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Big Bend National Park's plan to re-open the Boquillas border crossing to Mexico is still pending, nearly two years after the park proposed the idea.

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 events—or you can find more using the event search tool.

Move over, Cowboys Stadium—Texas has a new premier sports facility.

I know, I know. It’s not a fair comparison. Football will always have a special place in many Texans’ 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.

Doing my Wurst in New Braunfels

Written by | Published November 13, 2012

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.

An electrifying showdown in Central Texas

Written by | Published November 7, 2012

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! …Fictitious 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 can’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 there’s plenty of healthy, green growth underneath.

Taking the State Fair of Texas for a spin

Written by | Published October 12, 2012

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.

RipFest Honors a Texas Legend

Written by | Published October 4, 2012

It’s said that you can’t get blood from a stone, but how about getting a horny toad out of one?

That’s what’s said to have happened in Eastland, Texas, when the old courthouse was being torn down in 1928. A time capsule in the courthouse’s cornerstone since 1897 was opened, and to the surprise of thousands of people gathered for the event, a horned lizard sealed up in the box 31 years ago was still alive. Named “Old Rip,” after Rip Van Winkle, the horny toad was taken on a national tour before dying less than a year later. (According to the story, that wasn’t the end of his adventures.)

(Photo from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) About a year after the Second Battle of Adobe Walls and later fighting in the Red River War, Quanah Parker and his band of Comanches surrendered themselves at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1875. During the next 35 years, Parker continued to represent his people, and also became known as a rancher, statesman and Native American Church leader. (Photo from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission)

The kids are back in school, and we’re already working on the winter Texas Events Calendar, but hopefully there’s still room in everyone’s schedule for summer’s last hurrah – Labor Day!

In addition to the usual holiday celebrations, many communities choose this weekend to put on some of their biggest and most unique events.

On a recent visit to Houston, I made plans with my sister, Jean to go the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition before it leaves (on view through Sep. 23), and also explore the new Hall of Paleontology.

Long before the 1997 Oscar-winning film, I have always been fascinated with the history of the shipwrecked ocean liner and the class system within it. A traveling exhibit in honor of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, Titanic, The Artifact Exhibition contains items uncovered from the ship including clothing, jewelry, luggage and leather goods, stationery, perfume bottles (one of the bottles still bears a faint scent) and china used in the first-, second-, and third-class dining rooms. I learned that china imprinted with the simple, smart design of the ship’s White Star Line logo was served in third-class to discourage theft from passengers. (I must admit if I had been a passenger, the opposite would’ve been true!) The items for the most part are remarkably well-preserved, thanks to a combination of the type of chemicals used to tan leather suitcases a century ago, plus the enormous water pressure from the ocean floor helped form a tight seal around the trunks and cabinets containing the contents.

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