Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the All-American Burger Festival in San Antonio and the musical version of Urban Cowboy in Houston to watching offshore fisherman reel in tuna in Rockport. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss. [July 15-21]
Welcome to the All-American Burger Festival! This one-day burger bonanza features a cook-off between two local political heavyweights of the Democratic persuasion. At this grill we have Tommy Adkisson, the four-term Bexar County commissioner. And at this grill we have the young mayor of San Antonio, Julián Castro. Mr. Adkisson, what’s your burger-cooking philosophy? “I add the right amount of seasonings to the meat just before I start to make it so each burger I create is different from the last.” Mr. Castro, same question. “I’m a better burger eater than burger chef. My approach to cooking is having no one say, ‘Well, at least it was free.’” No matter who emerges victorious in this battle of the old and new guard, the real winners will be local students — proceeds from sales at the festival go toward scholarship funds.
Downtown, July 16, 11 a.m., saburgerfest.com
Boot Scootin’ Bull-Riding
Austin Miller’s boots were made for dancing, and that’s just what they’ll do in the Texas premiere of “Urban Cowboy: The Musical,” the theatrical take on the movie starring John Travolta as Bud Davis, a mechanical-bull-riding country boy looking for love in big city Houston. “I knowingly have been preparing for Bud most of my life,” said Miller, a Texas native. “The songs in the show are tunes I grew up listening to in Alvin. And I’m actually wearing some of my own boots in the show.” Mr. Miller said he grew up learning dance moves from Patrick Swayze’s mom, Patsy, who, incidentally, was a choreographer for the movie. That tutelage steered Mr. Miller to “Grease: You’re the One That I Want!,” a reality show in which contestants battled for the leads in the 2007 Broadway reprisal of the musical. (Mr. Miller was runner-up for Danny Zuko, the role made famous by Mr. Travolta.) “I think the musical roles Travolta chose to do are roles that I fit easily into,” Mr. Miller said. “Dumb pretty boys. Not that I’m calling myself pretty. Or dumb.” Just how closely does Mr. Miller’s performance of Bud resemble Mr. Travolta’s? Watch a screening of the movie at nearby Discovery Green and judge for yourself.
Miller Outdoor Theatre, July 15-19, 8:15 p.m., milleroutdoortheatre.com; Discovery Green, July 16, 9 p.m., discoverygreen.com
Camping on the dock at Key Allegro Marina for the Rockport Offshore Challenge, the annual multi-day fishing competition, is the only way to guarantee a viewing of a catch on par with Santiago’s nemesis in “The Old Man and the Sea.” “If someone catches a really big one, they’ll bring it in to get weighed right away because it loses weight over time,” said Jason Bauer, the marina’s harbormaster. Otherwise, plan on a nightly weigh-in between 5 and 7, conveniently viewable from the marina’s Grog Bar. The competition starts Thursday evening with the crews expecting to catch tuna and red snapper (though they hold out hope for snagging marlin and swordfish). Or go the night before to the shrimp boil and captain’s meeting at the marina, which promises epic, can’t-miss stories of the one that got away.
Key Allegro Marina, July 20-24, various times, rockportoffshore.com
Bill Callahan, the singer-songwriter with a Leonard Cohen baritone, has long been a critical darling. But it wasn’t until Mr. Callahan moved to Austin from Chicago a few years ago — and eventually shed his longtime Smog moniker — that his albums began to gain attention from larger audiences. “Apocalypse,” Mr. Callahan’s fourth album in the remarkable Austin run comes with a twist: electric guitar instead of signature acoustic. This trade-off is most appealing on the song “America,” a patriotic ditty buoyed by Beat poetry, a 180-degree time change, and tips of the 10-gallon-hat to fellow Texans Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and George Jones. “Apocalypse” is also exceptional because Mr. Callahan, long a mystery, actually talked about it with the news media. Perhaps Mr. Callahan will express his newfound extroversion on this tour and grace his fans with some friendly banter between songs.
The Loft, July 19, 8:30 p.m., gilleysmusic.com
The state is on track to have one of the hottest summers on record, so White Christmas in July, a two-hour celebration complete with Santa Claus and 15,000 pounds of chipped ice blasted into the air to mimic snow, is a cool summer gift.
The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, July 17, noon, tuts.com
Run and Shoot
Seven-on-seven football games are workarounds for high school players who are prohibited from practicing with their entire team during the summer — and the Red Bull Game Breakers Finals is a display of that shotgun style in its most electric form.
Southern Methodist University, July 15-16, various times, redbullusa.com