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Written by Jane Kellogg Murray

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Rodeos, Romeos, and river racing—find all that and more fun things to do this weekend across Texas.

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Dance in the desert at Viva Big Bend, enter the mosquito legs contest at the Great Texas Mosquito Festival, or stomp grapes at Messina Hof's annual Harvest Festival.

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Event ideas to fill up your weekend include a new exhibit at San Antonio's Witte Museum, Friona's annual celebration of the cheeseburger, and stargazing at Big Spring State Park.

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This weekend, get your kicks in Shamrock at the annual Route 66 Festival, at the Parker County Peach Festival, or at the Round Top Music Festival.

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Texas is serious about hot sauce. Whether you prefer your drops to be infused with serrano, habanero, or jalapeño; on the sweeter side; or slap-your-mama spicy, celebrate your love of the sauce this August at the annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. This month marks the 28th year for the drool-worthy event, which will once again be held at Fiesta Gardens in east Austin. The fest serves as a major fundraiser for the Central Texas Food Bank, having provided more than 765,000 meals for the organization over the years. As usual, it will be a hot day for hot sauce, but cold brews will be available for purchase to cool you off—and to give your mouth a break. Enjoy live music all day plus plenty of local food vendors. But the main event is definitely the blind tasting, where top chefs, food writers, and notable personalities try out sauces from individuals, restaurants, and commercial bottlers. Some festival alumni in the individual category have even gone on to start commercial bottling businesses. Brave festivalgoers can head to the pavilion in the center of the gardens for the public tasting.

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Make wine the old-fashioned way in Stonewall at the Becker Vineyards Annual Grape Stomp on Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-2. To toast the end of harvest season, half barrels will be filled with grapes so oenophiles can try their hand—well, foot—at crushing grapes. After your stomp session, you can stamp your purple footprints on the back of a souvenir T-shirt to commemorate the occasion. During the second weekend, there will be a Lucy & The Italian Woman Contest, where attendees can channel their inner Lucille Ball. Costumes—and enthusiasm—are required! The event is free and open to the public.

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The name says it all. The Hotter ’N Hell Hundred grew out of efforts to find a special way for Wichita Falls to celebrate its 1982 centennial. In the hottest month of the year, most Texas cities might plan an indoor festival—or you might think Wichita Falls would celebrate its namesake with some fun on the water. Instead, the Wichita Falls Bicycle Club proposed a bicycle ride—100 miles in 100-degree heat to celebrate 100 years, coining the name and a race that would attract intrepid cyclists to North Texas for decades to come. This annual August race is still the largest single-day 100-mile bicycle ride in the nation—and one of the largest in the world; last year the event welcomed some 11,000 registrants for the weekend. This year, Aug. 23-26, attendees can enjoy live outdoor concerts, a consumer show, a spaghetti dinner, and more in addition to competing against the road, the wind, and a heat that’s hotter than (you guessed it) hell.

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Don’t expect to see rodeo events like bull riding or steer wrestling at the Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls. It’s not just about sport; instead, the 38th annual event, Aug. 17-18, will simulate events at the cattle roundups of the late 1800s and early 1900s, showcasing the hard work of true cowboys at 10 Texas ranches selected to participate because of their rich, long histories. Competitive events reflect activities that routinely take place at ranches, such as calf doctoring, bronc riding, wild cow milking, team penning, and branding—plus a chuckwagon cooking contest, and a trade show featuring bits, spurs, and Western collectibles.

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In 2008, the city of El Paso and its Community Foundation restored and reopened the historic 1930s-era Plaza Theatre with a bang…and a festival. Ten years later, the party continues. The Plaza Classic Film Festival, on Aug. 2-12, is a 10-day celebration of classic film. Think more An Affair to Remember than Call Me by Your Name; Lilies of the Field than Lady Bird. Movies are still shown at the Plaza, of course, but at the present-day fest you can catch a flick outdoors on Oregon Street next to San Jacinto Plaza, or at the local museums, the public library, or nine stories up atop the Mills Plaza Parking Garage. The star-studded festival brings in about 40,000 people annually to El Paso, including Hollywood heavyweights like Al Pacino, El Paso native Debbie Reynolds, Rita Moreno, and Richard Dreyfuss in previous years. In addition to the classics, the festival showcases a bevy of regional talent with its Local Flavor series, which screens features, shorts, documentaries and other projects. Individual ticket prices vary; a 10-day festival pass is $200. Let’s go to the movies!

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If you’re wondering why Friona—a place with only three fast-food burger joints—is dubbed the Cheeseburger Capital of Texas, we wouldn’t blame you. The answer lies in its location. Friona intersects three Texas industries, which also happen to be the three ingredients to a perfect cheeseburger: dairy, cattle, and wheat. On July 21, the town hosts its annual Friona Cheeseburger Festival to celebrate its uniquely delicious agricultural geography. The day of indulgence begins at 11:30 a.m. at Friona City Park, and $7 gets you a meal ticket to try up to four burgers. Expert burger chefs and amateurs alike can compete for cash prizes in the cheeseburger cookoff as long as they can crank out 200 one-third-pound burgers. Bring your appetite.

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We are constantly reminded that Marfa is no longer Texas’ best-kept secret, but rather a destination for art, music, and film lovers from across the globe. Exhibit A: the Marfa Film Festival. For five days, on July 11-15, filmmakers, film buffs, international press, and industry professionals flood the tiny desert town to view a curated mix of more than 50 feature films, shorts, music videos, and experimental works. Unlike other popular film festivals, this one screens one film at a time, so attendees can enjoy each showing “in that unhurried sun-drenched desert town at the end of the world kind of way”—true Marfa style. In previous years, the festival has featured the likes of Dennis Hopper, Larry McMurtry, and Heath Ledger. This year, for its 10th anniversary, the festival is celebrating women. On Friday night, there will be an alfresco picnic honoring the July birthday of Frida Kahlo, with interactive art installations dedicated to the prolific Mexican painter. In keeping with past years, classic movies will be screened outside in the starlit desert each evening. If you’re pining for more than just movies, the weekend has a reputation for memorable musical and theater performances, like a 2008 concert by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and last year’s private showing of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Keep your ears open for special events and happenings hosted by various Marfa hotspots throughout the weekend. So, whether you’re a cinephile or just a fan of the unique Marfa mindset, pack your bag for what is sure to be a weekend to remember. And book your stay early—as we all know, accommodations are sparse. Passes are $300 a pop.

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