Houston Children's Festival The Great American Barnyard starring Ralph, the celebrated swimming pig of Aquarena Springs, will be on hand. For our money, Ralph is head and shoulders above Babe and Gordie. And, if kids want to know more about the nitty-gritty aspects of farm life, the George Ranch will have a "corral full of frontier fun" set up on the grounds. (Note to kids with swine allergies: the festival features a 90-ton pig sculpted from sand -- there will be porcine fun for every child!) Kids can also romp and stomp in "The Inflatable Forest" and the "Healthasaurus Adventure." Small fry can play in "Lil' Things Lil' Land," and all this sugary cuteness is to benefit Child Advocates Inc. Over the past three years, the festival has raised a quarter-million dollars to fund court advocate programs for youths in state custody -- in fact, one child in four is served by Child Advocates Inc. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Greenway Plaza Park, next to The Summit, 684-6080. $3.75; small charge for some activities and rides.
Houston Auto Show The 007 roadster, a Yugo accordion and the 1997 Plymouth Prowler (which is sillier than any of the 18 Yugo art cars) will be on display along with a testosterone-bubbling array of cars and trucks, and sport utility vehicles, at the Houston Auto Show. As always, classic cars and childcare. 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Through March 31. Astrohall, 8400 Kirby, 799-9500. $6; free, children 12 and under.
Texas Brewers Festival Spring is here, and that means outdoor festivals. This early entry on the festival list cuts out all the fuss and bother and gets down to festival basics -- beer, beer drunk outside from a plastic cup; 40 types of microbrew will be served. Here's the deal, you show an ID and buy a festival mug ($3). Wooden tokens are $2.50 apiece, and each token is good for 14 ounces of foamy delight. Food, music and safe rides home will be provided. (The Wampus Cats play around 2 p.m.) Also, free soda for designated drivers. Noon-8 p.m. today; 1 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Market Square, downtown at Preston and Travis. For more information, call (512) 462-1855.
The Great Houston Duck Race The official duck race art for this year's thrilling event comes from Louis DeLeon, a sixth-grader at Gregory-Lincoln Middle School. DeLeon's design, a proud mallard floating serenely on a mountain lake, captures the drama and the quiet pride of the duck race. The gentle smile on the bird's beak reminds us of this race's purpose, to raise money for the Delta Gamma foundation E and what of the foreboding peaks in the background? Well, maybe he likes to use brown paint. In any case, it's a cute picture, and the Great Houston Duck Race is a fine event. Top prize is a two-year lease on a Mercury Sable, and Delta Gamma hopes to raise $100,000 to help the blind and visually impaired. Noon, Kids Karnival, petting zoo, registration; 1, Duck Walk begins; 2, Duck Walk "Waddle Off"; 2:15, thousands of rubber duckies dumped into the bayou; 2:30 p.m., the Texas Cannon launches the race ducks! Entry forms can be picked up at any Oshman's or TSO, and completed forms can be faxed to Duck HQ, 521-FAXX. To be a part of it all, head for Sam Houston Park, downtown, 521-DUCK. $5, one duck; $25, six ducks; $100, 23 ducks; $250, 55 ducks; and $500, 110 ducks.
Aquadrama Tom Kennedy, the man inside Ripper the Friendly Shark, has announced the formation of an art car ballet troupe; Aquadrama, the troupe's inaugural performance, will be performed April 18 at the Art Car Ball. Those who have altered their cars, bikes or skating costumes, and those who are considering altering their cars, bikes or skating costumes, are invited to a meeting. 2 p.m. Art Car Park, downtown at Pease and Travis. For more information, call 880-5764.
Valdir Cruz No doubt many, perhaps hundreds, of Houstonians will wake this fine morning thinking "Golly gosh, I've been meaning to get out and see some Foto Fest art. This is the only day I've got free, and, gol durn it, most galleries are closed." Well, not all galleries are closed Monday, and LaCharl Gallery has a fine show by New York photographer Valdir Cruz. New York by way of Brazil, that is. His subjects are often rural scenes from his homeland -- landscapes with horses and images of tropeiros, the cowboys of Brazil. Through March 31. 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. LaCharl Gallery, the Park Shops, 1200 McKinney, 650-0815.
A Woman's Line: Poetry on Women's Lineage, Heritage and Lives In conjunction with the opening of Antonia's Line, Landmark Greenway Theatre presents a reading by strong woman poets handpicked for this event. Jewell Handy, Janet Lowery, Jacsun Shah and Stella Thorp are the poets. 6 p.m. Landmark Greenway Theatre, 5 Greenway Plaza, 850-0217. The reading is free, the movie is $6.75.
1/2 of a 1/2 of a 1/2 Artist and breast-cancer activist Matuschka has a Foto Fest show at the Firehouse Gallery through April, and during the last part of March, she will be making appearances and giving talks around town. This afternoon, the University of Houston department of women's studies sponsors a Matuschka lecture and slide presentation. Matuschka will talk about her life and her art, and how breast cancer affected her life and art. 2-3 p.m. University of Houston, Roy Cullen Building, third floor lounge, 4800 Calhoun. For more information about this and other events, call the Houston Women's Caucus for Art, 520-7840. Free.