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Written by Jane Kellogg Murray

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Labor Day weekend's numerous event offerings include the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series at Possum Kingdom Lake and the long-running Fayette County Fair in La Grange. It's also the final weekend of "Wild Weather," an exhibit at San Antonio's Witte Museum that explores how scientists are working to better forecast severe weather events like Hurricane Harvey.

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It doesn't cost much to enjoy the end of summer in Texas. If you're on the hunt for free fun this weekend, head to these events across the state—including the Reunion Lawn Party at Dallas' Reunion Tower, Austin's Quesoff, and LBJ Day festivities at the Texas White House.

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Prepare yourself for another fun-filled hot weekend: The Hotter 'N Hell Hundred rides through Wichita Falls, The Texas White House celebrates what would have been LBJ's 109th birthday, and the longest continually running fair in Texas—the Gillespie County Fair—returns for its 129th year.

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It doesn't cost much to enjoy the end of summer in Texas. If you're on the hunt for free fun this weekend, head to these events across the state—including the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival and the final weekend of an Iris van Herpen exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art.

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August heats up with the original ranch rodeo in Wichita Falls, Hatch chiles in Grand Prairie, Grilling at the Gage in Marathon, and Austin's annual Quesoff.

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The final few days of summer feature kid-friendly fun—and fun that'll make you feel like a kid—including Austin's ice cream festival and grape stomps at Texas wineries.

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The Big Bend feeder town of Terlingua is no ghost town the first weekend in November. That’s because every year for half a century, the former mining outpost has hosted up to 20,000 chiliheads vying to help crown the year’s best chili con carne. It all began in 1967 as a cookoff between two chili aficionados: Wick Fowler of the Chili Appreciation Society International, and H. Allen Smith, a former New Yorker who had published a magazine article titled, “Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do.” As the legend goes, the two men tied (despite Smith’s use of beans in his recipe—an abomination by Texas standards), and so began the tradition of returning to the west Texas desert each year. Today, hundreds of chili cooks compete all year in order to obtain an invitation to compete in Terlingua Nov. 1-4. The cookoff splintered into two festivals in 1983: the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff and the Terlingua International Chili Championship, held concurrently on the same weekend, just a few miles apart, so now—in addition to arguing about who makes the best bowl of chili—attendees can argue about which cookoff is better. Regular attendees get in the spirit all week long by camping in tents and RVs, and enjoying live music nightly.

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Hundreds of Native American dancers, drummers, and artists will converge in Austin Nov. 4 for the 26th annual Austin Powwow. Last year it relocated to the Austin Expo Center to welcome 30,000 attendees, one of the largest single-day powwows in the country. The intertribal event brings together approximately 80 tribes—from Texas of course, but also South Carolina, Oklahoma, Standing Rock, Canada, and Central America—to celebrate their different tribal heritages and histories. 

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The six flags of Texas are well known, but in Nacogdoches—the oldest town in Texas—three more flags found their way into the history books. The earliest of these lesser-known flags is an emerald banner for the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition (1812 to 1813), a short-lived army that controlled territory east of San Antonio. The second flag, a red-striped Lone Star flag, represents Dr. James Long and his expedition to Nacogdoches from 1819 to 1821 before he was captured by Spanish troops and killed. And the third flag, carrying the words “Independence, Freedom, and Justice” belongs to the Republic of Fredonia, proclaimed by Texas settler Haden Edwards from 1826 to 1827 following the revocation of a land grant from the Mexican government. For more than two decades, the city has paid homage to its rebellious history by kicking off the holiday season in style during Nine Flags Festival (Nov. 4-Dec. 20). Festivities include a parade and an installation of more than 3 million lights downtown. 

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Hues of every color on the spectrum will cover the pavement surrounding Houston’s Hermann Square at City Hall as the city reinvents its annual street painting festival, Via Colori, Nov. 18–19. Some 25,000 attendees will head to the 12th annual event to witness more than 200 Texan and international artists colorize the streets using pastel chalks—creating ephemeral artwork that will only remain for two days. Proceeds benefit The Center for Hearing and Speech, a local organization that helps children with hearing loss learn to listen, speak, and read. The festival’s theme, “70 Years in Color,” will celebrate the center’s 70 years of service. 

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Leagues of literati will crowd the capital city for the 22nd annual Texas Book Festival Nov. 4–5. Founded in 1995 by former librarian and then-First Lady of Texas Laura Bush, the festival expects an estimated 40,000 readers of all ages to meet more than 250 featured authors, such as Gail Simmons—Top Chef judge and author of a new cookbook for adventurous eaters—and Roger D. Hodge, former Harper's editor and author of a new book out in October: “Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands.” In addition to author panels, signings, and vendor booths, the free Austin festival offers an opportunity to bike, run, kayak, or practice yoga on the Capitol lawn with select authors. New this year: birdwatching with Victor Emanuel. 

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The season of jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, and other fall frolics has returned. Texas offers a trove of terror, but there’s plenty of family-friendly fun at zoos across the state to celebrate the season. 

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