Houston International Festival Back and better than ever, the Houston International Festival celebrates West Africa and a variety of local traditions. For two weekends, 20 blocks of downtown will be devoted to entertainment from Texas, the United States and the world; to wonderful foods from Texas, the United States and the world; and, yes, shopping! Arts and crafts booths with goods from all over the globe will be open all day, both weekends. The festival also offers not only six stages for live entertainment on weekends, but also lunchtime concerts April 2226. (For more on the music, check out Critic's Choice, page 62.) Our mayor and a host of international dignitaries will launch the festival with a sneak peek at some of the international entertainment. The real deal, which is educational and exciting for the whole family, begins tomorrow. The mayor and his cohorts may also explain festival admission, but in case they don't, here's the deal: single tickets, $5; festival friend deal, good for two season passes, $25; Supercuts passport, good for four admission tickets, coupons and parking, $12; kids under 12 get in free. The lunch-break opening ceremonies, 11:30 a.m.noon. City Hall Plaza, downtown. For more information about the opening ceremonies or other festival events, call 654-8808.
Kids Expo '96 Kids who want to see something they shouldn't try at home will love the ESPN-2 sports arena and the ESPN-2 Extreme Team and Skate Great Xtreme Team. There are no fights to the death in this arena, but the action is almost as thrilling. Stunt bikers will flip and fly, skateboarders will make 25-foot jumps and in-line skaters will do things few dare try -- and between their three shows daily, the skaters will conduct workshops. For the less, let's say, kinetic children, more than 1,000 live fish have been trucked in for the Fish-O-Rama, an indoor pond where kids can catch and keep trophy fish. Also, there will be standard kid fair fare such as a petting zoo, pony and camel rides, costumed Disney characters and music. 9 a.m.9 p.m. today; 10 a.m.6 p.m. Sunday. Astrohall, Astrodomain, Kirby at Loop 610. For more information, call 748-Kids. Regular admission, $5.50; $3.50, kids. Fiesta stores are offering passes for $1 admission at all checkout stands. Parents are advised to come prepared to spend money.
Galveston Maritime Festival The Coast Guard will demonstrate exciting air-sea rescues with wriggling humans dangling from an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, and a variety of boats and sea-life memorabilia will be on display. 9 a.m.6 p.m. today and Sunday. The waterfront at Pier 21, Galveston. For more information, call Allen LeCornu at the Admiralty Marine Model Gallery, (409) 766-1777. Free admission.
Urban Harvest Celebration of Earth Day There are more than 30 Urban Harvest gardens in the greater Houston area, providing produce for the needy and hands-in-the-dirt work for civic-minded Houstonians, and today they are all open for touring. Soil that was first tilled for Liberty Gardens of WW I is still producing veggies in Urban Harvest gardens of today. Some of the vegetables are exotic, too. Urban Harvest has a seed library program providing rare types of seed. To learn more about this and other Urban Harvest programs, tour a garden or orchard in your neighborhood.10 a.m.4 p.m. A map put together by Urban Harvest shows the location of 29 of the growth sites: Blessed Veggies is the garden listed in Northeast Houston; there are six gardens in Northwest Houston; six in Southwest; three in Southeast; and 13 inside the Loop. For more information, call 880-5540. Free.
Waterfest '96 Don't get the wrong idea: this is not some water-park-with-rides event. This is a serious look at water. The Jesse H. Jones Park hosts a full day of entertainment and education about that aqueous stuff that keeps us going. At various times throughout the day, the Spring High School science club will demonstrate water quality monitoring, Debi McNapp will give a puppet show and Karen Stockton will present her digital concert and slide show, Hug-a-Water-Drop. And families can enjoy boating and other wet events, too. This is a fitting Earth Day celebration, as water covers the bulk of the Earth's surface. 10 a.m.4 p.m. Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center, 20634 Kenswick Drive, 446-8588. Free.