For over 50 years, the Texas Outdoor Musical has been a staple at Pioneer Amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon. However, due to the coronavirus and COVID-19, the show will not go on. The Board of Directors of the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, producers of the show, have voted to cancel the 2020 season. The decision was reached in a meeting of the board of directors Thursday, March 26 after extensive consultation with the staff and artistic team.

“We really had no choice, most importantly for the health and safety of company members and customers,” Mark Hodges, TPHF board chair, said. “Further, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has banned groups larger than 10 at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, including the Pioneer Amphitheater, until May 31 with the possibility of extending the ban. The campus of West Texas A&M University is also closed to outside organizations, and our rehearsal space is on campus. It is simply not possible to prepare the show without access to those facilities.”

Following several inquiries from individuals and tour groups and a complete halt in ticket purchases over the last two weeks, the decision was made by the board. Additionally, logistical issues of relocating company members from all over the United States made the decision inevitable.

“The decision to suspend this season ensures that future seasons will take place,” Hodges said. “An economic impact study performed in 2017 by the Engler College of Business at West Texas A&M University found the production to have a $37 million impact on our economy. The Panhandle can’t afford for that to be lost permanently.”

The nonprofit TPHF has produced TEXAS for more than 50 years and does so on a limited budget with four year-round staff members. Revenues from ticket and program ad sales as well as auxiliary income provided by the show during the summer sustain the TPHF operations throughout the rest of the year.

“We will have to take advantage of the assistance offered by the federal government’s COVID-19 Relief Bill to keep operations moving forward to prepare for next year’s season,” David Yirak, managing and artistic director, said. “Of course, any external support we can raise through fund raising will relieve some of those pressures as well.”

Patrons can receive a refund on tickets already purchased for the 2020 season; however, TPHF is in hopes those patrons will exercise the opportunity for a rain check to be used in the summer of 2021.

“We will certainly make refunds a priority for patrons, but we hope they will allow us to use their funds as a tax-deductible contribution to the TPHF this year, and we will provide them with complimentary tickets for next year’s show,” Yirak said. “TEXAS has always relied on the region to support the show, and we trust that the good people of the Panhandle and across the state and country will continue that support.”

While the TEXAS office in Canyon is closed to the public due to the coronavirus, questions can be directed there by phone (806-655-2181) or email "info@texas-show.com."