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What’s Happening Your agenda for October and November



1-31 Baltimore

Explore Charm City

For the ninth year in a row, Free Fall Baltimore swings open the doors of cultural hot spots across Maryland’s largest city. The monthlong extravaganza brings concerts, art exhibits, film screenings,  theatrical performances, puppet shows, and more to venues ranging from the Baltimore American Indian Center Heritage Museum to the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens. Two events we’re especially excited about: The Movement—a collaborative performance by the Baltimore Improv Group and The Collective dance company at the Baltimore Museum of Art—and the Mushroom City Art Festival, which includes fungus-themed workshops at the Baltimore Free Farm and an art exhibit at Gallery 788.


4 Pomona, California

Up Your Adrenaline

Professional dirt-bike racing traditionally sets riders loose on round tracks, where they showcase speed and skill while taking on hairpin turns and jaw-dropping jumps. But the developers of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm aren’t content with tradition. They’ve come up with a groundbreaking concept for a half-mile course filled with jumps, bumps,  obstacles—and zero turns. With each race lasting under a minute, the linear layout raises the stakes for riders. Since the cushion of time usually afforded by turns is gone, there’s no room for mistakes, and laser-sharp attention to speed, accuracy, and the approaching terrain is crucial. This inaugural contest features 32 of the world’s top supercross and motocross riders—including Ryan Dungey, James Stewart Jr., and Travis Pastrana—competing head-to-head to be named No. 1. Do you feel your heart racing yet?


4 Seattle

BrickCon 2014

Although the colorful Danish blocks were created for kids, it’s grown-up Lego lovers who, for 13 years, have created masterpieces to display at BrickCon, held this year at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. About 500 enthusiasts will spend untold hours with more than 2 million bricks building on the theme of “Invasion!” (Think pirate ships overrun by space cadets and medieval castles populated by superheroes.)  Vendors in the Brick Bazaar sell discontinued sets and custom minifigures, as well as Lego-inspired jewelry, books, and attire.  There’s also a Building Zone for visitors who get the itch to create.


16 Indianapolis

Heartland Film Festival

Now in its 23rd year, the Heartland Film Festival makes a mission of “inspiring filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film.” The prestigious festival also offers more than $115,000 in prizes and a chance for short films to qualify for the Academy Awards’ Best Narrative Short category without having a theatrical run. In addition to attending red-carpet premieres and screenings at three venues across Indy, attendees can rub elbows with famed filmmakers at the swanky after-party that wraps the 10-day movie marathon.


18 Mojave Desert, Nevada

Rise Lantern Festival

Celebrating hope, beauty, and community, the Rise Lantern Festival takes a page from the script of Disney’s Tangled and fills the night sky with an illuminating abundance of airborne lights. After catching a shuttle on the Vegas Strip or in nearby Jean,  Nevada, attendees travel to the event site, where they each receive two biodegradable lanterns and markers for inscribing them with personal messages and resolutions. On-site vendors sell food and drink, and musicians perform before organizers give the signal for everyone to send up their lights in awe-inspiring, synchronized waves. What a bright idea!


19 Dallas

Eat Your Vegetables

Ready to think outside the Lone Star State’s BBQ box? Then head for the fifth annual Texas Veggie Fair—and bring a hearty appetite for fresh fare. Held at Reverchon Park in the Big D’s Oak Lawn neighborhood,  Veggie Fair throws a party that even committed carnivores can enjoy,  hailing healthy, plant-based nutrition and animal welfare. More than 100 food and product vendors sell vegan and vegetarian goodies like meatless corn dogs, fair-trade coffee, and ethically produced handbags.  Additional highlights include lawn yoga, cooking demos from Chef AJ (author of Unprocessed) and John Mercer (executive chef for Whole Foods Market), plus speakers covering topics like the benefits of raw food and cruelty-free fashion.


24–26 Dover, Delaware

See Soaring Pumpkins

Stand back! At the Punkin Chunkin World Championships, the name of the game is hurling a pumpkin sky-high then watching gravity do its thing as the gourd lands with a satisfying kersplat. The tossing technology consists of homemade catapults, pneumatic cannons, and giant slingshots—but don’t underestimate the might of these machines. Last year, team American Chunker took the all-time PCWC record with a cannon that propelled a pumpkin 4,694.68 feet. Can the engineering geniuses competing at the 29th annual event break the elusive 1-mile barrier?  You’ll have to head to Dover to find out. Be prepared for a bright and early start: The squash starts soaring at 8 a.m. each day.


30 Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dance the Night (and Day) Away

You’ll notice a distinctly South American feel at the Albuquer-que Tango Festival, where the dance du jour is Argentine tango,marked by a more spontaneousand intimate style than its American ballroom cousin. At the fest, you’ll find classes for skill levels
from beginner to master. If your technique has an Achilles’ heel, sign up for a special Tango Clinic, where teachers observe groups of 10 or fewer and provide dancers with personalized pointers. Dancing shoes seen better days? Stop by the marketplace for a new pair, and stay to browse booths selling other accessories. After polishing your boleos, ochos, and ganchos,  flaunt your steps at the nightly milongas—the Argentine tango parties that go into the wee hours.



1–4 Mission, Texas

Behold Butterflies

Thanks to its mild climate and biologically diverse terrain, the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas’ southernmost region, is home to an abundance of wildlife, including more than 300 butterfly species. Every year at the Texas Butterfly Festival, experts from the National Butterfly Center lead visitors through the surrounding areas in search of these winged wonders. Since November is their peak season, you can expect to spot more than 60 species per day, including Mexican Bluewings, Guava Skippers, and Empress Leilias. On Saturday,  kid-friendly activities like pin the tail on the swallowtail and butterfly bingo are part of Community Day, while the evening’s welcome reception highlights chef-prepared South Texas cuisine and an introductorytalk by experts Linda and Buck Cooper. At Sunday’s Border Buttermilk Social & Supper, adult attendees are invited to wind down with margaritas and light bites after a weekend of insect tracking. The fun continues through Tuesday with guided excursions through coastal and wetland habitats, plus a tour of the McAllen Botanical Gardens.


8 Annapolis, Maryland

Root for the Home Team

The Maritime Republic of Eastport Tug of War celebrates a 16-year-old rivalry between the citizens of Annapolis proper and the residents of Eastport, a neighborhood located less than 2 miles southeast of downtown on the south bank of Spa Creek. In 1998, Eastport “seceded” from the city to form the Maritime Republic of Eastport—motto: “We like it this way”—and challenged Annapolisto what has become known as the world’s largest tug of war over a body of water (no one has challenged them on that). Each side assembles up to seven teams who,one by one, gather on opposite sides of the creek, take up the rope,
and pull! While safety precautions ensure that no tuggers fall in the water, a time-honored tradition demands that the losing team’s captain takes a voluntary, post-battle plunge. The day’s festivities also include live music and a chili cook-off. themre.org

8 Chicago

Enjoy Island Sounds

Here are a few facts you may not know about the cuatro. No. 1: It’s an instrument that resembles a small guitar. No. 2: Although its name means “four” in Spanish, it sports 10 strings. No. 3: It’s the “national instrument” of Puerto Rico. If you’ve never heard the resonant sound of this music maker, you’ll be enchanted by Chi-Town’s Cuatro Festival.  Presented by the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and held at Millennium Park’s Harris Theater, this annual concert is one of the largest Puerto Rican cultural events in the Midwest. Among the talented artists on the lineup: internationally acclaimed cuatrista Edwin Colón Zayas y Su Taller Campesino, the 15-piece Los Cantores de Bayamon, and the Windy City’s own Chicago Cuatro Orchestra.

21-30 Ft. Myers Beach, Florida

Create a Sandsation

You can’t talk about Florida’s beaches without mentioning the famous white sand. More than 1,000 tons of it is used in the amazing structures at the American Sand Sculpting Championship. This year, 16 sculptors vie for the American Solo Champion title while five pairs duke it out in the debut Master Doubles division. Visitors of all ages can take part in the four-hour amateur competition. Pick up tips during the pro demonstrations, and don’t miss the exciting Quick Sand event, where dueling sculptors get 10 minutes, a 5-gallon pillar of sand, and a crowd-suggested subject. In other words, Iron Chef meets the beach.

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