Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[NOV 5–NOV 11]
A Fest for the Rest
The downside to Austin’s marquee music events—South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival—is that everybody goes to them. Fun Fun Fun Fest is the less-crowded alternative. It’s like SXSW in that it features a lot of “it” bands, but it isn’t full of badge-brandishing industry types gabbing about the next big thing. Like ACL, it’s outside in a park, but it’s late enough in the year that there’s no sweltering heat. “Our fest is for the people who are left out of these festivals,” says promoter Graham Williams. At Fun Fun Fun’s fifth anniversary this weekend, you’ll want to check out bands as random as a dealt hand: sci-fi rockers Gwar, punk rockers the Descendents (playing their first show in eight years), funnyman rapper Slick Rick, who will perform his landmark 1988 album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, in its entirety, and even “Weird Al” Yankovic, who opens the fest with his catchy if groan-inducing parodies.
Waterloo Park, November 5, 6 & 7, various times.
A Food Score Settled
A publicity stunt is to blame for the no-man’s-land location of the Terlingua International Chili Championship. The first competition, in 1967, was something of a lark, pitting a hotel cook from Dallas, Wick Fowler, against a humorist from New York, H. Allen Smith; organizers simply wanted to see how far away from civilization they could attract people. But the national press came running, praising what became a gathering of cosmic cowboys, chili-heads, and desert rats. They were soon joined by weekend warriors with high-dollar cooking set-ups and a different set of ingredients, including— gasp!—beans. The annual contest of meat and spice that we know today comes down to this: Who makes a better bowl of red, the purists in the Fowler camp, or the revisionists in the Chili Appreciation Society International?
Multiple locations, November 5 & 6, various times.
Pyles and Pyles of Texas
Stephan Pyles is the golden child of Southwestern cuisine: Among his accolades is a James Beard Award for Best Chef—sort of the toque-and-apron equivalent of a Best Director Oscar. So when the fifth-generation Texan asks you to cook at his annual celebrity chef dinner, you know you’ve made it. The gathering is principally a vehicle to raise money for Pyles’ scholarship program for up-and-coming chefs, but it’s also a chance for foodies to sample the best of the burgeoning culinary scene in Dallas and Fort Worth. This year’s roster includes hotshots Tim Byres of Smoke and Blaine Staniford of Grace; Jeff Harris and Matt Raso of the celebrity chef chains Craft and Nobu, respectively; Pyles disciple Matt McCallister; and chocolatier Katherine Clapner (who will be making pudding). Pyles will be there to assist in the preparations and to offer insight on the wines up for auction following dinner.
Stephan Pyles Restaurant, November 7, 6 p.m.
A Woman of the Borderlands
Maria Berriozabal’s memoir, Maria: Daughter of Immigrants , tells the story of the 69-year-old’s unlikely ascent to the near-top of San Antonio’s political hierarchy. Elected in 1981, she was the first Mexican-American woman to win a city council seat in a major U.S. city. Her book doesn’t come out until next summer, but Berriozabal is giving a preview reading and performance tomorrow to mark a special occasion: the one hundredth anniversary of the day her paternal grandparents and father crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. “I call myself a woman of the borderlands,” Berriozabal says. “I’ve lived in two places, which are one.” The book, which honors the contributions of Latinos in the U.S., recounts her years of service through the prism of the civil rights movement. The reading will be augmented by videos, photos, and music, including a group sing-along of Joan Baez’s “No Nos Moveran.”
Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, November 6, 7 p.m.
At the International Quilt Festival , quilting’s premier tradeshow, you’ll find exhibitors, classes, and competitions, along with enough cutting-edge new designs to finally send great grandma’s friendship quilt to the foot locker.
George R. Brown Convention Center, November 5–7.
Western swing masters Asleep at the Wheel celebrate their 40th anniversary by performing with Willie Nelson and channeling, as usual, the spirit of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Long Center, November 5.
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Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can't afford to miss.
By Melanie Gasmen
Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival
Since grabbing cuisine from a trailer is so in now, why not add “best food trailers” to Austin’s list of city feats. At this inaugural event, foodies can sample goods from more than thirty trailers, ranging from Gourdough’s eclectic donuts and Bananarchy’s banana on stick to Kronic Krave’s arepas and Kate’s Southern Comfort’s Cajun fried pies. Live music keeps it weird.
Auditorium Shores, Nov 6, 11–8.
Revelation: The Art of James Magee
Browse relief sculptures in the artist’s first major museum exhibition in eighteen years. Magee, who was born in Michigan but now hails from El Paso, has been known to rummage through landfills in his hometown and across the border in Juárez for ingredients for his sculptures. His contemporary works go beyond industrial materials and have included car parts and even paprika and honey, creating “poetic paradoxes.”
Nasher Sculpture Center, Nov 5–11, various times.
Toy Run Parade
See more than one thousand motorcyclists roar by for this event that benefits local underprivileged children. Live music and door prizes.
The ten-mile parade will start at the International Truck Driving School (141 Quinella) and end at