Due to old age and a bad back, Hulk Hogan was forced to retire from wrestling last year, thirty years after he appeared in the first Wrestlemania with Mr. T and beat Paul Orndorff and Rowdy Roddy Piper in a tag-team match. But given the theatrical nature of wrestling—and the recent headlines he’s made—one can hope he and his 24-inch pythons make a cameo at Wrestlemania 32 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, causing Hulkamania to once again run wild.
This is the third time Wrestlemania, the sport’s Super Bowl, has been held in Texas and there are some big guns on the ticket. There’s Triple H, who is defending his title as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. There’s Brock Lesnar, the only wrestler to win a championship in both entertainment wrestling and college-level traditional wrestling. And finally there’s The Undertaker, who holds the longest streak of wins at Wrestlemania events, taking on Shane McMahon, son to Vince McMahon, the entrepreneurial former wrestler who more or less invented the sport as it’s known today.
Of the eleven scheduled matches, though, the one that offers the best bang for the buck is the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, a no-holds-barred, free-for-all in which sixteen wrestlers enter the ring and only one emerges the victor.
AT&T Stadium, April 3, 7 p.m., wwe.com
The Franklin Mountains in northeast El Paso are a gold rush this time of year, as vibrant yellow poppies stretch out in clusters around the Castner Range, supposedly the only place in Texas where these flowers bloom naturally. And this year’s winter snow and rain has made this crop of Mexican gold poppies particularly eager; they started flowering as early as a month ago, ahead of schedule.
See them in their splendor this Saturday at the tenth annual Poppies Fest, a free event that features nature walks, live music, and remarkable wildlife including a hawk from the El Paso Zoo and a wolf from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary near Albuquerque, New Mexico
This year’s festival could also be vitally important to future iterations. In December, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, introduced the Castner Range National Monument Act, a bill that would establish the area—an out-of-commission artillery range operated by the Army and Fort Bliss—as a national monument and protect it from commercial development. O’Rourke will appear at the Poppies Fest at 11:30 a.m. to drum up support for his effort. That includes soliciting signed letters petitioning President Barack Obama to safeguard Castner Range before his time in the White House is up.
El Paso Museum of Archaeology, April 2, 10 a.m., archaeology.elpasotexas.gov
Out of Bounds
In its first five years, the Outlaws and Legends music festival has certainly lived up to its billing. Past performers have included many of the tough guys of country like Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Johnny Bush. And that’s just the old timers. There have been plenty of young guns too, like Randy Rogers, Whiskey Myers, and Stoney LaRue, aiming to achieve the exalted status of their predecessors.
This year, with an event logo featuring a pistol, the headliners are Jerry Jeff Walker on Friday and Pat Green on Saturday. They’re not exactly outlaws, but they’re certainly legendary in their circles. Arguably the baddest dude on the bill is a woman: Deana Carter, the Grammy-nominated Nashville singer whose album Did I Shave My Legs for This? has sold more than five million copies and whose father, Fred Carter Jr., played with the likes of Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan.
Back Porch of Texas, April 1 & 2, outlawsandlegends.com
Urbanization and advances in agriculture have greatly diminished the number of “real” cowboys, but our romantic ideals of them can live on forever on walls or pedestals or other display surfaces, as depictions in paintings or sculptures. At the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s “Night of the Artists” event, the public can vie to purchase some 270 pieces from more than seventy prominent western artists. Cowboys on horseback are aplenty, as are “cowboy and Indian” tableaus, of course. There is also an abundance of a few of Texas’s favorite things: longhorns and bluebonnets.
The two-day event begins on Friday with a preview session and then on Saturday buyers bust out their plastic. Money raised from the event benefits the museum, which opened on the River Walk in 2013 with help from the finances and American West art collection of Dolph Briscoe, the forty-first governor of Texas.
Briscoe Western Art Museum, April 1 at 6 p.m. & April 2 at 5:30 p.m., briscoemuseum.org
Fire It Up
Live Fire, a night of food, drink, and dessert, caters to the sophisticated caveman, whose primordial predilection for meat cooked simply over an open flame is complicated by a modern day foodie disposition that demands a chef’s twist. Attending to this dual hankering are masters of their domain from Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, including brisket bosses Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue and Miguel Vidal of Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ; beef rib rulers John Tesar of Knife and Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s; and pastrami pioneers Josh Kaner of Pieous and Cody Sharp of Filament.
Salt Lick Pecan Grove Pavilion, April austinfoodwinealliance.org
It’s Friday, April 1 and OU still sucks—no fooling. But since they’re the closest thing to a Texas team in the Final Four at NRG Stadium this Saturday and Monday, it’s acceptable—for this one time only—to show “Boomer Sooner” nation a little regional love as it aims to beat Villanova for the chance to play the winner of the North Carolina-Syracuse game for the National Championship.
NRG Stadium, April 2 & 4, ncaa.com/march-madness