Best of Frisco 2018

Frisco is home to neighbors who contribute in countless ways to the well-being of the community. Each person in Frisco plays an important role in making the city all that it is today. From business owners and corporate leaders to community volunteers and nonprofit directors, there are so many individuals who deserve a little recognition for all they do. In addition to great residents, Frisco really does have it all, as many of its most interesting and exciting destinations, organizations and developments are truly one-of-a-kind.

Frisco STYLE is proud to present stories about everyone and everything that we feel has earned the right to be called the “Best of Frisco 2018.” 

The Best Stage for Live Music — The Frisco Rail Yard

In recent years, Frisco has become more edgy and more unique, offering residents and visitors downright fun places to spend an awesome afternoon or evening. The Frisco Rail Yard is the only food truck park in Frisco and it offers patrons a delicious experience, either day or night, as the rotation of food trucks keeps menus ever-changing. Food trucks line the perimeter of the Rail Yard, while the bar sits in the center of the action. Dining tables are situated throughout the area. In addition to a full bar featuring specialty cocktails, during the busy season, which begins around March, the Rail Yard brings live bands to the stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Sunday afternoons. 

“It is a place that has lots of fun for everyone!” the owner, Tamme Leff, says. “We have a full bar and interesting food trucks!” Of owning and operating the Rail Yard, Ms. Leff says it has been the most rewarding and fun place to work. “When the band is going, the dance floor is full and you can see people are having a good time, it makes all the hard work seem worth it.” 

The Frisco Rail Yard hosts the annual Whistlestop Jamboree music event, corporate and charity events and even goat yoga! The food trucks and bands are listed on the Rail Yard’s calendar at friscorailyard.com.

The Best at Paying it Forward — Joe Yannessa

Of his work in the community, Joe Yannessa says he has always strived to make his company, Solutions Automotive, a pay-it-forward company by helping others where they can. He says, “I started #PayItForwardFriday three years ago! A single mom came in the day after New Year’s and had been driving Uber all night to help pay for her daughter’s day care. That is when I decided to make it a day to help anyone we can!” 

Mr. Yannessa and the Solutions Automotive team support Frisco Family Services, 22Kill, The American Fallen Soldiers Project, Folds of Honor, as well as anything that brings awareness to nonprofits. “I am forming a nonprofit, Wrenches for Warriors, to help veterans work on their vehicles!” Mr. Yannessa shares. 

Mr. Yannessa and his employees, along with the community, collected two 30-foot trailers full of food, clothing, cleaning supplies, pet food and more for Hurricane Harvey victims. He says the simple act of giving back and being able to help those that are less fortunate is fulfilling. 

The Best Commitment to the Community – The Rotary Club of Frisco Grant Program

The Rotary Club of Frisco Grant Program has its roots in a 2017 Strategic Planning Committee that established an updated mission for the club “to deliver a meaningful impact on our local and global communities through service.” 

Rotary Clubs around the world have as their mantra, “Service Above Self,” as “serving” takes on many forms, including providing health care, clean water, housing, education, etc. This can be accomplished directly by Rotary Club members or indirectly through other nonprofit organizations locally and around the world that are dedicated to helping those in need.

As part of making good on the mission, Laura Elmore, the current president of the Frisco club, established a special Grant Committee to collect applications and provide recommendations on how to wisely use Rotary funds to accomplish the club’s mission. Frisco STYLE publisher Chris Johnson was appointed to head this committee. Among the requirements, applicants must have a valid 501(c)(3) designation, have a member of the Rotary Club of Frisco as a sponsor and request funding for a specific project. “I am very excited to serve my club in this capacity. While putting the process and application together, it occurred to me that, by financially supporting these other nonprofit organizations, I can make a huge impact in helping those in need in Frisco and around the world,” says Mr. Johnson. “This impact is one I otherwise would not be able to make.”

For additional information regarding the Grant Program, visit friscorotary.org.

The Best Advocate for the Arts — Tammy Meinershagen

Tammy Meinershagen, the executive director of the Frisco Association for the Arts, will not allow the arts to not be a priority. Ms. Meinershagen feels her role is to help balance our city with arts and culture, filling in the gaps where they exist with innovative and impactful initiatives. 

“Our mission is to advance the arts in Frisco, building a stronger community through the arts!” she says. “I would like to see Frisco become a destination for the arts, as well as sports. Why not? We have many citizens, especially students, who prefer music, dance, theatre and visual art, and they feel like fish out of water in Frisco. Until our city is well-rounded and has a thriving, robust arts scene that welcomes local, regional and even national groups (just as we do in sports), I will not feel like my job in Frisco is done,” she explains. “The arts have the power to transform lives, inspire and empathize with those who are not like ourselves. The arts bring people together, no matter what age, socio-economic status or ethnicity. I believe nurturing our innate creativity is essential to the health of every individual and there is so much research that shows the benefits of engaging in the arts from our youth to seniors. Yet, so often, the arts are underfunded, devalued, or deemed merely a ‘hobby.’ The arts need champions to help it grow and I am just trying to do my piece in Frisco!”

The Best New Role with the City — Ron Patterson

Since its inception in 1991, the Frisco Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has facilitated every major economic development project in Frisco, and in March, Ron Patterson took over as president with excitement for the future. “I am excited for the opportunity to continue to serve our citizens in a new way,” he says. “Although I have been able to work with economic development for many years, to be able to work with the team we have is an incredible opportunity and privilege.”

Mr. Patterson credits much of his success to one of his mentors, Frisco City Manager George Purefoy, as well as the many councils within the City of Frisco that have kept a consistent vision. Of Mr. Patterson’s new role, Dana Baird, the director of communications for the City of Frisco, says, “He has watched our city grow and has fingerprints already all over the city, and we know he will do a wonderful job in his new role.”

The Best Celebration of Local Veterans — Memorial Day at Frisco Commons

While May brings warmer temperatures and beautiful flowers, it also brings one of America’s most revered holidays, Memorial Day. The Frisco Garden Club and the Frisco Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8273 host the annual event in remembrance of those who died in service to our nation. It includes participation from the Frisco Community Band, the Frisco Chorale, City leaders, families of veterans and local citizens. 

“2018 marks the 70th anniversary since the City of Frisco first held a Memorial Day event back in 1948,” veteran Skip Middleton says. “Additionally, this year marks the 110th anniversary since the City of Frisco officially became a city in 1908. Frisco’s celebration of Memorial Day is the time for our city leaders, citizens and veterans, along with their families, to come together to pay homage to the ultimate sacrifice made by so many in service to our great nation.” 

Mr. Middleton says his favorite part of the day is the silent respect and reverence shown by all attending during the 24-note bugle call known as “taps,” which honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Memorial Day is currently observed on the last Monday of May, therefore, this event at the Veterans Memorial in Frisco Commons Park will be at 9 a.m. on May 28, 2018. You can learn more about local VFW Post 8273 at friscovfw.org.

The Best Development in the Spotlight — The National Soccer Hall of Fame

If you have driven by Toyota Stadium during the past few months, you know it’s hard not to notice all the exciting construction going on that is part of a $55 million renovation. This large endeavor is part of a public-private partnership between FC Dallas, the City of Frisco, Frisco ISD and the U.S. Soccer Federation to build the National Soccer Hall of Fame (NSHOF) that will contain two parts: the National Soccer Hall of Fame Experience and the National Soccer Hall of Fame Club.

The Experience is a 19,000-square-foot segment that will feature interactive exhibits and iconic soccer memorabilia, while honoring the sport’s past and celebrating players, veterans and builders of American soccer who contributed to the rise and popularity of the sport. The NSHOF will be the first major league sports hall of fame to be built within a stadium. The NSHOF Club will serve as one of the area’s newest places to host events boasting spaces including the Hall of Fame Club, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Club and a Press Conference Room.

The NSHOF is now taking reservations for event space beginning November 1, 2018. Learn more about this coming attraction at nationalsoccerhof.com.

The Best at Spreading Good News — Rick Fletcher

Rick Fletcher started the Frisco Talk Facebook page to share timely news about community events and to showcase Frisco charities, schools and nonprofit organizations. The page covers interesting news and opinions about local politics, as well as updates on new multi-use real estate developments, restaurants, retail stores and employers relocating to Frisco. He even shares local history photos and articles!

Of his work with Frisco Talk, Mr. Fletcher says, “We are particularly determined about reporting accurate local government-related news. There is always so much misinformation flying around about Frisco through the rumor mill. We are bound to seek out the truth. We owe that to our readers.” 

With 38,000 followers, Facebook analytics data shows Frisco Talk has the highest daily traffic of any community Facebook page in Texas, as well as in the surrounding states, for the last three years. 

The Yummiest Downtown Festival — The Frisco StrEATS Festival

Chances are, you know how much Frisco offers when it comes to restaurants and food experiences. There is even an annual Frisco StrEATS Gourmet Food Truck and Music Festival! This year’s festival was held on April 14, and it is the longest-running food truck event in North Texas, as the festival celebrated its seventh annual event this year. The 2018 festival welcomed 15 food trucks, four bands and more than 30 vendors, as well as representation from Frisco’s professional sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas Legends, the Texas Revolution and the Dallas Rattlers. 

This year’s event was especially noteworthy, as it was held in Frisco’s new “Rail District” portion of downtown that will soon see new development. Mark Piper works closely with the event and always encourages families to come out for activities geared towards kids. In addition to family fun, the event hosts some of the most popular food trucks in the area. This year’s event featured Nammi Vietnamese Street Food, Coolhaus, Bellatrino, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, Sir Frank’s Truck, The Hot Potato, The Dock, Egg Stand and many more! It is a day-long event that keeps bellies full, all while attracting patrons to Frisco’s downtown shopping and dining area. Get more information about attending this annual event at downtownfrisco.com.

The Most Fashionable Red Carpet — Friscovania

For one night a year, Halloween encourages us all to dress as someone or something else, and there is no better time of year to push the envelope on fashion. Friscovania does just that, while also raising money for a very worthy cause. In honor of a dear friend who passed away from breast cancer, the event founder, owner and creator of Model Behaviors, Toni Munoz-Hunt, created an event to honor her late friend.

Friscovania features live music, virtual reality experiences, a haunted carnival for kids, a costume contest and a wicked runway show with some of the biggest names in fashion.

Ms. Munoz-Hunt shares, “From its conception, Friscovania has donated more than a quarter of a million dollars to improving the lives of children in transition and in our very own community. This year, Model Behaviors, along with FC Dallas and Frisco STYLE Magazine, are dedicated to continuing Kelly’s kind and selfless legacy through our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County. Friscovania 2018 will be supporting the mission to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.” 

Friscovania 2018 will be held on Saturday, October 27, from 3-8 p.m. There will be magic shows, art installations, haute new fashions, interactive photo opportunities, food trucks, live entertainment and so much more. Plan your frights and family fun by visiting
friscovania.com.

The Best District Recognition — Christina Mclain

Christina McLain was selected as the 2017 Science Teachers Association of Texas Teacher of the Year. 

Of this accomplishment, FISD elementary science coordinator Laura Lee McLeod, says, “She is an exceptional teacher who continuously finds engaging ways to educate her students in science phenomenon. Christina attends our state conference put on by the Science Teachers Association of Texas to keep abreast of the latest science pedagogy. She has proven herself not only as a leader in our district, but now at the state level.”

Ms. McLain was chosen for this honor out of 6,000 members of the association. She says, “I truly enjoy being a part of my students’ lives and having an impact on their future. It is both a huge responsibility and an enormous honor that I feel like I have been blessed to be able to do. I feel very lucky to have a job where I get to see students’ faces light up as they learn about and explore their world. My teaching style is student-centered, collaborative and flexible. I try to bring an excitement for learning and provide a safe place for my students to explore every day.”

Other past FISD winners of STAT Teacher of the Year honors include Celeste Hanvey of Nelson Middle School, Laura Newell of Norris Elementary and Nancy Gardner of Scoggins Middle School.

The Best Inspirational Story — Gary Carley

Gary Carley’s roles and contributions to the community are numerous. Since moving to Frisco in 2006, he has served in various capacities for the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the EDC Board and Frisco’s Community Development Corporation Board, just to name a few. 

Mr. Carley’s latest journey began in August 2017, when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Just 16 days after his diagnosis, he was in remission as a result of the doctor’s excellent treatment plan. Of his journey, he says, “I was in the hospital 22 days in August. My doctor re-admitted me in September, October and November for four days each month with three days of chemotherapy. He stated my results were remarkable. During the entire process, since inception in August, I never had any of the bad symptoms or a reaction to the chemotherapy or transplant procedure. 

Mr. Carley ultimately received a bone marrow transplant from his brother who, miraculously, was a 12 out of 12 donor match, and his body accepted his brother’s bone marrow 100 percent. Mr. Carley looks forward to getting back to his schedule and continuing to serve the community. 

The Best Selfless Service — Staci Newton

Staci Newton has made it her mission to celebrate those with special needs as the founder and director of the North Texas Angels Pageant. “The North Texas Angels Pageant is an organization that was organized in 2013 for the charitable purposes of celebrating individuals with special needs. It hosts an annual pageant, at no cost to participants, and acts as a networking and educational hub in connecting these individuals and their families with resources that can improve their quality of life, while increasing public awareness of individuals with special needs. We provide star treatment and everyone is a winner!” Ms. Newton explains. “Hearing parents comment that their child’s confidence has increased because of their time on stage makes the countless hours of planning totally worth it!” 

Ms. Newton loves helping others and tirelessly works to ensure that those who are considered “different” are set up for success. “Giving back selflessly to others is important to me because God has blessed me and allowed me to be used as His instrument to help others with the gifts of love and patience,” she shares.   

The Best Place to Capture Wildflower Photos — Warren Sports Complex

Springtime in North Texas draws us out of our homes into warmer weather and sunshine. There is nothing like being able to see the earth come back to life after a crazy winter, and there is no bigger welcome to warm weather than a field full of Texas wildflowers. 

Warren Sports Complex is a premier park that boasts tennis and basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, numerous soccer fields, multi-use fields, pavilions, trails and, in the spring, gorgeous bluebonnets! 

There is nothing more iconic than a setting colored with our state’s beloved flower, the bluebonnet, and the meadow adjacent to Warren Sports Complex turns into a sea of blue each year as bluebonnets bloom in early spring, making it a popular destination for families to take pictures with nature’s beauty as a backdrop. 

Bluebonnets bloom on the northeast corner of Warren Sports Complex on what some call “Freedom Meadow,” where the Frisco Garden Club holds its annual “Buffalo Stomp” in the fall, allowing members and volunteers to sow bluebonnet seeds and revitalize the area. Their labor is a labor of love and one that many residents enjoy each year as the result is a field full of beauty!

The Best Packing List — Frisco Fastpacs

The Frisco community supports and gives back to great causes. Frisco Fastpacs got its start in 2013, when founder Marian Schulze chose to practice the spiritual discipline of fasting for the first time during Lent, in an effort to be in a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. Throughout Lent, Ms. Schulze was overwhelmed by her physical and emotional response. During these days, she felt called to action and developed an empathy for local children who experience hunger on a regular basis. That calling led to the creation of Frisco Fastpacs. 

The executive director and sole staff member, Heather Canterbury, heads up the day-to-day operations of the company, from fundraising and assembling weekend meal packs to the coordination of drop-offs. “Each week, community groups sign up to assemble meal packs. We communicate with school counselors regarding needs of the students on their campuses,” she explains. “On Thursdays, our amazing crew of 35 volunteer delivery drivers make the rounds to 51 FISD schools, dropping off 775 weekend meal packs for children to eat when they are not in school.”

Frisco Fastpacs’ sole mission is to ensure no child endures hunger when school is not in session. Along with donations, the organization is always looking for volunteers who want to make a difference. Go to friscofastpacs.org to volunteer, host a food drive or make a donation. 

The Best Downtown Visionary — Donny Churchman

Developer Donny Churchman, president of Nack Development, LLC, is heading up one of Frisco’s most exciting new downtown developments — The Patio at the Rails and The Tower at the Rails that will soon be known as “The Rail District.” 

Mr. Churchman’s open-minded, collaborative approach to development has resulted in projects that will breathe new life into our downtown area while still holding true to the roots on which Frisco was founded. He says, “Frisco is the first of many downtowns I will be re-developing. I am so passionate about the importance and the role a downtown area plays in a community. My new projects downtown are so important for Frisco in maintaining its heritage. Downtown was once the core of the city, and while I am appreciative and cognizant of its past, we need to help the downtown progress and return people to the city’s original core.” 

The Best Back Road Drive — Rockhill Parkway

For as much as Frisco has grown, it is interesting to see the places around town that have yet to be as severely impacted by Frisco’s booming economy and development. Believe it or not, we still have a few back roads that, if the perfect song is playing on the radio during your drive, can take you back to simpler times. 

The small town of Rock Hill was established in 1854 and boasted many establishments and residents by the early 20th century. “Rockhill Parkway is especially unique because of its history, as it was one of the towns within our town,” Frisco historian Linda Sutton says. “The small village of Rock Hill was a bustling community — one of the oldest on the west side of Collin County, with four churches, a post office, general store, Odd Fellows Lodge, blacksmiths, a drug store and two schools. When the railroad bypassed Rock Hill in 1902, many of the residents and businesses moved to nearby Prosper or Frisco to be near the new growth of these towns. The name of the street is a reminder of those pioneer families that farmed and lived in the area in the late 1800s.”

The house that is currently on the corner of Preston Road and Rockhill Parkway was the location of one of the stores in Rock Hill, which is also the location of the state historical marker telling the history of the area. The Frisco Heritage Museum is planning an exhibit on the lost towns of the area and it will include Rock Hill. 

If you are ever in need of a bit of respite from our bustling city, take a drive down Rockhill Parkway. Let the stress of city life go and let the arms of this sweet country road envelop you.

Allie Spletter
Allie Spletter is a wannabe foodie and lover of all things pink and crafty.