Thursday, March 17, 2011

Festivals Galore!

It’s that time of year again in Austin, when the weather is perfect and every weekend brings a festival of some sort.  Today, the celebration is threefold as Saint Patrick’s Day coincides with both South by Southwest and the Austin Rodeo.  I’m not sure whether to wear green, dress like a hipster, or don my cowboy hat.

The music portion of South by Southwest is already in full swing with 2,000 bands performing around downtown Austin in the span of four days – and those are only the official shows.  Every venue in the city is throwing some kind of party.  The dentist office around the corner from me is hosting a three-day event called "Mouth by Mouthwest" with twenty bands and a full bar (but don’t worry, the on-call dentists are limiting themselves to two drinks apiece).

Because I live in downtown Austin, I can hear the music and the screaming crowds from inside my apartment.  All.  Day.  Long.  How am I supposed to concentrate on writing when there’s a party raging outside my window?  Ever since I broke my leg in the ninth grade and had to be homeschooled for a few months, I have a fear of missing out on fun things.  If it were up to me, I’d be out in the street, drinking green beer and listening to that indie chick who plays the ukulele and sings African chants, but my husband likes to remind me that it’s Thursday and “at least one of us has to work.”

If it was a one-time thing he’d probably humor me, but Austin loves to celebrate and hardly ever takes a day off.  I don’t even set my alarm anymore; I just rely on the daily parades to wake me up.  Nothing infuriates my husband more than a parade.  He’ll go out on the balcony and start waving his fists around while yelling, “Another parade?!  Don’t you people ever stop?!  What’s wrong with you?!  For the love of God, put down your trombones and go home!”

I expect parades and live music on Saint Patrick’s Day, Fat Tuesday, and Cinco de Mayo.  Texas Independence Day?  Why not!  A day to celebrate ice cream?  Sure!  But what about hot sauce?  Reggae music?  Urban music?  Celtic music?  Bluegrass music?  Let’s not forget about Jugglefest.  Or Fantastic Fest.  Or Fun Fun Fun Fest.  There’s the Gypsy Picnic Festival, the Louisiana Swamp Thing Festival, the Old Pecan Street Festival, the Sherwood Forest Faire, the Zilker Kite Festival, Batstravaganza, Batfest (yes, it’s different), The Dragon Boat Festival, The Rattlesnake Sacking Festival…

And then there are the weird ones, like No Pants Day.  Or the 13th Annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk, where Austinites and their dogs attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Dog Walk.”   Austin has been celebrating Eeyore’s birthday (yes, that Eeyore) since the 1960s with drum circles and a maypole. The Keep Austin Weird Festival includes a costumed 5K run with a pit stop at an ice cream shop; its tagline is “the slowest 5K you’ll ever run.”  My personal favorite is the Hairy Man Festival, which features a petting zoo, karaoke, and, of course, the Hairiest Man Contest.  I still have yet to check out the No Idea Festival, which is entirely unplanned and improvised.  (Yes, these are all real events.)

With so many festivals, it’s amazing that partygoers manage to keep them all straight.  The Republic of Texas Biker Rally and the Austin Gay Pride Parade are held in the same location on back-to-back weekends.  Imagine mixing up those Saturdays.  It probably wouldn’t take you very long to figure out your mistake.

Well, time to give up for the day and join the party.  Happy Festivaling!


  1. I think I need to move to Austin.

    Or at least come join the "slowest 5K you'll ever run," because that would be the ONLY 5K I'd ever participate in. :-D

  2. You make me laugh out loud. Keep it up.