showcase Lagoon in IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nightime spectacular
  • Chase is the festival’s presenting sponsor for the 4th year; its Chase Lounge at American Adventure Parlor features guest amenities that include complimentary beverages and comfy furniture where guests can chill out and recharge
  • The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, back for a fourth year, is filled with 900 pounds of the tart red fruit and is accessible to cast members who wear waterproof waders
  • 100,000-plus desserts, including the Chocolate Cherry Explosion and Strawberry Basil Champagne “Toast” at Desserts & Champagne Marketplace, are expected to be served
  • In 1997, during the festival’s second year, festival planners introduced the first Grand Tasting culinary extravaganzain 2002, the event was renamed and moved to World Showplace as Party for the Senses, now featuring up to 50 food and beverage stations and breathtaking entertainment by Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba” performers
  • At the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese, each keg of premium wine on tap will hold the equivalent of 26 wine bottles, eliminating bottle, cork, cardboard and paper waste from labels. Recycling and repurposing of glass bottles and corks from other marketplace locations will be part of the 20th-year festival story


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Comptroller’s Office Now Accepting Applications for Match the Promise Tuition Grants, Matching Scholarships

(AUSTIN) — Comptroller Glenn Hegar today reminded Texans applications are now being accepted for 2015-2016 Texas Match the Promise Foundation℠ awards. 

The foundation, in cooperation with the Comptroller’s office, encourages Texas families to save for college by offering competitive matching scholarships and tuition grants to Texas students who are beneficiaries of a Texas Tuition Promise Fund® (TTPF) account — the state’s prepaid college tuition plan.

“Match the Promise scholarships help children all over our great state realize their dreams of a college education while also encouraging families to take steps now to prepare for their children’s futures,” Hegar said. “During the 2014-15 school year, 75 Texas students were approved for Match the Promise scholarships. These young people represent the future of the Lone Star State, and we’re excited about awarding a new batch of scholarships this year.”

Fifth through ninth graders whose families have an annual income of $100,000 or less and who have a TTPF account may apply for the matching scholarships and tuition grants through Dec. 31, 2015. To be considered for a scholarship, students must write a career essay and meet other requirements. Complete details can be found at or by calling 1-800-531-5441, ext. 3-1696.

Families also can enroll in TTPF during this time if they have not already done so. Get more information at

Match the Promise is funded by individuals who have donated the cash value of property held in the state’s unclaimed property program, as well as by donations from individuals, businesses and organizations and through the State Employee Charitable Campaign. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt public charity and is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.





Comptroller’s commitment to government transparency continues: Fiscal 2014 state and local debt data now available

Texas taxpayers need to be informed about the debt state and local governments are taking on. This information has long been available on the Comptroller’s Texas Transparency website, and we’ve just updated the data.

Our Debt at a Glance profiles now include fiscal 2014 debt data, with updated information for the state of Texas plus all 1,216 cities, 254 counties, 1,025 ISDs and 50 community college districts.



Got to spend money to make money

By Jim Bardwell

The Gladewater City Council was told “you have to spend money to make money,” at Thursday’s public hearing on the 2015-16 budget.

The city’s budget, which will be voted on Sept. 17, is $6,067,420 with an effective tax rate of $0.656321. That will produce a balanced budget, but a budget that is tight, very tight. Three part time employees  are scheduled to be cut and a department head position is being eliminated to help make ends meet.

Two people spoke at the public hearing, with Gladewater Antique District Association (GADA) President Diane Turner making an impassioned plea to the council for $15,000 to help GADA promote the downtown area.

Turner said GADA is the only organization of its kind that promotes its downtown without assistance from the city. She said that GADA needs help.

According to interim city manager Melba Haralson, the City of Gladewater currently gives 100-percent of the Hotel/Motel tax it receives each year to the Gladewater Chamber of Commerce for promoting the city.

GADA rents a billboard on I-20 westbound and recently rented a billboard on I-20 eastbound, with no financial help from the city. Turner said GADA only has about a dozen members and funds are very tight.

“We canvas our customers and we know that billboards work,” Turner said.  “Not only do we need this billboard, we need to be on TV. We are a tourist destination. We are “The Antique Capital of East Texas,” and that’s why people come here.”

She said if GADA doesn’t get help to increase advertising, the downtown could dry up. She reminded the council that the majority of the downtown is made up of mom-and-pop antique or gift shops.

Also speaking in hopes of saving funding for the Lee Library was Suzanne Bardwell, secretary for the Friends of the Library.

Bardwell told the council “A city is judged by what it values and obviously the city council and interim City Manager have some tough, tough calls to make.  As someone who highly values education, literacy and preserving the history of our community, as well as a healthy economy I would like to ask you to look very hard for cuts in places other than in hours and positions at Lee Library.”

Bardwell shared with the council how much the city library was used in fiscal year 2014:

* Over 25,000 people visited Lee Library, which equates to well over 2,000 patrons a month

* 11,286 Reference transactions occurred

* 4,489 children’s books were checked out

* Programs targeting children and adults had an attendance of 1,060

* 12,970 other materials were circulated to adults

* 12 computer terminals had a recorded use by 4,541 patrons

* WiFi usage (not counting parking lot usage!) is recorded at 1,214 patrons

* Materials supervised include: 35,111 books in print; 488 audio materials; 1,856 video materials; 20 print serial subscriptions 

* Summer reading program and other special events throughout the year

* Community usage of meeting room

“The library is used daily by citizens to apply for jobs, apply for social security benefits, assistance, and file taxes. Many people take courses online,” Bardwell explained. 

The council listened and commented on both GADA’s request and the library, but made no promises the city could find extra funds to help in the coming year.