The first Texas Book Festival, held in 1996, nearly wrecked Laura Bush, then the first lady of Texas. Bush is a co-founder of the festival and remembered walking from the Governor’s Mansion to the Texas Capitol, which was being renovated at the time, to attend the first panel, being held in the Senate chamber. That’s when she was met with the unforgiving noise of a jackhammer going off outside. No one had thought to tell the construction crew not to be there on Saturday morning while authors were doing their readings. Someone went outside and got the workers to stop, but the damage was done.
“By then I had sort of a headache,” Bush said. “I thought, ‘Oh no, this is just not going to work at all.’ I rushed back across the street to the Texas Governor’s Mansion and went inside, trying to just avoid it all. And then my friends rushed over and said, ‘It’s going great. Come back!’ So I went back. I was very nervous about how it would go.”
This weekend, Bush will return to the Texas Book Festival, the free annual extravaganza featuring scads of authors from across the nation and across the spectrum, including T.C Boyle, Kelly Clarkson, Ethan Hawke, Padma Lakshmi, and Nick Offerman, in addition to all sorts of ancillary literary arts programming taking over the capitol and other parts of the city, like the nighttime Lit Crawl on Saturday. Jenna Bush Hager, one of Bush’s two daughters, will join her to talk about Our Great Big Backyard, the children’s book they worked on together that was published earlier this year. Click here to read the rest of our interview with Laura Bush and find out the inspiration behind her latest work.
Texas Capitol, November 5–6, texasbookfestival.org
Other Events Across Texas
On the Road Again
That thing called “work” often gets in the way of taking a proper road trip, so if you find you have limited free time then think about attending “The Open Road” instead. The traveling exhibit features some one hundred images by nineteen photographers, including Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, and Garry Winogrand, who have hit the pavement to chronicle the U.S., spanning the time right after WWII to present day.
Amarillo Museum of Art, November 4 to January 1, amarilloart.org
The tenth annual Lone Star Film Festival showcases an international array of films, but Texas is a constant throughout, from the opening night event, when Texan Don Henley honors Clint Black, a fellow Texan, with an award named after Stephen Bruton, yet another Texan, to screenings of Easy Life, a narrative short film by Boris Diaw, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, and Titletown, TX, a documentary about the 2016 Aledo Bearcats and their pursuit of a sixth state football title in eight years.
Sundance Square, November 10–13, lonestarfilmfestival.com
Southern Smoke, the culinary fundraiser for multiple sclerosis, brings smoked meat to a whole new level with a handful of James Beard Award winners—event host Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, in Houston; Justin Yu of Oxheart, also in Houston; and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, in Austin—serving up savory dishes alongside live music from New Orleans’ Rebirth Brass Band.
Underbelly, November 6, 4 p.m., southernsmoke.org
Sounds Like Fun
Alas, after ten years, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Austin’s alternative to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, is no longer. But that event’s organizers have cooked up a similar festival, Sound on Sound Fest, which happens to take place on the grounds of a Renaissance fair, complete with castles and whatnot, and will include Texas bands like Explosions in the Sky, Magna Carda, and Moving Panoramas, along with national acts such as Run the Jewels, Descendents, and Courtney Barnett.
Sherwood Forest, November 4–6, soundonsoundfest.com
If you missed Dia de los Muertos, there’s always Musica en la Calle, a Mexican-inflected weekend concert series and food festival held in the parking lot of Hotel Havana, with tunes from a variety of local bands, including Pinata Protest and Grammy-winning Los Texmaniacs, paired with a special Day of the Dead menu of seafood paella, chicken diablo, équité, and Oaxacan mac and cheese.
Hotel Havana, November 4 & 5, 6 p.m. havanasanantonio.com