There is only one state in the United States where, if Independence Day is mentioned, you might be asked, "Which one?" As one of just two states to have once been a sovereign nation, Texas celebrates its Independence Day on March 2 with gusto. Since 2008, the city of Conroe has been marking the occasion with a Texas Independence Day Music Festival and Chili Cook-off. The festival is typically held on the weekend closest to March 2.
Conroe is a medium-sized but rapidly growing town in the suburbs of Houston, in eastern Texas. The festival is typically held at the Heritage Place Amphitheater east of Highway 75 and south of Highway 105. The venue has ample on-site parking but the event is popular, so consider arriving early to find good parking. Tickets for the festival are under $10, as of 2011.
The Texas Independence Day Music Festival has a wide range of musical performances. Most tend to be in the genres of country and western, folk and blues-rock. Past artists include Ray Wylie Hubbard, Randy Weeks, Cody Canada & The Departed, and Charlie Robinson. Performances typically begin around noon and run until just before midnight, with bigger names headlining later in the evening.
To complete the Texas experience, visitors can listen to their country music while sampling over 150 different chili recipes. To complete, cooks must pay an entry fee ($25 as of 2011) and prepare at least 5 gallons of chili. Entry fees can be found at the festival website (texasindependenceday.org). In recent years first prize has been $2,500. See if you agree with the judges.
While the two main attractions of the festival are the music and the chili cook-off, adults and families will find a wide array of things to do. Side attractions include a rock climbing wall, face painting, a Texas history essay contest, Western skits and re-enactments, fireworks, miniature train rides, art, and additional food for sale.