News of Houston's first big barbecue festival was announced yesterday, and fans have already begun buying up tickets to the appropriately-named Houston Barbecue Festival. Scheduled to take place on March 24, the festival has already booked such popular local smokers as Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue, CorkScrew BBQ, Virgie's Bar-B-Que, Gatlin's BBQ and newcomers like Brook's Place BBQ.
As exciting as the news is, the Houston Barbecue Festival is only one of a slew of great food festivals that are headed to Houston this spring. (Remember: Spring in Houston starts in February...) Below is a round-up of nine other local favorites -- and one that's worth the very minor roadtrip if you're an oyster fan.
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Dates: February 26 to March 16 Website: http://www.hlsr.com
The annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo allows you to appreciate animals at all stages of their lifespan: from the cute calves that are roped before the rodeo each evening to the barbecue served during the World's Championship Bar-B-Que cook-off that kicks off the rodeo each season. You'll need special fancy-pants tickets to get into the cook-off, but not to appreciate all the deep-fried sweets and Texas-sized turkey legs in the midway. For those who want to pay a bit more, there's the Roundup and Best Bites Competition that takes place on Sunday, February 17.
34th Annual Fulton Oysterfest Dates: March 7 to 10 Website: http://www.fultonoysterfest.org
This is the food festival that requires a minor roadtrip, but it's worth it to see the staggering amount of oyster-shucking that takes place over the four-day event. Now in its 34th year, the Fulton Oysterfest -- in a tiny town just north of Rockport and Port Aransas -- attracts over 35,000 visitors to its carnival and fairgrounds. There's an oyster-shucking contest and both men's and women's oyster-eating contests, all of which have significant cash prizes. Tickets are $1.
Haute Wheels 3rd Annual Food Truck Festival Dates: March 23 and 24 Website: http://hautewheelshouston.com
The first two Haute Wheels festivals were more than a little shaky, but the upcoming third event promises to be better than before. The $16 admission fee entitles you to either five food truck samples or one drink ticket (we'd take the samples); kids 12 and under get in for free. You can purchase additional drink tickets on site, and $1 from each ticket is donated to the Houston Community College Foundation.
League City Uncorked Dates: March 23 and 24 Website: http://leaguecityuncorked.com
The beautiful Walter Hall Park in quaint League City will host 40 wineries from around the world over two days as well as a slew of other events: wine tasting classes, winemaking classes, Art Cars, local artists, food sampling and demonstrations, live music and even a few grape stomps featuring an I Love Lucy Grape Stomp Contest with prizes. TIckets are $20 or $30 for a weekend pass.
15th Annual SpringFest Wine & Art Festival Dates: March 23 and 24 Website: http://www.winefestoldtownspring.com
Unlike the League City event, this Spring festival showcases the best wines Texas has to offer. Of the 20 participating vineyards this year, you'll find include: Bernhardt Winery, Calais Winery, Chisholm Trail Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards and many more. Wine tasting tickets are $25 advance or $30 at the gate and include one commemorative wine glass and five tastings per ticket. Additional tastings are available for $1 each, with proceeds going to benefit the Spring Preservation League.
18th Annual Bayou City Cajun Festival Dates: April 13 and 14 Website: http://tradersvillage.com/houston/events/17th-annual-bayou-city-cajun-festival
Authentic Cajun favorites including crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice, boudin balls, sausage po-boys, fried alligator, gumbo and boiled crawfish will be served up by the French Quarter Market & Grill Restaurant and the Houston Heritage Cajun French Music Association of Louisiana, a not-for-profit organization created to preserve Cajun culture. Admission is free (although parking is $3) and also features live performances by the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Zydeco Dots, Waylon Thibodeaux and more.
Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival Dates: April 18 to 21 Website: http://www.galveston.com/foodandwine
The highlight of each year's Food & Wine Festival on Galveston Island is the Grand Tasting held in downtown's Saengerfest Park, featuring over 130 wines, samples from Galveston's best restaurants, live music, art and jewelry vendors and more. The Grand Tasting always sells out, so get your tickets in advance. Tickets are $55 for general admission or $110 to go VIP.
27th Annual Texas Crawfish Festival Dates: April 19 to 21 and April 26 to 28 Website: http://texascrawfishfestival.com
Two weekends of nothing but crawfish in Old Towne Spring is enough of a draw, but the Texas Crawfish Festival is also known for bringing in great live acts each year too. Last year saw The Old 97s, The Literary Greats and Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers among many more. Ticket prices and music line-ups haven't yet been announced for 2013, but stay tuned for updates at the festival's Facebook page.
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40th Annual Pasadena Strawberry Festival Dates: May 17 to 19 Website: http://www.strawberryfest.org
The three-day Strawberry Festival -- now celebrating four decades -- attracts over 45,000 visitors to the Pasadena Convention Center and Municipal Fairgrounds complex each year. They come to see the world's largest strawberry shortcake (and eat a slice of it), the washer pitching tournament, the slew of beauty pageants, the mud volleyball tournaments and -- of course -- eat a staggering amount of strawberries, chocolate-dipped or plain. Tickets are $12 and proceeds benefit the San Jacinto Day Foundation.