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by Deborah Dove
The days are still warm and the intense heat of summer is starting to fade, making September the month of festivals in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. With area events celebrating everything from hot air balloons to winemaking and butterflies, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and about on the weekend without leaving town—your last chance for a weekend "staycation," enjoying special events, food, beverages, live music and entertainment for the whole family. Following is a list of upcoming festivals so you can begin planning your fall.
Plano Balloon Festival
Oak Point Park, 2801 E. Spring Creek Pkwy., September 18-20. Cost: $5 per person. Multiple day passes are also available. Nearby parking runs $5-10 per car, but free parking and DART shuttles are also available.
There is nothing more spectacular than the amazing array of colorful hot air balloons taking off into the blue sky at this nearby weekend event that has achieved national acclaim and is celebrating its 30th year. Balloon launches are Friday at 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., with balloon glows (grounded balloons illuminated by fire) each evening at 8. Other festival events include a kid’s fun zone with inflatables, free art activities and a rock climbing wall, parachute team exhibitions, nightly concerts and a fireworks show on Saturday at 9 p.m.
Kiwanis Butterfly Festival
Southlake Town Square, 100 State Street, September 11-13; Friday and Saturday 10-7; Sunday 10-5. Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for children.
This small festival in Southlake, celebrating its fifth year, features a 600-square-foot landscaped mesh tent populated with hundreds of Texas butterflies. Educational seminars detailing the lifecycles of the different butterflies will be hosted by butterfly experts who will also be available throughout the event to answer questions. At 5 p.m. on Sunday, the butterflies will be released directly from the pavilion.
Historic Downtown Grapevine, September 17-20; Thursday 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Cost: Free on Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Friday. For the remainder of the event, admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 6-12 and seniors. Weekend passes are also available for $18.
Voted as one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Business Association, the 23rd annual GrapeFest celebrates the Texas wine industry with wine tastings, tours of wineries along the Grapevine Wine Trail with complimentary shuttles, food, a culinary pavilion with demonstrations by local chefs, live music on six stages, a kids’ zone, as well as carnival and midway games. There are numerous wine pavilions, including an international wine pavilion, wine pavilions featuring Texas or Grapevine wines, and a champagne terrace for sampling champagne and sparkling wines.
Highlights of the event include the GrapeStomp, where festival-goers can run barefoot through the grapes and compete to win the "Purple Foot" award, and the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the nation featuring over 30 wineries and 130 varieties of Texas wines. (This is a separately ticketed event and costs $18 per session). This year’s headlining musical act is country singer Mark McKinney.
In addition, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad offers 30-minute mini excursions on Puffy, the oldest continuously-operating steam engine in the south, throughout the weekend and Grapevine Opry performs abbreviated versions of their weekly show indoors at the Palace Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.
Addison Circle Park, Addison, September 17-20; Thursday 5-11 p.m.; Friday 5 p.m.-midnight; Saturday Noon-midnight; Sunday Noon-6 p.m. Cost: $5 ages 4 and up (Free admission on Thursday) Coupons must be purchased for food, drinks, carnival rides, midway games, and wine tasting.
Scheduled to coincide with the opening of the world-renowned Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Addison’s four-day, authentic German festival is one of the largest Oktoberfest festivals outside of the Munich celebration. The festival features polka, German food, Spaten Bier, folk dancing, music, children’s entertainment, carnival rides and more. Highlights include a Dachshund Parade and race (Sunday), German spelling bee, German cuisine tour offered by participating area restaurants, a yodeling competition, bier barrel events and a German car show.
The State Fair of Texas
Fair Park, Dallas, September 25-October 18; Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (closing 9 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.) Cost: $15 ($11 for seniors and kids under 48"tall; kids 2 and under are free). Discount tickets are available at Kroger. Parking on the fairgrounds is $10, or take the new
DART green line.
The festival of all festivals hits town at the end of the month with livestock shows, truck and car shows, arts displays, concerts, shows and exhibits, not to mention the midway, featuring over 70 rides, carnival games and the not-to-be-missed 212-foot Texas Star Ferris Wheel.
This year’s highlights include the Texas Skyway, an 1,800-foot long aerial track that ferries riders in gondolas high above the fairgrounds, afternoon concerts by the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Big Tex Garden Railway (a miniature train display), Fall Garden Exhibition, a BMX bike show and Birds of the World. Longtime favorites such as pig races and stunt dog shows return, and there are plenty of activities for kids such as the Schepps Backyard Circus, Petting Barnyard, PeeWee Stampede, puppet shows and an interactive farm. Round out the evening with the Starlight Parade (nightly at 7:15) and lights, music, dancing waters and pyrotechnics at Esplanade.
All About Uptown
Fairmount Street between McKinney Ave. and Howell St., Dallas, Saturday, September 26; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Cost: Free. Attendees may park for free at Crescent Real Estate Tower, located next to the Rosewood Crescent Hotel or ride DART.
If the heart of an urban city-dweller beats in your suburban bound body, check out this one day fun festival that explores the best of Uptown with live music, food and drink, legendary chefs cooking demonstrations, artisans, historic tours of the areas Victorian homes, trolley system and cemeteries. In addition to Uptown’s eclectic mix of restaurants and bars (many of which offer specials during the festival), galleries, one-of-a-kind shops and high-end boutiques, the festival also features the Chef Showcase, Pets R Uptown, and the Dean Foods Kid Korner for the little ones. When the sun goes down, festival-goers can rock the night away with live music from the hottest local and national bands.
Deborah Dove is a freelance writer from Allen.