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Trip List by boilinginTexas

Texas Best Festivals

9 Apr 2008  I'm a yankee moved to Texas over 30 years ago, so I still have the drive-for-long-distances mentality that lots of natives don't have.
3.5 of 5 stars based on 1 vote

For many years, people have been asking me what festivals in Texas are coming up and what is worth the drive there. For some reason, alot of these festivals and events are advertised outside of the little town it is in. Some of them are definitely worth taking the trip, even with gas prices the way they are. I'll be adding to my list occasionally when I think of one I missed.

  • Category: Best of
  • 1. Austin's O'Henry Pun-Off

    Anyone that loves Austin, in general, or wordgames in specific, will love the annual Pun-Off. Only Austin would have such a strange and yet brilliant festival. During an entire day in May, punslingers come together for a great competition and alot of laughs for the rest of us. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic lunch (or goodies from Swedish Hill bakery) and stay for as long or short as you wish. The day is divided into categories, including High Lies & Low Puns and the Punniest of Show competition (my favorite of which was a lady dressed as Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz who talked about her love life using weather/tornado-related puns). In the one-on-one elimination round. The referee pulls a category out of a hat (example: women's names) and the two contestants must go back and forth making good puns out of the topic. Whoever cannot come up with one on their turn is the loser. It is just plain frightening how clever people are. (ex: Women's Names.... "my friend Paula just died. I just heard about it because her sister called me and 5 other friends to come be Paula-bearers").

    Here are a few bad puns that stick with me even now...
    Birds.... "A vulture walks up to the airport gate with a dead racoon under each armpit. The stewardess says "anything to check-in". The vulture says, "no, just carrion."

    Birds..."Did you hear about the veterinarian who was barred from performing
    any surgery because he suffered from bouts of epilepsy? The cops
    busted him for attempting to operate on a sick predatory bird but the
    case was thrown out on a technicality. It was an ill eagle surgeon
    seizure. "

    Weddings...."So, two satellite dishes got married last month. The ceremony was nothing special, but the reception was excellent."

    Economics..."In the Stock Market today, feathers were down and Paper was stationary.
    Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading.
    Knives were up sharply.
    Cows steered into a bull market.
    Pencils lost a few points.
    Hiking equipment was trailing.
    Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline.
    Weights were up in heavy trading.
    Light switches were off.
    Mining equipment hit rock bottom.
    Diapers remained unchanged.
    The market for raisins dried up.
    Coca Cola fizzled.
    Caterpillar stock inched up a bit.
    Balloon prices were inflated.
    Scott Tissue touched a new bottom.
    And batteries exploded in an attempt to recharge the market."

    If you actually laugh at any of these, you would LOVE this festival. This is a stay-put event and does not require much walking.

  • 2. Austin's Zilker Park Kite Festival

    A wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of spring is to make the road trip to the Zilker Park Kite Festival in Austin. Typically held the 1st Sunday in March, this 80 year festival veteran is a lovely layback afternoon of people watching, kiteflying and competition. Held in the large open area of Zilker Park, thousands of people show up with bought and homemade kites, their kids, their dogs, their chairs and alot of determination to get their creation in the air.

    The kite competition gives prizes to the biggest kite(some of them were 30 feet long), smallest flyable (I saw one that was 4 inches), and most creative (one chick had one made out of plastic grocery store bags). There are kite demonstrations in the main square, or you can buy a kite on the edges of the square. But, the best section is the rolling green field where little kids wander around with big eyes, trying to hold onto their strings, men with cordless electric drills reeling in their monstrosities, and a huge kite-eating tree which likes to fly the kites itself, once you've broken the string. The last time we were there a kite stayed flying for 4 days because the tree was too tall for them to get the string out of it.

    This is a very lovely, very leisurely event. Expect to walk quite a distance from the parking at the baseball fields.

  • 3. Dallas's North Texas Irish Festival

    Dallas is very fortunate to sponsor the 2nd largest Irish Festival in the United States (the largest in the Southwest). All you Irish descendents and Celtic-wannabe will love this sprawling celebration of all things of the Eire at the end of February/beginning of March.

    The entrance is rather misleadingly planted at the State Fair Grounds next to the Music Hall. No fanfare, no advertisement. From the outside it doesn't look like much. Once you go through the building, you are suddenly on the State Fair grounds and it is covered wall to wall in vendors and booths and crafts and most especially, musicians.

    The food is typically Irish faire, most of which we don't even have names for, but all of which is delicious. The vendors only have class merchandise. No cheesy plastic garbage for this festival. Harp crafters show and play their lovely instruments. You can get a wooden flute or a drum for a present. Some of the same cape and clothing vendors from the Renaissance festival are there. Buy a walking stick, or an Aran fisherman sweater. You can trace your family lineage, get woven crafts and clan pins.

    When you are tired of shopping and eating, check out some of the novel exhibitions, like the sheepdog herding, music trios and quartets with unusual instruments, and, of course, lots of Irish dancing.

    This festival is very big, very busy and involves a great deal of walking.

  • 4. The Great American Race Classic Car Rally

    2008 marks the centennial anniversary of The Great Race, a cross continent classic car race. Started in 1908 from New York to Paris, this May-August event fortunately comes through multiple cities in Texas every year.

    This is not just an event for classic car lovers, it is also an event for people people. The teams who build, restore or drive these cars are fascinating and they have hundreds of odd reasons why they decided to take 65 days out of their lives to do this. Most are average people who adore the idea of driving across the country. They might be husband and wife teams, or a teacher with his shop students or 3 generations of a driving family. One year a father from Texas with his 4 daughters competed against each other.

    The race itself is a test of precision driving and navigational skills. The events are timed, and the competitors must get to their designated spot at exactly the time appointed for them based on the capacity of their car, not speed. (All entries for the Classic car division must have been manufactured before 1969.).

    The several hundred car entries almost always come through Texas, either for a brief scheduled stop, or for the night. Granbury courthouse square is a popular overnight spot, as is Fort Worth's Sundance Square. The cars line up around the square and the drivers and owners very proudly pop their hoods and show you their work and leisurely gab about cars and racing.

    This is the chance to see some of the best automobiles the world has created, all in pristine racing shape.

    This is a walk around event that changes venues each year. Refer to the GreatRace website for routes in Texas and the rest of the country.