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Alrighty! It’s time for March Madness and there’s more than basketball happening in Austin during this month. It seems that there is so much to do and so little time, you’ll be pulled in a hundred different directions, so buckle your seatbelts and I’ll tell you about some of the activities to keep you busy until the middle of the month when South by Southwest takes over the town!

For all you Texans and wannabes, we’ll start with Texas Independence Day on March 2nd. There will be parades, a 5K race, a golf tournament, ceremonies, parties, and so much more. The festivities start on March 2nd with a Memorial Service for the Veterans of the Texas Revolution at the Texas State Cemetery. There’s a celebration at noon at the Capitol Rotunda and a student contest for school children to promote Texas history awareness. On March 6th, you can join the 5K Run, watch the Texas independence Day Parade and have tons of fun at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Parking and admission is FREE so mosey down to the Bob Bullock and hear live music, get something to eat, and learn all about Texas history. There is an Alamo Remembrance Ceremony at noon on the Capitol grounds, and a golf tournament on the 8th. For more information, visit www.celebratetexas.org.

Thursday, March 4th is the First Thursday of March and we all know what that means. Yep, it’s time to grab your hat and boots and head down to South Congress Avenue for shopping, dining, and listening to live music. This event repeats itself every first Thursday of the month, so if you miss this one… there’s always another opportunity.

Friday, the 5th is the kickoff for the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo and if you want some real honest to goodness Cowboy grub, take this opportunity to enjoy a full buffet with country and western music to match. The event is at Auditorium Shores and starts at 6:00 A.M. …yep, that’s in the MORNING! The fair and rodeo runs from March 12th through the 27th, so you can really get a taste of Texas during this wildly popular celebration of all things western. There are cook-off contests, rodeo events, auctions, dances, and plenty of fun for the entire family. Most events are at the Travis County Exposition Center so have those boots shined and ready to go!

Now on the weekend, there are so many more things to do, you’ll need to keep your PDA ready at all times. Besides the Texas Independence Day celebrations that we’ve already mentioned, you can join thousands of volunteers and help clean up Austin Parks at It’s My Park Day! One of my favorite events all year long is Explore UT! Often called the ‘biggest open house in Texas’ this gathering has over 800 events and programs open to the public. Everything from mariachi workshops to solar cars to dancing to free ice cream can be found at the University of Texas campus. It’s FREE and you can find out more at www.utexas.edu/events/exploreut. Finally, if you can squeeze it in, stop by the Sunshine Gardens at 45th and North Lamar and purchase your spring plants for the garden. With high quality seedlings and an array of varieties, you can get everything you need for your vegetable garden in one stop!

Sunday, the 7th is the annual Zilker Kite Flying Festival….so you don’t want to miss this one! This event is an Austin original and you’ll need to dust off that kite, grab a picnic or your pocketbook (there’s vendors for food if you forget to bring your own) and be at the Kite Fields around 10:00 a.m. There are free shuttles from State Garage E at 1604 Colorado Street and you can bring the whole family. With categories like the smallest kite, the largest kite, the most unusual kite, the steadiest kite and the strongest pulling kite, there’s bound to be something that works for you!

One last reminder is that Austin Restaurant Week continues through March 10th so while you’re out running all over town…and who has time to cook?… you can take advantage of some great places to dine for a fixed price. Good for you, good for the restaurants, and good for the Sustainable Food Center charity.

I’ll be back to tell you more about SXSW that starts on the 15th of March. Until then, try to get some rest and don’t forget to set your clocks to Spring Forward on Saturday night, the 14th!!!