Although the kids are back in school, there are still plenty of events, activities, and festivals happening across Texas in September. From cook-offs to canoe races to music festivals, there is something happening for everyone practically every weekend of the month in the Lone Star State.
Running for 24 days late September through early October at Fair Park in Dallas, the State Fair of Texas is the largest fair and stock show in the state. During the nearly month-long event, everything from live music to carnival rides and good eats to art shows is offered. Sample Tex-Mex cuisine, visit Big Tex’s Farmyard with live animal displays, including calves, piglets, and hatching chicks, and catch a live music concert on the main stage. Since the 1980s, the Grambling State Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers football teams have gone head-to-head on the grass of the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium.
For more than three decades, Labor Day weekend has seen over 100 cooking teams descend on the tiny Texas Hill Country town of Brady for the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off, a truly Texan event. Highlights include an early morning 5k Goat Gallop, followed by rib judging and wine and beer tastings in the afternoon. Awards are presented at 5 p.m. and live music begins on the main stage at 7 p.m.
Every Labor Day weekend, the town of West, just north of Waco, hosts Westfest, one of the largest Czech Polka fests in the state. The event features polka and country music, dancing, a Miss Westfest contest, a parade, Polish baked goods contests, horseshoe pitching games, eating contests, and more. There is even a Sunday morning Catholic Polka Mass in the Cultural Amphitheater.
The Colorado River 100 Canoe Marathon attracts paddlers and adventure racers from across the country. This annual Labor Day weekend 100-mile event starts in Bastrop and finishes in Columbus. The race begins in the afternoon, but most of it takes place overnight and into the next morning. Awards are presented in Beason's Park in Columbus.
The Texas Hot Sauce Festival in Houston is the Bayou City's showcase event for all types of sauce with a kick to it, including, salsa, marinades, wing sauce, and rubs. If you like your food hot and spicy, this is a must-attend event where you can sample and purchase a wide range of hot and spicy products. Live bands play blues, rock, and zydeco.
An annual event on the fourth Saturday of September for nearly three decades, Lakehills' Medina Lake Cajun Festival features music, dancing, food, and games for the kids. Sample gumbo, the traditional Cajun stew, directly from the cooks, then see who wins the Great Gumbo Cook-Off. Dance to Zydeco and country music bands.
Held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar in Austin, Fantastic Fest has become the largest genre film festival in the United States. Those in attendance are treated to a full slate of horror, sci-fi, and action movies throughout Fantastic Fest week. The festival focuses on first-time feature filmmakers from around the world, with a special emphasis on films from Arab nations.
The annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration in Lubbock pays tribute to the Western cowboy culture. The event includes entertainers, poetry and storytelling, Western writers and authors panels, film and movie seminars, a Youth Wild West Day, horse-handling demonstrations, a horse-themed parade, and Native American-Indian presentations. More than 60 cowboy and cowgirl poets, musical acts, and storytellers take part. The event also includes the National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-Off.
The two-day Dallas Pride event in Reverchon Park celebrates gay pride with entertainment and a parade. The Saturday lineup includes shows starring drag performers, singers, and dancers. Sunday's Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade offers a Family Pride Zone where LGBT parents and their kids can hang out in a secure space with food, games, and entertainment.
The annual wine festival in Grapevine includes tasting more than 100 wine samples from more than 40 Texas wineries, as well as wines from the Fingerlakes region of New York and the Niagara region of Canada. The four-day, family-friendly event includes a grape stomping competition, live entertainment on three stages, KidsWorld with interactive games, and a touching pool with creatures from the aquarium.