ZimSculpt at the Dallas Arboretum

ZimSculpt, a collection of over a hundred Zimbabwean stone sculptures, is on display within the Dallas Arboretum, now through July. ZimSculpt 1I first glimpsed the sculptures while attending an arboretum concert. I knew I had to return to see them all! The garden, with its backdrop of brilliantly colored flowerbeds and greenery, frame the stone sculptures perfectly, much like a gilded frame showcases a painted canvas.

The garden sculptures range in height from three to seven feet. The artwork is carved from serpentine and semi-precious stone. In many of the garden pieces, the sculpture seems to emerge from within the stone.ZimSculpt 2 I love the fluidity of the lines and liquid smoothness of the art. Other sculptures mix the textures of rough stone with glossy sculpture. All have a simplistic beauty about them.

Shona sculpture

The tradition of Zimbabwean sculpture dates back to the Shona tribe and the eleventh century. ZimSculpt is a modern version of the ancient Shona sculptures. The renaissance in Zimbabwean sculpture began in the 1960s and continues today. Thematically you’ll find animals, mother and child depictions, and women, along with a few abstract pieces.

All of the pieces in the garden are available for purchase at prices ranging from one to twelve thousand dollars. There is also a ZimSculpt Marketplace where you can purchase more affordable pieces and also watch the artists at work.

Beat the heat

This time of year, it’s tough to beat the Texas heat. To avoid wilting in the sweltering temperatures, visit the arboretum when it first opens at 9 am. It is as much fun to pack a picnic breakfast as to sweat over a picnic lunch. Even better yet, Dallas Arboretum members can enjoy a ‘members only’ early morning on Saturdays from 7 to 9 am. Arboretum colors are at their height during the garden’s springtime Dallas Blooms. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of flowers currently in bloom, even in the summer heat. You’ll find flower beds loaded with color from sunpatiens, winecup, mrytle, and cone flower.

Details

The Dallas Arboretum is at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. The gardens are open 9 to 5 pm daily (until 8 pm on Wednesdays). ZimSculpt is on display until July 31. Adult admission is $15. On Wednesdays, you can buy one adult admission and get one admission free. Guided ZimSculpt tours are offered without additional charge on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

DFW Summer Concerts

Summer ConcertsWhat better way to celebrate summer than to enjoy great entertainment while dining al fresco under the stars. The DFW area offers a host of summer concerts, some free; most with minimal ticket prices. Here are a few of the best. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and enjoy the show.

Summer Sounds

For almost two decades, the City of Allen has hosted Monday evening outdoor concerts. Held at the Joe Farmer Recreation Center Amphitheater (1201 East Bethany, Allen), concerts cover all music types from classical to country. Picnicking is encouraged. This year, the first 1000 guests can enjoy burger meals from In-N-Out Burgers. While the city does not prohibit lawn chairs, they prefer blanket seating for concert attendees. Joe Farmer Amphitheater is co-located with Bethany Lakes Park. Before the concert, why not go fishing with the kids in one of the ponds, or enjoy nine-holes of disc golf in the park?

Details: The remaining two concerts are June 19 (Jolie Holliday & Sonny Burgess) and June 24 (Downtown Fever). Concerts begin at 7pm and are free.

Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

No listing of  DFW concerts would be complete without mentioning the Levitt Pavilion Community concerts. Featuring everything from world to gospel music, Levitt Pavilion hosts dozens of free concerts through July.  The expansive lawn area at Founders Plaza accommodates up to 3,500 people. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, along with your picnic. You may also bring beer and wine, but glass containers are not allowed.

Details: Concerts at Founders Plaza (100 West Abram Street, Arlington) are held Thursday through Sunday. Parking is available in the Pinnacle Corp. lot, at First Baptist Church and in the UTA College Park parking garage just south of First Baptist Church. You can call a 24-hour hotline at (817) 543-4301 for day of concert information.

Beckert Park Summer Series

Beckert Park (5044 Addison Circle, Addison) is the site of summer long fun. From June through August, families can enjoy free Saturday concerts. Bring your coolers and picnic to the park. Or, if you want to splurge, try one of Addison’s fabulous restaurants. Check the concert series webpage for special discounts at local eateries. Beckert Park is also an ideal location to view Addison’s annual KaBoom Town festival, a Fourth of July party with an airshow, concerts, and fireworks.

Details: Concerts begin at 8pm. Complimentary parking is available in the parking garages around Beckert Park.

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare Dallas presents Shakespeare in the Park during June and July. Two plays are offered this summer season: Merry Wives of Windsor and Quixote. Performed at the amphitheater in Samuell Grand Park (1500 Tenison Parkway, Dallas), this is a fun way to introduce your children to the famous bard. The shows are free for children under 12 years old.

Shakespeare Dallas allows lawn and sand chairs in certain areas of the amphitheater. They also rent sand chairs. Bring your picnic supper or buy snacks from the food vendors. Beer and wine are allowed, but no hard liquor.

Details: Tickets are $10 (Thursday and Sunday) and $15 (Friday and Saturday), and special discounted tickets are available for students and seniors (+55) at the venue. Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer season are “pay what you can” nights, with a suggested donation of $10.

KXT Sun Sets

The KXT Sun Set series showcases two performers, a local opening band and a headliner. Concerts are held at the Dallas Arboretum (8617 Garland Road, Garland), with four remaining shows this year: June 27, July 11, July 18, and August 1. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Coolers are okay, as is wine and beer. There are no concessions sold on site.

Details: Parking is free in the Arboretum garage. Individual tickets are $35 with free admission for children six and under.

State Fair of Texas

big-texBig Tex is back! Yes, it’s time for the Great State Fair of Texas.

Fair Park in Dallas is alive with midway games, amusement rides, fair food, livestock shows, and exhibits. Old favorites return and new exhibits have been added.

Old favorites

I love the animals at the fair. Tucked in the back corner of Fair Park by Gate 12, you’ll find the cattle, swine, and horse barns. It’s all about traditional fair events with young people showing off their prize livestock. Want to see more farm animals? Check out the Lone Star stampede and pig races in the Pan Am building.state-fair-3-800x800

Fried food is everywhere. Personally, I’m quite content to give a pass to fried jello. However, I wholeheartedly recommend a Fletcher’s corn dog…even if you need to stand in line. Fletcher’s is located next to Big Tex, so be sure to get your photo of the iconic Texan while there.

New exhibits

Who would associate Michelangelo with the State Fair of Texas? This year, the Women’s Museum building is the site for an exhibit featuring full-sized reproductions of the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings. These panels give an up-close view of the famous ceiling. There is an $8 admission fee.

Hard to please pre-teens may enjoy the Taylor Swift Experience, a collection of Taylor Swift memorabilia on display in the Hall of State building. All ages will enjoy the pogo stunts of Xpogo.

Insider tips

  • Tickets, rides, and food….it all adds up to big bucks when you visit the fair. You can save on tickets by purchasing them online or in advance at Walgreens or Kroger. Better yet, visit the State Fair on a discount day. Bring four cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank on Wednesdays and purchase your ticket for just $4. Even better, if you are 60 years old or more, visit the fair for free on Thursday.
  • Thursdays are not only free to seniors, but many concession vendors offer discounted food for Thrifty Thursdays.state-fair-2-800x800
  • To avoid crowds, consider a weekday visit to the State Fair. You’ll get the same great fair experience with less hassle.
  • Need to cool off on a hot day, the Hall of State, Automobile building, and many other buildings are blissfully air conditioned and wonderful ways to escape the heat.
  • Limit your time at the midway. Rides and games can be an expensive. Instead, take advantage of free entertainment. Special activities for kids are set up around the Pan Am Arena.

The Great State Fair of Texas continues until October 23.

 

 

North Texas Camping

Nothing says adventure like spending a night out in the wilds, even if those wilds are located just a few miles from home. While our northern neighbors camp during the summer months, spring and fall are the best times to pitch a tent in North Texas.

CampingThe spring floods closed many local camping spots. However, you can still camp at two, city-run parks. Erwin Park is best suited for those who want a more rugged camping experience, and Little Elm Park works well for families with small children.

Erwin Park

Located in north McKinney, farm fields border this green space. The 212-acre park is a favorite campsite for local Scouting groups. If you are a mountain biker, you’ll love this area. Erwin Park sports almost nine miles of mountain bike trail maintained by Dallas Off Road Bike Association. Camping areas with covered picnic pavilions (there are three) require payment and advance registration. There are also numerous, smaller campsites with fire pits ideal for families and small groups.

The park has two restroom facilities (no showers) at picnic pavilion areas. From November to March, the city secures water to the park to prevent pipes from freezing. You can still camp during that time, but there are no toilet facilities.

When you go

Erwin Park is at 4300 County Road, McKinney. Operated by the City of McKinney, you can reserve a picnic pavilion by calling (972) 547-2690.

Little Elm Park

Little Elm Park is one of the least expensive camping locations on Lake Lewisville. The park not only has campsites, but also sand volleyball, baseball fields, and a swim beach. A newly opened playground is sure to be a hit with your pint-sized campers. Hiking trails are limited, though you will find a paved, one-mile trail ideal for strollers at the north end of the park.

When you go

The park is operated by the City of Little Elm and is located at 701 Eldorado Parkway. Camping is $5 a night per tent. You can pay for overnight camping at the kiosk in the parking lot. For more park information contact the city at (9720 731-3296.

Happy camping!

Dallas Dozen: Free Family Fun

The FREE iBook, Dallas Dozen: Free Family Fun, is packed full of places to explore. It’s your boredom-busting guide for the summer.

Dallas Dozen Free Family FunThe book is written for families wanting adventure without spending a lot of money. All locations are either in or near the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex. Dallas Dozen:  Free Family Fun covers places you may already know about like the Dallas Museum of Art, and others you may not, like Mineral Wells Fossil Park.

Plan an expedition to Ladonia to search for fossils, attend a Star Party in Rockwall, or visit a Buddhist temple in Garland. It’s a great guide to use for trying something new with your kids. Nervous about taking your 5-year-old to an art museum? Are you someone who believes the only way to camp is in a hotel room? The book has helpful tips for “first-timers” so that your art museum junket or camping experience aren’t too daunting.

Almost all listed activities are free. There is a Worth the Splurge section in some chapters to highlight inexpensive opportunities you will not want to miss.

Dallas Dozen: Free Family Fun is available on iBooks and Nook at no cost. A Kindle version is also available for a nominal $.99.

Have fun exploring the DFW area!