The first time my daughter ripped off a head and started to suck, it was a shock. It was Crawfest 2000, held in the Esplanade at Fair Park, and everyone was eating bugs. Big plates of crawfish and potatoes and corn were being devoured as everyone ignored the sweltering heat. The city of Dallas loved its crawfish that much. So, too, I found out, did my then-5-year-old daughter. Our family friend, born and raised in New Orleans, showed my daughter how to take off the bug's head, suck the tasty fat and juice from inside, then peel the legs and shell from the tail to extract its sweet meat. In an instant, she was an honorary Cajun, sucking down pound after pound of the stuff. So to say she is psyched about Crawfest 2004 would be an understatement. She looks forward to it the same way I look forward to the next set of Lindsay Lohan exposed-boob pictures: eyes wide, heart racing, mouth watering. "This is going to be the best Crawfest ever," says Perry "Tiny" Pinchers, a crawfish who hopes to be boiled quickly and painlessly come Saturday. "If you don't eat me, eat someone like me. It's for a good cause, it's downtown and there'll be live music. I won't hear it long, because soon I'll be dead and digested. But c'mon, Chris Holt's Jukebox will be jammin'!"
Crawfest is a semiprivate event this year, but it still includes all-you-can-eat crawfish and sides, drinks, a T-shirt, live entertainment and a children's play area where parents can leave kids to enjoy a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts and more in a supervised environment. In addition to Chris Holt's Jukebox, Del Castillo, John Price and Dennis Cavalier will be performing. Tickets are limited and available only through presale--no tickets will be sold at the gate. Tickets are $50 and are available by calling Stacy Franch at 214-757-8504. A $10 donation is requested for kids under 12. Crawfest benefits the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation and runs noon to 6 p.m. at Annette Strauss Artist Square, 1800 Leonard St. --Eric Celeste
Free for All
Vermont may be for lovers, and Florida may be for old people, but Fair Park is for everybody--or so they suggest with A Day in Fair Park, a grab bag of events taking place on the state fair grounds Saturday. To demonstrate its diversity, Fair Park caters to interests ranging from carnivorous plants to steam locomotives, dodgeball to semaphore, blues music to pettable sea creatures. You can overload your retinas with movies about dinosaurs, American history and a variety of entries from the Juneteenth Film Festival, or you can have eyes only for your beloved as you stroll among the Art Deco architecture and snuggle on a swan paddle boat in Leonhardt Lagoon. View a plethora of water dwellers and attend scuba diving lectures and fish feedings at The Dallas Aquarium or learn how to create your own backyard aquatic habitat at Texas Discovery Gardens. A Day in Fair Park is geared toward every budget, with a mixture of free and low-cost venues (heck, for 20 bucks and a picnic lunch, it's a cheap date idea--you can thank us later). Events begin at 10 a.m. on June 19, 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd. at Grand Avenue. Call 214-670-8400. --Michelle Martinez
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Catch the Wave
A word of advice to Bush and Kerry: Shelve the swing states. The vote that's really putting you at 1600 Penn is the Latinos. "Since the 2000 Census...Latino population projections have proven almost too difficult to track," writes Jorge Ramos in his new book, The Latino Wave: How Latinos Will Elect the Next American President. Ramos, an Emmy-winning news anchor at Norticiero Univision, is fascinated by the numbers coming out of the Census Bureau and for good reason: In 2003, Latinos became the largest minority. Since, they've grown their ranks by 10 percent; they're now 38 million strong. They weren't supposed to hit that number until 2014. "This type of growth is staggering," Ramos says. He'll sign copies of Latino Wave at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park, 7700 W. Northwest Highway, on Monday. The signing---Ramos won't be reading--starts at 7 p.m. But Ramos is anticipating big crowds. The politically rabid may line up on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 3 p.m. Call 214-739-1124. --Paul Kix
Free at Last
Juneteenth celebrates Texas' freedom day
It's astonishing how little we retained from all those high school classes and pop quizzes, not to mention how much Texas history our Texas history textbook didn't cover. Like June 19, 1865--Juneteenth, as it's commonly known--the day when General Gordon Granger hit the shores of Galveston to spread news of the emancipation to Texas, freeing nearly 300,000 slaves across the state. If, like us, you're a little sketchy on these details, you might consider attending the Dallas Historical Society's Juneteenth Freedom Celebration on Saturday, hosted in collaboration with the African American Museum and held at the Hall of State in Fair Park. This is no mere lecture; it's an all-around community event, including a picnic on the lawn, a panel discussion on film, entertainment by Deep Ellum jazz guitarist KM Williams and his sidekick Washboard, and an exhibit of the original Emancipation Proclamation. Mostly, it's a celebration of our freedom. Naturally, the event is free. Call the Dallas Historical Society at 214-421-4500. --Sarah Hepola