Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo Scholarship Program

Heart O’ Texas Fair  Rodeo Scholarship Program pic
Heart O’ Texas Fair Rodeo Scholarship Program
Image: hotfair.com

With a business degree from Baylor University, Bert Vandiver is a seasoned business professional who is currently the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction Inc., a company based in Waco, Texas. In his free time, Bert Vandiver acts as board chairman of the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo.

For the past 62 years, the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo has produced events for agriculture, education, and entertainment in Waco. The nonprofit organization is driven by over 500 active volunteers. All proceeds of the events are given back to the community through scholarships. Since its inception, the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo has awarded $2 million in scholarships.

For the academic year 2015-16, the foundation gave a total of 27 scholarships amounting to $71,000 to deserving Central Texas students. The year’s top scholar was Kayla Wilson from Copperas Cove High School. She holds the distinction of receiving the largest single scholarship to date, one of $14,000.


The Enduring Popularity of the Crime Thriller Genre


John Sandford pic
John Sandford
Image: johnsandford.org

As the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction Inc., an oil field pipeline and heavy civil construction company based in Waco, Texas, Bert Vandiver oversees the operations and manages the 75 employees under his watch. Whenever he’s free, Bert Vandiver enjoys reading books and identifies John Sanford as one of his favorite authors.

John Roswell Camp, more popularly known by the pseudonym John Sanford, is a bestselling author and a recipient of numerous writing awards, including a Pulitzer Prize. He has over 40 novels under his name, 25 of which are a part of the long-running Prey series, which falls under the crime thriller fiction genre.

Crime thriller fiction continues to be a popular fiction genre around the globe, and there are many reasons for this. First, unlike Shakespearean tragedies where the main characters come from society’s elite or ruling class, crime thrillers feature heroes which are commoners, hence making the characters more accessible to the masses.

Another reason why crime thrillers continue to enthrall audiences is because their plots often actually mimic what happens in real life. This is in contrast with other fiction genres such as sci-fi or fantasy, where the stories are more removed from real life in both time and circumstances. With crime thrillers, the stories that audiences read about are not so different from what can often be seen on the nightly news, making the sense of danger inherent in these stories feel real and palpable.

The Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo Scholarship Program


Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo pic
Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo
Image: hotfair.com

LR Commercial Construction, Inc., president and CEO Bert Vandiver used to ride bulls during his high school days. Today, Bert Vandiver is the chairman of the rodeo committee of the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo. He has served as a Heart O’ Texas board member for more than 15 years.

The Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo, held at the Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas, runs throughout the year with the mission of hosting events for agricultural experiences, entertainment, and education. It is a nonprofit organization backed by over 500 committed volunteers. The Fair & Rodeo gives back through its youth scholarships, as well as producing an economic impact of more than $47 million annually for Central Texas.

For the academic year 2014-15, the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo granted 33 scholarships to Central Texas students in the amount of $49,000. Since its inception in 1991, the scholarship program has increased its number of scholarships, as well as the amount given. Now $250,000, is granted annually. Scholarships and premiums amounting to more than $200,000 are awarded yearly through the Heart O’ Texas Livestock Show, which is presented by Brazos Masonry, Inc.

As of this time, over $2 million has been distributed to the young people of Central Texas.

A Half Marathon With a Cause in Waco, Texas

Badass Brazos Half Marathon pic
Badass Brazos Half Marathon
Image: runproject.org

Bert Vandiver is the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction, Inc., a pipeline and heavy civil construction company based in Waco, Texas. Outside of work, Bert Vandiver engages in a number of physical activities including running.

Waco is host to an annual running event, the Badass Brazos Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, which will be held at the city’s Convention Center at 6:45 a.m. on August 7, 2016. Dubbed as the hottest, hilliest half marathon in Texas, the race heads north starting from the Convention Center along University Park Drive, offering a view of the Brazos River. The main uphill and downhill segments of the route begin at Cameron Park. The last section of the route is a gentle downhill stretch along Lake Shore Drive and MLK Jr. Blvd., which then leads across the Waco Suspension Bridge, and then back to the Waco Convention Center finish line.

The beneficiary of the race is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Waco. AFSP engages in education, research, and prevention initiatives aimed at reducing suicide rates. Annually, there are over 38,000 lives lost in the United States as a result of suicide, and a million more globally. Joining Badass Brazos event allows participants to be part of AFSP’s life-saving work.

An Introduction to Author Greg Iles

Author Greg Iles pic
Author Greg Iles
Image: gregiles.com

Since 2002, Bert Vandiver has served as the president and CEO of LR Commercial Construction, Inc., in Waco, Texas. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, flying, and reading. Bert Vandiver includes Greg Iles among his favorite authors.

Born in Germany in 1960, Greg Iles moved to Natchez, Mississippi, early in childhood, and he still lives and works in the city today. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1983, Iles spent several years playing guitar in a band called Frankly Scarlet, but he eventually grew tired of life on the road and turned his attention to writing.

He released his first novel, Spandau Phoenix, in 1993, and it soon found a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, Iles has written 11 more bestsellers, including The Quiet Game and Natchez Burning, which both feature the protagonist Penn Cage. Iles, who has written in several genres over the course of his career, is currently working on a graphic novel called The Lost Century.