Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from cheering on the Ranger in the World Series in Arlington to foraging for ‘shrooms in gourds in Madisonville. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [Oct 21—Oct 28]
It was a shock to the system last year when the Rangers came out of nowhere to be a team of destiny and advance to their first World Series, only to lose it on their home field. But the Rangers are back, and they are tougher than ever. Nelson Cruz’s extra-inning, game-winning home-run-hitting in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers certainly showed mettle, but the Rangers proved their resolve back in July, when they transcended the tragedy of Shannon Stone, the Brownwood firefighter who died after he fell from the outfield stands. There are many reasons to pay a scalper big bucks for the right to cheer the Rangers at the ballpark. They would be the first team in Texas to win it all, they would join the Mavericks as first-time champs, and they would put the pressure on the Cowboys and Texans to win the Super Bowl and become the first state since New York, in 1969, to win all three major championships in the same season.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Oct 22, 23, and 24. 7:05 p.m. texasrangers.com
Obey the Beard
Great bands are often defined by their debut albums. ZZ Top, the Houston blues-rock trio, laid an egg with its first one, ZZ Top’s First Album, and didn’t do much better with its second, Rio Grande Mud. But its third, Tres Hombres, is considered one of the best rock albums of all time and paved the way for an epic career that earned ZZ Top the clout to host the inaugural La Grange Fest, featuring, among others, Lynyrd Skynyrd. “We thought it made sense to slate this first outing where there’s a strong live music tradition as opposed to a live, uh, you know, something-else tradition,” said Billy Gibbons, the band’s guitarist, about the reasoning behind not hosting the event in La Grange, formerly the home of the Chicken Ranch bordello. “La Grange,” the song, is performed by Jamey Johnson, the Alabama upstart, on the just-released album ZZ Top: A Tribute From Friends. Gibbons pitched in on Johnson’s version, and the chemistry was such that you’d be mad to miss them play the song live. “It was an intense jam session,” Gibbons said, “a full-out, loud-sound exchange.”
The Backyard at Bee Cave, Oct 22, 5 p.m. zztop.com
Dallas has long been a playground for monsters. The Texas State Fair hosted sideshows—caravans of human oddities—through the 1980s, and Violet Hilton, one half of the Siamese twins featured in the 1932 movie Freaks, was married on the field of the Cotton Bowl at the Texas Centennial Exposition. To carry on this tradition of the grotesque, attend the Costume Art Ball, an annual affair with a sideshow theme this year. “It’s kind of like ‘America’s Got Talent’ but as a Halloween party,” said Courtney Brown of the Creative Arts Center of Dallas, the nonprofit arts school hosting the fundraiser. Assimilate into the perfectly peculiar swarm of performers strolling the carnival midway, drink a Bearded Lady adult beverage, and gawk at two-headed snakes, contortionists, and Frog Girl. This Halloween party will be like few others because everyone will be in a legitimate costume, as defined by the event’s website. “We bought oversized prom dresses from the thrift store for those who fail the full costume test,” said Dave Kramer, the event’s co-chairman. “Our first year, two of our guests had to wear them. Since then, we haven’t had any issues.”
The Creative Arts Center of Dallas, Oct 22, 8 p.m. costumeartball.com
Foraging, the latest craze in foodie culture, involves seeking out local foods in their natural environments. Mushrooms are a perfect example. At the Texas Mushroom Festival, a tribute to the refined fungi complete with cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and “mushroom art,” you will learn where and when to find these delectable treats. You will also learn how to distinguish a crimini from a bellini and a shiitake from an enoki. Most important, you will learn what mushrooms to stay away from if you do not care to have a psychedelic trip upon consuming them.
Downtown, Oct 22, various times. texasmushroomfestival.com
It is not enough to don your lone outfit of western wear to the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering & Western Swing Festival; you must walk and talk like a cowboy or girl if you are to fit in at this picture-perfect reproduction of life on the range.
Fort Worth Stockyards, Oct 21-23, various times. redsteagallcowboygathering.com
Swine and Dine
You probably already have a good idea of what to expect of a festival that turns freshly dead hog into finger-licking goodness, which you’ll find at the Fall Feral Hog Festival. But aren’t you a bit curious about what kind of contestants will vie for the honor of Hog Queen?
Ben Wheeler Festival Grounds, Oct 21-22, various times. benwheelertx.com