After a year of much media wrangling over the state of affairs in Deep Ellum, the little urban 'hood that could blows off some steam this weekend and proves it's still a safe, hip venue to party like a rock star, baby! The 11th Annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival runs 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and will draw in more than 100,000 adults (sorry, no kiddies allowed, but childish acting is always permitted). Prepare for sensory overload--in a good way--trying to take in more than 150 artists displaying and selling their work, including featured artist Frank Campagna (known for his Deep Ellum murals) and his 15-year-old artist phenom daughter Amber Campagna. Prepare to jam with more than 65 national, regional and local bands with special guest emcee Lila Lockwood of UPN 21's Deja Blues or mellow out near the Texas singer-songwriter stage. A poetry corner by Dallas Poetry Slam Inc. and street performer Fanny (think comedy acrobatics and contortions--yeah, just like you trying to leave the bar at 2 a.m.) help round out the action. Expect tasty festival fare, along with plenty of social lubricant (but no coolers, please) to keep the natives happy. A pet parade begins lining up at 11 a.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Visit www.meifestivals.com/deepspr.html. --Christopher Wynn
Maybe your mother had one of these, too: a can kept on the stove to collect used cooking oil. Mom was a child of the Depression, so she understood the value of grease. (So did Dad. His favorite way to describe a cheapskate was "He's so tight, he shits on paper to save the grease.") Turns out the folks may have been ahead of their time. Jordan Duckworth, a student at Parker College of Chiropractic, and his pal Jordan Hill have organized an SVO Conversion/Biodiesel Workshop to teach North Texans how easy it is to convert a diesel engine to run on straight vegetable oil and how to produce biodiesel, a substitute fuel created from waste fats that can be used in standard diesel engines. (Both are less polluting than petroleum-based fuel.) The goal, Duckworth says, is to open consumers' minds to low-polluting, renewable alternative fuels. The nonprofit event, which includes demonstrations, takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3202 Canton St. in Deep Ellum. Admission is $5 for students and $20 for adults. Kids get in free. Visit www.xenosinteractive.com/greencar. --Patrick Williams
It's not a miracle, but the wonders of marketing, that brought Thomas the Tank Engine to life. A real train engine renovated to look like the character will literally move aspiring engineers and their families during 25-minute train rides, departing every 50 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through April 10. Thomas-related activities including photos with Sir Topham Hatt will also take place during Day Out With Thomas at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, 707 S. Main St. Admission is $16. Call 1-866-468-7630. --Shannon Sutlief
These Old Houses
As a kid from the 'burbs, I couldn't believe anyone would want to live in a house older than their parents. Now--like almost every other 20-something Dallasite--I can't imagine not living in one, even if it means scurrying in the walls, no insulation in the attic and occasional rust-colored water from old pipes. That just adds to the charm. The houses on the Peak's Suburban Additional Historic District's 2005 Sesquicentennial Home Tour likely don't have these charms, but they have others such as historic significance, sprawling covered porches and those cute carports seen in period dramas. The tour, focusing on the 4800 block of Swiss Avenue, features homes dating from 1885 with tours from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10. Visit hometour.millcreekhome.org. --Shannon Sutlief
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