Guide to Labor Day in Central Texas: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Close-up of Texas flags and American flags
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Labor Day is considered by most people to be summer's last hurrah before heading back to school, work, or even just their normal daily routines. As the second-largest state, Texas is known for doing everything big, and Labor Day festivities are no exception.

If you happen to be spending the final three-day weekend of the unofficial end of summer in Central Texas, you might want to celebrate Lonestar State-style. Consider checking out the giant Czech fest in West, Texas; head on over to Hill Country for the World Championship Goat Cookoff; or go for a three-story plunge on the Master Blaster ride at New Braunfels legendary water park. 

01 of 07

Houston Salsa Festival

Couple dancing salsa
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Held at the Westin Galleria Houston, the BIG Salsa Festival takes place over four days in the salsa dancing capital of the south. There will be amazing dancers and delicious food. BIG Salsa Festival features dance classes, performances, band concerts, and Latin dance parties.

This year's event is scheduled for September 4–7, 2020. You can choose to purchase admission for just one day or buy a full pass that allows you to enjoy the festival and dance salsa for the entire four days. Each night the music goes on until 4 a.m., so even if you don't know how to dance salsa, you'll have plenty of opportunity to learn.

02 of 07


Cowboy boots in barn

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Westfest is canceled in 2020.

Every year West, Texas, located just north of Waco, hosts Westfest, which is one of the largest Czech Polka fests in the state. The event features polka bands and cultural food and drink, dancing, Miss Westfest contest, a parade, baking contests, fun run, horseshoe contest, eating contests, arts and crafts, and more.

For children, there are carnival rides, a gymnastics exhibition, and, if you want to get a birds-eye view of the fairgrounds and the surrounding area, you can even go for a helicopter ride.

03 of 07

World Championship BBQ Goat Cookoff

Goat on the BBQ

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The World Championship BBQ Goat Cookoff is canceled in 2020.

For more than four decades, teams descend on the tiny Hill Country town of Brady for the World Championship BBQ Goat Cookoff on Labor Day weekend. The giant cookoff boasts 206 cook teams plus a waiting list of nearly 100 more teams that try to take part. Close to 10,000 attendees come from all over Texas and beyond. More than 5,700 pounds of goat are cooked each year in Richard’s Park. 

During the weekend there's also Texas beer and wine tasting, arts and crafts fair, children’s activities, a Goat Gallop fun run, a horseshoe tournament, and live music. 

04 of 07

1940s Dance in Fredericksburg

Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas

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The Labor Dance at the Hangar Hotel is canceled in 2020.

With its rich history, scenic beauty, and humid subtropical climate, Fredericksburg attracts visitors throughout the year. During the Labor Day weekend, check out the 1940s USO-Style Labor Day dance at the Hangar Hotel. A portion of the proceeds ​will benefit the Fort Hood USO.

Costumes are encouraged and there's even a contest for the best WWII-era period outfit which offers a variety of prizes for winners. There's plenty to see and do in Fredericksburg, like planning a visit to the National Museum of the Pacific War, trying the delicious varieties of pecans at the Fredericksburg Pecan Company, or picking some peaches at the Vogel Orchard.

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05 of 07

New Braunfels Labor Day Fun

Water park guests floating down slide on tubes

 Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts

Northeast of San Antonio is New Braunfels, Texas, which is known for its rivers and massive water park, Schlitterbahn. The park attracts visitors from all over the country to stay at one of its seven unique resort experiences. Also, you can ride the award-winning Master Blaster ride, which has a three-story plunge. ​If you go to Schlitterbahn, get a Blast Pass to avoid standing in long lines for the rides.

To fill in your long weekend with some exercise, the SARR Labor Day Whine Run 5K/5-miler is an annual race that's a New Braunfels tradition. It welcomes runners of all abilities, although the 2020 race will be a "virtual" race that participants can run individually from anywhere. Once you complete your selected distance, you'll submit your time to the race organizers.

06 of 07

Central Texas State Fair

Ferris Wheel at State Fair
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The Central Texas State Fair is canceled in 2020 and returns September 2–5, 2021.

In Belton, Texas, part of the Killeen-Temple metropolitan area, the Central Texas State Fair runs through Labor Day weekend. There are live concerts, pro bull riding at the rodeo, carnival rides, vendor shopping, and typical events such as livestock judging and traditional fair food.

07 of 07

Colorado River 100

Canoe racer in white waters

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The Colorado River 100 Canoe Race is canceled in 2020.

The Colorado River 100 canoeing race begins in Fisherman's Park in Bastrop, Texas, about 30 miles southeast of Austin, and ends 62 miles away in LaGrange. The Colorado River 100, held on Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend, attracts paddlers and adventure racers from across the country. Also, the event raises environmental awareness of the water and lands of the Lower Colorado River.

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