"La Bamba" was the last thing we thought we'd hear on a London subway. "Mind the gap," yes. "La Bamba," no. But there it was: the oh-so-familiar melody and the oh-so-indecipherable words. We've lived in Texas our entire life, so Mexican culture is not foreign to us. The sound of a Tejano tune spilling out of a car window, the steam from a homemade tamale a friend's grandmother cooked--these are things we've come to expect. What we didn't expect was to witness a mariachi band busking on a British public transport system. It was good to see the Brits being exposed to such tradition, and we're sure the organizers behind the seventh annual Folklorico Festival of Dallas would agree. The bilingual festival (Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center) brings together more than 20 folklorico groups for a weekend of live music, dance and other multi-ethnic activities. There will also be classes and workshops throughout the weekend, so you can learn something rather than just stand around and stare at the pretty colors. The LCC is located at 2600 Live Oak St. Admission is free. Call 972-788-0604. --Rhonda Reinhart
It's always the dog tales that get us: The Incredible Journey, Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller and, especially, Benji, featuring the lovable homeless mutt who saves two kidnapped children when the police and their parents had run out of options and hope. There were several Benji follow-ups, but none were as good as the first. And now he's back (except now he's a she and a slightly different breed) after many years in Benji: Off the Leash. But we're older, wiser, more world-weary and only saddened by trained animal mov...ah, who are we kidding? Benji's a dog who saves other dogs and has a sidekick that's another dog with a long tongue. And they fight crime, win over humans and free prisoners from a puppy mill. Plus the new Benji is super cute. Meet her and Benji creator Joe Camp during benefits for Operation Kindness this weekend. First is a sneak preview and meet-and-greet with the duo from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday at Cinemark Tinseltown, Dallas Parkway at Parker Road, Plano. Tickets are $75. Call 214-515-9916. Then they'll visit Half Price Books, 5803 E. Northwest Highway, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday for photos (donations will benefit the no-kill shelter). Call 214-379-8000. --Shannon Sutlief
No doubt when you think of Dallas, your mind immediately drifts to matters of Asian culture. The two so often go hand in hand. To accompany this schizophrenic mental connection, the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce and the Crow Collection of Asian Art present The Asian Festival, a celebration of Asian art, athletics, dancing and koi. The festival will take place at Annette Strauss Artist Square, 1800 Leonard St. in the Arts District, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 8. Admission is free. Call 972-241-8250. --Mary MonigoldSwiss Misses 5/8
Everyone knows that there are few things many women love more than window shopping. And, as much as some sons like to ignore it, moms are women, too. That's why there's the Swiss Avenue Historic District's Mother's Day Tour of Homes, a chance for mothers of all ilk to come together and look at things on display. The tour takes place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 8 and noon to 6 p.m. May 9. Tickets purchased in advance are $12; those that aren't are $15. Call 214-823-9089 or visit www.sahd.org. --Mary Monigold
Flower Power Wild nights are callin'
Dallas isn't exactly temperate California, with its exotic blooms lining the streets: the irises, the calla lilies, the hot pink bougainvillea dripping from every fence post. Dallas isn't even Portland, flush with roses, or mossy Georgia, with its leafy kudzu blanketing the ground. Dallas is too hot, too dry, too unaccommodating for such delicate flowers. You gotta be tough to take Dallas, man. You gotta grow up alongside a highway, navigate cracks in the dirt, strangle every weed in your path. There is nothing soft or supple about Dallas, a landlocked city that exists out of sheer willpower, but there is something beautiful about it. Behold the wildflower. The cactus, the dogwood, the thistle. And who could forget the bluebonnet? They are tender, yet tough. Patient, yet exacting. That's what we're celebrating with the Wildflower Festival 2004, which runs May 7 through May 9 at Gatalyn Parkway and U.S. Highway 75 in Richardson. It's a family event--with petting zoos, magicians, face-painting--featuring adult attractions like gardening booths and the Sky Bar. Plus, there's a knockout lineup of music--and who could better represent the fearless qualities of the wildflower than Dallas bands? Hey, it ain't easy making it when you're from the 214, which makes it all the more mind-boggling that the Polyphonic Spree appeared on Scrubs last month. Those local heroes are one of the Wildflower Festival 2004's headlining bands, along with national acts Tanya Tucker, Gin Blossoms and Blue Oyster Cult. The Wildflower Festival is a great chance to see some up-and-comers as well, like recent winners for Best New Band honors, Radiant*. Hey, it's about bloomin' time you gave it up for our Texas flowers. See www.wildflowerfestival.com. --Sarah Hepola