Best of the fests

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Photograph: Tia Ryan

New York Sword Dance Festival


Saturday 19, Sunday 20
Black Swan's epic ballet-dancer breakdown notwithstanding, it's rare that dance performances are infused with an element of danger. But during this annual festival, hosted by local all-female troupe Half Moon Sword, dancers wield the sharp weapons while performing high-stepping jigs (a combination that makes us a little nervous). Twelve East Coast troupes will visit different sites throughout the city (including South Street Seaport and the Museum of the City of New York) to show off their skills with two types of swords. Long-sword dance involves waving sturdy wooden or steel sabers in rhythmic, hypnotizing formations by groups of six to eight, while the rowdier rapper style—which utilizes short, double-handled swords—evolved through dance-offs between rival miners at crowded pubs, and has influenced both English clogging and American tap dancing. Locations, times and prices vary; see halfmoonsword.org for details.

Texas State Fair


Sunday 20
Homesick Texas transplants can stuff their faces with queso and drink Lone Star State beer during the Bell House's second monthly party devoted to different U.S. states. Among the Southern-themed delights are a queso cook-off with a $100 grand prize (e-mail info@thebellhouseny.com to enter your own cheesy concoction), and the "Everything's Bigger in Texas" belt-buckle competition, during which audience members will choose the most impressive pants adornment. Meanwhile, DJs Shoot the Jukebox—Austinites Chris Rose and Christie Young—will spin vintage country tunes all afternoon long. And if you've still got a Texas ID, bring it to receive $2 off of any draft beer. (The selection of available brews won't be made public until Thursday 17—we've got our fingers crossed for Shiner Bock.) The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-643-6510, thebellhouseny.com). 3--7pm; free.

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