Abilene’s Calendar Full of Fun Fall Events
Before everyone started snapping photos of their lunch and humble bragging online, county fairs were the original social media – a place to see far-flung friends, show off your good cooking, fine craftsmanship or your prized animal. The West Texas Fair & Rodeo (WTFR) brings all that and more as it celebrates 120 years of fun traditions at the Taylor County Expo Center.
Even better, the $56 million in improvements gives this year’s fair new flair. The renovations made way for the midway to move to the east side, bringing thrills and spills closer to the musical performances, exhibits and other marvels. Be sure to take an admiring stroll through the Round Building and Modern Living Mall.
At the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), we celebrate the fair because of its rich history and the guests it brings to the city. Of the 120,000 people who walk through the gates, more than 950 are out-of-town folks here to participate in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo, sell goods or perform. Each day offers special events, from bubble gum contests to pig races, cooking and wellness demonstrations, to magic and music. We hope you’re getting your fair on this year. Check out the full schedule.
The WTFR kicks off a season of big happenings, and the ACVB’s community calendar is a great resource to find fun or meaningful things to do. Here are a few upcoming options:
Internationally acclaimed watercolor artist Gary Bukovnik is visiting Abilene to judge the Center for Contemporary Arts National Juried Competition, and he will be working hard while he’s here. Join him at the opening reception for an exhibit of his work at Jody Klotz Fine Art this Thursday, then enjoy the CCAN show winners, dinner and music at “An Evening with Gary Bukovnik” Sept. 14 at the CCA. Bukovnik also will give a watercolor demonstration and book signing at the Klotz Fine Art gallery Saturday afternoon.
The Chamber is celebrating 111 years with their annual Membership Meeting & Awards Celebration on Sept. 19. Join them for an evening of music, fun and awards including the Outstanding Abilene Citizen of the Year.
Musical artists hitting Abilene this week include the Austin favorite, Shinyribs, who will play at The Grace Museum Saturday as part of the Community Foundation of Abilene’s Future Fund Open Road series. The band describes its style as “country-soul and swamp funk,” and its rousing performance is sure to bring guests to their feet. Other notable musical events Sept. 14 include The Santa Fe Band performing at The Mill, and a patriotic performance by the international men’s barbershop chorus “Vocal Majority” in their production “For Love of God, Country and Community” at the Abilene Convention Center. Check out the ACVB calendar for more musical options.
We’re keeping our eyes on the stars at our marvelous Historic Paramount Theatre. Upcoming must-sees include the Tony Award-winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” based on the acclaimed novel. Performances take place over two weekends: Sept. 20-21 and Sept. 27-28. The theatre will welcome thespian royalty the following Saturday, when “Broadway Princess Party” hits the stage Oct. 5. It’s the cast’s only performance in Texas this season and the inaugural event for Abilene’s new Highmont Events production company. Polish your tiara and don your best gown to experience this regal celebration with the original princess performers from the Disney productions of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Aladdin. A couple of local hotels have joined the realm, offering special prices and perks to give guests the royal treatment. Join the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council for a Storybook Saturday on Sept. 28 as they continue with the Beauty and the Beast theme at the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden. Details can be found here.
The glorious Big Country Balloon Festival blows into Red Bud Park Sept. 27-Sept 29. The visionary members of the Optimist Club started this local favorite 25 years ago, and it always gets glowing reviews. Seeing the balloons and enjoying the music is free, but bring money for the tasty food, vendors, silent auction and tether rides.
The Abilene Philharmonic will start its 69th season with “The Heavenly Life,” a performance of the Mahler Symphony No. 4 on Sept. 28 at the Abilene Convention Center. Check out upcoming performances; your soul will want season tickets.
At Frontier Texas! this month, handy sanders can enjoy barbecue, win bragging rights and contribute to a cause in the Texas Belt Sander Races Championship Sept. 17, while the refreshing Beer Summit will take over the grounds Sept. 21, featuring 45 breweries and 125 select beers to sample – all in one day. Burp.
The 19th Annual West Texas Book Festival turns a page Oct. 4-Oct. 6. The Friends of the Library have put together a scholarly lineup, including Abilene native and accomplished novelist Mary Helen Specht, who will give a workshop on her craft. The Boots & Books Luncheon will honor Texas writer James Ward Lee, with Abilene’s own Gary McCaleb serving as master of ceremonies.
The Abilene State Park has added an impressive lineup of activities for fall, including several hikes, as well as a charming Dance under the Stars Sept 21, along with a Star-watching Party hosted by the Big Country Master Naturalists that evening. Romantic.
Truly, Abilene is bursting with fun during the upcoming weeks. Find these and more on the ACVB’s calendar. If you’re planning an event, please submit it to the as early as possible. ACVB staff will help spread the word by submitting items to event calendars published throughout Texas, as well as the ACVB website and social media channels. The ACVB also distributes monthly and weekly calendars to local hotels, venues and other stakeholders. The more the merrier!