Photo by Alison Narro

Holiday weekends call for packed schedules and these selected happenings are certain to keep you busy. Foodie festivals, outdoor films, and a plethora of live music performances are just a few ways to stay entertained in the days ahead. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 25

Aaron Franklin's Hot Luck Fest
Big flavors and big cooking stars collide at the return of Hot Luck Fest. The three-day event at various venues including Franklin Barbecue and Fair Market will showcase the best in barbecue and live music. The chef lineup includes Chris Bianco, Crystal Wahpepah, Mashama Bailey, Ashley Christensen, Fermín Núñez, and many more. Live shows are scheduled nightly, immediately following the foodie fun. Visit hotluckfest.com for a full schedule of events and to buy tickets.

Texas Author Series with Cari Clark: Interview with Mark Pryor
Well-known mystery novelist Mark Pryor comes to Chez Zee American Bistro for an evening of dialogue as part of the Texas Author Series programming. The England-based author is best known for his successful Hugo Marston mystery series. Stick around after the conversation to enjoy an intimate Q&A. Get tickets on Eventbrite.

Austin Parks Foundation presents Movies in the Park: Free Guy
Settle in under the stars and in the glow of the silver screen at Gustavo "Gus" L. Garcia District Park. Guests of all ages are invited to a free screening of the 2021 film starring Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy, at this Austin Parks Foundation-hosted film series. Dogs, picnics, and lawn chairs are welcome. Admission is free.

Friday, May 26

Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church presents Austin Greek Festival
Experience and celebrate Greek culture and hospitality at this family-friendly festival. Highlights of the three-day event include Greek cuisine offerings, dance performances, souvenir markets, tours of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, and live music by a band hailing from Greece. Go to austingreekfestival.com

Canopy Projects presents "Here Now" opening reception
Be among the first guests to experience the work of more than 50 artists from the East Austin community at Canopy Austin. The “Here Now” pop-up exhibition includes a range of mediums including photography, sculpture, paint, mixed media, and more. Following the opening reception, this exhibition will be on display through June 15. Admission is free and open to the public.

Saturday, May 27

Zilker Botanical Garden presents Woodland Faerie Trail Opening Day
Whimsical moments and folklore come together in the fields of the Zilker Botanical Garden. Guests to this summer trail kickoff will have the chance to participate in Scottish Country dancing, fairy story time, and activity tables for all ages. They can also learn botanical folklore and tour the Austinite-built faerie homes made in natural materials along the trail. Get more event details at zilkergarden.org.

14th Annual Lone Star Jam
Texas country music takes center stage for two days straight at Round Rock Amp. This year’s Lone Star Jam lineup features more than a dozen performers including Pat Green, Josh Abbott Band, Stoney LaRue, Bri Bagwell, and Parker Ryan. Check lonestarjam.net for ticket and schedule information.

Hot Luck Festival
Photo by Alison Narro
Indulge in equal parts food and music at Hot Luck Fest this weekend.
Photo courtesy of Daiboku

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Renowned ramen spot launches omakase spin-off

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


Sazan Ramen, one of Austin's newer and most coveted ramen spots, is expanding its footprint (noodle print?) with a new venture, also serving ramen. The main distinction is that Daiboku offers an "omakase experience" — basically, a guest can ask the chef or server to decide what dish they'll receive. It sounds like not knowing what you want is the perfect way to approach this 10-seat ramen counter, although it does have some casual options. This is also one of the most accessible omakase menus in the city, offering five courses for only $39. Daiboku is located at 609 West 29th St. Book at daibokuramen.com.

Other news and notes

As evidenced by several annual events around Austin and beyond, there are few better fundraising opportunities than selling some really great wines. In fact, the Texas Wine Auction beat its goal for the year at its second annual event at the end of April, raising $245,134. These funds will go to Texas A&M Agrilife extension and wellness programs that provide support for the Texas wine industry at large while supporting hospitality workers in the area. Chef Austin Simmons of TRIS won the inaugural chef competition with an oak-smoked "Big Rib" with kimchi stylings.

The Austin Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier is one of the most active culinary supporters in the area, and has just announced new scholarships for 20 women chefs, beverage directors, students, and more. Some of the winners of more than $50,000 total represent Austin institutions including Birdie's, Antonelli’s Cheese, the Steeping Room, and Pinthouse Pizza. Awarded grants include the opportunity to take a four-day bread-making class in France, a trip to Sri Lanka to meet tea growers, and more worldly endeavors. A full list of 2023 recipients is available at ldeiaustin.org.

Lenoir has been around for more than a decade now, giving it plenty of time to get to know the community. A new Third Thursday dinner series aims to support some of those local nonprofits, sending 5 percent of the selected night's sales to each beneficiary. Upcoming recipients include the Trail Conservancy, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), Latinitas, and more. The next dinner is May 18, followed by another on June 15. See the scheduled dinners and book at lenoirrestaurant.com.

Peoples Rx, the historic pharmacy on North Lamar Boulevard, is showing this May 21 that it really is about the people, with a free community barbecue. The cookout will feature lots of local products like organic chicken by Greener Pastures, gluten-free bakes by Dream Bakery, Siete chips, and Peoples' own kale salad and gluten-free treats. Kosmic Kombucha or Cielo water will be keeping visitors hydrated, while some Peoples specialists add gut health supplements. Stop by between noon and 3 pm, until supplies run out.

Pitmaster Aaron Franklin's famous Hot Luck festival takes place next weekend, May 25-28. Tickets, in a variety of tiers and locations, are still available, and some of the events are free. The combination food and music festival features dishes by Austin's top chefs by day, followed by nighttime shows by its top musical talent, for a massive cookout that spans several venues. There's way too much slated to list here — for a lineup and ticketing options, visit hotluckfest.com.

Image courtesy of Kyle Fair

Kyle Fair: A Tex-travaganza

Kyle Fair is a three-day festival featuring a rib cook-off, a margarita contest, carnival rides, a whole mess of things on a stick, live music, and fireworks.

It's also hoping to set the Guinness World Record for the largest same-name gathering by inviting anyone with the first name of Kyle to show up on Sunday, May 21 at 4 pm. All Kyles who participate will be given a free Kyle Fair T-shirt until supplies last.

Photo courtesy of KVUE

An abundance of Kyles will join up near Austin in hopes of setting a new record at Kyle Fair

Miles of Kyles

The City of Kyle is hoping to make its own Kyle-verse! Well, in a way. City officials are hoping to break the Guinness World Record for having the largest gathering of people with the same name in one city.

The attempt at the record is all part of the Kyle Fair Tex-Travaganza, which will take place at Lake Kyle Park from May 19-21, and includes music as well as food and beverage contests.

“In order to break this record, we’re calling for any and all Kyle’s. We need tall Kyles, short Kyles, young Kyles, and old Kyles to get close to the record set five years ago,” City of Kyle Special Events Manager Claudia Rocha said. “We’re very excited about the upcoming, inaugural Kyle Fair and have high hopes that this event will bring out the Kyles needed to grab a spot in the record books.”

The current world record comes out of Kupreski Kosci in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 2,325 people named "Ivan" gathered on July 30, 2017.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Courtesy of L'Oca d'Oro

These 6 rising star Austin chefs are just getting started

meet the tastemakers

Austin has its fair share of celebrity chefs, and their ranks are always growing. And as much as we love poaching a well-liked chef from New York (at least, some of us do), there's something just chef's kiss about seeing our own local chefs rise through the ranks and open their own restaurants.

CultureMap's annual Tastemaker Awards feature a Rising Star Chef of the Year category, designed to pull some of Austin's most promising chefs out from the back of the house to the front of foodies' attention. Many of these chefs haven't won well-publicized awards, been featured in articles, or really had much of an online presence online before, so our judges — mostly the previous year's winners with a deep personal knowledge of the industry — are extra important here.

With the entire industry to choose from, the judges selected these six sous chefs, appointed executive chefs, and freshman small restaurant owners to represent the best chefs doing big things with fewer eyes on them. The winner of this category is someone our industry professionals want to see at the helm of their own culinary empire soon.

In order to dig deeper for these chefs' bios, CultureMap sent around a few questions about where these rising star chefs are from, what experience they've had, and what sets them apart in their industry. Please welcome — some for the first time — this class of Rising Star nominees. Then, come find out who wins on May 11 at Fair Market for our annual Tastemaker Awards tasting event and awards ceremony. Tickets are on sale now.

Harvard Aninye, Canje
This first-generation Nigerian-American chef is used to looking at things from several angles, saying his upbringing in San Antonio taught him to "continue to challenge and question life in general." Since his time in this cultural hot pot, Harvard Aninye landed at downtown Austin sushi restaurant TenTen as Chef de Cuisine, and then took the same position at Caribbean darling Canje, known for its vibrant takes on homey foods.

Javier Nuñez, Odd Duck
Loyalty is treasured but not always rewarded, especially in the fast-moving food industry. Javier Nuñez, however, has actually risen through the ranks as he's stuck with Odd Duck for the past decade — from a "server assistant" in 2014 to one of the most-admired sous chefs in Austin in 2023. The South Lamar staple has been similarly reliable, always a favorite among visitors and locals alike for the fresh ingredients and creative plates.

Joaquin Ceballos, Este
Joaquin Ceballos has always been international, and it's his "love for multicultural environments" that he says sets him apart. Born in Laredo, Texas, and raised across the border in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, he now represents the latter country at Este, the upscale seafood restaurant in East Austin. If he'd never left, however, he'd never had a chance to return to those roots, so thank Parisian bistro Racines NY for holding on to him in between.

Kareem El-Ghayesh, KG BBQ
In a barely alternate universe, Austin might have missed out on this chef's unique Middle Eastern art via his food truck, KG BBQ. From Cairo, Egypt, Kareem El-Ghayesh was in the corporate finance and banking world. After a visit to Austin he was hooked, he told the Austin Chronicle, and even learned his new trade through iconic Austin pit master Aaron Franklin. His contribution to Texas barbecue, he says, comes from "lighter and more balanced ingredients."

Kyle Mulligan
After a long personal history in Texas, including a culinary arts degree and several positions at Austin institutions as sous chef, Kyle Mulligan has finally moved on to more Northern things — but not without leaving his mark on the food scene. Most recently, and notably, it was as executive chef at 1417 French Bistro, where Mulligan created an example of something Austin doesn't see much thanks to its nontraditional bent: excellent, simple, and traditional French food.

Peter Klein, L'Oca D'Oro
The food world loves an unexpected twist, but sometimes we just need an East Coaster to make great Italian food. This New Jersey-raised chef honed his skills in New York City, finally arriving in Austin eight years ago. Fittingly, Peter Klein says his main inspiration is "leaning into simplicity." For this award, judges recognized his work as executive sous chef with L'Oca d'Oro, and he has now moved on to become executive chef at Holiday.

Photo courtesy of Este

These 16 contenders are competing for the title of best new Austin restaurant

Meet the Tastemakers

It feels like every day that we read about a new restaurant concept in Austin — probably because it is. As the city changes, so does the culinary landscape, staying grounded at food trucks and fun places to meet up for a casual lunch, or breaking through the perceived limits of what this city has to offer, sometimes to the tune of James Beard Nominations.

As much as Austinites want to hold onto Old Austin, life changes, and supporting the best incoming restaurants may mean bolstering a new 40-odd-year institution that generations will look back on fondly. These 16 new restaurants tease a future of more East-West ethnic fusion (alongside some traditional favorites that will never die, like Mexican street food and pizza), local ingredients, and slow-cooked meats.

These nominees were picked by our Tastemakers judges — a few editorial staff and some winners from 2022 — for you, the readers. Your votes will determine which restaurants progress to an eventual win for Best New Restaurant at the 2023 Tastemaker Awards.

Our first brackets match up pairs of restaurants with a similar style, conceptual focus, or rules broken, to make sure we're comparing apples to apples — or more accurately, brisket to brisket. Visit the interactive page to make your selections; one vote per bracket.

To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends at 11:59 pm on April 24.

Then, find out which restaurant wins on May 11 at the Tastemaker Awards party at Fair Market. Nominated restaurants and chefs will show off their best bites and the winners in each category will be revealed. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

Here are our nominees for Best New Restaurant:

The beauty of barbecue is it’s never just one thing, and these Tastemakers prove that the art will always keep expanding, multiculturally.
BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya
If ramen and Texas barbecue have one thing in common, it’s that you could cook either forever and it’ll just keep getting better. The Tatsu-ya franchise tightens its grip on ramen aficionados with a new venture combining the two deep flavors in BBQ Ramen Tatsuya.
KG BBQ is what happens when Southwestern smoking meets Middle Eastern flavors like pomegranate and tahini. Brisket is the restaurant’s pride and joy, but the sides really call attention to how variable classics like potato salad, rice, and mac and cheese can be.

Both a little nontraditional, these new restaurants take well-known, casual foods from non-American cultures and turn up the Texas flavor.
Side Eye Pie
Food truck Side Eye Pie isn’t doing anything wildly off-book, but it’s on a mission of “creating & defining Texas Pizza.” Eschewing imports for local products including flour and yeast, the spirit of rebellion also shows up in the “Sweet & Spicy Nutz” pie with Texas pecans.
Tiny Diner
Tiny Diner is all about Japanese breakfast. Eggs are the star of the show, especially in the breakfast sandwich, over easy on bacon, greens, spices and a toasted bun. The okonomiyaki, a savory pancake, may expand some diners’ horizons and is topped with a poached egg.

A food truck and a farmers market favorite, these two new restaurants are making big moves in small spaces.
Mum Foods
Known for its pastrami, sliced in front of shoppers and dripping with rendered fat, Mum Foods made a triumphant move to a small standalone smokehouse and deli counter. Now it serves huge spreads with sausages, matzah ball soup, and more.
Ensenada is doing what many other food trucks shy away from — an entirely fish- and shrimp-focused menu. The fried fish tacos are already a street food staple; Shrimp cocktail doesn’t sound like one until you see its colorful layers stacked in a smoothie cup.

Two of Austin’s newest Mexican restaurants show the range of the cuisine — from upscale to fast-casual — while focusing on the power of smaller regions.
Masa y Más
A stop at Masa y Más is like a tour through Mexico without leaving South Lamar, with each dish made in its specific regional style. Authenticity is a big focus here, and as the name suggests, there’s a lot more to try than just tacos, plus the big space is a great hangout spot.
Chapulín Cantina
The successor of longtime South Congress restaurant Enoteca, Chapulín Cantina shifted the Italian focus to Oaxaca, Mexico. The semi-upscale newcomer is named for a Oaxacan delicacy — fried grasshoppers — and they are on the menu. The tequila bar alone is worth a long visit.

Suerte’s little sister and this brand new dual concept at the Seaholm District prove that Austin is primed and ready for elevated Latin fare.
The award-winning team behind Suerte opened their long-awaited second concept last year on Manor Road. Celebrating coastal Mexican cuisine, the restaurant already looks set to become as cherished a spot as the space’s former tenant, East Side Cafe.
Ember Kitchen
The Seaholm District welcomed the arrival of dual concept Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar in January 2023. Ember offers a live-fire experience with Latin flare, while Subterra serves a curated selection of agave cocktails and Latin spirits in a speakeasy setting.

Two new steakhouses stampeded Congress in the past year, one north of the river — and right next to the Paramount Theatre — and one South, in the heart of trendy South Congress.
Maie Day
Helmed by Olamaie founder and executive chef Michael Fojtasek, Maie Day took over for Central Standard at South Congress Hotel last May. With playful takes on a classic steakhouse menu, highlights include ribeye, a butcher’s steak, and a plethora of hearty sides.
Luminaire took up residence at the brand new Hyatt Hotel Centric in February 2023. Devoted fans of Cured at the Pearl in San Antonio no longer have to trek down I-35 for Chef Steve McHugh’s signature cured meats, but the Angus beef Luminaire burger is also a major draw.

From cult favorite soup dumplings to incredible views, these two restaurants show the increasing range of cuisine we’re blessed to find in Austin these days.
Ling Kitchen
Chef Ling Qi Wu has been quietly changing the game for Chinese cuisine in Austin since opening Lin Asian Kitchen in 2018. She now has four total concepts to her growing empire, with Ling Kitchen as the latest outpost to find her famous soup dumplings.
Nestled in Austin’s newest luxury condo and hotel overlooking Lady Bird Lake, Nido claims some of the best views of downtown Austin. Murder Point oysters are a highlight, and the cocktails are equally fresh.

Austin is still finding its way as a potential pizza city, and these two freshmen born from older favorite restaurants embody two styles that have stood the test of time.
Bufalina (Due)
Proponents of a truly Italian pizza were enamored with Bufalina and now, Bufalina Due, the resurrection of the original restaurant in new digs. This Neapolitan style pizza is rimmed with charred dough, swimming in sauce, and serves as a generous vehicle for toppings.
Dovetail Pizza
A group of industry vets came together to create Dovetail Pizza for those who can’t choose between the New York and Neapolitan styles that dominate the category. The fermented dough stays light, but gets crispy enough to support its weight under the Italian toppings.

Este Austin
Photo courtesy of Este

These 16 restaurants represent the best of Austin's newcomers. You choose the winner! Este's Mexican seafood and garden vibes have swept Austin since opening.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Whiskey distillery launches floating bar at "secret" lake locale

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


Getting to the bar just got harder — but way more fun. Fierce Whiskers Distillery is literally launching a new pop-up called the Stubborn Bar, floating off the shores of Town Lake. The location is a secret, but not one too closely kept; Join the mailing list to receive updates and sign up to snag a spot. The bar operates June 3-4, June 17-18, and June 24-25. Visitors' hard work will be rewarded with a chance to taste the new two-year Texas Straight Rye, which the distillery says was very hard to make, and "the first pour should go to those who are just as determined." They're also celebrating the new release on land with a performance by Neil Frances and Thebrosfresh on June 10. Tickets ($30-120) available on Eventbrite.

Carve American Grille (stylized CARVE) has been working on its second location for more than a year, and the date has been moved one last time — hopefully. Instead of opening on June 8, it'll be June 12. It's taking up residence at The Grove (2613 Perseverance Dr.), a mixed-use community covering 75 acres. Carve, sister restaurant to Perry's Steakhouse, is well-known for its creative twists on a classic steakhouse menu, which can often border on austere. So, postpone your visit, but keep Carve on your list.

Other news and notes

Even after Memorial Day, we're all ready for a Fri-yay celebration, and thankfully this week brings another day of observance: National Donut Day. The Salty is ready with a limited-edition mini French toast donut, available only on June 2. This creative donut is made with a 24-hour brioche base, filled with a "homemade French toast filling," and topped with maple treats and mascarpone whipped cream. The shop is also celebrating with a 25 percent merch discount and free delivery to Salty Rewards Members using the app or website.

For those who just can't get enough rosé at brunch, there's the Rosé Dinner at Lost Draw Cellars. On June 3, the winery will open up its new space for a rosé tasting featuring its four new releases, all from 2022. These sips will be paired with a live fire dinner of beef and chicken from Hill Country Beef and Cielito Lindo Farm, respectively, and fresh vegetables from Hat & Heart Farm. Tickets ($85) are available at williamchriswines.com.

Austin wouldn't be Austin without the endless markets, and two more are popping up on June 4. One at Bar Toti gives an excuse to visit the chic space behind one of the city's most talked-about restaurants, Este. This Mercado del Girasol celebrates the Este Garden's third anniversary, with goods by local artisans and creatives, drinks, DJ sets, and more. Three raffles benefit Casa Marianella, which supports displaced immigrants in Austin, and visitors can pick sunflowers and try signature cocktails by Bar Toti. The other establishes a new weekly event at the Hill Country Galleria: the Bee Cave Farmers Market. In addition to the usual farmers' fare (from 40 vendors), these markets will offer live music performances, starting aptly with The Hens.

Starting this week — "as soon as I buy the buttermilk," according to the chef — Radio Coffee & Beer's food truck, Shortwave Diner, will be offering monthly specials centered on fried chicken and burgers. The pending special is a sweet and very crispy tarragon chicken with maple syrup, and the rest is a mystery. The breakfast truck stands at the ready at the popular work site for freelancers and remote workers, serving daily chicken and waffles, smash burgers, and more. Follow Shortwave on Instagram to see when the new series launches.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”

New Hill Country farmers market debuts in Bee Cave this month


Over 40 local farmers and makers will bring their goods to the Hill Country Galleria on Sunday, June 4 for the launch of the new Bee Cave Farmers Market. Visitors can shop at the Central Plaza Lawn from 10 am to 2 pm.

Locally-grown, fresh produce will be sold by Farmer Dave's, Citizen Mushroom, Pedernales River Farm, Persnickety Gardens, and Smyrna Farms. Gift and creative vendors include Auntie Gigi's Dog Treats, Austin Fine Jewelry, B&G Artisan Gifts, Herbal Root Collective, Luminosa Vida, Plant Lady ATX, and many more.

The farmers market doesn't just provide opportunities to shop local: Nonprofits that would like to spread the word about their cause can also find a place at the market with their free booth application.

Organizers have also dedicated an entire row of booths to young entrepreneurs looking to start their own small business, and provide any planning or decorating assistance as necessary, free of charge.

The market will also feature plenty of live music and family-friendly activities. Local bands will perform from 11 am to 2 pm every week in June. The Hens are scheduled to perform during the market's debut on June 4, and Rent Party will perform on June 11. Honeybee Jazz will bring their sultry vocals to the stage on June 18, and The Boss Jaguars will close out the month on June 25.

More information about the Bee Cave Farmer's Market can be found on their website.