Created by a crew of local cowhands 26 years ago, the Western Heritage Classic has mushroomed into a three-day event bringing together thousands of lasso-loving Texans. The ranch rodeo ticket gets you inside the dirt-covered coliseum at 8 p.m. Friday, when rival ranchers test their mettle in a series of original events—roping calves, riding broncos, milking wild cows, branding cattle, and more recent additions such as team penning and bovine speed texting. Saturday's ground pass applies only to non-ranch-rodeo events, including the chuck wagon cook-off and the fiddler contest, in which bow masters pound out the jams to get cowboy boots shuffling. Those attending both days can hear the weathered verses of cowboy poets, the pastoral works of western artists and artisans, and witness rancher Charlier Trayer’s cowdog demonstrations.
A day’s worth of revelry awaits patrons at the Putt-Putt Fun Center, with attractions designed to amuse fun-seekers of all ages. Settle family feuds on the 18-hole Putt-Putt golf course, which includes both mini scoring pencils and mini mulligans––if no one sees. After a rousing round of mini golf, bat-wielders can bludgeon sports spheres to their hearts' content in the Putt-Putt BatZone, where one token produces 20 pitches and 200 home runs earns "Eternal Glory" emblazoned across the onesie of the slugger's choice. Skee-ball all-stars can rack up a small fortune in winnings redeemable for prizes in the air-conditioned arcade.
The Longbranch Saloon lures revelers with a laid-back neighborhood atmosphere and anchors them in place by filling their stomachs with a cadre of comfort sandwiches and fried finger foods. The sourdough steak-burger's ($7) half-pound sirloin patty arrives charbroiled with an entourage of veggies, prepared to entertain an audience of screaming taste buds. As four big-screen TVs broadcast big-time sporting events and vizsla puppy cams, patrons chomp on beef-brisket sandwich baskets ($4) and extra-large buffalo wings ($7 large) slathered in chipotle, boneless, or inferno sauce. After dinner or in between bites, diners can transform into pool sharks by playing a friendly match of nine-ball or hustling a clone on one of Longbranch's pool tables.
• For $83, you get two classical passes to four classical concerts on Sept. 24, 2011; Oct. 29, 2011; Jan. 28, 2012; and April 21, 2012, valid for rows S–Z on the seating chart (a $166 value). • For $112, you get two classical passes valid for rows F–R (a $224 value). • For $79, you get two pops passes to three pops concerts on Dec. 3, 2011; Feb. 25, 2012; and April 12, 2012, valid for rows S–Z (a $158 value). • For $99, you get two pops passes valid for rows F–R (a $198 value). • For $137, you get two full passes to all seven season concerts, valid for rows S–Z (a $274 value). • For $187, you get two full passes, valid for rows F–R (a $374 value).
Plummeting into a hurricane?s eye. Tunneling through San Andreas?s interior. Zipping in and out of colliding galaxies. At Mayborn Science Theater, these sorts of adventures are par for the course. Here, wonders of the natural world beam onto a 60-foot digital screen that wraps around an entire 180-seat theater, creating immersive educational experiences. Screened during weekends and weekday matinees, science-minded shows focus on diverse, family-friendly topics such as stars and tropical reefs. Its laser light shows, on the other hand, eschew education for spectacle, dazzling audiences with 3D graphics and 15,000 watts of digital sound.
Outside the dome, Mayborn continues educating visitors at its gallery. Amidst rotating displays on subjects such as rocks and minerals, the Vice Space station showcases Hubble photographs and shares updates from the Mars rover. The exhibit?s recent acquisitions even include tiles from actual space shuttles, as well as tiles from actual Mahjong games played by astronauts sitting in NASA waiting rooms.
Rockbox Theater inflicts delight on crowds of all ages with family-friendly live music, theater, and comedy performed by a resident cast of talented entertainers, earning the title of Texas's No. 1 attraction from TripAdvisor. Groupon holders will receive tickets in rows H through Q, with specific seat assignments made available by phone reservation or listening for barely audible wind-whispers. Audiences behold an extravaganza featuring musical classics by artists such as The Beatles and Stevie Ray Vaughan, with the regular cast joined by a weekly special guest artist. Drop by July 23 to catch the cast performing with Merging Blue from Nashville, or witness The Moonlites on August 6, sure to cause a lunar eclipse in other parts of the world. Rockbox puts up a new show each weekend, replete with vivid costumes, choreography, and wholesome comedy.