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.
A thunderous roar often overtakes the Central Texas Speedway stadium. Whether caused by the sound of a guitarist's first power chord or the revving engine of a stock car, rushes of adrenaline flood over spectators. Held on a sprawling 29-acre complex, Central Texas Speedway makes an ideal outdoor venue for racing and live music. Here, rockers play to crowds of 20,000 plus and stock cars zoom around the 3/8-mile asphalt track.
Spectators can even step right into the shoes of their favorite racing stars. The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience puts visitors behind the wheel of a real stock car, while The Go Kart Speed school allows people as young as 13 to try their hands at racing Honda GX270–powered karts. Older racers can toast their victories at the onsite Car Bar—or perhaps continue the friendly competition at Central Texas Speedway's horseshoe and volleyball courts.
A bright, five-pointed star gleams above the Texas State University campus on select nights. Fixed atop Jackson Hall—a 12-story building that marks the campus's highest point—the star can be seen for miles throughout Hays County, letting fans know that it's time to celebrate a Bobcats victory and take out the pizza they started baking at half-time. Throughout the Bobcats' proud history, the Victory Star has had many occasions for beaming, as the school has won a litany of championships across multiple sports, including NCAA Div. II championships in football and men's golf and NAIA titles in men's basketball and men's tennis.
Sunset Bowling Lanes opened in 1959 with 24 solid-wood lanes and a stockpile of miniature pencils to keep track of spares and strikes. The alley has since upgraded to computerized scoring systems while also maintaining the charm of classic tenpin entertainment. In addition to its open bowling and league opportunities, Sunset Bowling Lanes hosts events such as college nights—which provide students with discounts so they can save up for books or exam mulligans—and keeps its patrons fueled for the eternal turkey hunt with burgers and drinks from the snack bar.
A cozy restaurant by day and rocking concert venue by night, Cypress Creek Cafe pairs hearty casual American cuisine with jams from some of the Lone Star State's most promising bands. As far as the food goes, you'd be remiss to not try the country-fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, and black-bean tacos packed with cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a homemade seasonal pie or a stack of pancakes during the popular weekend breakfast. Just down the hallway, the Buzzard Bar packs them in on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. The reason? Live blues, country, and rock performances that get the crowd moving.