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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events — food festivals included

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25th Annual Hempstead Watermelon Festival
The 25th Annual Hempstead Watermelon Festival includes a barbecue cook-off, live melon auctions, and watermelon eating and seed spitting contests. Courtesy of Hempstead Chamber of Commerce
Ziggy Gruber and Mary McCaughey wedding photos July 2013
Mimi and Ziggy's First Wedding Anniversary Dinner recreates the meal that the couple enjoyed at their lavish wedding in Budapest. Photo by Zsuzsi Flohr
Gary Yokie and The BLUU Notes
Gary Yokie and The BLUU Notes will perform as part of VegFest Houston 2014. Courtesy of Vegan Society Peace Houston/Facebook
Spaghetti Code Horse Head Theatre
Abby Koenig abandons finesse for commonplace language to examine a serious topic, infertility, in her new play, Spaghetti Code. Photo by Joel Luks
Houston Symphony presents "Films with Live Orchestra: <i>Star Trek</i> and <i>Star Trek Into Darkness</i>"
The Houston Symphony and chorus perform the score of two Star Trek films while the movies are projected on a giant screen. Courtesy of Houston Symphony
25th Annual Hempstead Watermelon Festival
Ziggy Gruber and Mary McCaughey wedding photos July 2013
Gary Yokie and The BLUU Notes
Spaghetti Code Horse Head Theatre
Houston Symphony presents "Films with Live Orchestra: <i>Star Trek</i> and <i>Star Trek Into Darkness</i>"
Joel Luks, head shot, column mug, April 2013

On tap this week is a frisky fruit festival, a Budapest-style anniversary dinner with Yankee flair, a celebration of cruelty-free living, a hilarious play that takes on a serious subject and films with powerful music screened alongside the city's premier classical ensemble.

25th Annual Hempstead Watermelon Festival

Here's something you didn't know about watermelon: Eat a bunch and you get the same effect as taking everyone's favorite perky blue pill. Makes me wonder if that's why Hempstead adopted the fruit, the city christening itself as the Watermelon Capital of Texas.

From downtown Houston, the drive to Hempstead isn't terribly long — about one hour away straight on U.S. Route 290.

Along the charming parks and main streets during the festival you'll find happy activities such as a barbecue cook-off, pet parade, carnival, wine tastings, street dance parties, live melon auctions, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests and on and on. Check out a complete schedule here.

The skinny: Friday and Saturday; Hempstead Gazebo Park and surrounding areas; free event.

Mimi and Ziggy's First Wedding Anniversary Dinner

Rule No. 1 about eating at Kenny and Ziggy's: Always wear your eating pants. Because restaurateur Ziggy Gruber doesn't shy away from the kind of satisfying portions that make you say, "oy vavoy" (loosely translated as "Holy mother of Moses").

This one-night-only multi-course feast — special dinners aren't offered often at this New York-style deli — recreates the meal that this mensch and his wife, Mimi McCaughey, enjoyed at their lavish wedding in Budapest. On the menu are goose soup with Hungarian ginger matzo balls, whole panko-crusted fried egg, filet mignon of Hungarian grey cattle and, for dessert, a Gundel pancake tower with chocolate rum sauce.

The skinny: Friday, 7 p.m.; Kenny and Ziggy's Deli; $75 per person plus tax and gratuity.

VegFest Houston 2014 Vegan Community Festival

Whether you go all the way or prefer to be a part-time veg lover, there's much to learn at this fourth annual event that displays how easy it is to find alternatives for animal-derived foods and products. The indoor gathering brings together a myriad speakers and chefs for educational sessions and cooking demonstrations, alongside a market that includes food vendors, animal welfare organizations and home and body product specialists.

Music, arts and crafts, yoga, fitness and film screenings round out this event that's organized by the Vegan Society of Peace.

The skinny: Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Pershing Middle School; free event.

Horse Head Theatre Company presents Spaghetti Code by Abby Koenig

I balled when I heard, "I just totally fucked this guy in my office," "It's not like you can white out jizz stains" and "I would trust him with my penis, in the most un-homosexual way ever." In tackling her second play, written for Horse Head Theatre Company, wordsmith Abby Koenig abandons finesse for commonplace language to examine a serious topic, infertility, through the lens of hilarity and realism.

How far would you go to get what you want? One woman thought it would be OK to ask her hubby to copulate with her best friend to conceive a child. The ramifications are amusing and catastrophic (watch preview video here) — a tad like life itself.

The skinny: Runs through July 28; PJ's Sports Bar; $20 general admission, $10 students. 

Houston Symphony presents "Films with Live Orchestra: Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness"

Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness are among films that depend on a musical score for much of their excitement. Take away the music and there goes the magic of the final frontier. So consider this: What would happen if instead you beefed up the music's emotional prowess?

You can find out on Friday and Saturday when the Houston Symphony and chorus perform the score of these two films, one per night, while the movies are projected on a giant screen above the 100-plus musicians. 

The skinny: Friday and Saturday; Jones Hall; tickets start at $29.

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