Last yearâ€™s State Fair of Texas cliffhanger was an electrical fire that damaged the iconic Big Tex. As the State Fair opens this year, visitors will see that you canâ€™t take a Big Tex down, plus heâ€™ll have a revamped station.
According to weather forecasts, cooler temperatures arrive in Central Texas this weekend. While it won't be quite sweater weather, these projected 80-degree days most definitely foreshadow fall and fall festival season in Texas. What are you waiting for?
Freedom Over Texas, Houston's Fourth of July celebration, includes a huge firworks show over downtown. (Photo by Richard Carson)
From big-name concerts to small-town celebrations, there are plenty ofÂ places to celebrate America's birthday Texas-style this Fourth of July. Here are my top three picks for sure-fire fun this weekend:
After the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it took two and a half years for the word that slaves were free to make it to Texas. The date that a Union general announced the news in Galveston on June 19, 1865 now known as Juneteenth is marked with celebrations across the state during the next two weekends.
(Fireworks explode over Waterway Square at the Memorial Day Weekend Celebration in The Woodlands./Photo courtesy of The Woodlands CVB)
Memorial Day kicks off the unofficial start of summer with a full roster of hot events this weekend.
Just north of Houston, The Woodlands boasts two nights of dazzling fireworks displays in Waterway Square on Saturday and Sunday at their Memorial Day Weekend Celebration. Families can enjoy live music and other activities from 6-9 p.m. before the sky lights up.
Granbury officials say theirÂ big Memorial Day Celebration will go on as planned after a devastating tornado ripped through the edge of town last week. The Historic Granbury Square was untouched, and the city is welcoming visitors Saturday through Monday for live music, contests, arts and crafts, ceremonies and more. This yearâ€™s theme is â€œBalconies, Bands and Boats.â€
And in Kerrville, itâ€™s a great time to take in the local art and music scene while the Kerrville Folk Festival and several art shows cross paths. The Texas State Arts and Crafts Fair and the Texas Masters of Fine Art and Craft Show both stay only for Memorial Day weekend, but the music festival goes through June 9.Â If you go,Â be sure to make time for the Southwest Gourd Fine Art Show and other exhibits at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center.
Other events coming upÂ this holiday weekend include:
Anthony: KLAQ Balloon Fiesta
Dallas: Dallas International Festival
El Paso: Neon Desert Music Festival
Ennis: National Polka Festival
Farmers Branch: Liberty Fest
Fort Worth: Crowne Plaza Invitational
Fredericksburg: Crawfish Festival
Rockport: Rockport Festival of Wines
San Antonio: Memorial Day Arts and Crafts Show
Women take a closer look at a piece of pottery at the Rockwall Founders Day Festival, which features all-day live music, gourmet food trucks, children's activities and a street fair of vendors. This year's event is on May 18. (Photo courtesy of the City of Rockwall Parks and Recreation)
A cook-off competitor fries up his best chicken-fried steaks in Lamesa.
The West Texas town of Lamesa, about 60 miles south of Lubbock,serves up its annual Chicken-Fried Steak Festival this weekend in celebration ofÂ the townâ€™s claim as the birthplace of the Texas delicacy. According to local legend, short-order cook James Donald Perkins accidentally made the first dish of its kind in 1911 when he misinterpreted an order for chicken and fried steak at a small restaurant called Ethel's Home Cooking. Instead of making two separate items, he thought the customer wanted a steak battered andÂ fried like a chickenâ€”and what a delicious mistake it turned out to be.
Some are shy on stage; others are natural performers. Some feature technical playing; others draw on their emotions. They're all budding accordion slingers aiming for the title in this year's Big Squeeze competition.
Eight of the state's best young accordionists are traveling to Austin this weekend for the semifinals of the Big Squeeze. The semifinalists, ranging in age from 11 to 18, will perform a free show at Lonestar Plaza of the Bullock Museum from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
In Houston this Saturday, March 23, from 11-2, the always zany and creative Orange Show Foundation hosts its annual Easter Orange Hunt, when kids of all ages can tour the Orange Show siteâ€”a veritable playground of whirligigs, moats, and brightly tiled and painted structuresâ€”and collect eggs, candy, and (of course) oranges. Also on March 23, the Orange Show will also host its first annual PEEPS Art Contest. Using Peeps marshmallow treats, contestants will make sculptures, costumes, and other works of art, following the lead of similar contests in Washington, D.C., Denver, and Westminster, Maryland. If youâ€™d like to submit an entry, bring it to the Orange Show for judging by noon on Saturday. Winners will receive Peeps prizes, gift cards, and recognition on the Orange Show website, www.orangeshow.org.
a Peeps creation from the Westminster competition
The Vernal Equinox and the first official day of spring—March 20—is so close we can taste it. Well, FEEL it (in the sun's warm rays on our skin), SEE it (in the leaves budding out on even the pecans, which somehow know when the chance of frost has passed), and SMELL it (in the fragrance of all those flowers). It's tough to be inside in weather this glorious. So get on out there. We just received word that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's "Texas Outdoor Family" program, which kicked off a few years ago to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors, has expanded this year to include themed weekends organized around such topics as learning to mountain bike. On March 23-24, at Stephen F. Austin State Park, groups of up to six participants ($65 for all!) can learn basic camping skills (such as how to pitch a tent, build a campfire, and go geocaching) along with mountain biking safety, etiquette, and rules of the (off)road. Amazingly, most equipmentâ€”including tents, handheld GPS untis, cookware, lanterns, and bikesâ€”are provided. You're on your own for food, clothing, and sleeping bag. Sign up for this program or others by calling 512/389-8903; www.tpwd.state.txus/calendar/texas-outdoor-family-stephen-f.-austin-state-park-houston-1.