Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the learning butchery from an expert in Houston to getting a chance to be on The Price Is Right in Austin. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
We have come a long way from our days as hunters and gatherers, yet there is still deep satisfaction in catching a fish and cooking it yourself. Jesse Griffiths, the Austin butcher and proprietor of the locavore-style food enterprise Dai Due, has tapped into that primordial urge with his book Afield, a sort of field guide to preparing game for both experienced and new hunters. “I consider fishing and hunting to be on par with gardening,” Griffiths said. “It’s an activity that is designed to get you food. But what do you do once you get an animal on the ground? I want to empower people to learn about that.” Griffiths will bring this wooly approach to the classroom, with workshops at Central Markets in various cities. Starting in Houston he will show how to prepare duck, quail, rabbit, and feral hog. It will be an apples-to-oranges comparison between wild game and domesticated animals—Central Market’s duck is four times the size of a wild duck, Griffiths said—but the preparation is mostly the same. The emphasis will be on butchery, and it will be tame compared to the book, which has an abundance of rich photographs by Jody Horton. “We didn’t bluff on the blood and guts,” Griffiths said. “The book is incredibly graphic. But when you do that, you’re more apt to learn how to do it the right way.”
Central Market, September 25, 6:30 p.m., centralmarket.com
It might be a long trip to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center in Fort Davis for the Dragonfly & Damselfly Workshop, but the payoff is learning about the alluring insects from one of their most ardent, knowledgeable and accomplished admirers, Dr. John Abbott. “They’re so agile in the air, they have the best vision of any insect, and they’re quite colorful,” said Abbott, a curator of entomology at the University of Texas at Austin. “And those things culminate into a pretty sexy insect.” The diversity of faunas in Texas makes it home to more dragonflies and damselflies — two slightly different groups in the Odonata order—than any other state. Abbott said that about fifty of those 238 species are in the Big Bend region. Join him on a hike through Modesta Canyon and perhaps bare witness to the Mexican Forktail, the Painted Damsel, and the Giant Darner, the largest dragonfly in North America. “It has about a four-and-a-half-inch wingspan and a really long abdomen,” Abbott said. “It’s an impressive dragonfly in flight.”
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, September 21-22, various times, cdri.org
The Price is Right, which films in Los Angeles, is famous for attracting would-be audience members to stand in line for an incredibly long time, some arriving before dawn, a wait made all the more painful because there is no guarantee you will get to enter. But for “The Price is Right Live,” a new touring version of the show, all you have to do to get in is buy a ticket. Being a contestant, of course, will require luck, but the rewards are big: cars and vacations won via hallmark games like Plinko and the Big Wheel. Here is a way to pay off your debt in one fell swoop while scratching your itch of being on the classic show, this time presided over by the likes of the celebrity hosts Jerry Springer and Joey Fatone, a former member of the boy band ’N Sync.
The Long Center, September 21, 8 p.m. thelongcenter.org
Sound of the City
League City is finally outgrowing the shadows of Galveston and Houston and becoming a destination in its own right. This year it is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Boogie, Blues & Brews is a festival that represents its musical soul. A blend of zydeco and blues fills the bill, with tops in the game, including Jimmie Vaughan and his Tilt-a-Whirl Band, Marcia Ball, and Los Lonely Boys. They join acts showcasing Houston’s diversity: Johnny Brown, the veteran of the venerable Duke/Peacock label, and two upstarts, Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man and Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws. These are the kind of under-the-radar shows people talk about well after the spoons stop clacking and the washboard quits thrumming.
Walter Hall Park, September 21-23, various times, boogiebluesandbrews.com
Harpsichord, recorder and oboe are not typically associated with jamming out, but Ars Lyrica, Houston’s Grammy-nominated baroque group, will feature solos with these instruments in the Bach and Haydn concertos comprising its season opener, “It Takes Two.”
Hobby Center, September 21, 7:30 p.m., arslyricahouston.org
In the Zone
The Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love is both a spontaneous gathering of wanderers and celebrities incognito, and a concert featuring an eclectic Texas lineup, with acts ranging from Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, the married country couple, to Brownout, the Latin funk collective.
El Cosmico, September 27-30, various times, elcosmico.com