Ah, spring, the season of fun runs and weekend festivals. They kinda balance each other out: Run a 5K and you'll burn enough calories to have a corn dog or a funnel cake. Too bad charitable jogging won't cure hay fever, too. Start the season with the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, called the "largest free, four-day visual arts and entertainment festival in the Southwest." That means 200 entertainers (including the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Brave Combo and SouthFM), 100 performances, 200 juried artists working in 15 media and nearly half a million people flocking to Main Street downtown between the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Fort Worth Convention Center. In the Bank of America Family Fun Area, kids can learn about instruments in the musical petting zoo or make their own from recycled products, plus they can perform karaoke, climb a rock wall, have their faces painted or ride a mechanical bull. The festival is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. For information on free parking and public transportation, visit www.mainstreetartsfest.org or call 817-336-2787.
Friday, April 8
In the music world, the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art's new exhibit would be like picking someone from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with whom to perform a duet--a one-night-only, dream-fulfilling concert never to be re-created. Pairings: Artists' Selections From the Dallas Museum of Art features eight "high-caliber, mid-career talents who are strong visual artists in the community," including Ann Stautberg, Ludwig Schwarz, Scott Barber and Annette Lawrence, who have picked one work--sculpture, painting, photograph, collage, print, even study materials--from the DMA's collection to complement their own. Pairings opens with a reception Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $5 to $10; members are admitted free. The exhibit opens April 9 and runs through June 11. Admission to it is free. The Contemporary, 2801 Swiss Ave. Call 214-821-2522.
Saturday, April 9
We never expected Blue's Clues to slip into David Lynch territory. But Blue's Clues Live! Blue's Birthday Party takes a trip down Mullholand Dr. when the character of Blue the puppy is played at different times by a puppet and a person in a costume--much like the whole Naomi Watts/Laura Elena Harring switcharoo. Maybe that will give parents something to think about while their kids keep track of Blue's clues on their free Handy Dandy Notebooks in order to assist Joe in his riddle-solving adventures. We'll still be pining for the return of Steve Burns--which we're sure Nick Jr. will start caring about as soon as its demographic becomes single, childless 28-year-old women. Blue's Birthday Party is designed for 2- to 7-year-olds, so there will be two 30-minute acts with a 15-minute intermission between them. Join Joe, the two Blues, Slippery Soap and the rest of the gang at 7 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie, 1001 Performance Place. Tickets are $18 to $33. Children 1 and younger can sit on a parent's lap for free. Call Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000.
Sunday, April 10
Sure, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has prestige. Every four years the best pianists in the world compete for the top prize, accumulating concert engagements, recording contracts and classical music groupies. But it's also probably the only major music competition where many of the people milling in the lobby between performances will be sporting cowboy hats, boots and Western-style suits. While you're getting the piping and pearl snap finery dry cleaned for the mid- to late-May competition, cram up on your trivia and small talk with The Cliburn in Film, which takes place at noon every Sunday through May 15 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. One documentary will be presented each week, showing one year's competition. This week's feature is the sixth competition, which took place in 1981. Admission is free. Call 817-738-6536.
Monday, April 11
We're in the process of developing a cookbook called Healthy Five-Minute Meals for One That Taste Like Gourmet Without Any of the Effort. And as soon as we learn to cook, we're totally going to do it. And we'll be rich, rich, rich. Those who have a good idea--and the ability to follow through (seriously, knowing how to cook is a good start)--can attend Cookbook University, a two-day seminar by Favorite Recipes Press. It takes place Monday and Tuesday at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway, and includes cookbook producers discussing marketing, distributing and other aspects of successful recipe guides. Entry is $399. Call 1-800-358-0560 or visit www.frpbooks.com.
Tuesday, April 12
Those who've seen Clive Barker's The Serpent and the Rainbow surely recall scientist Dennis Alan (played by Bill Pullman) screaming, "Don't let them bury me! I'm not dead!" That part (and many others) of the story--based "loosely" on a book of the same name--is more Hollywood than memoir, but the scientist is real, and so was his quest to discover the secret behind Haiti's coma-inducing, "zombie"-making drugs. The author, an ethnobotanist from Harvard named Wade Davis, who kinda looks like Pullman, spent three years in the Amazon and Andes collecting plants and investigating myths in addition to his work in Haiti covered in The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis will present Vanishing Cultures: From Haitian Voodoo to Amazonian Myth as part of Southern Methodist University's Tate Series on Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. Tickets are $40 to $60. Call 214-768-8283.