Not going to ACL Fest? Here's where to go to escape the crowds in Austin.
During the first two weeks of October, not everybody will join the crush at Zilker Park's Great Lawn to hear music during Austin City Limits Music Festival.
OK, so each year, an estimated 450,000 people do so. And interest remains high this fall because the mega-fest didn't hold an in-person edition in 2020 because of the pandemic.
If you'd rather escape the crowds and the traffic of Central Austin, however, head out of the city for these alluring events located no too far away.
Devil's Sinkhole Festival
Sure, you've watched the bats emerge from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, but have you seen them rocket out a giant hole in the ground? That's the big draw at Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, a Hill Country wonder set aside by the federal government on the advice of Lady Bird Johnson in 1971.
To celebrate the golden anniversary of this federally approved batty phenomenon, attend a free festival Oct. 1-2 at the state natural area. Head directly to the park that lies five miles north of Rocksprings on U.S. 377.
The Devil's Sinkhole Society will stage free "emergence shows," while the San Antonio Astronomical Society will host stargazing after the bats have left to eat their weight in insects. Gates open at 6:45 p.m. for the evening shows.
During the day, nature, conservation and history groups will operate booths at the natural area (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 1 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2). Other attractions include geology walks, nature walks and an appearance by modern-day Buffalo Soldiers.
The site is about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Austin, so you might want to look into lodging ahead of time in Junction, Fredericksburg or Kerrville.
More info: email@example.com
Round Rock Chalk Walk Arts Festival
More than 60,000 people stroll around the chalky art during this annual fest that takes place the first weekend in October.
Besides the art, one can sample treats from food and drink vendors or attend musical and theatrical performances. Or just hang out — will divine autumn weather be in the cards at all?
One can purchase art, of course. You can even buy a square and some chalk to create your own masterpiece. The event is at 2 to 9 p.m. on Oct 1 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 2.
Formerly held downtown, the event now takes place at Dell Diamond, usually home to the Round Rock Express, at 3400 E. Palm Valley Blvd.
Chappell Hill Scarecrow Fest
The tiny town of Chappell Hill — population 600, located east of Brenham — is home to one of the sweetest renovated town centers in this part of Texas.
The village's Scarecrow Fest, organized by the Chappell Hill Historical Society, has been a tradition on the second weekend of October for more than 40 years. As at other fall festivals, plenty of vendors will be selling their wares on the grounds.
What sets this Oct. 9-10 fiesta — once all about antiques — apart is the scarecrows. They are everywhere.
More info: chappellhillhistoricalsociety.com
Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg
Each fall, one can choose from many Central Texas celebrations of German food, drink and culture. The one in Fredericksburg, because of its German heritage going back to the 1840s, is among the most authentic and longstanding.
Yes, you will hear oompah music. Yes, you can polka. Yes, there will be yodeling, dirndls, lederhosen and stein hoists. And you can eat all the bratwurst, sour kraut and pretzels you can handle.
All events take place at the Marketplatz in downtown Fredericksburg: 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to midnight Oct. 2 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 3).
Those German Texans show up with stamina: Did you notice that Saturday's festivities last 14 hours?
More info: oktoberfestinfbg.com
You can't beat this one for local tradition: In 1912, the town of Cuero held its first Turkey Trot, as 18,000 fowls sashayed down Main Street to the delight of an estimated 30,000 spectators from all over the region.
The trots returned periodically until 1972, when the original format was discontinued. Town leaders, however, did not give up, and thus was born Turkeyfest, which includes a turkey race, the Great Gobbler Gallop.
It was joined by an annual parade, concerts, cook-offs, dances, vendors, games, food and arts. Yet the turkeys have not flown away. The fastest of the poultry wins the "Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph."
This year, the Turkeyfest takes place in early October, starting out with a carnival on Oct. 7. Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 7, 5 p.m. to midnight Oct. 8, 11 a.m. to 1a.m. Oct. 9 and noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 10.
More info: turkeyfest.org
Want to keep tabs on ACL?
Even if you head out of town, we'll be in Zilker Park for two weekends. Get complete coverage of ACL Fest, which starts Friday, at austin360.com.