Although most kids go back to school in September, Texas' pre-fall weather is just too good not to get out and enjoy it via the many events, activities, and festivals happening throughout the month. There are cook-offs for the foodies, canoe races for the outdoorsy, and music festivals for the ones who enjoy a boogie. Labor Day kicks off September with the Czech-themed Westfest and the highly anticipated State Fair rounds it out with funnel cakes and a Ferris wheel.
Many of these events have been altered or canceled in 2020. Check details below and websites of the organizers for more information.
Running from the last Friday in September through mid-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, people travel from all over to see big-name musicians like Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Springfield, and Bob Schneider, eat fair food, and attend art shows.
Here, you can sample the state's famous Tex-Mex cuisine; visit Big Tex’s Farmyard to see calves, piglets, and hatching chicks, or catch a concert on the main stage. And with football being as big as BBQ in Texas, Cotton Bowl Stadium hosts two iconic games during the fair: The State Fair Classic between the Grambling State Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers, and the Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma. The State Fair of Texas has been canceled in 2020.
Every Labor Day weekend since 1974, the tiny Texas Hill Country town of Brady plays host to the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off, a truly Texan event. More than 200 cook teams and thousands of visitors descend on the town for a weekend of food, music, and family fun.
The event kicks off with an early-morning 5K Goat Gallop fun run. The rest of the weekend includes several different cook-offs, including competitions for the best chicken, barbecue ribs, margaritas, and the best goat. Live performances, kids' activities, and beer tastings round out this one-of-a-kind event. The World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off has been canceled in 2020.
Between Waco and Dallas is the small town of West, Texas, home to one of the largest Czech Texan populations in the state. Each Labor Day weekend, the whole town comes together to celebrate Czech heritage with Westfest, an event featuring polka and country music, dancing, a Miss Westfest contest, parade, Polish baked goods contests, horseshoe pitching games, and more. Guests can enjoy classic Texan BBQ staples alongside Eastern European fare like beer bread, kolaches, and stuffed pierogi. On Sunday morning, there's even a Catholic Polka Mass. 2020's Westfest has been canceled.
The Texas Hot Sauce Festival in Houston is the Bayou City's showcase event for all types of spicy sauces, including salsa, marinades, wing sauce, and rubs. If you like your food hot and fiery, this pepper-centered event is a must-attend. Normally, guests would be able to sample and purchase a wide range of products and, between tastings, listen to bands play blues, rock, and zydeco; however, in 2020, the event has been canceled.
An annual event on the fourth Saturday of September since 1981, Lakehills' Medina Lake Cajun Festival turns an unassuming inland Texas town into a mini-New Orleans for the day. Visitors dance to live zydeco music while enjoying jambalaya, fried crawfish, and the winning bowl of gumbo from the Great Gumbo Cook-Off. The kids keep busy with an arts and crafts show and games. In 2020, the Medina Lake Cajun Festival has been canceled.
Held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar in Austin, Fantastic Fest has become the largest genre film festival in the U.S. Attendees are treated to a full slate of horror, sci-fi, and action movies in mid-September. The festival highlights first-time feature filmmakers from around the world and strives to select movies from lesser-known film regions. Even though the focus is on indie filmmakers, you'll still see big-name directors in attendance like Tim Burton, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, and Darren Aronofsky, to name a few. 2020's Fantastic Fest has been canceled.
Lubbock's annual National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration from September 11 to 13, 2020, pays tribute to Texas' famous Western cowboy culture. The event includes entertainers, poetry and storytelling, a Western writers' panel, film and movie seminars, a youth-focused Wild West day, horse-handling demonstrations, an equestrian 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 annual wine festival in Grapevine includes 100-plus wine samples from more than 40 Texas wineries, as well as vino and champagnes from the Fingerlakes region of New York and the Niagara region of Canada. The four-day, family-friendly event includes the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the U.S., grape stomping, live entertainment on three stages, interactive games at KidsWorld, and a touching pool with creatures from the aquarium. In 2020, the 34th Annual GrapeFest has been canceled.
The Colorado River 100 Canoe Race attracts paddlers and adventure racers from across the country on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Racers start in Bastrop, Texas, and—depending on river conditions—canoe down the Colorado River either 100 kilometers to La Grange or 100 miles to Columbus. It's a grueling (yet rewarding) event and participants typically stay out in the water until late at night. 2020's Colorado River 100 has been canceled.