From car shows to wine tastings, classical music to pet parades, Texans know how to celebrate summer. Nearly every city hosts a festival or celebration where you can find good food, drink and music. There’s a wide range of offerings, from family-friendly events with carnival rides to a classical music series drawing artists from all over the world. Here is a sampling of Texan summer festivals that are well worth the drive:
16th Annual Buda Country Fair and Wiener Dog Races: Sunday, Buda City Park, Buda. At this delightful and unique event, dachshunds race and people enjoy a cook-off, bake-off and washer tournament. A pet parade, kids’ games and musical entertainment are part of the fun. Free for kids younger than 12; all others $3. http://www.budalionsclub.com/
Why you should go: Where else can you see wiener dogs race? This year’s theme: “Les Wienerables.”
123rd Annual Brenham Maifest: Friday-May 5, Fireman’s Park, Brenham. Maifest is one of the oldest German heritage festivals in the South. Live music, arts and crafts vendors, dancing, food, parade and a coronation ceremony celebrate the German heritage of Central Texas. Highlights include all-you-can-eat Blue Bell ice cream, a German village and kid activities at the Kinder Village. Free. www.maifest.org
Why you should go: Blue Bell Creameries is based in Brenham. Combine a trip to the festival with a trip to the famous ice cream factory.
Taylor Zest Fest: Saturday, Main Street, Taylor. The Zest Fest features children’s activities including pony rides and a petting zoo, various booths selling arts and crafts and stages showcasing local and area talent. www.taylortx.gov
Why you should go: Enjoy the famous barbecue at Louie Mueller Barbecue on Second Street and stay for the entertainment and picturesque historic district.
38th Annual Deutschen Pfest: May 17-19, Pfluger Park, Pflugerville. Carnival rides, a parade, live music, children’s games and shopping booths keep everyone entertained at Pflugerville’s most popular festival. Admission is $5 on Friday and Sunday, $7 on Saturday, children 6 and younger are free. www.pflugervilletx.gov
Why you should go: A 5K run through historic Pflugerville kicks off the Sunday festivities.
4th Annual Buzzard Bump Fest: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 18. Located next to the Spicewood VFD on Texas 71, between Bee Cave and Marble Falls in Spicewood. This down-home event features the Road Kill Car Show, Buzzard Bump Bird Cook-Off, and Washer’ Pitchin’ Tournament, all with prizes. Admission $3 or three canned goods. Free parking. www.buzzardbump.com
Why you should go: The fun Road Kill Car Show awards prizes for antique, muscle, custom, roadster, hot rod and people’s choice.
21st Annual Texas Natural and Western Swing Festival: May 18, Hays County Historic Courthouse, San Marcos. This charming music festival is held on the grounds of the recently restored courthouse, built in 1909. Evening events take place on the banks of the San Marcos river. Free. http://www.toursanmarcos.com/events/arts/13may18-tx-natural.html
17th Annual Rockport Festival of Wine and Food: 4 to 11 p.m. May 25-26, Rockport, on the grounds of the Texas Maritime Museum. Attendees enjoy more than 100 varieties of wine, food demonstrations, vendor booths and music. Admission is $25 for one day or $40 for a two-day pass; VIP tickets are $50 for one day or $90 for two days. Admission includes a commemorative wine glass, three taste tickets and an event program. A variety of beers also will be served and additional drink tickets are available. www.texasfestivalofwines.com
Why you should go: Enjoy sampling wine and visit the beach the next day. It’s the perfect weekend.
43rd Annual Round Top Music Festival: June 6 through July 13, at the Round Top Festival Institute, 248 Jaster Road, Round Top. Young artists from around the world study and perform in a series of concerts with renowned international faculty, conductors and soloists. Ticket prices vary; the opening chamber music concert is $20 for adults, $10 for students, and the opening gala orchestral concert is $30 for adults, $20 for students. For admission and reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org, 979- 249-3129, or www.festivalhill.org.
Why you should go: Festival Hill is a beautifully landscaped campus of 200 acres located between Houston and Austin. This is one of the major classical music festivals in the United States.
42nd Annual Texas Folklife Festival: June 7-9, on the grounds of HemisFair Park in downtown San Antonio. Delicious food, traditional dances, handcrafted gifts, storytelling and music make this a must-see event. Texas Folklife Festival is modeled after the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival and shares the heritage and culture of more than 40 ethnic groups. Tickets in advance are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12 (gate prices are $12 for adults and $5 for children.) Kids 5 and younger get in free. www.texasfolklifefestival.org
Why you should go: More than 150 different foods ensures there’s something appealing for everyone in your family.
44th Annual Elgin Western Days Festival: June 17-22, locations throughout Elgin. Rodeo action, carnival rides and games, tournaments in volleyball, horseshoe and softball, arts and crafts vendors, food, pageants and a Tennis Court Dance make up Western Days, with the biggest events on June 22. www.elgintxchamber.com
Why you should go: The parade is one of the largest in Central Texas, and Elgin is only 19 miles east of Austin.
Luling Watermelon Thump: June 27-30, Luling. This family-friendly event includes a car show, parade, multiple nights of entertainment, and of course watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests, plus the crowning of the Luling Watermelon Thump Queen.
Why you should go: Where else can you try your luck at the World Champion Seed Spitting Competition?