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Written by Jane Kellogg Murray

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Make wine the old-fashioned way in Stonewall at the Becker Vineyards Annual Grape Stomp on Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-2. To toast the end of harvest season, half barrels will be filled with grapes so oenophiles can try their hand—well, foot—at crushing grapes. After your stomp session, you can stamp your purple footprints on the back of a souvenir T-shirt to commemorate the occasion. During the second weekend, there will be a Lucy & The Italian Woman Contest, where attendees can channel their inner Lucille Ball. Costumes—and enthusiasm—are required! The event is free and open to the public.

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The name says it all. The Hotter ’N Hell Hundred grew out of efforts to find a special way for Wichita Falls to celebrate its 1982 centennial. In the hottest month of the year, most Texas cities might plan an indoor festival—or you might think Wichita Falls would celebrate its namesake with some fun on the water. Instead, the Wichita Falls Bicycle Club proposed a bicycle ride—100 miles in 100-degree heat to celebrate 100 years, coining the name and a race that would attract intrepid cyclists to North Texas for decades to come. This annual August race is still the largest single-day 100-mile bicycle ride in the nation—and one of the largest in the world; last year the event welcomed some 11,000 registrants for the weekend. This year, Aug. 23-26, attendees can enjoy live outdoor concerts, a consumer show, a spaghetti dinner, and more in addition to competing against the road, the wind, and a heat that’s hotter than (you guessed it) hell.

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Don’t expect to see rodeo events like bull riding or steer wrestling at the Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls. It’s not just about sport; instead, the 38th annual event, Aug. 17-18, will simulate events at the cattle roundups of the late 1800s and early 1900s, showcasing the hard work of true cowboys at 10 Texas ranches selected to participate because of their rich, long histories. Competitive events reflect activities that routinely take place at ranches, such as calf doctoring, bronc riding, wild cow milking, team penning, and branding—plus a chuckwagon cooking contest, and a trade show featuring bits, spurs, and Western collectibles.

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In 2008, the city of El Paso and its Community Foundation restored and reopened the historic 1930s-era Plaza Theatre with a bang…and a festival. Ten years later, the party continues. The Plaza Classic Film Festival, on Aug. 2-12, is a 10-day celebration of classic film. Think more An Affair to Remember than Call Me by Your Name; Lilies of the Field than Lady Bird. Movies are still shown at the Plaza, of course, but at the present-day fest you can catch a flick outdoors on Oregon Street next to San Jacinto Plaza, or at the local museums, the public library, or nine stories up atop the Mills Plaza Parking Garage. The star-studded festival brings in about 40,000 people annually to El Paso, including Hollywood heavyweights like Al Pacino, El Paso native Debbie Reynolds, Rita Moreno, and Richard Dreyfuss in previous years. In addition to the classics, the festival showcases a bevy of regional talent with its Local Flavor series, which screens features, shorts, documentaries and other projects. Individual ticket prices vary; a 10-day festival pass is $200. Let’s go to the movies!

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If you’re wondering why Friona—a place with only three fast-food burger joints—is dubbed the Cheeseburger Capital of Texas, we wouldn’t blame you. The answer lies in its location. Friona intersects three Texas industries, which also happen to be the three ingredients to a perfect cheeseburger: dairy, cattle, and wheat. On July 21, the town hosts its annual Friona Cheeseburger Festival to celebrate its uniquely delicious agricultural geography. The day of indulgence begins at 11:30 a.m. at Friona City Park, and $7 gets you a meal ticket to try up to four burgers. Expert burger chefs and amateurs alike can compete for cash prizes in the cheeseburger cookoff as long as they can crank out 200 one-third-pound burgers. Bring your appetite.

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We are constantly reminded that Marfa is no longer Texas’ best-kept secret, but rather a destination for art, music, and film lovers from across the globe. Exhibit A: the Marfa Film Festival. For five days, on July 11-15, filmmakers, film buffs, international press, and industry professionals flood the tiny desert town to view a curated mix of more than 50 feature films, shorts, music videos, and experimental works. Unlike other popular film festivals, this one screens one film at a time, so attendees can enjoy each showing “in that unhurried sun-drenched desert town at the end of the world kind of way”—true Marfa style. In previous years, the festival has featured the likes of Dennis Hopper, Larry McMurtry, and Heath Ledger. This year, for its 10th anniversary, the festival is celebrating women. On Friday night, there will be an alfresco picnic honoring the July birthday of Frida Kahlo, with interactive art installations dedicated to the prolific Mexican painter. In keeping with past years, classic movies will be screened outside in the starlit desert each evening. If you’re pining for more than just movies, the weekend has a reputation for memorable musical and theater performances, like a 2008 concert by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and last year’s private showing of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Keep your ears open for special events and happenings hosted by various Marfa hotspots throughout the weekend. So, whether you’re a cinephile or just a fan of the unique Marfa mindset, pack your bag for what is sure to be a weekend to remember. And book your stay early—as we all know, accommodations are sparse. Passes are $300 a pop.

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How do locals beat the blistering heat of Texas’ late summer months? On the water, of course. And every Saturday from July 7 to Aug. 11, you can escape the swelter on a tube in Fort Worth at the annual Rockin’ the River music series. Each night, five different bands serenade tubers on the Trinity River, with the final band finishing out the evening ashore. Tubes and watersport gear are available for rent—and there are plenty of food and beverage options for purchase. This summer’s lineup includes the likes of Cody Canada and The Departed, The Dirty River Boys, Jackie Venson, The Peterson Brothers, and local favorites Grady Spencer & The Work. Just as in years past, each fest ends with a fireworks show on the banks of the river. And don’t worry about summer showers—the party goes on rain or shine. Gates open at 1 p.m., with the first band kicking off around 2:15 p.m.; the event closes out a little after 9 p.m.

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Is there anything more all-American than a summer blueberry festival? Residents of Nacogdoches certainly think so, and you’d be quick to agree if you find yourself in their blueberry-lovin’ town on June 9. The Texas Blueberry Festival is a daylong, state-sanctioned celebration of the harvest—the only one in Texas. For 29 years, the indigo-toned superfood has attracted nearly 20,000 people annually to downtown Nacogdoches, where thousands of pounds of blueberries are sold in an eight-hour span. The pre-festival revelry kicks off Friday night, June 8, with a bluegrass concert in the park, and the party continues to the main event all day Saturday. Notable happenings include the Running (or walking) of the Blueberries 5K, a blueberry pancake breakfast, a pet parade, various cooking and eating contests (Blue Pies Smiling at Me pie-eating contest, anyone?), a bounce park, and arts and crafts. Throughout the day, local merchants and shops will open their doors to attendees with sales and specials inspired by the day. For those who’d rather forage for their spoils, festivalgoers can take free shuttles from downtown every 10 minutes to handpick blueberries from nearby farms. The entire day is family-friendly, and most of the events are free of charge—sweet in more ways than one.

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From May to July, driving through the Texas Hill Country smells a bit more magical thanks to fields of purple lavender that blanket farmland throughout the area. If you’re a lover of the fragrant herb, head to Blanco for the 14th annual Blanco Lavender Festival on June 8-10. The Blanco County Courthouse transforms into a lavender market, with goods sold by local makers and artists. Learn all about the plant inside the courthouse, where programming will run throughout the weekend. If you want to catch the action by car, area farms welcome visitors to experience the enchanting purple blooms up close—some provide live music and entertainment during the big weekend.

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To some urban Texans, associations of the Lone Star State as a place of outlaws and duels may seem like things of folklore. But for the residents of San Elizario, this history is palpable—and celebrated year after year at the Billy the Kid Festival. In 1876, the American gunslinger and outlaw paid a now-infamous visit to the El Paso County jail in San Elizario to break his friend Melquiades Segura out of the slammer. As the legend goes, Kid posed as a Texas Ranger to gain entry, turned his .44 on the jailer, and then he and Segura headed to Mexico. At the ninth annual event June 1-3, the small border town will celebrate the occasion with stick-ups and storytelling, plus folklorico dancing, a shotgun wedding, and an after-hours ghost tour. The weekend’s highlight will surely be the re-enactment of the jailbreak on the Main Street Stage at 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. Come dressed as your best Billy the Kid, and you’ll fit right in.

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After the longest day of the year rolls around on Thursday, there's still time to enjoy the long days of summer with watermelon seed-spitting contests in Luling, a wacky festival and race through Austin, and the oldest outdoor musical in Texas.

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The upcoming weekend features the Galveston Cajun Festival, fishing tournaments, a western swing festival, Stonewall's Peach Jamboree and Rodeo, and more.

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