The dormant building at 508 Park Avenue, built in 1929, is perhaps the finest example of zigzag moderne architecture in Dallas. But First Presbyterian Church—in collaboration with its homeless center, the Stewpot—acquired the building largely because of what was on the inside. Originally the building was the Warner Brothers Film Exchange, with a VIP club that hosted movie stars on promotional visits. Later on, in the thirties, the American Record Corporation recorded vernacular music there, including the last thirteen songs of the bluesman Robert Johnson’s 29-song discography, plus Bob Wills’s first songs with his western swing band the Texas Playboys, a session that spawned the Irish tune “Smith’s Reel.” “It really shows Bob’s influences from his formative years,” said Pat Bywaters, the project archivist, “learning all of these fiddle tunes that have come across the ocean, through Appalachia and all the way into Texas.”
On Saturday, Bywaters will join Alan Govenar, the historian and author, and Carol J. Adams, of the Stewpot, for the opening of the exhibition “508 Park: The Past Meets the Future.” They will present period artifacts—including a 1937 Wurlitzer jukebox, the first with animated lights—and outline the building’s coming life as both a multipurpose space and the Museum of Street Culture.
“We know that people come from all around the world to stand outside of 508,” Adams said. “This is a mecca for blues lovers.”
J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, June 29, 2 p.m., 508park.org
Let Willie Ring
The initial success of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, which began in Dripping Springs in 1973, reaffirmed for Nelson his decision to move back to Texas from Nashville. And the festival gave birth to the cosmic-cowboy scene, which played a major role in transforming Austin into a live-music destination.
This year’s picnic will stand out, not only because this is the fortieth annual event but also because 2013 is the eightieth anniversary of Nelson’s birth. A who’s who of Texas musicians will precede Nelson in this daylong jamboree. You’ve got the progressive-country pioneers Kris Kristofferson and Billy Joe Shaver. You’ve got the western-swing maestros Asleep at the Wheel and Dale Watson. You’ve got the up-and-coming troubadours Ryan Bingham and Jamey Johnson. You’ve got the legend: Ray Price. And of course you’ve got the Nelson family: Lukas, Micah, and Paula.
Fort Worth Stockyards, July 4, 11:30 a.m., williespicnic.com
The Guinness World Record for the longest watermelon-seed spit is 68 feet and 91/8 inches, set on the “spitway” at the annual Watermelon Thump, in Luling. That is about the size of a small blue whale.
Lee Wheelis, a local resident, set the record in 1989, and in 2005 the ESPN reporter Darren Rovell, in pursuit of the title, tracked down Mr. Wheelis for insight into his winning feat. “It was a lot of luck,” Wheelis said.
He added this advice: Pick the largest and roundest seed from the available black diamond watermelons, and put a little bit of melon in your mouth to make it moist.
The adult competition may sound fierce, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve witnessed the one-to-seven-year-old division in the event’s melon-eating contest.
Downtown, June 27-30, watermelonthump.com
There She Is
Texas just may have the most beautiful young women in the United States, and 48 of the loveliest and most talented will be competing at this year’s Miss Texas Pageant, a week-long show that includes the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen competition.
Or course, brains will be judged as well as beauty. Last year’s Miss Texas, DaNae Couch of Coppell, just graduated from Texas Tech’s law school.
The crowning of Miss Texas is not until July 6, but admirers of beauty can see the contestants at the arrival ceremony on Saturday.
Various locations, June 29-July 6, misstexas.org
It’s Just a Game
For a lot of sports fans, the end of the NBA Finals is the beginning of a dead zone leading up to football season, but Dirk Nowitzki’s Celebrity Baseball Game exists to tide them over, with Cowboys and Mavericks past and present participating, including the perpetually entertaining Terrell Owens.
Dr Pepper Ballpark, June 29, 6:30 p.m., dnfoundation.org
The McNay Art Museum’s screening of The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdanovich’s Oscar-winning 1971 film based on Larry McMurtry’s 1966 novel, paired with a tour of the new exhibition “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera,” a look at the post-World War II United States, may show that small-town America and Middle America are not that far apart.
McNay Art Museum, June 30, 2 p.m., mcnayart.org