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.
[Apr 1–Apr 7]
Got the Blues?
Forget what the “experts” are saying about this spring being a bunk one for bluebonnets due to a lack of rain. There are other sources of hydration to ensure the annual rising up of the state flower. “We should have a good year due to the snowstorm that hit us,” said Gina Rokas, tourism director for Ennis, located 35 miles south of Dallas, where an uncharacteristic amount of powder dropped in January. Otherwise known as the Bluebonnet City of Texas, Ennis has, since 1951, developed forty miles of mostly driving trails—inhabited by goats, donkeys, and exotics—and whereas most areas of Texas won’t start seeing bluebonnets until mid-April, you can see them as early as April 1 (if not earlier) on the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails. Do yourself a favor, though, and check the city’s website to find out which areas are in bloom before heading out there opening day. If not, Mother Nature’s April Fool’s joke might just be on you.
Various locations, Apr 1–7, various times.
Don’t call it a comeback: the Llano Fiddle Contest has been here for years (since 1976, actually). It just went on hiatus last year after two decades of hanging on by a horse hair. “The fiddle genre is very fragile,” said John Caballero, organizer of Llano Fiddle Fest Weekend, a new three-day extravaganza with the contest as its centerpiece. “We have to keep the fiddle exposure out there so our youth can experience the joy and spiritual uplifting that fiddle music brings.” This year’s contest is “open,” meaning all ages and skill levels. There is also the Fiddle Hero Air Fiddle Contest, where contestants pretend to play the fiddle over a recorded song—sort of like instrumental lip-synching. And for the non-playing, non-exhibitionist enthusiast, there is an Antique Musical Instrument Art Exhibit, with pieces upwards of one hundred years old that townies found “just laying under beds or in closets collecting dust.” Keep your eyes peeled for a 1717 Stradivarius played by Otis “Ode” Light, Llano’s fiddling forefather, which is rumored to still be in Llano.
Various locations, Apr 1–3, various times.
Run, Jump, Put
In 1974 Al Feuerbach glided across a seven-foot circle carved out at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, at the University of Texas, and heaved the sixteen-pound metal ball nestled in his neck 70 feet 1 1/2 inches. The “put” set a record in the invitational division of the shot put at the Texas Relays—a record that despite the advances in size, strength, and technique of athletes, still stands today, making it the oldest current record at the 83-year-old track and field event. The Texas Relays, second only to the Penn Relays in scope, is where high school, college, and pro athletes come to shatter records on a national stage. Too many Olympians have participated to count: some big names are Maurice Greene, Michael Johnson, and Carl Lewis. Who out of the field will be wearing stars and stripes come 2012? Better yet, will anyone break Feuerbach’s 37-year-old shot-put record?
Mike A. Myers Stadium, Apr 6 & 7, various times.
Remember the Pace Picante commercial, where the cowpokes are stunned to find their salsa is made in New York City? The same thing happens at the Poteet Strawberry Festival, but instead the complaint is that the berries are from California. There’s good reason for that. There is only so much supply the farms of Poteet, a 3,300-person town thirty miles south of San Antonio, can supply—even though it is the Strawberry Capital of Texas—and that supply doesn’t stand a chance against the droves that have increasingly attended the festival since 1948. To sate that collective appetite, the festival is supplemented with—gasp!—California strawberries. But xenophobes should get over it, and re-focus their attention on getting to the festival—let the water tower painted like a strawberry be your guide—early enough to sample the local fare. Something that goes that fast must be worth it.
Various locations, Apr 1–3, various times.
Hoop It Up
Alas, there are no Texas teams left in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, but when the Final Four occurs in your backyard, you go, because it’s the culmination of the best sporting event there is—at least since football season ended.
Reliant Stadium, Apr 2 & 4, various times.
Just for Kicks
The Kilgore College Rangerettes, the red-, white-, and blue-clad squad that put drill teams on the map in 1940, continue to inspire girls to be the bane of cheerleaders’ existences through events like Rangerette Revels, the team’s spring variety show.
Kilgore College, Apr 6 & 7, various times.
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Eight more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Jasmin Sun
The Grammy award–winning country crooner pays the Capitol City a visit with guests Luke Bryan and the Band Perry.