Texas®

Obviously, when talking about Memorial Day, we want to remember the real reason for it (check back here on Monday for more of that), but it’s also fair to talk about the fun that can be had, as we all enjoy the freedom that so many brave men and women have sacrficed for over the decades and even centuries our country has been in existence. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, give the below options a look and hit one up…

Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie: On Monday, the beautiful racing park will be turned into an all-purpose fun-time center. Not only will the horses be running, but Harleys will be given away, a chili cook-off will take place and the stakes will be as high as they will be all year for those who are lucky enough.

Fiesta Texas – San Antonio: All kinds of new shows are getting started, including a laser light show. Not to mention the usual family-fun and thrill seeking that’s typically available.

The National Polka Festival – Ennis, TX: For 45 years, this has been the preemminent Polka festival in Texas, if not the entire US. There isnt any way a family could make their way to this party and not find something for everyone.

99.5′s Wolfdance 2011 – Ft. Worth Stockyards: Each year, this Sunday-before Memorial Day party is one of the better showcases for Texas Country music. While we’re scratching our heads on how acts like Casey Donahew and Josh Abbott have somehow earned top-billing over the likes of Wade Bowen, it’s still an all-day affair that gives many of the up-and-coming names (that deserve such a title) a fantastic showcase. In fact, take our advice and get there around 1pm for John David Kent and then catch Rob Baird, John D Hale and Brison Bursey, the leave before you have to hear Johnny Cooper make another lame attempt at working his lame beat-boxing into his set.

driveThirty minutes south of Dallas is a small town that’s got a couple of surprises in store for those who know where to look.

Traveling south on I-45 you’ll do a double take and think you’re dreaming of your childhood when you see the Galaxy Drive-In. It’s definitely a destination in itself – with something for the whole family – especially on a cool summer evening. There are 4 screens of quality first-run movies and if you’re lucky enough to be sans kids for the night, make it a date night destination, wink-wink. However, if you do happen to have the kids in tow, there are not one but two mini-golf courses with kids in mind. They call them “park and putt.” Too cute!

And, of course there’s a snack bar. Think hot dogs, nachos, Junior Mints, popcorn and the always heavenly dill pickle.

For your listening pleasure, you have your choice of reliving the past with those vintage but refurbished metal clanky car speakers or listening to the soundtrack on your car’s FM radio.

Admission is $6 for adults, $2 for children 5 to 11 and free for kids under 5.

Galaxy Drive-In
5301 N Interstate Highway 45
Ennis, TX
(972) 875-5505

bbq2Before hitting the drive-in you may want to stop for dinner at an unexpected favorite, Bubba’s Bar-B-Q and Steakhouse. My daughter, her friend and I stopped here when we were on our way to my other daughter’s lacrosse tournament in College Station last February. The girls argued that McDonald’s would be better but I convinced them to be adventurous. We weren’t disappointed.

Yes, there are some Bubbas here but there are also lots of families. Walk inside and there’s a see-through refrigerator filled with fresh cut steaks. Each steak has a price sticker. You select your steak before you sit down. They were cooked perfectly – rare for me and medium for the girls. The sides are succulent. Fluffy baked potato, sweet potato, broccoli – and lots of fried things – French fries, fried okra or onion rings. Top your steak with sautéed mushrooms, peppers or onions. You can even add bourbon sauce.

There’s also chicken – fried or grilled, sausage, shrimp – fried or grilled and a grilled seafood dinner – tuna, salmon, snapper, mahi-mahi and tilapia.

And, for barbecue fans you can have chopped beef, turkey, ribs, ham, pulled pork or sausage – regular or spicy. You can get a sampler plate and try all those meats ($20) or get a combo of two meats and two veggies.

Service is quick and friendly. Check out the ceiling while your waiting for your meal. There are large model airplanes dangling overhead and an array of Texana on the walls.

Bubba’s Bar-B-Q and Steakhouse
210 S Interstate Highway 45
Ennis, TX 75119
(972) 875-0036

09npfcoverJust 30 minutes away from the hubbub of downtown Dallas is a small town with its own hubbub – Ennis. And, you’ll want to go this weekend – because there’s more going on than usual – take a trip to the Czech Republic without jetlag and a passport – the National Polka Festival is in full swing May 22nd – 24th.

The festival’s King and Queen will be crowned the night of May 22nd at the Knights of Columbus meeting hall. Ennis’ own polka band, Jak Se Do, is in the house. The band’s name originates from the Czech, how do you do – Jak Se Mas. Watch the swirling polka crinoline-puffed skirts and listen to the oompah band.

Saturday kicks off with the 5 or 10k Polkafest Run benefitting the Ennis Public Library’s children’s reading program. Registration begins at 5:30am – so you can’t drink too much beer – love the fact that this festival is sponsored by not one but three beer companies, btw. There is a parade featuring the participating polka bands atop floats riding on downtown’s brick lined streets at 10am. Their publicist says celebrities, public officials, motorcycles, horseback riders and clowns will also march in the parade. Definitely something for everyone here.

After the parade, you could try your hand at pitching horseshoes ($30 entry fee.) Or, you could just watch other ringers.

Music, dancing and Czech food – klobase and barbecue beef will tempt you Saturday afternoon until the wee hours. There’s a shuttle bus that will take you so you can see and hear what’s going on in the three meeting halls. Don’t miss the Grammy-winning Brave Combo. This Denton based band is really a combo – of polka, waltz and rock. Brave Combo takes the KJT Hall (Catholic Union of Texas) stage at 8:30pm. They play again 7:30pm Sunday at the Sokol Activity Center to close out the festival.

Polkadot the chicken – someone in a chicken suit – will be roaming all three halls doing the chicken dance – to a polka beat, no doubt. Kids will love this chicken.

On Sunday, there’s a 10:00am Polka Mass at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Not sure if the priest will dance, though.

Admission to all three halls is $7 on Friday, $12 Saturday and $10 Sunday. Children under 12 are free. The parade is free. The Polkafest run is $25.