Los Dias Que Vienen: Anticipating the Days of the Dead Anticipating Dias de Muertos, native Houstonian Agapito Sanchez has a collection of crisp black-and-white photographs of Days of the Dead decorations, photographs he has hand-tinted and toned, on display. Sanchez is best described as a folk-art photographer, and his last show at Las Manos Magicas featured photographic studies of Virgins and santos. The currentshowcontinuesthrough November. There will be a reception for the artist from 7-9 p.m. Las Manos Magicas, 306 Westcott, 802-2530.
Ballet benefit Houston Ballet dancer Lauren Anderson is in charge of publicizing this event -- perhaps training for a post-ballet career in PR -- and she proudly informs us that Cleo Laine and John Dankworth will perform in concert to benefit the Houston Ballet's Artists Reserve Fund. The first couple of jazz aren't seen much in these parts, preferring to spend their time in Britain. Basically, Cleo and her four-octave voice only show up in the States to inquire about her many Grammy nominations or star in a Broadway musical, and maybe cut some platters with Ray Charles or Mel Torme. However, she and John do have a long-standing happy relationship with the Ballet, because our troupe often travels overseas, and the happy couple couldn't be more thrilled about donating their services to this worthy cause. The Artists Reserve Fund "assists dancers in transition," a polite way of saying money and resources go to easing former dancers into the real world, and also helps out in case of emergencies. There will be only one performance; get tickets now. 8 p.m. Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $25-$42.
Texas Gatorfest '95 Have you ever tasted alligator? Well, it's better than having alligator taste you (har har). That's the kind of joke they tell in Anahuac, the gator capital of Texas, where carnivorous reptiles outnumber people two to one. At least before the festival they do -- during the festival alligator hunters from across the state compete to bring in the catch of the day and win cash. Past specimens have measured 13 feet and more. Along with presenting live specimens, provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife, highly trained professional alligator experts in the Alligator Education Tent will have fun facts to know and yell, answering all your questions about the scaly creatures and their wetlands home. Along with the educational stuff, the festival will feature a water ski show, live music, a beer garden and carnival rides for the kids. (And more to eat than gator meat.) No pets, coolers, picnic baskets, cans, bottles or glass containers, or refunds. 6 p.m.-midnight tonight; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Only 50 miles east of Houston. Take I-10 east, hop off at exit 810 and go six miles south to Anahuac. You can't miss it. For more information, call (409) 267-4190. $5; $3, over 65; $2, students; free, children under five. Free parking.
Houston Puppet Festival Everything from high-class marionettes to balloon animals will be shown and made at this celebration of the ancient art of puppetry. One not-so-arty workshop is "How to Sell Your Puppet Show," but most seminars are "make and take," meaning participants make a puppet and take it home. The high-class marionettes are the Carranza Puppets in a performance of Beauty and the Beast; the balloon animals are as-yet-unmade creatures from a balloon art workshop. The Greater Houston Puppetry Guild offers more than workshops: "You are welcome to shop for your puppet needs and view the puppets on display," we're told. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Beauty and the Beast at 9 a.m. Northwoods Presbyterian Church, 3320 FM 1960. For details, call 893-8339. $60; $30, children six-16 (continental breakfast and lunch included): Beauty and the Beast only, $5.
Diez y Seis de Septiembre Mexican Independence Day will be celebrated all over town, all over the Gulf Coast, in fact. But when it comes to educational events for kids, the Fort Bend Museum Association, the folks who handle events at the George Ranch, are once again on top of things. Historical reenactments (a male docent dressed as Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla shouting "Viva Mexico! Viva la independencia!" and the like), Ballet Folklorico dancing (with local children) and children's games (loteria, pirenola, el tirador and cascarones) are on the agenda. Local Mexican families will be honored in a photo exhibit and Mexican food will be served. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. John M. Moore Home grounds, Fort Bend Museum, 500 Houston Street, Richmond, 342-6478. $2.50; $2, seniors; $1, children.
Luther's Fifth Annual World's Largest Rib Eatin' Contest Hyperbole and hogs are the watchwords for this messy event. To raise funds for the Center for the Retarded Inc., "face-stuffing, pigging-out, finger-licking, hog-wild contestants" will belly up to a trough of pig meat and chow on ribs. These contestants, some celebrities and some not so celebrated, will be judged not only on total consumption, but also on consumption-with-style and general style (as in costume, dress and the like). The judges will include pig specialists such as Ken Hoffman and Jon Matthews. Previous contests have raised $10,000, and the fine folks of Luther's would, of course, like to do even better this year. Contest registration begins at 4 p.m., contest at 5 p.m. Entry fee is $35 per person and there are T-shirts and Alka-Seltzer for all contestants. City Hall, reflection pond. For more information or an entry form, visit your local Luther's or call 537-8895.