Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from learning the art (and importance) of recycling and hearing Darrel K Royal talk in Dallas to biting into a Texas 1015 at the Onion Fest in Weslaco. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
One Man’s Trash
Dan Phillips is developing his utopia in the woods surrounding his hometown of Huntsville, where the former Sam Houston State University dance professor and intelligence agent builds houses entirely out of recycled materials for low-income families and artists. His mission is to keep stuff out of the landfill, he said, but perhaps that is just his shtick for getting cheap and interesting materials, often with free delivery, like when he got an 18-wheeler of wine corks that he used for siding and flooring. “As a child, I visited the dump and everything was free,” Phillips said. “It was like a candy store.” Join Phillips for the Art of Recycling , a tour, sponsored by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art , of what Phillips calls the “outrageous” and “strange looking” dwellings he has constructed with his “band of lunatics,” including the Bone House and the Tree House. “I’m trying to prove you can make a reasonable living making houses out of recycled materials,” Phillips said. “But mostly it’s about having lunch and laughing and enjoying the bounty that is at our feet.”
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, March 24, 9 a.m. orangeshow.org
It’s December 6, 1969. People are fighting for their lives in Vietnam while others are fighting for their rights here in the United States. But Darrell K Royal has a bigger problem. His number-one Texas Longhorns football team was down, 14-8, to the number-two Arkansas Razorbacks, with less than five minutes remaining. It’s fourth down and three yards to go from Texas’ own 43-yard line. A national TV audience is watching. President Richard Nixon is in the house. Going for it, instead of punting, is a bold decision, and going for it with a 44-yard pass guarantees that it will be remembered as one of the gutsier moves in college football history. At the AWARE Luncheon , find out what Royal was thinking when he called the “Right 53 Veer Pass” play, when he reunites with Frank Broyles, the former Arkansas coach, to rehash that epic game of imperfection, which Royal coined the Great Shootout.
Hilton Anatole Hotel, March 23, 11 a.m. awareluncheon.org
Bad breath is worth the sacrifice of biting into a Texas 1015 Onion. “It’s large and it’s sweet,” said Martha Noell of the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s good to eat raw or baked.” Noell organizes the Texas Onion Fest , a weekend jamboree to promote this super strain of the state vegetable that was developed in the 1980s by a Texas A&M horticulture professor. Otherwise known as a Texas sweet onion, this particular variety has become popular across the country. Learn how to properly peel, chop and sauté it at the culinary stage. Watch feats of gluttony at contests where people scarf it down. And sample it in an assortment of foods, including desserts and appetizers like the onion blossom. “People will stand in line for two hours to get an onion blossom,” Noell said. Alas, mints and water are also available.
Weslaco City Park, March 24-25, various times. weslaco.com
When Pigs Fly
The Hog Catching Contest at the Wild Hog Festival , a weekend event founded in recent years to capitalize on the area’s wild-hog epidemic, is Texas’ version of the running of the bulls in Spain. But instead of avoiding the feral little devils, contestants must meet them head on, bag them and drag them across a line drawn out from the center of the circular competition grounds. Men and women, young and old, risk getting gashed by tusk or teeth for the glory of taming beasts that can weigh up to 150 pounds. Watching a wild hog catch steam and charge its would-be captor—especially if that is you—is much more exhilarating than any March Madness game you are likely to see.
Sabinal City Park, March 24-25, various times. wildhogfestival.com
Leave the LBJ 100 Bicycle Tour ’s 30-, 42-, 62- and 85-mile races to the hard-core riders—who will glide through the picturesque Hill Country area that President Lyndon B. Johnson called home—and opt instead for the casual bike tour, led by Luci Baines Johnson, of historical landmarks on the president’s ranch.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, March 24, 9 a.m. lbj100bicycletour.org
Are You Experienced?
The Experience Hendrix Tour , featuring a small army of heavyweight guitarists including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robby Krieger and Dweezil Zappa, will reveal a new level of genius for the legion of Jimi Hendrix fans who have materialized in the 42 years since his death and whose only experience of hearing his music live is by watching footage from “Woodstock” or “Monterey Pop.”
ACL Live, March 24-25, 6:30 p.m. experiencehendrixtour.com