Upcoming Events in DFW, June and July 2008

Okay! Despite the hammering heat and horrific humidity, June and July are busy times for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Mad dogs and Englishman, folks, but be that as it may, even as the heat sizzles up off the asphalt and sane dogs hunker down for the long summer — which officially begins on the 21st but has actually been here for over a month — the social calendar is purring right along. There’s so much to do, in fact, that the average human will have a heckuva time getting to everything. That should tell you right there that I won’t be able to make it to all the pertinent events. Sad but true. I will, however, do my valiant best.

Even as I write, various Juneteenth festivals are erupting all over the metroplex, including Denton, Irving, Plano, and Dallas, and they’ll keep on going until Friday, June 20. If you don’t know the story, June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when the African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas learned they were free. Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, it’s now celebrated by black folks in at least 29 states in the Union. In DFW, Juneteenth includes a variety of beauty pageants, talent expositions, parades, a gospel extravaganza, barbecue cookoffs, and the Dallas Juneteenth Film Festival, honoring Actor/Director Bill Duke and Actor/Performer Erikah Badu.

On the Solstice itself, the local Filipino community will be throwing their own Philippine Republic Day Celebration at Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, where — as Devoted Reader should be aware by now — you can almost always find a party of some kind. This celebrates their independence from Spain in 1898. That’s also the date of the Neighborhood Barbecue Cookoff and Small Town Saturday Night in Cedar Hill, a charming burg just south of the metroplex. Mmmm… barbecue or baloots*. It’s a difficult choice, I know, but I just might have to rock out and go to both events.

As we head toward the last weekend in the month of June, we start to come upon ye olde Independence Day celebrations. First off is the three-day Festival of Freedom in Rowlett’s Pecan Grove Park, lasting from June 27-29; it’s packed full of musical entertainment, fireworks, and more vendors than you can shake a stick at. If you can, also try to sneak off to the Allen USA Festival on June 28, just north of Plano, where there’ll be food, music, arts, and hot air balloons galore. It’ll be held in the aptly-named Celebration Park.

If you find yourself yearning for a bit of cool culture during this season of patriotic explosions and searing heat, you’re in luck. On July 3, Texas Christian University kicks off its very civilized Mimir Chamber Music Festival, which is named after the Norse god of music. It continues through July 11, presenting both new, young artists and a variety of internationally recognized performers. For a completely different kind of music, may we suggest the 2008 Warped Tour? There are literally dozens and dozens of hard rock bands attending. In fact, <> there may be too much to see. How can you take it all in in just one day without your head ‘sploding?

Speaking of ‘splosions, let’s get back to the patriotic ones. They start in earnest on the eve of Independence Day; for example, the venerable Kaboom Town!, which is a big, synchronized-with-music fireworks display in Addison Circle Park on July 3. Also, there’s Sunnyvale’s Sunnyfest on the same day, which also culminates in sparkling fireworks high above the trees. On July 4, you can enjoy 4thFest at the Bedford Boy’s Ranch, which promises to be an old-fashioned flag-waving Independence Day celebration. If that doesn’t float your boat, try the Liberty by the Lake Festival in The Colony, located on the shores of Lake Lewisville. They’ll be having a parade, a car show, the famous Anything That Floats Regatta, and a salsa shootout (whatever the heck that is). Oh, and there’s fireworks , too.

Last but certainly not least, as far as the Independence Day celebrations go, there’s Garland’s Star Spangled Fourth. Now, I have to admit that I was disappointed to learn that it was pared down to just one day this year, and will be held only in Firewheel Town Center — that fake “downtown shopping center” that the city built out on the edge of town to hasten the slow death of Garland’s real downtown (I’m not bitter). It used to be three days long, shared out among Audubon Park, Old Downtown, and Firewheel — or at least it was for the past few years. Before that it was Old Downtown all the way, baby. That used to be the one yearly event that helped keep the city center alive. But oh well — no doubt Firewheel fills the city tax coffers better.

But sadness aside, in the past years Star Spangled Fourth has been something to see. I’m hoping that it still will be, despite the downsizing. The usually have lots of great venders, fun, and music (often big name artists), and I’ll definitely be attending this year. I just hope they haven’t let the celebration go the way of Old Downtown! Fear not, I’ll let you know the score shortly after the event.

Beyond the Independence Day celebrations, July is kind of slow. However, you can count on Addison to keep the city’s cultural heartbeat going — they do tend to have an inordinate number of cultural events for their size. In this case, they offer July Jazz concerts by local artists every Friday of the month in Esplanade Park. Check ’em out on July 5, 12, 19, and 26.

*Look it up, yo.

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