Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Mar 18–Mar 24]
Stylin’ and Profilin’
The confluence of east, west, and third coast style at the South by Southwest Festival, now in its twenty-fifth year, makes for prime people-watching. Forget about downloading cool new apps, viewing critically acclaimed indie flicks, or listening to Next Big Things—it’s about discovering the trends before they inundate malls across America. Style X, a new component of the festival that will showcase emerging talent in the fashion industry, will harness all of that into a free two-day exhibition. There will be a runway show with musicians as models; panel discussions about the convergence of style, music, and technology; and a pop-up retail store downtown purveying items that, according to event co-founder Joah Spearman, say, “Yeah, I just came back from SXSW in Austin.”
Austin Convention Center, Mar 19 & 20, various times.
A curiosity led to a hobby, which led to an obsession. Now you find yourself at the Tolbert Texas State Chili Championship, facing off against the best of the best at crafting an old-school bowl of red (meat and spices only! no beans!), vying to finish in the top three and qualify for a chance to cook “Behind the Store” at the chili cook-off that started it all, the Terlingua International Chili Championship. (Behind the Store refers to the cook-off within a cook-off at Terlingua, whose participants adhere to the strict rules and “chili-head” way of life of the championship’s forefathers, Frank X. Tolbert and Wick Fowler). Because Lockhart, the host town, happens to be Texas’s promised land of barbecue, this competition also includes categories for ribs and brisket, as well as margaritas and Bloody Marys. What more do you need?
Lockhart City Park, Mar 18 & 19, various times.
Say Cheese, Sleaze
Marvin Zindler was a real-life superhero. By day, he was a dandified consumer affairs reporter for KTRK-TV, in Houston, who disguised himself in a white wig, blue-tinted glasses, and plastic surgery to expose threats to the public such as unsanitary restaurants and, famously, the Chicken Ranch, the brothel later known as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” By night, Zindler assumed the relatively unknown alter-ego of his normal self—a look deemed too ugly for television—as a photographer for the now-defunct Houston Press, for whom he chronicled the city’s underbelly. Those pictures he took are the subject of Bayou City Noir, an exhibition of photos that have mostly never before been seen publicly outside of their original publication. A photo of a stripper who was busted for running a dice game at a bar is a favorite of J. R. Gonzales, curator of the exhibition. “It shows her in police custody, with her back arched and chest out for a police officer,” Gonzales said. “And here’s the officer, trying to keep his eyes on her head and not on her assets.”
Museum of Printing History, Mar 24, 10 a.m.
A Movable Feast
Art reveals itself much easier with the aid of a buzz. Such is the mission of Savor Dallas, a two-day indulgence of epicurean delight, where food and drink unlock the mysteries presented in the works of visual artists on display and in the cultural institutions present in the Arts District Wine Stroll. Of course, the term art is applied broadly here. Consider the cooking demonstrations by masters Stephan Pyles, Dallas’s king of Southwestern cuisine, and David Bull, one of Austin’s brightest chefs. Consider, too, the libations—including 150 wineries in the International Grand Tasting—that will tango with your taste buds. The variety of host locations makes this event accessible even in the Dallas sprawl—which proves especially convenient when heading home after closing time.
Various locations, Mar 18 & 19, various times.
Learn how to see dead people at the Texas Ghost Show, an exposition of all things paranormal, with speakers including the hosts of Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab, brothers Barry and Brad Klinge, the latter of whom has witnessed the pinnacle in the supernatural, a “ghost regiment.”
Beaumont Civic Center, Mar 18 & 19, various times.
Down and Dirty
Competitors and spectators alike will take the most refreshing showers of their lives after the High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals, a competition between all-terrain-vehicle enthusiasts, with events including Mudda Cross, Mud Bog, and the Endurance Challenge, featuring the gnarliest mud holes in East Texas.
Mud Creek Off Road Park, Mar 23 & 24, various times.
• • • • •
Seven more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Annie Samuelson
Dallas Blues Festival
Skeet-skat, doo-wa be-doo wa wa shooby dooby doo.
Dallas Convention Center, Mar 19, 7 p.m.
El Paso Rhinos League Finals
The Mid-West Division finals are on. The Rhinos are out to prove you don’t need snow to have a great hockey team.
El Paso County Coliseum, Mar 18 & 19 at 7:30 p.m., Mar 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Good Guys Rod and Custom Car Show
Flame jobs, flattys, and fierce rides.
Texas Motor Speedway, Mar 18–20, 8 a.m.
Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway
A couple that plays together, stays together.
The Grand, Mar 19, 8 p.m.
Houston Roller Derby Season Opener
Part theater, part sport, watch these women rule the rink.
Indoor Sports, Mar 19, 7:30 p.m.
53rd Annual San Antonio Folk Dance Festival
1,2,3 … 1,2,3 … Come learn international and folk dances from the best.
Our Lady of the Lake University, Mar 18–20, various times.