Written by Erin Inks
If you visit downtown Austin this fall, you might wonder "why is there a big, white tree hovering over the water?"
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:
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.
(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
Fat Tuesday isn't until Feb. 12, but why wait until then to let the good times roll? Mardi Gras events are popping up across Texas this weekend, complete with parades, costumes, and Cajun-style food and music. Festivities include:
It's shaping up to be another busy weekend in Texas for Santa with dozens of events to get people jingling all the way to Christmas. If you're looking for a place to get in the holiday spirit, check out the list below for tips on what's happening this Friday and Saturday, or browse all the December listings here.
Families enjoy the big sleigh at Lubbock's Winter Wonderland at Vintage Township. (Texas Highways photo/Kevin Stillman)
Tomorrow it will officially be December (though I could have sworn it came a few days earlier judging from how much Christmas music I've heard already), and cities across the state are ready to spread the holiday cheer with a huge weekend of Christmas festivals and parades. Check out the list below for a small selection of eventsâ€”or you can find more using the event search tool.
Move over, Cowboys Stadiumâ€”Texas has a new premier sports facility.
I know, I know. Itâ€™s not a fair comparison. Football will always have a special place in many Texansâ€™ hearts. But the opening race this weekend at the new Circuit of the Americas, just southeast of Austin, definitely put the state on the Formula One map.
Tearing up the floor at Wurstfest. If you can't polka or two-step, just wait for the next Chicken Dance.
It's become a yearly tradition for us to head down to Wurstfest in New Braunfels to share the joys of beer, sausage and polka with a few friends. Both the Longhorns and the Aggies had won football games when we went this Saturday, so the grounds were extra-packed with jovial fans--and a few in burnt orange even offering congratulations to those in maroon after their team beat No. 1 Alabama. Usually we'd park somewhere in town and trek on foot to the festival, but this time we caught the Wurst Wagen from the park-and-ride at the New Braunfels VFW, which was worth the money: $20 each for parking, admission, a ride to the front gate and some drink tickets, which saved us from standing in a couple of long lines at the event.
It's pretty rare that I'm drawn to an event on the strength of a poster alone, but then I saw this:
Lightning! A famous scientific rivalry! â€¦FictitiousÂ metal?
Last week I took some time off to host my dad while he visits from out of state, which means I got to play tour guide. In his previous visits, we already explored most of the sights around my home in Austin, so this time I made plans to get out and stretch our legs in the surrounding area.
I let dad rest up on his first evening here, but the next day, we were off to explore downtown Bastrop and Bastrop State Park. Among the downtown shops and eateries on Main Street, we especially enjoyed the sign to the right (which, naturally, points to a door that canâ€™t be opened). In the park, the loblolly pine trees still bear scorch marks as a reminder of the Labor Day fires that burned the area more than a year ago, but the trails were all open. Newly built wood bridges span many of the creek beds. More sun gets through the sparse canopy than it used to, but thereâ€™s plenty of healthy, green growth underneath.
A friendly passerby offered to take our photo at last year's fair with Big Tex and (because of our woeful skill at midway games) the most expensive stuffed animal I've ever owned.
There's a little more than a week left to visit the State Fair of Texas, that grand showcase of food, entertainment, amusements, exhibits and Texas hospitality that lights up Dallas' Fair Park each fall.