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Philippine Republic Day Celebration, Grand Prairie

May 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that you can usually find something cooking at Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, generally in the venerable Green Expo — and this past weekend was no exception.  On June 21, the day of the wonderful Summer Equinox, the local Filipino-American population celebrated their equivalent of Independence Day:  Philippine Republic Day, which by the calendar is actually June 12. Of course, the 21st was an auspicious day for celebration, and so it was chosen for the observance.

Like many events that occur in and around the Green Expo, the PRDC wasn’t huge, but it was interesting and fun.  There were a lot of people there, too, mostly enjoying the food.

The Crowd

Speaking of food, there were all kinds of Filipino delicacies available, most centered around fish and rice. They weren’t inexpensive, but the money was going to good causes, so no worries there. Here’s a shot of the menu.

Coupons Only

Incidentally, notice that thing about “Coupons Only”? That’s not a PRDC thing; it’s something Traders’ Village seems to do for all the festivals they host. Think of it as kind of like the tickets you get at the State Fair, only more expensive; these cost a dollar each. Fortunately, the ticket booth was easily accessible, being right in the center of the pavilion.

Get Yer Coupons Here

They weren’t all that busy while I was there, but they obviously had been; there were literally hundreds of people eating, and the food wasn’t exactly free.

I was hoping for more fun and games as well as cultural exhibits, like they had at the Tet-in-DFW celebration back in February, but no dice. The various local Filipino groups were present in strength, though, including the famous FAANT:


FAANT being the Filipino-American Association of North Texas, Inc. I like their banner; they’ve got a nice juxtaposition of the Philippine and American flags there, joined as they are by the silhouette of the State of Texas.

And don’t get me wrong, there was entertainment available; I just happened to miss most of it (and ain’t that my luck?). Apparently there were bands and other acts during the course of the day. Here’s a view of the Main Stage, which was graced by a huge example of the Filipino flag.

Main Stage

I managed to walk in just as a number of beautiful young women were filing off the stage. They were replaced by this nice lady and her assistants, who were apparently raffling off something. From what I could gather, she was a real estate agent who was giving away free vacations or something. She seemed very nice, but made it clear that she was going to call out peoples’ names only once. Apparently, quite a few people missed out because of that, possibly because her accent wasn’t exactly standard. Sorry, ma’am, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s true.

And by the way, that wasn’t all the entertainment on hand. I didn’t take part (I am notoriously unlucky at this stuff), but there was apparently a bingo tournament on hand. In fact, someone called a “Bingo” just before I took this picture, much to everyone else’s consternation. Which reminds me of a good old joke: how do you make 100 little old ladies say “Damn!” all at the same time? Yell out “Bingo!” Heh heh. I got a million of ’em, folks.


The PRDC is over for the year, and a great time was had by all. The food was good, it was a fun introduction to yet another of DFW’s myriad cultures, and while the weather was torrid, it was tolerably cool under the Green Expo pavilion. If you plan to be in DFW in mid-June next year, take the opportunity to visit and enjoy the ambience.

And remember, even when you’ve done and seen everything and you’ve tasted all the native foods, you’re still in the middle of one of the country’s biggest open air flea markets — so hey, you might as well make a day of it. Keep an eye on the Trader’s Village event’s page at http://www.tradersvillage.com/en/grandprairie/festivals for details as to when and where it’s happening in 2009, along with a variety of other affairs. There’s still the 46th Annual National Championship Indian Pow Wow in September, and who could miss the 25th International Barbecue Cookoff in October? Not me!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Culture · Events · Live Music

2009 and 2010 Events in the DFW Metroplex

January 4th, 2010 · 32 Comments

If anything, the 2009 / 2010 social year for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex looks to be even busier than the 2008 season. As I did for 2008, I’ll track the events for 2009 and 2010 month by month, and continue to add new events as I find out about them. I’ll attend and write about as many as I can, but of course there are certain times of the year when there’s just so much happening I just can’t make it to everything. That’s where the Skribit voting app on the top right side of the homepage comes into play. You can make suggestions for new events right there, and vote on the ones you’d like me to write about. For those instances in which two events overlap, I’ll pick the one with the most votes to attend.

As before, I’ll continue to add events as they appear and as the dates are firmed up, and occasionally I’ll do a round-up of the coming month or two to remind you of what’s happening. I’ll also insert new events into the calendar as they’re announced or as I find them, so please check back regularly. Don’t hesitate to inform me of the ones I’ve missed, so I can add them to the schedule.

I’m working on this first version in mid-September 2008, so as I get further into the year, the event dates (and whether or not some of them will happen at all, despite their annual status) become increasingly nebulous. That being the case, for the moment I’ll cut this calendar off at the end of August. But fear not — I’ll keep adding to it as things become clearer, and once 2009 rolls around, I’ll finish it up through the rest of the year. By then, most of the events should have been at least loosely scheduled.

And now (drumroll, please!), here’s the events list for the great year of 2009, as it exists thus far.


  • January 1-May 17. Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas. A once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of all the wonders of Ancient Egypt’s golden age. See Laura’s comments.
  • January 2. AT&T Cotton Bowl. Fair Park, Dallas. Dallas’ classic bowl game, featuring the No. 2 team from the Big 12 and the top team from the Southeast Conference. football-media, silvio canto, joymagnetism,
  • January 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31. Stockyards Championship Rodeo, Cowtown Coliseum, Fort Worth Stockyards. Rip-roaring rodeo entertainment every Friday and Saturday at the stockyards.
  • January 3. Arts District Stroll. Downtown Arts District, Dallas. An hour-long guided tour through the heart of the downtown arts district.
  • January 3-4. Dallas Gun and Knife Show. Market Hall, Dallas. One of five large knife and gun shows sponsored anually by the Dallas Arms Collectors Association.
  • January 9-11. Kurt Thomas Invitational Gymnastics, Dr. Pepper StarCenter, Frisco. An exciting competition for Level 7 to Elite gymnasts.
  • January 9-11. 8th Annual Dallas Home Show. Dallas Convention Center, Dallas. An exposition of just about everything you could ever want in terms of home furnishings and improvements.
  • January 16-18. 29th Annual Fort Worth Home and Garden Show. Fort Worth Convention Center, Fort Worth. See above.
  • January 16-31. Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth. The 113th annual iteration of this most western of events.
  • January 17-18. TAAF Winter Games of Texas. Frisco Athletic Center, Frisco. An Olympic-style event consisting of 15 sporting competitions.
  • January 31-February 1. Lunar New Year “Tet-in-DFW” Festival. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A celebration of Vietnamese-American culture, including arts, food, and fireworks.


  • February 1. Lunar New Year “Tet-in-DFW” Festival. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A celebration of Vietnamese-American culture, including arts, food, and fireworks. Will firm up date as more information comes available.
  • February 1-8. Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth. The 113th stock show’s winding down by this point, but there’s still plenty to do.
  • February 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28. Stockyards Championship Rodeo, Cowtown Coliseum, Fort Worth Stockyards. Rip-roaring rodeo entertainment every Friday and Saturday at the stockyards.
  • February 7. Arts District Stroll. Downtown Arts District, Dallas. An hour-long guided tour through the heart of the downtown arts district.
  • February 18-22. Dallas Auto Show, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas. Forty-two car manufacturers, from Ford to Lamborghini, will be on hand to show off their new models.
  • February 20-22. ConDFW VIII. Richardson. Large literary science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Dallas since 2002. Location has not yet been determined.
  • February 22. 7th Annual Krewe of Barkus Parade. Main Street, McKinney. A Mardi Gras-inspired afternoon of canine-related fun, including a parade and best-dressed dog contest. This year’s theme is Classic TV.
  • February 14-15. WOGA International Women’s Invitational. Frisco Conference Center, Frisco. A fan-friendly event where gymnasts from National Teams all over the world will meet to compete.
  • Late February/Early March. North Texas Irish Festival. Fair Park, Dallas. A three day celebration of everything Ireland, from music and dancing to good food and drink. Dates still TDB.
  • February 27-March 1. All Texan Garden Show. Arlington Convention Center, Arlington. A Texas-oriented gardening show, starring expert Neil Sperry.


  • Early March. Six Flags Amusement Park, Arlington. The Lone Star State’s answer to Disneyland opens its doors for the year. Date TBD.
  • Early March. Festival de Primavera Musica. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A Hispanic spring music festival featuring food, fun, and the area’s best Mexican musical artists. Date TBD.
  • March 6-7. 5th Annual Savor Dallas. Downtown Dallas. An fine international experience of wine, food, spirits and arts, taking place in some of the most upscale localities in Dallas.
  • March 6-8. 30th Annual Dallas Home and Garden Show. Market Hall, Dallas. Everything you’ll need for the home and garden, packed into three eventful days.
  • Early March. Out of the Loop Festival. Water Tower Theater, Addison. A ten-day celebration of theatre, music, and the arts. Dates TBD.
  • March 7. Arts District Stroll. Downtown Arts District, Dallas. An hour-long guided tour through the heart of the downtown arts district.
  • March 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28. Stockyards Championship Rodeo, Cowtown Coliseum, Fort Worth Stockyards. Rip-roaring rodeo entertainment every Friday and Saturday at the stockyards.
  • March 7-April 12. 25th Annual Dallas Blooms. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Dallas. The largest outdoor floral festival in the Southwest – six full weekends of music, food, fun, and flowers.
  • March 13-15. 10th Annual Fort Worth Home Show. Will Rogers Memorial Center, Fort Worth. Fort Worth’s answer to Dallas’ annual home show.
  • March 13-15. All-Con. Crown Plaza North, Dallas. A large convention uniting fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, mystery, arts, crafts, film-making and more, all under one roof!
  • Mid-March. Feria de la Que Buena. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. Another Hispanic spring music festival (this one offered by KESS 107.9 FM), featuring food, fun, and local Spanish musical artists. And clowns. Date TBD.
  • Late March. Best Southwest Bookfest. Cedar Hill. The area’s largest annual literary event. Includes panel discussions, author talks, book signings, and more. Date TBD.
  • Late March. Festival de la Primavera. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. Yet another Hispanic spring music festival (KDXX, 107.1 FM) featuring food, fun, and local musicians. Date TBD.
  • Late March: FC Dallas soccer. Pizza Hut Park, Frisco. Check out this soccer powerhouse at their first home game of the season. Date TBD.
  • Late March-Early April. AFI International Film Festival. A yearly event hosted by the American Film Institute, celebrating celluloid artistry.


  • April 3. Mesquite Championship Rodeo. Resistol Arena, Mesquite. The 52nd annual rodeo season kicks off at one of the oldest continuous rodeos in the DFW area. Shows will be held every Friday and Saturday from now until late September.
  • April 3-5. Deep Ellum Arts Festival. Deep Ellum District, Dallas. Over one hundred hours of art and fun in “the Metroplex’s most progressive and eclectic neighborhood.”
  • April 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25. Stockyards Championship Rodeo, Cowtown Coliseum, Fort Worth Stockyards. Rip-roaring rodeo entertainment every Friday and Saturday at the stockyards.
  • April 4. Arts District Stroll. Downtown Arts District, Dallas. An hour-long guided tour through the heart of the downtown arts district.
  • April 4-May 25. Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Waxahachie. Experience medieval life, crafts, and food at the premier renaissance festival in Texas.
  • April 5-12. Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup XXX. Pizza Hut Park, Frisco. A soccer invitationl including hundreds of teams from dozens of countries.
  • April 6. Texas Rangers baseball. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Take yourself out to the ballgame to see the Rangers’ first home game of the season.
  • April 10-13. 23rd Annual Texas Storytelling Festival. Texas Woman’s University, Hubbard Hall, Denton. A four-day storytelling session including workshops, field trips, and stories.
  • Mid-April. 34rd Annual Prairie Dog Chili Cookoff. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A free chili extravaganza that also features the World Championship of Pickled Quail Egg Eating. No, really. Date TBA.
  • Mid-April. Redbud Festival. Denton Civic Center, Denton. Another short spring festival including a gardening and Arbor Day show, as well as lots of food, fun, and kids’ activities.
  • April 16-18. North Texas Jazz Festival. Crown Plaza Hotel, Addison. A collaborative effort between the University of North Texas and the City of Addison, featuring top jazz artists from all over the country.
  • April 16-19. MAIN Street Arts Festival, Downtown Fort Worth. A four-day arts extravaganza, including a juried art competition, street performers, tasty food, and live concerts.
  • April 17-18. New Vintage Wine Trail, Grapevine. This event takes you on a tasting tour of nine local wineries.
  • April 17-19. Dallas International Guitar Festival. Dallas Market Hall, Dallas. The world’s oldest and largest guitar show, where you can buy, sell, or trade your guitars, and learn how to play from legends.
  • Mid-April. 58th Annual Bluebonnets Trail Festival. A classic festival celebrating over 40 miles (!) of mapped bluebonnet trails, along with arts, live music, crafts, and kid’s activities. Date TBA.
  • April 24. Euless Arbor Day Festival. Euless. A celebration of trees that draws an estimated one million people every year.
  • April 24-26. Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. Denton Civic Center Park, Denton. A free event featuring more than 1,000 musical performers on six stages, not to mention all kinds of artsy-craftsy stuff.
  • April 24-26. Real. Texas. Festival. Mesquite. Three days of rodeo, Wild West shootouts, paintball shoots, a car show, a barbecue competition (I’m there!), and live music.
  • April 25. 4th Annual Prairie Fest. Tandy Hills Nature Area, Fort Worth. A celebration of our natural world with music, art, and dancing. The best place in D/FW to see wildflowers, in a 160 acre site deep inside the city!
  • April 25-26. Dallas Gun and Knife Show. Market Hall, Dallas. One of five large knife and gun shows sponsored anually by the Dallas Arms Collectors Association.
  • Late April. Springfest. Broadway Park, Haltom City. A brief spring festival (just a few hours long) with music and fun. Date TBA.
  • Late April. Spring Onion Festival. Princeton. A celebration of everyone’s favorite root vegetable, including a craft show, music, a 5K Onion Run, a raffle, and even a beauty pageant. Date TBA.
  • Late April. Country Music Weekend. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. The Reggie Brown Band performs traditional country music and Texas Swing favorites from 12-4 PM. Date TBA.
  • Late April. Sixth Annual Russell Maryland Celebrity Golf Tournament. Bear Creek Golf Club, Dallas. A charity golf tournament benefitting the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Date TBA.


  • May 1-3. Mayfest. Trinity Park, Fort Worth. Mosey down to banks of the Trinity River for a three-day celebration of Spring, featuring food, music, arts, and crafts.
  • May 1-3. Dallas Fine Mineral Show. Embassy Suites Hotel, 14021 Noel Road, Dallas. Dozens of fossil, gem, and mineral specialists descend upon Dallas for a must-see mineral show in an intimate setting. Attendance is free!
  • May 2. 22st Annual Cinco De Mayo Celebration. Quakertown Park, Denton. A festival honoring Mexican history and culture, including music, food, and a parade.
  • May 2. Cinco de Mayo Festival. Old Town, Lewisville. Lewisville’s version of this traditional celebration of Mexican culture and history.
  • May 2. Cinco De Mayo Festival. Grand Prairie. A celebration of Mexican history and culture.
  • Early May. Taste Addison. Addison Circle Park, Addison. A weekend of fun, music and especially food – you can try samplings from 50 local restaurants. Date TBA.
  • Early May. Mayfest. Kirby Creek Park, Grand Prairie. A fun-filled day of educational and entertaining activities, food, and goodies lasting from 9 AM – 3 PM. Date TBA.
  • Early May. Texas Frontier Forts Days. Fort Worth Stockyards. This gathering of re-enactors from all over the country demonstrates what life was like in frontier Texas. Dates TBA.
  • Mid May. 12th Annual Folklorico Festival. Latino Cultural Center, Dallas. A Bilingual event (in Spanish and English) that offers performances, workshops, and classes celebrating Hispanic folklore.
  • May 15-17. Main Street Days. Main Street, Grapevine. Grapevine’s 25th annual weekend of Main Street music, fun, food, and adventure.
  • May 15-17. Wildflower Arts and Music Festival. US 75 and Galatyn Parkway, Richardson. A huge music-oriented festival with plenty of great concerts. I saw Huey Lewis and the News there one year.
  • May 15-16. 12th Annual Cajun Festival. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A great excuse to eat boudin, jambalaya, and crawfish, and listen to some excellent Louisiana music.
  • May 16. Greater Fort Worth Herb Society Herb Festival. Fort Worth Botanical Garden Center. A one-day celebration of all things herbs, with vendors, lectures, and demonstrations.
  • May 17. Tutankhamen and the Gold Age of the Pharaohs, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas. Your last chance to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of all the wonders of Ancient Egypt’s golden age.
  • May 18-24. EDS Byron Nelson Golf Classic. Four Seasons Resort, Irving. One of the top professional golf tournaments in the world, with a purse in excess of $6,000,000.
  • May 25-31. 63rd Annual Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial Golf Tournament. Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth. Defending Champion Phil Mickelson will be on hand for a second try at the Colonial, which offers a total purse of $6.1 million.
  • May 22-June 7. Cliburn 2009. Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth. Like the Olympics, the Van Cliburn competition happens only every four years — so if you’re in town, take this opportunity to enjoy the talents of 20 promising pianists.
  • Late May. ArtFest 2009. Fair Park, Dallas. A rich artistic celebration, back for its 39th year, that includes hundreds of artists from all over the United States, along with food, entertainment, a children’s interactive area, and more. Dates TBA.
  • May 22-24. National Polka Festival. Ennis. The 43rd annual edition of a nationwide dance and music festival that celebrates Czech and Slovak heritage.
  • Late May. Founder’s Day Festival. Rockwall, Texas. Town historical celebration. Date and musical guests TBA.
  • Late May. Dog Days of Denton. Quakertown Park, Denton. A rain-or-shine day out with man’s best friend, including festival events, food, contests, and live entertainment.


  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. Sounds of Lewisville Summer Concert Series. Old Town Lewisville. For the 20th consecutive year, Lewisville brightens up the summer with a series of Tuesday-night concerts.
  • Early June. 34rd Annual Auto Swap Meet. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A huge automotive swap meet featuring everything on wheels. Date TBA.
  • Early June. 13th Annual Great American Scrapbook Convention. Arlington. A convention celebrating scrapbooking and the preservation of personal and family histories. Dates and location TBA.
  • Early June. Old Tyme Barbecue Cook-off. The Village, Colleyville. A judged, nationally-sanctioned event benefitting Special Olympics. Dates TBA.
  • June 5-7. Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Maverick Stadium, Arlington. This three day festival of all things Scottish is one of the largest of its type in North America. Lay on, MacDuff.
  • Early June. Highland Village Days, Red, White and Blue Music Festival. Copperas Branch Park, Highland Village. Despite the name, a single-day even including a family fish-out, food, music, and fireworks.
  • June 12-20. Hunt County Fair. Hunt County Fairgrounds, Greenville. Nine days of exhibits, livestock shows, creative arts and entertainment, just northeast of D/FW.
  • June 12-14. 6th Annual City Arts Celebration. Arts District, Dallas. A free showcase of local culture, including music, performing, visual, and culinary arts.
  • June 13-14. Dallas Gun and Knife Show. Market Hall, Dallas. One of five large knife and gun shows sponsored anually by the Dallas Arms Collectors Association.
  • Mid June. Festival de Garibaldi Mariachi Festival. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. A mariachi musical event in which local bands compete for the coveted title of best local mariachi group. Date TBA.
  • June 15-20. Juneteenth. Various venues: Denton, Irving, Plano, Dallas. A celebration of Texas African-American culture. Includes beauty pageants, talent expositions, parades, a gospel extravaganza, barbecue cookoffs, and the Dallas Juneteenth Film Festival.
  • Late June. Philippine Republic Day Celebration. Trader’s Village, Grand Prairie. Join the local Filipino community as they celebrate the Independence Day for the Philippines. There’ll be plenty of cultural presentations, music, songs, food, and vendors on hand! Date TBA.
  • Late June. Neighborhood BBQ Cook Off and Small Town Saturday Night. City Hall Square, Cedar Hill. An all-day event full of food, fun, and small town charm. Date TBA.
  • June 25-28. 4th Annual Celina Balloon Festival. Old Celina Park, Celina. A family-oriented event located in the little town of Celina, just north of Frisco.
  • June 26-27. Celebrate Freedom 2009. Pizza Hut Park, Frisco. The largest annual free Christian music festival in the country.
  • June 27-28. Festival of Freedom. Pecan Grove Park, Rowlett. A weekend of musical entertainment and fireworks, celebrating Independence Day.
  • June 27. Allen USA Festival. Celebration Park, Allen. An annual music and arts festival that also includes balloon launches, a golf tournament, and fireworks.
  • June 27. Southwest USA Sports and Fitness Expo. Arlington. A full service sports and fitness expo including vendors, bodybuilders, etc. More info as it becomes available!


  • Early July. Lone Stars and Stripes Fireworks Celebration. Lone Star Racetrack, Grand Prairie. Two days of thoroughbred racing and family activities, capped off by patriotic fireworks displays in the evenings. Dates TBA.
  • Early July. Mimir Chamber Music Festival. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. A gathering of premier chamber musicians from all over with world, with live performances open to the public. Dates TBA.
  • July 3. Kaboom Town! Addison Circle Park, Addison. A huge Fourth of July party featuring fireworks choreographed to music.
  • July 3. Sunnyfest. Town Center Park, Sunnyvale. A day of fun, food, and games, culminating in an exciting fireworks display.
  • July 3. Annual Farmer’s Branch Independence Day Celebration. Farmer’s Branch Historical Park, Farmer’s Branch. A day of food, fun, and, of course, fireworks!
  • July 3. Star-Spangled Fourth. Firewheel Town Center, Garland. A large Fourth of July Celebration complete with musical guests, food, fireworks, and fun from 10 a.m to midnight.
  • July 4. 4thFest. Bedford Boy’s Ranch Park, Bedford. Enjoy an old-fashioned flag-waving Independence Day celebration, complete with a concert, fun, food, and fireworks.
  • July 4. Liberty by the Lake Festival. The Colony. A city-wide celebration of Independence Day, including a parade, the Anything That Floats Regatta, concerts, a car show, a salsa shootout, and of course a fireworks extravaganza.
  • July 4. Eighth Annual Frisco Freedom Fest. Various locations, Frisco. A one-day, rain-or-shine event filled with patriotic food, drink, live entertainment, and fireworks.
  • July 4-5. Third Annual Trinity River Fiesta. West End, Dallas. A free, fun-filled holiday weekend celebrating Independence Day in the West End.
  • July 4, 11, 18, 25. July Jazz. Esplanade Park, Addison. Free live concerts from local jazz artists.
  • July 7, 14, 21, 28. Sounds of Lewisville Summer Concert Series. Old Town Lewisville. For the 20th consecutive year, Lewisville brightens up the summer with a series of Tuesday-night concerts.
  • Mid-July. 23rd Annual Taste of Dallas, West End, Dallas. Experience samples of the best food in Dallas, along with live entertainment. Dates TBA.
  • Late May. 10th Annual Gran Fiesta. A three day party featuring all the best in local Hispanic and Latin cultures, including food, family, art, dance, and music. Dates TBA.


  • Early August. Dallas Cowboys football. Cowboys Stadium, Arlington. Be on hand for the Cowboys’ first home game in their brand new stadium! Dates TBA.
  • Early August. Spikefest Volleyball Tournament. Five Star Sports Complex, The Colony. One of the nation’s largest amateur grass volleyball tournaments. Dates TBA.
  • August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. Symphonic Saturdays. Esplanade Park, Addison. Free live symphony concerts, brought to you by Dallas Wind Symphony and the Richardson Symphony Orchestra.
  • Early-Mid August. 2009 Viva Dallas! Hispanic Expo. Dallas. A multi-faceted celebration of Hispanic culture, including cultural awareness initiatives, product samples, celebrities, food, live entertainment — you name it! Dates TBA.
  • Mid August. 2009 Hunter’s Extravaganza. The granddaddy of all hunting shows, including contests, attractions, and a hunter’s supermarket. Dates TBA.
  • August 14-16. 16th Annual Sports and Fitness Show. Dallas Convention Center, Dallas. Includes everything sports and fitness related, including prob bodybuilders and powerlifters, and everything they use to get there.
  • August 14-16. Lion’s Club Balloon Festival. Copperas Branch Park, Highland Village. A grand local tradition featuring three days of balloons, arts and crafts, and live entertainment.
  • Mid-Late August. 81st Annual North Texas State Fair and Rodeo. North Texas Fairgrounds, Denton. A yearly western extravaganza that includes a carnival, a rodeo, music, and a series of special events and attractions. Dates TBA.
  • Late August. Tulisoma South Dallas Book Air and Arts Festival. South Dallas. Local book fair celebrating African-American writers and culture. Dates TBA.
  • Late August. Annual Championship and Household Pet Cat Show. Arlington Convention Center, Arlington. A cat show including not just cat competitions, but vendors and an exhibition of new breeds. Dates TBA.

Remember, folks, there will be more to come as the social year develops!

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→ 32 CommentsTags: Art · Attractions · Culture · Events · Food · Live Music · Shopping · Sports Teams

Halloween in the DFW Metroplex

September 7th, 2009 · 23 Comments

As All Hallow’s Eve approaches (that’s Halloween to you and me), the entire metroplex is gearing up for a scarefest. Of course, the big grocery and department stores have been ready since, oh, July.  The local towns and cities haven’t taken it to that extreme yet,  quite, but they’re usually in gear by mid to late September. It seems that I’m the late one, because I’ve waited until just over three weeks from the event to concern myself with this particular harvest festival.

Oh well — at least I’m on it! And there’s a lot to be on, too — not the least of which is the great Dallas Farmer’s Market Annual Pumpkin Party on October 18, where you can enjoy refreshments, music, and, yes, pumpkins at excellent prices. Similarly, the Great Pumpkin Festival will be taking place at the Dallas Arboretum through November 15. And there are the many small events everywhere, often associated with churches; one such is the Wylie United Methodist Church Fall Fest and Pumpkin Patch, where the family can enjoy food, shopping, bouncy houses, and even pumpkins straight from a real pumpkin patch.

Individual cities are also putting on their own shindigs; a good example is Farmer’s Branch, which is hosting its annual Halloween in the Park for free on the evening of October 25, at Farmer’s Branch Historical Park on (where else?) Farmer’s Branch Lane.  On Halloween itself, the city of Plano is offering its yearly Kid’s Night Out at Plano Market Square Mall from 8-10 PM. This offers the kiddies a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, where they can beg for candy, play games, win prizes, and hang out in a family-friendly environment. Similar small events are going on all over the metroplex, so if you’re planning to be in a particular city during the week or so prior to October 31, plug the name of the city into the Interweb and see what’s goin’ on.

I have, of course, saved the haunted houses for last, because they’re the absolute apex of Halloween events here in the Metroplex. Probably the best exhibition of Halloween horror is taking place in Waxahachie — in the same location, if I’m not mistaken, as Scarborough Faire. I speak, of course, of Screams, that superlative collection of five (count ’em, five) haunted houses all in a row. Screams, which open 7:30 PM-1:30 AM every Friday and Saturday night from now until All Hallows Day (November 1), plus Thursday the 30th, bills itself as the World’s Largest Halloween Theme Park, and it probably is. Now, Waxahachie’s a bit far from most of the Metroplex, especially if you’re coming from Dallas’ but like Scarborough Faire, the event is so enormous and cool that it’s something you should definitely see if you can. It’s certainly worth going out of your way for, if horror is your thing and you don’t mind paying $22 a ticket (plus $15 if you want a Fast Pass, which lets you step to the head of the lines).

There are many, many haunted houses in the Metroplex this year. I won’t try to list them all here — there are literally dozens  — but besides Screams you should definitely consider the Hangman’s House of Horrors in Fort Worth; the Texas Scaregrounds in Kennedale (four big events); Thrillvania Thrill Park in Terrell; and, of course, Fright Fest at Six Flags in Arlington. If you want to be scared silly, here’s your chance!

→ 23 CommentsTags: Attractions · Events · Holidays

Sunnyfest 2008, Sunnyvale

June 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

In 2009 the Sunnyfest will officially start on the evening of July 2nd, at 6pm.  Rain date is 10 July.

Sunnyvale is a quiet town located southeast of Garland, maybe two miles beyond the point where Broadway crosses the east-west stretch of IH 30 and turns back into Belt Line Road* for a while. It’s not known for much (except maybe as a shortcut to get to Town East Mall and environs), but it does hold a happy little Fourth of July celebration called Sunnyfest every year. Sunnyfest is  definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, because it combines your standard small-town charm — a la the Cedar Hill Neighborhood BBQ Cook Off I reported on a few weeks back — with the flavor of a big carnival or fair: in other words, all the expensive State Fair-type  food and drink were there at the usual prices. Such consistency does my heart good, it does. Makes me feel right at home. More at home than I felt at the remains of Garland’s Star Spangled Fourth, which used to be the highlight of the year around here…but more on that next time, eh?

This year, Sunnyfest took place on July 3 at Town Center Park, which despite its name seems to be located out on the fringes of town on Tripp Road…but take a closer look, and you’ll see that it’s really right behind City Hall. That’s one of the things I like about Sunnyvale; it seems more rural than it is, and they do make it an effort to keep it that way. To get to Town Center Park, you have to drive quite a ways down East Tripp, and for a good part of the distance the street is lined with overarching trees, so you seem to be driving through a living tunnel. Lovely.

The festival itself wasn’t huge, but it was well-attended, and I had a good time while I was there. It started at 6 PM and lasted through about 9:15, when they set off the obligatory fireworks (and a nice display it was, too).  Here’s a picture of part of what I thought of as “the Midway,” taken early on, before it got too crowded. You can see some of the food booths and such.

The Crowd

Most everybody brought their own coolers and chairs, since after all they were there for the fireworks. They had a lotta gumption, I’ll say that; it was as hot as the hinges of hell, as one might expect of July 3 in any year. Fortunately, there was plenty to do. The grown-ups wondered around and visited, while the kids played at the various attractions the city had brought out for the day.  For those of us who preferred to stay in the shade at or near the central pavilion (which was overcrowded within 10 minutes, naturally), there were the musical stylings of this guy to keep us entertained:

Singin’ Guy

He was good, but I never did find out his name.

And of course, there was one of these — there always is at one of these gatherings, these days.

There’s Always One of These

Oh, and there was one of those cute trampoline/bungee contraptions that I’m seeing everywhere lately. Kids love these, especially the girls. I have no idea why. My joints ache just looking at these pictures; it’s hell, getting old. Try to avoid it if you can.

And, Wheee!

Gonads and Strife!

There was a full suite of those bouncy inflated things that you always see, too. I have no idea what this was meant to be, really. A jump castle of some sort, I guess.

Bouncy Bouncy

This, however, was kind of cool: it’s an inflatable slide. Yup. Even has stairs — inflatable stairs — that you can climb to get up to the top. What the heck are they gonna think of next? How the heck did they do that? Maybe there was a wooden or plastic stairway hidden up under there; I dunno.

Bouncy Slide

Oh, and another cute thing for the kids that I was rather taken by: this little train. It worked pretty well for taking the kids around the jogging route that loops around the lake. Oh, sure, it was slow; but who cares? It was a train. The kiddies loved it.

All Aboard!

As far as I could tell, all this stuff was free, though I might have been wrong; the lines were pretty long, especially for the bungee thing, so I didn’t wait around. I never saw any people taking any money or tickets, anyway, nor did I see any signs advertising the prices. Now, that’s a real community event, right there — where the community pays for the basics, without trying to wring every penny possible out of you.  Are you listening, Wildflower Festival? (Yeah, I’m still cranky about that.)

Also free was the nice big park they held the event in. Town Center Park includes a lake with a fountain, which at the right angle produced at prodigious rainbow in the spray. Alas, I was unable to capture that with my camera, but this is what it looked like otherwise.

The Lake

The lake was kind of low, and I’m not sure how fishable it is, though I did observe quite a few small fry near the dam. There weren’t too many people there when I was taking photos; the city doesn’t like people to get out there on the dam, and no wonder. Bit of a drop-off, there.  It’s a nice little lake, though.

Dam It!

Okay! Sunnyfest was an enjoyable opportunity to get out and meet the locals in a pretty, well-appointed park. They even had well-organized (and free!) parking, which is a great plus. The event is over for the year, but if you happen to be in the area next year before the Fourth, check out Sunnyvale’s home page at http://www.townofsunnyvale.org/index.asp?NID=169 to get the skinny. It’s free to attend.

*Which, as longtime residents of DFW know, can be found just about everywhere — Garland, Richardson, Dallas, Carrollton, Farmer’s Branch, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Cedar Hill, crossing Highways 20, 30, 75, and 45, yadda yadda, blah blah,  etc.  I have no idea how one road manages to be everywhere at once. Magic?


→ 2 CommentsTags: Events · Farm · Live Music · Parks

Wildflower Arts and Music Festival, Richardson

April 25th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Bah. Humbug.

I’m going to warn you before I start that this entry contains crankiness. I’m going to try not to let it affect my review of the Festival itself too badly, but I have to tell you, it’s hard not to, considering how I was treated by the people running it. And I’m good at cranky.

First of all, there are very few pictures here for a simple reason: they wouldn’t let me take any. This is why:

No Professional Cameras

Now you might think, “Gee, Floyd, I thought you had a digital camera?” and you’d be right. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a little Nikon Coolpix L11 that works just fine for most of my needs, except it’s hard to take wide-angle shots with it. So guess what I did a few weeks ago? I spent $50 on EBay for a detachable wide angle lens for my Coolpix. It was made for other Coolpix models, but I adapted it to mine just fine. Well and good, eh? Well, look at the sign again.


Just to be good, I asked if my camera counted. Of course it did. I didn’t really think they’d be so zero-tolerance about a little digital camera, which normally doesn’t have a detachable lens and can function just fine without one. I even asked them if I could take the lens off and leave it in my car, and then come back and take pictures for my blog, and they said NO in no uncertain terms. I might use them to make money, and that might be considered professional.

Okay, I know when I’m licked. So I took some pictures of Time Warner’s advertising SUV and the entrance to prove I was there, and took the camera back to the car.



There Were People There

Then I started to go in, and realized that the entire gate was plastered with signs about what we couldn’t do once we were in there. No pets, no professional cameras, no audiotapes, no audio-visual (which means no camera phones even), no backpacks, no outside food and drinks, no this, no that. They even wanted to search everyone’s purses, which I felt was an unforgiveable breach of privacy. We hesitated before I went in, since my sister was carrying a purse.

Eventually the woman at the gate snapped, “Are you going in or not?” Now I admit I was dithering, but that was just plain rude. I was very tempted to leave, but I was there to do a job, so I forked out $45 for three of us, and my sister let them paw through her purse.

Forty-five bucks was too much for what we got. It was the same loud, busy, artsy-crafty music-festival atmosphere I’m used to seeing a lot lately, with all the same expensive food booths and places to buy trinkets, but it was way overpriced at $15 per person, which is twice what they used to charge a few years back. I imagine they had to pay their Big Name Stars, so I can understand that, I suppose. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. I can say, to their credit, that we got free Spam samples, and Coca-Cola was giving away cans of their orange Full Throttle energy drink. It wasn’t bad, but apparently people didn’t like it much — there were half-full cans scattered all over the festival grounds and the trail to the parking lot, leaking out their day-glo lifeblood on the concrete.

All in all, the Wildflower Festival itself wasn’t such a bad experience, once we got in. But you know what? Considering the price and the hype, it should have been more. It should have been the Six Flags of art festivals. Admittedly, it was nice, big, and diverting, but it just didn’t seem anywhere as large as the ones I’ve attended before. Maybe it was because the whole area here at the intersection of Galatyn and Central Expressway was enjoying a construction boom at the time, so events were limited. Maybe it’s just because I attended on the last day. Maybe my memory’s faulty. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to take pictures to keep my memories fresh. But I’ll tell you this: I enjoyed the Cottonwood Art Festival back on May 5 a lot more, even though I briefly lost my phone. Oh, and by the way — the people there were nice; that always means a lot to me. To the people who greeted me and mine at the Wildflower, I was just an annoyance they wanted to get out of the way. Hell, it wasn’t that busy.

And speaking of construction, which I was a little while back: later, when we went back to the car, we got yelled at by an idiot security guard because we were cutting across a construction area. Well, how were we supposed to know that? First of all, no one was working. Second, there were no signs. Sure, there were a few plastic barricades put across parking lot entrances, but we figured that they were there to keep people from parking in those lots. Well, okay, we were wrong. The guy didn’t have to be a jerk about it. So instead of walking across about 100 feet of space to get to our car, we had to follow sidewalks for about a quarter-mile to get to it. Annoying, though hardly traumatic, but it added a sour finale to an already disappointing experience.

In my opinion, the Wildflower Festival isn’t what it used to be. Maybe I just let my experiences color my perception. I can say that if you want a country fair atmosphere combined with a classic music festival experience, why not go? They usually have a lot of good acts, including a few big names from the days of yesteryear. This year Pat Benatar hit us with her best shot, which was apparently still pretty good (didn’t see it myself).

If you want to attend next year’s Wildflower Arts and Music festival, keep an eye on their website at http://www.wildflowerfestival.net/. They ought to have the new festival dates up soon.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Art · Events · Live Music

Denton Arts and Jazz Festival

April 7th, 2009 · 5 Comments

A few weeks back, on April 27, I had the privilege of attending the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival — one of about 200,000 people to do so this year. It was free, after all, even if they wouldn’t let you carry any coolers inside (didn’t want to stifle the beer concessions, y’know). The festival was a wide, sprawling event that took up the Denton Civic Center area and Quakertown Park in downtown Denton. The park itself is kind of a surprise — it’s a big, open space that seems out of place in the middle of a town as densely populated as Denton is. A historical plaque near the entrance of the park, however, tells the story. Apparently, back at the turn of the 20th century, Quakertown was a thriving African-American community. In 1922, Denton’s city fathers (who were all white, of course), decided they needed Quakertown’s 27-acre site for a park, so they held a bond election to raise the money for development, passed it, and booted the people of Quakertown out of their homes despite their opposition to the idea. Nothing unusual — it only happened a thousand times back in the old days.

But this entry is supposed to be about what’s going on these days, not in the past. In any case, it’s not the Festival organizers’ fault, and Denton has grown into a cosmopolitan city that hosts no less than two major universities (the University of North Texas, and Texas Woman’s University) and has a thriving music and art scene. The Festival itself is a lot of fun, though admittedly it was unseasonable cold this year. In fact, I imagine this guy didn’t make much money at all.

No Takers

But no matter — there were a lot of very serious people attending, so much so that they were literally camping out. What some people won’t do for free music, eh?

Camping Out

The folks above were camped out by the big stage, where I suppose the headliners were going to perform later, those being Brave Combo on that day. This Dallas musical institution considers it its “duty” to close down the festival every year.

The Big Stage

While of course there was a juried art show at the festival (which I will discuss in more detail later), I think the biggest draw was the music — which, despite the name, wasn’t all jazz. There were some pretty big names at the Festival this year, including Delbert McClinton, the aforementioned Brave Combo, and the Neville Brothers from New Orleans, none of whom are really jazz acts (though the Nevilles can be jazzy). There were an amazing 2,200 performers in total this year, performing on six stages scattered around the place, but I think they included a lot of acts that had dozens of people — like this Hispanic troupe over at the Festival Stage.

Festival Stage

I started out over by the city complex, where the Budweiser Stages stands in front of City Hall. There was a beer garden next to it, but it was still early, so not very many people were imbibing. Besides, it cost $4.00 for a beer, which is a lot even for the one Landshark Lager that I enjoyed. Mmm, beer.

Bud Stage

There was a good bit of the festival installed in and around the Civic Center, including a nice juried exhibit inside. A fellow named Michael P. Gray from Denton got Best of Show. Apparently, among other things, he carves figures (mostly Native American) out of tree trunks. Take a look at this picture, and tell me that one on the right’s not so much better than any mere cigar store Indian.

Breast of Show

I hate to admit it, but I was so caught up in gawking and snapping pictures that I didn’t even notice the female figure and her, ahem, abundant assets on the right — not til later anyway. If I had, she would have been the central figure. Talk about having a heart made of knotty pine (or a head, anyway). Kawligaaaaa!

Most of the art, and most of the rest of the Festival, was located across this loverly bridge that arcs across a shallow waterway separating the park from the Civic Center area.

The Bridge

Most of the stages were over there, too, not to mention a lot of the food venders. And oh my, were they busy — and expensive. I bought a tiny little sausage on a stick <>

for $3.00 to go with my four-dollar beer, and decided to hold off on any more food for the nonce. I was tempted to try something from the booth in the next picture down there, which would have been fine if I weren’t diabetic. But I could just imagine having a fried Twinkie or Key Lime pie (I kid you not) and then going into a month-long diabetic coma.

Fried What!

I have to tell you, most of the art for sell (and there were over 200 vendors) didn’t impress me that much — I was more interested in what was for sell at the Cottonwood Art Festival that I visited the following week, and about which I will blog very soon. The art at the Denton Festival was great, but it was generally more or less conventional. I did enjoy these nice twisty sculptures, none of which I could have afforded to save my soul, I’m sure.

Twisty Metal

Anyway, the kicker was that they also had a kid’s activity area, over near that giant ice cream cone I showed you earlier. Here, kids could hammer wooden planks together and make objets d’art out of clay, like these that were left out to dry in the sun (though the sun was hardly to be seen that Sunday, ironically).

Objets d’art

Well, folks, the Denton Art and Jazz Festival is well and truly over this year, but they’re certainly already planning for the next one. To keep abreast of developments, keep an eye on their official website at http://www.dentonjazzfest.com/, won’t you?

→ 5 CommentsTags: General

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

March 11th, 2009 · No Comments

Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the incredible Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, which is located on the southeast shore of White Rock Lake. Now that spring’s mostly here, I figured it was a great time to finally visit. I was right. They’re right in the middle of their Dallas Blooms festival, which lasts from March 8-April 13.

All I can say is, “Wow.” I was highly impressed.

It’s not that the festival itself was all that overwhelming. The Arboretum is big — 66 acres — and the activities were rather scattered. Most of them were for kids anyway, especially the handicrafts, but there was other stuff to view, including cowboy activities like trick roping. The attraction, really, is the incredible mix of statuary, landscaping, fountains, streams, grottos, pools, winding paths, perfectly manicured parks, gardens, structures, and of course all the wonderful plants, trees, and flowers — all accented by views of White Rock Lake and the buildings of downtown Dallas. And hey, it’s early in the season yet; a lot of flowers haven’t even thought about blooming. Most of those visible were tulips, irises, daffodils, and other early risers. I can only imagine what the place will look like once the roses start blooming; there were some areas that were nothing but hundreds of rosebushes, all growing together for dozens of yards. I took 113 pictures, and it was very hard for me to trim my photos down to a reasonable number for this report. Needless to say, I have a lot to show you; expect this to be a two-part entry at least.

The Arboretum is open all year round, but expect it to be very crowded if you go during Dallas Blooms or a similar event.  They do have a large parking lot (which is landscaped very prettily), but it can’t handle a huge crowd like the one I experienced this past Sunday. Even though I arrived after 3 PM, the parking lot was closed, and I had to proceed to a temporary remote parking lot several miles away and catch a shuttle to the Arboretum. Actually, that worked out pretty well, because parking was free at the remote lot — it’s ordinarily $5.

Before I start describing the place, let me point out that I now understand why anyone would pay for a year’s membership at the Arboretum. The memberships start for individuals at $60, and for families at $95. If you’re a member, parking is free, and so is getting into the Arboretum. (And you get a break on the gift shop items, too). While the place was incredibly crowded when I visited, I imagine that’s not the case on most days; this would make for a wonderful place to exercise or just walk around and soak up the beauty. Since Dallas isn’t one of those cities overly troubled by pollution (most of the time, anyway) it’s easy to sit down on a bench or next to one of the quiet koi ponds and pretend you’re out in the country. Just don’t look west over the lake, or the illusion will be ruined by the city towers in the distance.

The Arboretum, needless to say, is an excellent place to wander (and wonder) around aimlessly. You’ll have to start at the Trammel Crow Visitor Education Center, where you can see a continuous-loop video about the Arboretum, get a great view of the lake, and enjoy some previews of what you’ll see inside the park — as in this photo.


Those are mostly purple and red tulips and a few yellow irises you’re seeing; the Trammel Crow Building is the white limestone structure in the distance, behind the green umbrella. This area also includes some of the Arboretum offices, the gift shop, restrooms, and the like.

Once you’ve entered the place, it’s up to you to decide which of the broad, winding paths you’ll follow into the depths of the gardens. The folks who design the displays have been extremely creative with them; you’ll find everything from wood-chip and gravel paths to follow, to flagstone and concrete walkways, to stepped uphill paths and packed-earth trails. Many of them are designed to complement the Arboretum’s diverse collection of azaleas, of which they have about 2,400 (!) kinds. Unfortunately, it was too early in the year for them to be blooming when I visited, so I missed out on that. But fear not; I will be back. As I recall, some of the lower-growing bushes in this image (which I took across a series of stepped hills viewable from near the entrance) were azaleas.  


I went generally east when I left the entrance area, before making a big loop and wondering around back to the entry. I only stayed until they closed, at 5 PM, so I was unable to explore the place in detail. But that’s okay — it’s the kind of place you want to come back to repeatedly. One thing I want to point out before I get too far is that these images only generally reflect the order of my progress, and I can’t tell you exactly where most of these places are, because, well, I didn’t know myself. I was just staying on the paths, see. Here’s one picture I’m especially fond of: a little watery stream that emptied into a pool full of koi. It had a Japanese feel about it, and there were a lot of Japanese maples (still bare, alas) planted around the area.


A little further on, I encountered these kids doing something I used to love to do myself: roll down hills! Brought back lots of fond memories of visiting my great-uncle’s place on the Colorado River near Smithville.


And check out this pretty little channeled stream nearby:


I’ll continue this in Part II, which should be up in a few days. Meanwhile, to learn more about the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, visit their website at http://www.dallasarboretum.org/.

→ No CommentsTags: Attractions · Events

Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington

March 8th, 2009 · 6 Comments

In the so-called Mid-City of Arlington, Texas, nigh unto the Ballpark in Arlington where the Texas Rangers play baseball, lies the Metroplex equivalent of the Magical Kingdom: the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. While there are other Six Flags parks scattered across the USA, this is the original.


It’s so-called because the flags of six nations have indeed flown over Texas, being those of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States, and the Confederacy (and then back, of course, to the U.S.).   This is an important part of Texas tradition, and if you grow up here it’s drilled into you during the Texas History classes you have to take in 7th and 11th grades. Now, it’s possible that the flags of other countries may have briefly flow over our state — for example, there’s some indication that there might have been a short-lived British outpost here in the very early days of European colonization — but the Big Six are the ones everyone recognizes.

But back to the theme park that’s styled itself after this particular piece of Texas lore.


Six Flags Over Texas isn’t the biggest theme park ever — it’s not a patch on any of the bigger Disney properties, I’d imagine — but at 212 acres, it’s pretty darn large. Biggest I’ve ever seen, anyway, and a lot bigger than the 75 acres operated by Astroworld in Houston — which I was far more familiar with until I moved to Dallas, being from southeast Texas, originally. (Sadly, Astroworld went the way of the dodo back in 2005). I’ve been to Six Flags in Arlington a couple of times in the past 15 years, and let’s just say that it’s far too big for me to want to trudge around in, especially in the summer. Sadly, they haven’t yet started offering the use of electric carts to get around in — except for Park employees, the bastards — so it can be a struggle to just get from here to there. Hell, take a look at one of the parking lots alone.

Parking Lot

I think that lot’s bigger than Astroworld was. Oh, it’s empty now, since it was December when I took this picture, but last time I visited I had to park on the far end (about where I was parked here), and I recall that it took about a half-hour just to walk from there into the park proper. Of course, part of that was because we were delayed by these friendly critters — or probably their ancestors, since it was about ten years ago now.


There’s a big lake on one end of the park, next to the big parking lot in the above picture, and I’ve always been a sucker for large bodies of water. With the water comes these guys, and of course the ducks and geese are notorious freeloaders. If you try to ignore them, they’ll make sure you pay attention. That’s okay, though; they’re actually cool to watch, although you have to be careful, because they can bite. Hard. Let ’em get those bills into you, and it’s easy to believe they’re descended from dinosaurs — which in fact they are.

Anyhow — the last time I ventured into the wilds of Six Flags it was July, and it was, oh, about 2,000 degrees outside, with -20% humidity. That was during the Big Drought just past, and I only went because my baby sister (who was a teen then) got a couple of free tickets somehow. She was always winning free crap back then on Radio Disney*, or maybe she got it through school; I can’t recall. In any case, the only other time I went, it was to squire my girlfriend’s niece and nephews around the park. Great company both times, but the weather made it quite the miserable experience, especially for someone who’s too much of a wuss to ride the roller coasters and the other really scary rides. Well, okay, I did ride one roller coaster there once, but it was an indoor coaster and was entirely in the dark. As I discovered, that just made for a new dimension of frightening experience. Here’s an example of a ride I’ll never ride on:

I’ll Never Ride This

I did ride this one next to it, the parachute ride, a few times, mostly because the line was short.


Parachute Ride


The parachute ride wasn’t so bad, but the Looney Tunes Bumper Cars are more my speed, if you must know. I don’t really like sudden drops and changes of direction and accelerations that threaten to squeeze your brains out of your ears. I suppose I’d make a crappy astronaut. But that’s hardly the fault of Six Flags. They try hard, and I think they do an excellent job. They offer 50+ rides and copious other attractions, among them the ones in the following picture, which include a roller coaster, bungee-jumping cranes, the Superman Tower of Power acceleration drop (they’re big on DC Comics characters at Six Flags), and of course the observation tower. I’ve been up in the tower — again, a low-thrill ride with a short line — and you can see most of the Metroplex from up there.


Other Rides


Not only do they have all this, they’ve also got plenty of concessions to help you combat your hunger and thirst on those days (i.e., most of the season) when the elements conspire to suck every drop of moisture and erg of energy out of you.  All this is, of course, carefully calculated to drain every dollar of disposable income out of your hide, and they helpfully provide ATM machines throughout the park so you can go right ahead and spend your retirement funds, too. It all starts with that $47 General Admission fee they charge anyone over four feet tall to get into the park, which by itself is enough to make my credit card crawl off into a corner and die.  Kids less than four feet tall only have to pay $35, and kids under two years old are free. I’m not sure how they handle adults under four feet tall, but I’d guess they have to pay full price. Now, they do have some occasional coupons that cut the price significantly, and they’re ready to cut you a deal if you have 10 or more people in your party, but let’s just say that it’s hella expensive and leave it at that. Then, once inside, expect to pay five dollars for a pizza slice and a like price for a soda. Be sure to get a big soda so you can occasionally refill it at a water fountain. They do provide those for free — though of course, they won’t complain if you’d rather buy a cold bottle of water from one of the vendors.


As with most amusement parks, if the place is crowded (and it generally will be), you’ll end up spending way more time standing in lines, penned up like cattle in a maze, than you will having fun. (And if you think standing in lines is fun, do me a favor — get professional help, okay?). There is, however, a way around this. If you don’t mind spending a little extra cash, you can buy a Flash Pass. What this does is let you reserve your place in line while you’re off doing other things. You use a little device called a Q-bot that holds your place electronically.  When your turn approaches, the handheld beeper-like device alerts you, so you can drop everything and scurry over to the ride for your two minutes of fun. It’s kind of like getting a cut in line, and believe me, most of the people who’ve been waiting physically rather than electronically aren’t going to appreciate it — but then, if you’re using a Flash Pass, you’ve paid a pretty penny for it. The price of this service varies per year and service level (and they haven’t posted the 2008 fees as of this writing), but expect to pay $31-50 for it on top of your general admission, although the cost decreases a little as the number of guests in your party increases.  It’s easy to reserve more attractions and rides than you can handle, but one good thing about this service is that you can also cancel items with ease. All in all, the price of the Flash Pass may be worth the expense, since it’ll literally save you hours of standing in line. In my experience, long lines is why I don’t got to amusement parks much, and why I miss out on a lot of rides if I do: I just don’t have the patience to stand in lines forever.


There are plenty of other things to do while waiting to ride, say, Tony Hawk’s Big Spin, the new ride for 2008 (which you won’t find me riding anyway, thanks). There are all those mild rides I like, plus numerous entertainment venues, various events, shopping, and food (lots of that). Then too, there are all the park’s theme areas, where you can wander around and enjoy the ambience: the Old South, Texas, Mexico and Spain, Boomtown, Goodtimes Square — and especially Looney Tunes USA, the premier theme area at this particular Six Flags. (They’re big on Looney Tunes here, too. ) If all that fails to capture your attention, then you can always go back to standing in line.



*Same reason I went to that N*Sync concert back in the 1990s. Another New Miserable Experience, to rip off a Gin Blossoms album title.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Attractions

The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, Ft. Worth

February 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments

In the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, in a converted warehouse a few yards from the Visitor’s Center, lies the amazing historical repository known as the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Sign

Despite the name, it’s not merely a place where individual cowboys (and, yes, cowgirls) are lauded for their achievements; it’s also a storehouse of the items that working cowboys actually used in the heyday of the profession. They’ve also got a powerful large collection of wagons used by everyday people back in the 1800s and very early 1900s. Think of it as a hybrid facility that covers everything from frontier Texas life to modern rodeo, with the wagons acting as continuity, and you’re not too far off.


The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is housed in a large, cavernous facility, and frankly it has to be; because despite its name, it’s dominated by the large Sterquell Wagon Collection. The cowboy stuff is mostly around the edges. But as I’ve said, the wagon collection isn’t out of place; indeed, it ties together the museum’s disparate elements. The wagons are all lovingly maintained and explained with easy-to-read signage. In addition to the stagecoach, you’ll find farm wagons, personal runabouts, family wagons (the Buick of the 1800s, if you will), a milk wagon, a laundry wagon, and, of course, a fully-stocked chuck wagon, filled with the genuine food tins, condiment bottles, dishes, napkins, and other accoutrements that would have been stored inside the real deal. That wagon’s an education all by itself, and it comes complete with a diorama of rough-looking cowboys chowing down. Elsewhere in the museum is a 1930’s-era Cadillac automobile to ooh <> and ahh at. It doesn’t quite fit, but that’s okay — it’s a neat “wagon” all on its own. Here are some views of what you can expect to see.


And More Wagons

Along the walls is where you’ll find the cowpoke-related impedimenta. For example, they’ve got a whole wall devoted to the makers of Justin Boots (the grandiosely named “John Justin Trail of Fame”), which I found especially interesting because, as I’ve mentioned before, I like their Ropers. They’ve also got displays honoring the charros, or Mexican cowboys, who worked early Texas ranches. Metalwork was important to Texas cowboys, as you can tell from this display:

Horse Bit Exhibit

Yes, it’s a rather complete collection of horse bits. If you’re not equestrian-oriented, the bit is the metal thing at the other end of the reins that goes into the horse’s mouth, so you can steer it. How’d you like to have a big piece of metal in your mouth all day, with someone yanking on it constantly? I can’t even stand the taste of my own dental-work.

Here’s an exhibit I have some direct experience with: it’s devoted to the famous Chisholm Trail, along which cattle were driven from Texas north to the railheads and stockyards in Kansas, way back in the day. You can tell how important the Trail was by the size of this exhibit, no?

Chisholm Trail Exhibit

The trail and its tributaries stretched hundreds of miles, from south Texas on up to the Panhandle and parts north. My association with it came several years ago, when I conducted an archeological survey that included Kimball Bend Park near Cleburne, on state Highway 174 in Bosque County. The park happens to include a portion of the ghost town of Kimball, which was located on the Brazos River at one of the major crossings of the Chisholm Trail. All that’s left today is a few partial structures and associated remains, all of which we duly recorded; but Kimball was a bustling place at the turn of the 20th century. Among other things, there was a brick factory there; if you ever see a brick marked “Bosque,” that’s where it came from. Oddly enough, brick collectors would give you about ten bucks for it, too.

On the far west side of the facility you come to the part that gives the place its name: the displays for the actual inductees into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. (That’s a bit of a misnomer, by the way, since many women and a few couples are honored, too). These are almost exclusively rodeo cowpokes, of course; real cowhands don’t get much attention. The stall-like displays are arranged in a series of long, well-lit interconnected hallways.

Hall of Fame Walk

Now, unless you’re a rodeo fan, names like Tad Lucas, George Doak, Tuff Hedemann, Lanham Riley, and Pam Minick won’t mean a lot to you, but each is honored here with his or her own area about six feet wide and high. Depending on how recently the inductee was active, you may see televisions with video loops showing footage of their accomplishments, along with items they once owned, relevant newspaper and magazine articles, and in some cases, advertisements they appeared in (this is very common for, say, Wrangler jeans). Among other things, I was fascinated to discover there were Black rodeo cowboys; I hadn’t known that until I perused the Hall. Now, I was aware that African-American working cowboys existed, and that in fact there were quite a few back in the old days, but frankly rodeo doesn’t seem an African-American sport to me. How wrong I am, apparently!

Anyway, there are several rows worth of displays, and it was in the process of growing when I was there in December 2007. Every year they induct several new members; on January 10, 2008, for example, there was a gala ceremony in which new inductees Trevor Brazile, George Doak, Tom Lyons, and Carl Nafzger were honored.

The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is located on 128 East Exchange Avenue, inside the stockyards. They’re open every day of the year except December 24-25 and January 1. The hours from Monday to Thursday are 10 AM-6 PM; Friday and Saturday, 10 AM-7 PM; and Sunday, 11 AM-5 PM. The price for admission is a mere $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for kids under twelve.

Official website: http://www.texascowboyhalloffame.com/

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Mesothelioma Attorneys Dallas

February 19th, 2009 · No Comments

A pretty sad topic really.   As I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos.

I’m please to read that finally the Covington Homes public housing complex in Texarkana is going to be cleaned up.  Those people who lived there are going to be watching their health and visiting their doctors with fear for the rest of their lives.  It’s not a pretty picture.

We wish them the best, but if worst comes to worst they should take appropriate legal action.  It’s not just for the money (though medical bills DO need to be paid) but for the principle as well.

A bit of research indicates that these are the top three lawyers in the Dallas region they could consult when it comes to Mesothelioma cases.

5646 Milton St ste 431, Dallas – +1 214-389-8199

3102 Oak Lawn Ave # 100, Dallas – +1 214-521-3605

4925 Greenville Avenue, Dallas – +1 214-890-0711

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