Some like it hot--and some like it Cajun. At the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival, Austinites can test their iron stomachs against some of the fieriest fried food the bayou has to offer. About 7,000 pounds of crawfish will be given away over the course of the 11-hour event, while funk, blues, dixieland, and zydeco bands provide the entertainment. Those not in the mood for flaming-hot crustaceans will find catfish, bayou chicken, fried oysters, po'boys, frog legs, jambalaya, and anything else the cooks conjure up with their culinary voodoo.
With proceeds benefiting the local fire rescue, the Buda Fire Fest fills the weekend with a lineup of acclaimed musicians, family-friendly fun, and crowd-pleasing competitions. On Friday, the action-packed schedule kicks off at 8 p.m. with back-to-back performances from a lineup of country stars, including the Casey Donahew Band. Saturday’s all-day festivities entertain crowds with events such as the Ultimate Fire Fighter challenge, where competitors partake in feats of strength and agility, whereas local ladies see who can roar the hottest cartoon flames in the Miss Fire Fest pageant. Families pack up lawn chairs and blankets to sprawl in open outdoor seating for electrifying performances from Grammy-winners Little Joe & La Familia at 5 p.m on Sunday and lyrical tale-teller Roger Creager at 10 p.m. on Saturday. An array of activities entertains every taste, from the kids’ fun zone and junior contests to the cook-off, which sends the scent of prize-winning brisket, beans, and dragon-charred pork ribs through the park grounds.
The trainers affectionately call Maximum III CrossFit “The Box,” because of its open, utilitarian layout. It’s a far cry from posh health clubs, but when it’s filled with people lifting weights, hoisting themselves up on gymnastics rings, and encouraging one another, the ever-changing CrossFit workouts need no frills.
No two workouts of the day are the same. They are varied with high-intensity, functional exercises, such as kettlebell drills, rope climbing, and body-weight exercises. The workouts are scalable so that all fitness levels can join in and take on the challenges. The trainers strive to push each member to get into the best shape of their lives, whether that’s preparing for a marathon or gaining enough strength to finally win a thumb war.
Offering sunrise and sunset excursions, Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloons Rides floats riders through the clouds on brightly colored, eight-story-tall buoys of heated air. After being picked up from a designated pickup location, guests will meet the day's FAA-certified captain, crew, and up to 16 fellow passengers. Air wranglers impart a formal safety briefing as balloons slowly take shape, filling with hot air supplied by area high-school debate teams. A blast of burners lifts leisure seekers into the air, drifting through the blue sky for approximately an hour, bandied about by the day's prevailing winds. Passengers chase crews who rendezvous at the chosen landing site for a congratulatory postflight celebration and first flight certificate. Passengers will be returned to the designated pickup location after the flight.
The quiet hanging over 20 acres of white kentucky fence-lined prairie is broken with the opening chords of a power ballad. Lori Ragland is in a light-rock kind of mood today, and has chosen the soundtrack for the afternoon’s riding lessons accordingly. Finding this balance between the serenity of nature and ebullience of horseback riding is key to Lori’s approach to providing a controlled yet supportive learning environment for all of her pupils. A seasoned equestrienne who started her riding career at the tender age of 5, she strongly believes that a rider should possess a solid knowledge of riding safety and horse anatomy before stepping into the stirrups, which is why much time is spent with beginners reviewing these basics. Lori and her equally passionate crew of instructors pride themselves on their almost preternatural ability to pair up riders with their perfect steeds. They carefully analyze each rider’s disposition, comfort level, and fluency in colloquial neighing before matching them with a well-tempered mount from their fleet of 32 predominantly arabian horses.
After decades of winning the admiration of stock-car racing fans with his aggressive driving strategy and off-track charisma, Rusty Wallace now gives others the chance to experience the rush of racing. He joined forces with Sodikart to roll out the Rusty Wallace Kart Experience, pairing kart with driver at some of the country's most celebrated racetracks. Racers can hop in a custom RT8 (or its kid-friendly counterpart, the LR4) and hit the gas, tearing up everything from the versatile road courses and speedy main track of the Atlanta Motor Speedway to the challenging lava pits of the Milwaukee Mile.
But this go-karting business has a big brother?the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. It's a high-speed trip into the pro-racing trade, with breathtaking ride-alongs and racing experiences in stock cars. Guests buckle up and sit shotgun alongside professional drivers as they fly down straightaways and around curves. They can even get behind the wheel themselves, finally feeling what it's like to be a professional driver.