Spring technically doesn't start until March 20, but The Old Farmer’s Almanac-purists aside, the unseasonably warm weather we've been having sure gives us spring fever. Get out and get going because we've got a couple of outdoor fests that celebrate Texas and our diverse culture, a 101 class on biking, plus some edgy art that takes a stab at fascism and societal taboos. Keep reading for ten of our favorite events that won't cost you more than $10 — and eight of them are free! Check out the Houston Press calendar for even more things to do.
Spirit of Texas Festival
Wolf Pen Creek Park, College Station
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, free
It's the first time around for the Spirit of Texas Festival, but we suspect it won't be the last for this four-day eating extravaganza that includes three Guinness World Record attempts (world's largest Frito pie, pot of chili and Texas two-step). Thursday's highlights include the interactive Idea Village road show, a hot dog lunch sponsored by the K9s4Cops at 12:30 p.m., a Sons of the Republic re-enactment at 5 and live music beginning at 6 with opener Landon Bullard & The Mostly Sober Band and headliner Jerrett Zoch & the OSR Band. The fun continues through March 5.
Kenny Morrison and Chuck Ramirez, "SurREAL"
Octavia Art Gallery
6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, free
Inspired by the "something's not quite right" surrealism found in paintings by John Brosio, New Orleans photographer Kenny Morrison has created compelling photographs that draw on his background as both a director and a cinematographer. The stories he tells – and yes, there are tornadoes – push the boundaries of traditional photography. Through special arrangement with Ruiz-Healy Art, we also get a look at the colorful works by the late Chuck Ramirez, an artist and graphic designer from San Antonio best known for turning advertising techniques into photographs and installations that explored cultural identity, mortality and consumerism.
Winter Street Studios
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 to 6 p.m. Sunday, free
Ooh la la. Art and luxury are at the core of this fifth annual showcase of emerging and established French artists. Check out what's happening across the pond: button paintings by Algerian painter Marie Pierre, controversial and provocative photographs that shine light on societal taboos by artistic duo Rudy Noulé and Antoine Vanoverberghe, and the industrial Born Wild sculptures from Richard Orlinski. The ogling is free during the day and those willing to pony up a C-note can come back Friday night for a special Nuit du Champagne reception for muralist and Houston fave Sebastien "Mr. D" Boileau.
Bill Hailey, "Sumatra Paintings" and "Anti-Fascist Still Lifes"
Gspot Contemporary Art Space
6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, free
Free-spirited Austinite Bill Hailey puts overripe jungle fantasies to canvas in colorful "Sumatra Paintings" that draw from his experiences in Sumatra, Java and Bali. Not content to sit back as our planet takes a turn for the worse, he also will be showing his "Anti-Fascist Still Lifes" that depict floral arrangements from his Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil) series, gussied up with symbolic accoutrements. He says he conceived the pieces in response to recent world events and titled the works with a nod to the great Charles Baudelaire. All the cool kids will be at the opener Saturday night, but if you can't make it, Hailey's show is up through April 1.
King Kong vs. Godzilla
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Mason Park, Katy
4:15 p.m. Saturday, $9
Somebody's going to get fired for this one. Pharma head honcho Mr. Tako wants to sell growth berries to the public and figures the perfect mascot would be King Kong, who became gargantuan after eating said berries. Tako's pharmaceutical company sets out to capture King Kong and bring him to Japan as an indentured spokesperson, but the giant ape escapes (of course) and soon finds himself battling Godzilla, who has just been thawed from a glacier. It's fun to poke fun at the bad special effects in this 1962 classic as scientists scurry, fireworks explode and the dueling monsters stomp on miniature tanks.
Lisa E. Harris: A Live Cinema Performance
Aurora Picture Show
7:30 p.m. Saturday, free to $10
Go-getter Lisa E. Harris is making significant headway in her goal of producing a three-act performed opera film. The artist has already completed two of the acts – Cry of the Third Eye and Children of the Lost – and Harris (the writer, director, composer and performer) will musically narrate and orchestrate the semi-silent films in this special, live presentation at Aurora Picture Show. It's free for Aurora members, but still a bargain at $10 for those unable to commit.
First Annual Brazos Cultural Heritage Festival
Decker Park, Richmond
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, free
It's a celebration of heritage, yes, but also a testament to the huge cultural diversity found in Fort Bend County. Learn cultural dances, participate in heritage crafts and learn about important figures in history. Live bands keep the music flowing at this melting pot mash-up that includes the Czech Heritage Society of Texas, the Fort Bend County Heritage Society, the Fort Bend Hispanic Heritage Forum, the Jewish Heritage Society and the German-Texas Heritage Society. Don't miss the food trucks (yum) and the performances by the Fort Bend Academy of Arts and Dance and the Alice Nealie Junior Dance Company. Lederhosen optional.
Clownfish Blues book signing
Murder By The Book
6:30 p.m. Monday, free
It's another wild ride for Florida's cheerful sequential killer with a hunger for history, Serge A. Storms, the just-plain-captivating character from New York Times bestselling author Tim Dorsey. Clownfish Blues is the 20th Serge novel, and Dorsey keeps up-to-date on the weird and wonderful goings-on in Florida through extended road trips, off-beat biker rallies and Jimmy Buffet cons. Plus, his very first Serge novel, Florida Roadkill, is in development for a TV show so there's much to celebrate. Dorsey is in town to discuss and sign copies of his latest, so why not stop by MBTB and find out more about this crime-writing expert on "Florida weird."
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Houston Tuesday Musical Club's Musicale 2017
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, free
Lone Star Lyric's talented Tuesday musicians – Cynthia Blackwell and Roy Wylie on piano, Carolyn Krysl Hutchinson on flute and Steve McMillan on violin – back contralto Sandra van Cleve and soprano Kelli Estes in a musical banquet of works by Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Offenbach, Arlen and Gershwin. Estes, LSL artistic director and the evening's host, says she'll sneak in a few of her favorites from the Great American Songbook, plus there's a surprise finale that will leave you humming all the way home.
Bayou City Outdoors & REI Present: Biking 101
REI - Galleria
7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, free
Ever heard the expression "It's as easy as riding a bike"? Well, easier said than done when navigating congested streets full of distracted drivers. Come hang out with besties Bayou City Outdoors and REI and have fun while learning the best routes in H-Town (we've got 80 miles of park trails and 345 miles of street trails), plus tips and tricks for bike maintenance and safety. If you haven't yet invested in your own two-wheeler, check out Houston B-Cycle, which has one of the largest fleets for bicycle sharing in the country.