15 Festivals to Kick Off Your Summer!

Summer is so close, you can taste it (and feel it in those blazing 87 degree days) — but it’s still spring. Instead of getting the summer blues, check out this list of 15 rockin’ festivals around the state to keep you partying until spring is over and help you welcome in the gloriously hot days of summer!

Taste of Irving – May 20

Picture by City of Irving.

Food is the big event at this festival (and that’s honestly the best part of any festival, right?) Sample gourmet dishes from 24 local restaurants, purchase some of their signature dishes for only $5 and watch food demonstrations by chefs from the Art Institute of Dallas’s International Culinary School! Besides the food fun, there will also be live music, a craft show and a fun zone for kids!

Scarborough Renaissance Festival – until May 29

Picture by Pongo.

Jousting knights,  mystical mermaids, dazzling princesses, epic sword fights…sound like a fantasy? It’s also a normal day at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie. Step into an enchanted fairytale and become a part of the magic at this recreation of a 16th Century English Village under the reign of King Henry VII. From sword fights and historic demonstrations to all the food you can imagine (including giant turkey legs), this festival is one awesome adventure! And with themed weekends, you never know what you’ll discover!

Kerrville Folk Festival – May 25 – June 11

This is one festival that keeps rockin’ and rollin’ — for 18 continuous days! Join Kerrville in this huge gathering of singer-songwriters for TONS of live music as well as multiple workshops including blues guitar, ukulele and songwriting workshops! To add to the musical fun, there are also Canoe Trips on the Guadalupe each Friday and a 26-mile Hill Country bike ride every Saturday. Hit up the festival on Memorial Day weekend to take part in the Texas Wines & Texas Craft Beers seminars!

Houston Greek Festival – May 19-21

Picture by Alexandra Maria Photography.

It’s time to get your Greek on at this Houston fest where you can learn all about the Greek culture. Enjoy traditional dances, handmade Greek crafts and jewelry, a Non-Greeks dance competition and, of course, all the delicious Greek foods and pastries! Ticket proceeds from this year’s festival benefit the Ronald McDonald House Houston.

National Polka Fest – May 26-28

Picture by Ashley Colunga.

Grab your dancing shoes and head to this festival celebrating Polka music and the Czech heritage! The festivities start on Friday night with a Polka dance and guests are encouraged to wear traditional Czech costumes. The fun continues on Saturday and Sunday with a parade, live Polka music, kolache-eating contests and so much more! You’ve gotta “Czech” it out!

Big Pines Blues Festival – June 2- 3

If there’s two things you can count on finding in Longview, TX, it’s BIG pines and a BIG sound! Since 2006, this Blues festival has been showcasing blues legends and newcomers, alike! The festival begins with performances by new artists on Friday night. On Saturday, enjoy music by 2016 Blues Hall of Fame member Elvin BishopJohnny and the Nightcrawlers, and Jimmy Wallace and the Stratoblasters!

West Texas Swing Festival – June 7-10

Picture by Snyder Chamber of Commerce.

Grab your boots and dance partner and make your way out west to Snyder, TX for this weekend celebrating the official music of Texas: Western Swing! Dance the days away to live music by Rance Norton, Jody Nix, Jake Hooker and more! Besides tons of two-stepping, you can also browse through the Craft Fair!

Chisholm Trail Round-up – June 8-10

This festival is a Rodeo, mixed with a Carnival in the Barbecue Capital of Texas — Lockhart! Join the community for three days of fun, food, craft fairs, washer throwing and golf tournaments! There will also be live music by country artists including Justin TrevinoNathan Colt Young and Reckless Kelly.

Shrimporee – June 9-11

With a name like that, you know this is gonna be one EPIC festival. Head to Port Aransas on June 9-11 for shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp. At this coastal celebration, you can enter a shrimp eating contest, enjoy a shrimp boil, watch the Miss Shrimporee Contest or even partake in the Outhouse Race! Or you can just grab a shrimp cocktail and relax to live music from over a dozen musicians!

Blanco Lavender Festival – June 9

Picture by Willard Gibbons.

This may be one of the best smelling festivals in Texas! Blanco is hosting its 13th Annual Lavender Festival, and it’s your one-stop shop for all things lavender! There will be a lavender market outside the Historic Old Blanco County Courthouse, but you can also visit the local farms to see the lavender growing, and possibly even pick your own! Attend the lectures by guest speakers about lavender, gardening and bee-keeping, or relax with a “Lavender Lizzie” from Real Ale Brewing and listen to live music.

Wine & Clay Festival – June 10-11

Enjoy a luxurious evening in the Texas Panhandle! Sip some of Llano Estacado Winery’s finest wines in Slanton, TX while you view artworks, handcrafted jewelry, pottery and more!

Jacksonville Tomato Fest – June 5 -10

Picture by April Barbe.

Join the folks of Jacksonville, TX, for their 33rd Annual Tomato Fest when the mayor proclaims the city “Tomatoville” for the week! There will be all sorts of fun events (like a Dodgeball Tournament on Tuesday and a Golf Tournament on Friday) leading up to the big festival on Saturday! The Tomato Fest will be ripe with all kinds of opportunities to enjoy tomatoes, including Tomato Eating, Salsa and Home Grown Tomatoes Contests. The kids can also join in the fun with Tomato Peeling, Tomato Shoot and Tomato Packing Contests. And of course, you can gorge yourself on fried green tomatoes among other delicious foods!

Boerne Berges Fest – June 16-18

Picture by Boerne Berges Fest.

Boerne is hosting its 51st Berges Fest and you’re invited to help them honor all things German! There will be a Parade to kick-off the festival, then throughout the weekend activities include a Bratwurst Eating Contest, Daschund Races, a Root Beer Drinking Contest, Wheelbarrow Races and more! There will also be a carnival and live music.

Stonewall Peach JAMboree – June 16-17

Picture by Stonewall Chamber of Commerce.

If you love peaches, this is the JAMboree for you! At this fest in Stonewall, you’ll find peaches galore in the form of ice cream, cobblers and, of course, fresh peaches. Compete in the peach salsa, baking or preserves contests to put your peachy skills to the test, hit the rides at the carnival or stop by the rodeo to watch the mutton bustin!

Bandera Riverfest – June 24

Picture by Jackie Demers.

Mosey on down to Cowboy town to join in the fun on the Medina River. You’ll find a little bit of everything — from a water-themed rodeo (with events like “tube roping”) to contests for your furry friends (Water Fetch competition anyone?). Show off your talent at the Bandera Idol competition, or your food-eating skills at the Watermelon or HotDog eating contests! Add in a BBQ Cook-Off, the “Anything That Floats” Regata and an Arts & Craft Show, and you’ve got yourself an epic day!

The Tastiest Tacos San Antonio Road Trip

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In cased you missed the memo, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s on September 16), but rather a day celebrating the bravery of General Ignacio Seguin Zaragoza (a native Texan) and his small army when they defended the city of Puebla from the giant French army on May 5, 1862 even though they were very outnumbered (find the complete history of Cinco de Mayo here).

To honor these brave men and their culture, we’ve created a road trip centered around one of our favorite Mexican dishes: the beautiful and glorious taco! With beginnings in Mexican silver mines around the 19th Century, the taco eventually traveled to Texas through the Chili Queens in San Antonio, and over time has transformed into one of Texas’s favorite foods. The variations are endless and magnificent! So wear your stretchy pants and hop on this Taco Road Trip through the heart of San Antonio where you can enjoy five of the tastiest tacos in town!

HERE’S THE MAP:

Just like each day must start with breakfast, each taco road trip must begin with breakfast tacos, so your first stop is Pete’s Tako House (to all the grammarists out there, this is the correct spelling…so calm down and have a taco.) This family-owned joint has been serving up the most important meal of the day stuffed in fresh tortillas since 1978; each taco is ginormous and the filling combinations are endless and heavenly. Don’t worry if you happen to start your road trip late, they serve breakfast tacos all day — so you’re in luck!

If you wish to declare your taco love to the world, you’re only about 5 minutes from the famous “I Love You Tacos So Much” Mural near Pearl Brewery, which has become a must-see photo stop for taco-eating tourists in town.

Next you’re on to El Milagrito Cafe, a San Antonio mainstay since 1969. Here the locals swear by the chorizo breakfast taco or the authentic barbacoa — which is the perfect amount of moist without being too greasy — served on handmade, sturdy corn tortillas. If you’re looking to add a little fire to your tacos, drench ’em in the mysterious green sauce in the unmarked bottle on the table. Go for the orange, goopy sauce if you’re looking to set your entire mouth on fire. Both sauces are homemade and fresh, and neither will disappoint.

At your next taco destination, you’ll be mixing the best of Texas cuisine (aka barbecue) with the best of Mexican cuisine (the taco.) Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant has been a local favorite since 1962, and the locals rave about the brisket taco, which contains a tender marinated brisket that really shines when covered with the creamy house-made guac and adorned with the pico de gallo.

Okay, by now you’ll be feeling the taco pains, but luckily the next stop is Taquitos West Avenue, where the specialty is mini tacos, so at least you can feel like you’re eating less…This no-frills taco stand serves up some of the best street tacos in Texas and, in accordance with the age-old saying, “less is more,” these authentic tacos come layered five on a Styrofoam plate piled with spit-grilled meat — choices range from the more adventurous “lengua” (beef tongue) or “cabeza” (head) to the less daring bistec (steak) — and the simple toppings of chopped onions, cilantro and a lime wedge on the side. And that’s honestly all you need.

Now on to the big finish…or should I say “puffy” finish? Yep, that’s right…no Taco Road Trip would be complete without visiting the inventor of the “Original Puffy Tacos,” Ray’s Drive Inn. It’s been open since 1956, but it wasn’t until it introduced the puffy taco in 1966 that it became a San Antonio Tex-Mex legend. Order a classic beef puffy taco, and crunch away at this miraculously crispy taco that never falls victim to the greasy meat inside. And by this point, if you’re too stuffed to get out of your car, just flash your lights for car-side service and munch in the comfort of your vehicle!

Alright, now have a margarita, my friends, because you have completed the “Tastiest Taco Road Trip” through the heart of San Antonio!

Can’t get enough tacos? Check out our “Tacos, Tacos, Tacos” podcast with Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe or this homemade tortilla and taco recipe by our office administrator Tosha Galvan. And if you’re still craving tacos, don’t worry, you’re sure to find a dozen more amazing taco shops nearby in the heart of San Antone!

Podcast 47 – Talkin’ Texas May 2017

Join us on this podcast as Chet and Todd talk about flying cars, rattlesnakes and hackers. These news items along with your questions are all fair game…yep, this is our monthly episode where talk about what’s going on in Texas.

Cat squares off with rattlesnake

Uber, flying cars in Dallas

We love your questions or feedback on the show…so if you have comments or questions you’d like us to address or topics you’d like us to feature, email us at: podcast@thedaytripper.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and the Windows store!

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Shout out to Mesquite Creek Outfitters in Georgetown for hosting us and thank you to our sponsor for this episode, The City of Georgetown!

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7 Mother’s Day Gifts in Texas

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and here at The Daytripper, WE LOVE MOMS! We know that moms are a huge part of what makes trippin’ the state so great, so we’ve created a list of 7 awesome ways to show your mom some Texas-sized love. Whether she’s a lover of wine, chocolate, flowers or even just having some alone time, pick a gift from this list and you’ll be sure to make your mom feel special!

Let Her Un-Wine

Photo by Julie Kuhlken/ Pedernales Cellars.

 

Ok, let’s admit it, we all whine to our mom about our problems on the daily, and — being the amazing mom she is — she always listens. But this Mother’s Day, it’s time to let your mom do the whining — or wine-ing that is… And luckily, Texas is filled with tons of award-winning wineries (that could almost kinda possibly rival Napa Valley…) Take a tour of a winery like Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall where they’re having a Roses and Rosé tasting event, or if you can’t choose just one winery, take a self-guided wine tour on the Grapevine Urban Wine Trail or a guided one with Heart of Texas Wine Tours.

Give Mom a Historic Retreat…

William Reeves House photo by Stacy Luecker Photography.

Whisk your mom away to the luxuries of yesteryear with a tour of some of Texas’s most historic and indulgent homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Take a tour of the largest historic neighborhood in the southwestern United States at the Fairmount National Historic District Mother’s Day Weekend Tour in Fort Worth to see restored homes with amazing architectural styles of the late 1800s and early 1920s. You can also hit up the Menard Mother’s Day Brunch and Tour, for an elegant brunch by Chef Mary Bass that mom will love at the oldest residence in Galveston and a tour of the Historic Homes District.

Nothing Says, “I Love You, Mom” like Chocolate…

Give your mom the gift of heavenly gourmet chocolate! In Dallas, you can choose between multiple Mother’s Day Chocolate Tours where you can try sweet samples from up to five of Dallas’s top chocolate shops. If you’d rather try your hand at making your own, take a chocolate class with mom at Araya Chocolates in Houston or Wiseman House Chocolates in Hico.

Step up your flower game…

Header photo and this photo courtesy of the Dallas Arboretum.

Your mom may be tired of receiving a bouquet every Mother’s Day, so step up your flower game with a Texas twist on this classic gift. There is no better way to spend Mom’s special day then by taking her to see some of the most beautiful blooms in Texas. You’ll find roses galore (even in the middle of the barren El Paso land!) at the El Paso Rose Garden and the Rose Garden Center in Tyler. For a more formal floral event, head to the Dallas Arboretum where you can celebrate Mother’s Day with a special exhibit in A Woman’s Garden while being serenaded by Serenata Strings, or take mom to Chappell Hill Lavender Farms where she can cut her own lavender as well as buy tons of lavender scented goodies in the gift shop!

Brunch: A Win-Win for you and mom

Show your mom you love her a “brunch” with several courses of gourmet food and champagne. Choose an upscale brunch like at the Driskill Hotel in Austin or the Colonial Room Restaurant at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. Enjoy something more laid back like brunch at the Aquarium Restaurant in Kemah where you can eat with the fishies, or something all-you-can eat like the buffet at the Overton Hotel in Lubbock where you and mom can eat as much as you want.

Afternoon Tea: The Royal Treatment

Pip, pip, cheerio! Treat mom like the queen that she is by taking her to high tea (in Texan that translates to a tea party with tons of sweets at around 3-5 p.m. in the afternoon). You can book your spot of tea at the Full English Cafe in Austin or Hotel Granduca in Houston. Bond with your mom over multi-tiered trays of fresh scones, fancy finger sandwiches and a tea pot. Just remember pinkies up!

Give Mom a Day to Herself at the Spa

Maybe all your mom needs is a little time to rejuvenate by herself, and the perfect place to do that is the spa. Whether you join or not, she will be sure to get the VIP treatment at Barton Creek Spa in Austin where her day will be filled with awesome facials, massages and even a gold manicure! For a spa that mixes history and luxury, check in to Hotel Galvez where mom can get a special Mother’s Day massage, manicure or facial!

My First NASCAR day trip

It’s even louder than I expected.  Like earth-shaking, bomb-exploding loud.  And the cars go faster than I expected.  Like paint-peeling, motion-blurring fast.  But most of all, it’s way more fun than I expected.  Fun in a – I might be changed forever thanks Ricky Bobby – sort of way. Just watch this clip (make sure your volume is up).

Truth be told, I’ve never been a NASCAR fan. But I’ve always heard that in order to understand it, you have to see it (and hear it) in person.  So, when Chevy called and invited Laura (my wife) and I up to Fort Worth to see a NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway, I couldn’t pass it up.  And on a Sunday Morning in April, we headed north for the midday race.

This is the Silverado they loaned us to drive.  A 2500 HD “High Country” edition. It was epic.

When we arrived we joined a group of Chevy Truck Legends. Basically, if you’ve driven a Chevy truck over 100,000 miles or owned multiple Chevy Trucks, you can be part of this group and be eligible for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. All the folks in this photo were picked to have a NASCAR experience.  I’m the goofball in the back with my hands up. If you’re eligible – make sure you sign up.

Chevrolet Truck Legends Event Sunday, April 9, 2017 prior to the start of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Susan DeVault/HHP for Chevrolet)

As soon as we arrived at the track, we were whisked away for a tour of pit row and the garage bays.

Some of the truckloads of tires waiting to be shredded on the track.

Chase Elliott’s car going through pre-race inspection.

The Chevy SS pace car.

After the tour was the most incredible part.  We were all taken onto the track before the race and loaded up into a black Chevy truck.  Soon, an actual NASCAR driver hopped into the bed and we set off as part of the driver parade. It was insane! I felt like everyone was cheering for me, but then realized they were just cheering for my cargo – driver Jeff Earnhardt.

The Midnight Edition Silverado 2500 that we drove around the track. (Photo by Susan DeVault/HHP for Chevrolet)

Laura catches the breeze.

Jeff Earnhardt waves to thousands of adoring fans.

Then came the actual race.  It was an experience for sure.  Laura and I spent our time going back and forth from the suite to the stands. Rather than just watch cars go around in circles, you can rent headsets and listen to the radios from every driver.  You get to hear the drivers and pit crews chat about strategy, when it’s time to change tires, and/or talk smack on others when they get cut off.

How does this thing work?

A good day for racin’.

All in all, this was an insanely fun day. Chevy-driver Jimmie Johnson took home the trophy, but we had the best time.  Even if you aren’t a NASCAR fan, you’ve gotta go and experience a race in person.  I might be hooked.  But even more surprising – my wife might be hooked.  If you register for the Truck Legends program, maybe you’ll hit the track with me for the next race, cause I’ll never miss one.  Huge thanks to Chevy for the invitation.  Vaya con Dios Amigo.  And remember – “If you’re not first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby.

Exploring Waxahachie!

Last fall, I headed up to the Metroplex to check out what is possibly the spookiest mansion in Texas — but after surviving my tour inside the haunted house, I decided to explore Waxahachie and see what I could get into. The answer? Alot. Growing up in Fort Worth, occasionally the strange name of this Dallas suburb would pop up in conversation, but I’d never ventured there myself. After spending a day there, I found that Waxahachie is as fun as it’s name is to say (altogether now: WAHKS-UH-HATCH-EE)!

When you stumble upon the #StarshipPegasus as you’re getting gas 🖖🏼👽 #SpaceshipForSale

A post shared by Linsey T. (@linseylouu) on

On my way into town, I decided to stop off at a gas station to fill up, and to my surprise, right next to the station was the ever-elusive, magnificent Starship Pegasus! This tribute to the Star Trek spaceship the “Starship Enterprise” was originally built in Italy, TX to be an arcade and restaurant, but that never stuck and now it’s just an abandoned spaceship sitting in a field next to a Shell station off Interstate 35 and the perfect selfie destination.

My first stop in town was going to be the Ellis County Museum, but the Ellis County Courthouse was so mesmerizing, it pulled me off track. Right in the middle of the bustling Town Square, this looming historic courthouse, built in 1897, looks more like an enchanted castle, with its grand architecture and turrets shooting into the sky.

After circling the courthouse a few times (turns out courthouse-gawking while driving is exceptionally difficult), I finally headed on to the Ellis County Museum right off the Square. It’s so packed with information about Waxahachie and Ellis County, I could have spent hours there.

What’s cool about the museum is that it recounts history through the eyes of the locals. I perused exhibit after exhibit packed with personal photos and audio clips describing first-hand accounts of significant moments like blackout drills during WWII, the rising career of Waxahachie native Paul Rapier Richards from a local baseball player to a world-renown player for the Dodgers and Giants and even the impact of the failure of the Superconducting Super Collider (it sounds like a Sci-Fi weapon but it was actually a billion dollar super collider in town that was shut down before it was even finished being built). There’s so much history in this town!

While walking the Square, I found the old Texas Theater, Waxahachie’s first theater that was built in 1895. Sadly, it’s no longer open, but it’s still quite a sight to see. Another point of interest on the Square is Webb Gallery, which could also be described as the weirdest museum in Texas…This art gallery is a collection of art pieces that are both odd and wonderful like a toothpick Ferris wheel and old circus posters!

After making a few trips around the Square, I was parched — luckily Pop’s Burger Stand was just a few blocks away. At this 50s-themed diner, I found relief in a giant frosty mug of Root Beer and a sack full of salty, crispy fries. Also not to be missed are the ginormous burgers!

The Historic Missouri-Kansas-Texas Depot from the late 1800s has been transformed into a chic shop where you can buy a new shirt and learn about the history of this rail line. And since I like my history with a side of retail bliss, this was one of my favorite places. Out back, an old MKT caboose is parked on the original tracks.

Next it was on to Tuscan Slice, a family-owned strip mall pizza joint, that was packed…even at 2 in the afternoon! As I waited for my pizza and shoved fresh wood-fired garlic bread into my mouth, I watched the chef toss pizza dough and, after giving them their own little balls of dough, taught three giggling little boys how to make their own crusts. Soon enough, my perfectly round Chipotle Chicken Pizza arrived, still steaming from the wood oven and decked in fresh jalapenos, purple onions and marinated Chicken. It was quickly devoured and I decided this was surely a slice of Italian heaven right in the middle of town.

As the day ended, and I parted from Waxahachie, I was already making plans to return (I’ve honestly been craving that pizza ever since…) After exploring, it turns out there’s way more to this town than just its funky name! From homemade eats and decked-out diners to history — both eccentric and educational — Waxahachie is definitely worth the trip!

Podcast 46 – “Green Energy in Texas”

Join us on this podcast as Chet and Todd talk with Mayor Dale Ross from the City of Georgetown about Green Energy. Georgetown is the only city in Texas to be 100% renewable energy. Ever wondered about the what, the why, the how and benefits of green energy, we cover these questions and much more!

We love your questions or feedback on the show…so if you have comments or questions you’d like us to address or topics you’d like us to feature, email us at: podcast@thedaytripper.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and the Windows store!

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Windows – Search for the Daytripper Podcast in your dedicated podcast app.
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Dia de Rudy’s: ATX Recap!

Trippers! Thank you for making Dia de Rudy’s on Saturday one of our MOST EPIC EVENTS YET! Eating at ALL FOUR Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q locations around Austin in ONE GLORIOUS DAY was quite the challenge and Y’ALL made it EPIC! Thanks for meating with us! We loved meeting you and had tons of fun. If you missed out, here’s a recap!

We began our meaty adventure bright and early at the North Austin 183 Location at 9 a.m. where we were welcomed with a ginormous crowd and breakfast tacos galore!

A post shared by Chet Garner (@chettripper) on

We had a blast meeting you guys! We even got to hang out with two of our favorite four-legged trippers!

Then it was on to the 360 location for a meaty brunch and some fun on the playground in the back!

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Things got trippy with Jason and Micah’s crazy Chet photo inception….

Throughout the day, we had an AMAZING turn-out at all four locations! You took EPIC photos and tagged them with #diaderudys, so here are a few of our favorites!

We had a fun time. Thanks #rudysbbq and #thedaytripper #diaderudys

A post shared by Becky Laswell (@beckylaswell) on

We grabbed an early lunch at the West Austin 620 Rudy’s location of the classic moist brisket — which was delicious, as always! And of course, it was time to break out the Lone Star!

As the day continued, we met even more awesome Trippers!

We even got to help Kaitlyn celebrate her 9th birthday! Happy Birthday and Keep on trippin’!

We gave the day a big finish at the Round Rock Rudy’s Location and went with some creamed corn and the Prime Rib. Of course, Nanner pudding was our dessert.

Shout out to the AMAZING 52 folks that were hungry enough to travel with us to ALL FOUR RUDY’S LOCATIONS! Wow! That is the biggest crowd we’ve had at Dia de Rudy’s!

What a day! We loved hanging out with all of you on this meaty journey across Austin. Thank you so much for coming out to say “hello” and a HUGE thank you to Rudy’s for making it possible!

Check out our Houston and DFW Dia de Rudy’s recaps for more meat madness!