Big Names
The interactive, film and music festival South by Southwest somehow manages to get bigger without getting full of itself. This year, the conference will bring Jimmy Kimmel to Austin for live broadcasts of his nightly talk show. (Get ready for some epic editions of his man-on-the-street, guess-the-indie-band-name game.) The conference will also host the performer Lady Gaga, but she has been denied a permit to play the Doritos Stage—essentially a giant, inflatable vending machine—because of concerns about crowd control. It’s a safe bet that this disappointing turn of events (Gaga is now scheduled to play a scaled-down set at Stubb’s) will be overtaken by other surprises. SXSW is the heart of the entertainment world, with far too many overachievers to name, but notable speakers include Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose Fox documentary series “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey” makes science approachable for the masses; the writer and actor Lena Dunham, who as the star of the HBO series “Girls” has become the voice of a generation; and two people who will have to be broadcast via remote satellite, because they are United States fugitives, the whistle blowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
Various locations, March 7–16,


Historic Blooms
The Azalea Trail, the three-day self-guided tour primarily of the River Oaks section of Houston, is as much about the tradition of family and community as it is about showing off the area’s horticultural and architectural splendor. Sallie Mansell, a Houston native, attended the Azalea Trail as a girl with her grandmother and her parents and as a young adult served many times as a hostess in the featured homes. Mansell is chairwoman of this year’s event, the seventy-ninth annual, along with Sally Matthews, as part of the River Oaks Garden Club. “Houston is home to so many beautiful plants and flowers, but there is something special about azaleas in full bloom,” Mansell said in an email. “There is such a wide range of colors and sizes. For me, azaleas signify the beginning of spring.” Among the destinations on the trail are four magnificent homes in the River Oaks and Tanglewood neighborhoods; Rienzi, a Museum of Fine Arts satellite building; the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics, originally a 1910 schoolhouse; and Bayou Bend Gardens, in the former home of the philanthropist Ima Hogg.
Various locations, March 7–9, 11 a.m.,


King Cottonmouth
One might think that the recent death by poisonous snakebite of Jamie Coots, the rattlesnake-handling Kentucky pastor who starred on the National Geographic Channel’s  “Snake Salvation,” would scare people away from Sweetwater’s Rattlesnake Roundup, the granddaddy of all snake roundups. But don’t bet on it. This event, founded in 1958 and drawing upward of 40,000 spectators—including the photographer Richard Avedon while shooting his classic book In the American West—is intended to help eradicate the rattlesnakes, public enemy number one to livestock. Attendees do this either by participating in a guided hunt of nearby snake dens or by feasting on fried rattlesnake.
Nolan County Coliseum, March 7–9, 8 a.m.,


Shell Game
For three and a half decades, the Fulton Oysterfest existed in a major way to raise funds to build a station for the Fulton Volunteer Fire Department. Now that the fire station has been built, the thirty-fifth annual Oysterfest, this weekend on the Aransas Bay, will shift its focus. The event’s efforts will be aimed at bringing in money for equipment and training, yes, but also at relishing the fruits of everyone’s labors, while enjoying fresh bivalve oysters, live music and shucking contests.
Fulton Navigation Park, March 7–9,


Sense of Place
The Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts will open its Spring Salon Series at the Turner House with the works of rising stars of contemporary Texas art—Margie Crisp, who created the image for the 2012 Texas Book Festival poster; Laura Lewis, who designed a mural for Chevron’s Midland campus; and Keith Davis, who has been featured on the public television series Texas Country Reporter—in the exhibition “Painting in the Texas Tradition.”
Turner House, March 7–12,


Second-Class Citizens
A free screening of “Stolen Education,” about discrimination against Mexican-Americans in schools in the fifties, paired with a discussion led by the filmmaker, Enrique Alemán Jr., is an important cautionary tale, as Hispanics are now the largest population in the Texas school system.
Institute of Texan Cultures, March 9, 2 p.m.,