Hondo Crouch, the folklorist who was one of the buyers in 1970 of the ghost town of Luckenbach, population 3, had arachnophobia. Fortunately, the place was rife with mud daubers, wasps that commonly make their nests in tubular adobe-like mounds and stock with spiders as food for their offspring. Crouch, an eccentric visionary who transformed Luckenbach into an outpost for ’70s progressive country pioneers like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, welcomed the springtime arrival of mud daubers with an annual celebration. The event had fallen by the wayside but last year the staff members at Luckenbach dance hall resurrected it. They have added a people’s choice chili cook-off along with live music, billing it the Mud Dauber Rock’n Billy Chili Fest. The festivities return on Saturday, with featured performers like Dale Watson, whose new “Ameripolitan” genre combines rockabilly, western swing, honky-tonk, and outlaw styles, and Billy Joe Shaver, who demonstrated his mastery of the latter two at an array of recent South by Southwest shows. The chili cooks will also likely be seeking revenge against last year’s winner, whose recipe included—gasp!—beans.
Luckenbach, March 22, 12 p.m., luckenbachtexas.com
Urban farming has become a bona fide way of life as people focus on buying locally and seeking artisanal food. A good entry point for current and future farmers is this year’s fourth annual Foodways Texas Symposium, hosted by Foodways Texas, the organization of scholars, chefs, journalists, restaurateurs, farmers, ranchers, and other Texan locovores who celebrate the state’s diverse food cultures. Titled “Farm to Market 2014,” the weekend retreat, held at the new Agriculture and Life Sciences Complex on the Texas A&M University campus, will explore the complicated definitions of “local” and “organic” and host discussions on various Texas crops like grapefruits, olives, onions, and wine. Dinners served by Todd Duplechan, the chef at the acclaimed Lenoir restaurant in Austin, and Sharon Hage, a Dallas farm-to-table food consultant, will set the bar for aspirational attendees.
Texas A&M University, March 21–22, foodwaystexas.com
Nature in Vivid Colors
Billy Hassell is like Mother Nature’s stylist. In his paintings, Hassell, who was born in Dallas and lives in Fort Worth, dresses up the flora and fauna of his home state with vivid colors, clean lines, and layered pattern work. For those who have been intrigued by his “Early Morning Flight,” the twenty-foot mosaic on the floor of Terminal D in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, there is “Illuminating Nature,” a Tyler Museum of Art exhibition open through this weekend. The solo survey encompasses fifteen years of Hassell’s work with about thirty paintings and prints, including two landscape pieces—“Spring in East Texas” and “Alligator and Egret”—that reveal all the wonderful detail of the nearby Piney Woods.
Tyler Museum of Art, March 21–23, tylermuseum.org
An Instrument’s Festival
Twenty years ago, Jerry and Margaret Wright of Kennard were on a family vacation through Arkansas and Missouri when the sweet sounds of the Appalachian dulcimer struck a chord with them. Their son, Lloyd, mastered the Appalachian dulcimer, a fretted, stringed lap instrument, and in 2000, won the National Mountain Dulcimer Championship. Two years later, the Wrights started the Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival, one of the last true mom-and-pop regional music events. The workshops and performers come together somewhat spontaneously, but there is one thing fest-goers know for sure: a portable chair is a must for the many jam sessions that will break out during the weekend.
Museum for East Texas Culture, March 27–29, oldpalmusic.com
The Grass is Greener
The Valero Texas Open PGA tournament enjoyed a banner year in 2013, after the appointment of Greg Norman, the great Australian golfer, as manager of the event, and this year the roster looks even stronger, with seven players in the top fifty, including Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion; Jim Furyk, winner of the 2003 U.S. Open; and Jimmy Walker, the Boerne resident who has won three of his first eight tourneys of the 2014 tour.
TPC San Antonio, March 24–30, valerotexasopen.com
A Dash to Goliath
Awaiting runners at the end of Saturday’s 3.7-mile Warrior Dash course in Smithville, part of the world’s largest obstacle race series, is Goliath, the newest and largest obstacle, which requires competitors to scale a structure of imposing height, walk a balance beam over a bubbling pool of water, and then plummet to the ground before enjoying the complimentary cold beer at the finish line.
Rocky Hill Ranch, March 22, 8:30 a.m., warriordash.com