At the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration September 9­12, some 25,000 people will converge in Lubbock to pay tribute to cowboy culture and Western history. Festivities include a horse parade, a Native American mini powwow, a chuck wagon cookoff, a nondenominational devotional service led by a cowboy minister, and a trail ride and campout (your own horse is required for the excursion at the Circle Dot Ranch, near South Plains, September 8 and 9). But the real draw is the live music and the poetry (different entertainers will perform every hour during the days). You’ll hear real working cowboys (and wannabes) recite their own original verse about ranching, love, horses, labor, and of course, the West. Put on your hat and boots and have a ball. (See Lubbock: Events)

-Patricia Busa McConnico


Surely there’s a great story to be had when more than one hundred writers get together. A romantic mystery à la Sandra Brown? A good old western via Elmer Kelton? Or maybe a meticulous historical account by way of Stephen Harrigan? At Abilene’s Fourth Annual West Texas Book and Author Festival September 23­25, there will be plenty of story lines to discuss, writing workshops to attend, and scribes to see, including John Graves, Naomi Shihab Nye, Walt McDonald, and Judy Alter. After three days of surrounding yourself with the written word, writer’s block shouldn’t be a problem. (See Abilene: Events)

-Lauren Smith


It is difficult to tell just what Marfa’s Chamber of Commerce executive director Johnny Calderon makes of the Marfa Lights. “Some people say they have held them in their hands,” he says soberly. But are the locals themselves creating this tourist attraction? Some visitors who spot the mysterious glowing orbs from the designated viewing area—facing the Chinati Mountains, between Marfa and Paisano Pass—walk away thinking that shenanigans are the only explanation, alleging that a few mischievous Marfa residents possess the answers. Yet records of the phenomenon date back to 1883. So what gives? Thousands of visitors descend on Marfa each year to attend the Marfa Lights Festival and ponder that very question, and this September 3­5, in addition to the musical performances and night and day parades, Edson Hendricks, who has researched the lights for more than a decade, will lead Friday night’s discussion on searching for answers. Although, Calderon says, “I’d hate to see anybody actually solve the riddle.” (See Marfa: Events)

-Katy Vine