September 2006 MedBytes: Texas Festivals

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Summer is fading, and fall is on the way. Autumn in Texas offers several opportunities to get away from the grind of a medical practice and take part in a wide variety of cultural performances, exhibitions, or competitions. Here are a few samples of festivals on the World Wide Web.

National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, Sept. 7-10
Cowboy poets, musicians, storytellers, artists, historians, chuck wagon cooks, honest-to-goodness-cowboys, and many more are heading to Lubbock to celebrate the largest presentation in the United States of ranching, cowboys, and the western way of life. Highlights include the American Cowboy Culture Awards Show, the National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-off, a trail ride and horse parade, more than 100 western performers, poets, and scholars, and hundreds of exhibits covering every imaginable western product. The symposium's modest Web site,  www.cowboy.org , has the event schedule, ticket information, winners of the 2006 Cowboy Culture Awards, and history of the symposium, as well as links to other symposia and western gatherings.

St. Elias Mediterranean Festival, Oct. 6-7
Austin's St. Elias Mediterranean Festival has music, food, and a marketplace, all located on the grounds of the St. Elias Orthodox Church. This year marks the festival's 74th year, and the Austin Chronicle has named it one of Central Texas' Top 10 Food Festivals. Discover the St. Elias history at  www.sainteliaschurch.org and learn how a parish family of Lebanese, Greek, Slavic, European, Russian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Polish, Palestinian, and Romanian families came to be in Central Texas. You can also read the 2006 Mediterranean Festival's menu and see which authentic Mediterranean bands will perform. Opa!

Ninth Annual Texas   Butterfly Festival, Oct. 19-22
The Rio Grande Valley's fall is marked annually by the arrival of hundreds of species of migrating butterflies that dot the region's landscape. As a result, the city of Mission has created the Texas Butterfly Festival. Now in its ninth year, the festival kicks off with a parade and the erection of a large screened tent filled with vegetation and a large assortment of butterflies that can land on attendees' shoulders during an educational tour. The festival's Web site, www.texasbutterfly.com , contains helpful information about traveling to Mission, where to stay, and the festival's schedule. It is well organized and even contains a list of species seen during the 2005 festival.

Texas   Book Festival, Oct. 27-29
Now a staple event in Austin, the Texas Book Festival continues to bring together thousands of people from across the country to meet some of their favorite authors and celebrate their love of reading. An exceptional site,  www.texasbookfestival.org , shares information about authors, the programs for each day, a children's entertainment schedule, festival map and parking information, and how interested individuals can volunteer. Listed festival highlights for 2006 include an evening with novelist Alan Furst; a black-tie event featuring novelist FrankMcCourt, actor and writer Amy Sedaris, and novelist and playwright Gore Vidal; and a screening/discussion  of  Animal House with screenwriter and author Chris Miller at the Alamo Drafthouse.

New World   Wine and Food Festival, Nov. 7-12
The 2006 New World Wine and Food Festival will have a Spanish theme to celebrate the 275th anniversary arrival of Canary Island settlers to San Antonio. Scrumptious dinners, seminars, and samplings await attendees as the festival investigates the Spanish influence on New World cuisine and trends in contemporary Spanish cooking. A tasteful Web site,  www.nwwff.org , helps visitors buy online tickets, lists festival events, and presents members of the chefs committee and what wineries will be involved. The festival features both local and internationally known chefs and winemakers, creating an educational event designed to introduce residents and visitors to a broad spectrum of cuisines, wines, and Texas agricultural products. Don't let your taste buds miss out.

Texas   Renaissance Festival, Weekends, Sept. 30-Nov. 19
Known as one of the nation's largest and most acclaimed festivals, the Texas Renaissance Festival consists of eight themed weekends that provide enough shopping, food, and entertainment to satisfy the Guinevere and Lancelot in each of us. A useful Web site,  www.texrenfest.com , lists the theme of each weekend and an entertainment schedule; and gives directions and information about parking and accommodations, camping, and the availability of discount tickets. Come be a knight in shining armor, even if it's only for a weekend.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to   Texas   physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. If you know of some interesting medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, e-mail   erin.prather@texmed.org . Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the   Texas   Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.

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