Photo by Ben Ludeman

Talk about a surprise leadoff. In an unannounced addition to the lineup at the Texas Rangers' 2023 TEX Gala, Matthew McConaughey took the stage to champion the baseball club's charitable foundation and introduce headliner Kenny Chesney.

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation' third annual gala took place Thursday, April 20 at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Safely under the closed roof on a slightly rainy night, patrons enjoyed a VIP cocktail reception, dinner, auctions, and presentations before settling in for a show by the eight-time Entertainer of the Year.

Then, a curveball. The evening’s emcee and Rangers radio broadcaster Matt Hicks tapped in Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe to help introduce a surprise guest - McConaughey.

“Alright, alright, alright," McConaughey started. And the crowd went wild.

The Academy Award-winning actor and Texas native's Just Keep Livin Foundation has partnered with the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation since 2011.

"I wanna thank the Texas Rangers Foundation,” McConaughey told the crowd of 1,300. “They’ve been a great partner with me and my wife’s foundation, the Just Keep Livin Foundation, for years. They were actually the first partners that we took on, the first people to partner with us over 10 year ago. We’ve had a partnership for that long and we’re gonna keep on going, so I want to say thank you to them.”

Then he introduced Chesney, whom he called a friend.

"So this next guy I'm going to introduce is many things. He's a poet, some of y'all know that. He's also a pirate, yes we know that. He's a hell of a performer, we know that. He sold out tons of records, he's played in plenty of stadiums. But the reason I'm up here to introduce him tonight is because he's also someone I call a friend. Someone that my family can call a friend," he said.

"He's also supported our foundation for years," McConaughey added. "There's been many times where I was in a pinch and gave him a call and he was like, 'What do you need from me? I'll be there,' and he came."

He ended with a little mischievous tease. "He's also someone that I've had damn good time chasing some sunrises with until the early morning hours," McConaughey said. "And if you get a chance, ask him what happens when a bee stings the backside of the bull. Ladies and gentlemen, Kenny Chesney..."

Chesney brought the house down with a set of his biggest hits, adding to the "beach at the ballpark" vibe of the event.

Earlier that evening, guests enjoyed casino games and drinks in a cocktail hour, a three-course meal, rousing game of "Heads of Tails," and silent and live auctions. Up for grabs were home run-worthy packages including a collection of autographed sports memorabilia from athletes like Patrick Mahomes, Luka Dončić, and Aaron Judge; an assortment of signed Hollywood and music memorabilia; trips to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and to NYC to watch the Rangers play the Mets; a Hurtado BBQ masterclass; and a surprise last-minute item - a signed Kenny Chesney guitar.

Another surprise thrill for fans: Texas Rangers players and coaches joined guests on-field for the first time this year. Notable attendees included players, personnel, and their dates: Travis & Lindsay Jankowski, Jonah & Kenzie Heim, Jon & Jacklyn Gray, Josh Jung & Kyla Navarette, Tori & Cole Ragans, Brad & Rossi Miller, Marcus & Tarah Semien, Amanda Sedley & Robbie Grossman, Mitch & Sarah Garver, Josh & Alexis Sborz, Dane & Rachel Dunning, Brett & Haley Martin, Andrew & Jordan Heaney, Corey & Mady Seager, Nathaniel Lowe & Brenna Karwich, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Neil Liebman, Martin Perez, Jonathan Hernandez, and Jose Leclerc.

After a full night, attendees didn't go home hungry or empty handed; as they exited Globe Life Field, they were handed Whataburger hamburgers.

In total, the 2023 TEX Gala raised a record $2 million for the Rangers Foundation's mission to improve the lives of children, military, first responders, and their families around North Texas and beyond.

TEXGala 2023

Photo by Ben Ludeman

Matthew McConaughey made a surprise appearance.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Surprising family-friendly suburb tops this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere. Headed to the State Fair? Find a full list of discounts here.

1. Surprising Fort Worth suburb named No. 5 most family-friendly U.S. city. If Fort Worth-area residents are looking for the perfect new place to buy a home and raise a family, they should steer their interest toward Watauga. The northeast Fort Worth suburb, impressively, has been named the fifth most family-friendly city in the U.S. by real estate marketplace Opendoor.

2. Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with new location. A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

3. Texas Christian University ranks as No. 6 school in Texas for 2024 by U.S. News. Texas Christian University has achieved a high ranking for its high-quality educational experiences this year. The home of the Horned Frogs earned a top-10 spot on U.S. News and World Report's just-released list of the Best Colleges in Texas for 2024.

4. Ultra-chic Postino WineCafe brings wine and bruschetta to Southlake. A nationally acclaimed wine bar-restaurant has opened in Southlake: Postino WineCafé, specializing in wine, bites, and a chic atmosphere, opened a location at 1440 Main St., in Southlake Town Square, in the no-brainer slot next to Trader Joe's.

5. Quonset hut in south Fort Worth to be transformed into ballroom. A Quonset hut in south Fort Worth is about to make a Cinderella-like transformation: Called the Quonset Ballroom, it's being developed into an entertainment space which will host live music, food trucks, and events.

Cidercade cider and games venue opens mega-facility in heart of Arlington

Cider News

Cider and games are coming to Arlington with the opening of Cidercade, a new entertainment venue opening at 500 E. Division St. in the heart of Arlington on September 29.

Cidercade has hundreds of arcade games, shuffleboard, pool tables, and more, all available for playing with a single admission fee, as well as dozens of drinks on tap. It's all ages during the day then turns 21+ at 8 pm.

Arlington is the fifth location in Texas, following existing Cidercades in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston, and is the largest yet with a huge space spanning 25,000-plus square feet.

It houses more than 300 retro and modern arcade games, pool tables, ping pong tables, shuffleboard courts (a Cidercade first), party rooms, and event spaces for groups of all sizes.

In a statement, co-founder and CEO Joel Malone says that with Arlington's reputation as an entertainment destination, he knew they had to build "something awesome."

"Cidercade Arlington is not only our largest location yet, but it includes a much larger variety of games and experiences," he says.

Cidercade customers pay an admission fee of $12 and get unlimited play on all the games and activities once inside. Cidercade also offers a $20 monthly membership that includes unlimited admissions as well as discounts on drinks and merch.

Beyond the games, multiple bars serve a big lineup of adult beverages on tap, all made by Bishop Cider, and soft drinks from soda machines with unlimited refills.

Customers are allowed to bring their own food or have it delivered from nearby restaurants.

In addition to the Arlington expansion, Bishop is also relocating the Dallas Cidercade to a new site near Love Field Airport, where it will be expanded dramatically to 79,000 square feet, nearly 10 times larger. It will feature concepts, games, and activities that aren’t offered anywhere else in Texas, and will open in 2024. The current location will remain open until then.

Malone and and his wife and partner Laura Malone initially founded Bishop Cider as a quaint 704-square-foot cider bar a decade ago. The company has since grown into a leader in beverage manufacturing and beverage experiences comprising four brands:

  • TexBev, a co-packer for carbonated soft drinks, juice, energy drinks, wine, beer, and RTDs.
  • Cidercade, the cider and game venue
  • Bishop Cider, the hard cider company
  • Wild Acre Brewing, a brewery and beer garden venue in Fort Worth that produces seasonal brews and year-round core beers like Texas Blonde, Juice Slinger IPA, and Sundance Wheat.