FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Twenty Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Programs and six theatre companies Army-wide participated in the 2008 U.S. Army Festival of the Performing Arts Competition and the winners were announced at its Baltimore convention in Maryland.

Fort Sam Houston came out a winner by winning 17 awards between the BOSS Program and the Harlequin Dinner Theatre. In all, Fort Sam Houston won $7,500 in cash prizes that will go into the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fund's account to take care of Soldiers and their Families.

The Harlequin Dinner Theatre's entry, "Picnic" by William Inge won first place for, Outstanding Production of a Play, "for its near perfect blend of all those extraordinary components necessary to bring theatrical magic within reach of the appreciative military community." Bruce Shirky, artistic director of the Harlequin Dinner Theatre, directed "Picnic," won first place for "Outstanding Direction of a Play."

The Fort Sam Houston BOSS Program's entry into the competition was "Viva Fort Sam," a fast- paced, fully staged and choreographed variety show that featured military and civilian talent from the surrounding area. "Viva Fort Sam," won second place for Outstanding BOSS Variety Entertainment Production for "A first-class Las Vegas" showroom theme that showcased the garrison's diverse performing talent. Ben Paniagua, BOSS FMWR adviser and manager of the Hacienda Recreation directed the variety show and won first place for, "Outstanding Artistic Director."

The prestigious Garrison Award is presented to the installation with the highest quality of entries in the festival. Fort Sam Houston won 2nd place in this category. The judges cited Fort Sam Houston for its "historical approach to the development and delivery of quality entertainment programs, sustaining its highly regarded placement in the pantheon of remarkable Soldiers and Family Programs.

A team of judges travels to each participating Army to see the entries in person. An installation chooses the program of their choice in the areas of theatre, BOSS Variety Shows, Recreation Center events, youth activities and children's theatre. At the end of the festival tour, awards are presented in various categories of each event.

(Ben Paniagua works in the Fort Sam Houston Hacienda Recreation Center)