As you get ready for that last summer holiday before school begins or think about how to make your upcoming Labor Day travel plans easier remember there are many rules and regulations when flying the friendly skies these days.

It can definitely be stressful.  Take it from me, I travel at least once a month and more often than not these last four or five months I have seen delayed flights, missed flights and even a cancelled flight where I was stuck in New York City two days.

Here are some pro travel tips on how to make the beginning or the end of your vacation a happy one so that the memories you bring home will create nothing but smiles.

Tips at the airline counter

  • Make sure you know what the weight limit is for checked bags and don’t go over that weight.  If you do you will likely have to pay even more than the checked bag fee.  You can also pay the checked bag fee online before arriving at the airport.  That way you don’t have to exchange money when you arrive.
  • Print your boarding pass out at home if possible. Oftentimes when traveling overseas you can’t print your boarding pass early, but give it a try at home.
  • Make sure you check the spelling of your name on your driver’s license or passport with the spelling on the ticket reservation and boarding pass. This needs to match up exactly or you might encounter problems, which will cause you to miss your flight.
  • Always arrive at the airport at least two hours early.  This means at the actual airport and not at the parking garage.  It has been known to take up to 30 minutes at DFW to get from the parking garage or remote parking location to your actual terminal.

At the Security Line

  • Once you are in the security line you will have to take out your computer and your liquids - three-ounces or less – and packed in a one-quart size bag that is one per person.  You will need to place these items in separate bins provided at the security checkpoint.
  • If you want to get through security quick passengers can speed through the security process by joining the trusted traveler program.  This translate into TSA Pre?® or Global Entry for international travelers.  These services are offered from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • International travelers can speed through U.S. Customs and Border Protection by downloading the Mobile Passport Control app, which allows users to enter their declaration information electronically and bypass the Customs waiting queues.

Boarding the Plane and Airline Etiquette

  • When boarding for your flight begins stay seated until the group number on your boarding pass is called.  Everyone will get on the plane and when there is a log jam at the boarding doors no one gets anywhere fast.
  • Once on the plane if you have items for the overhead bin put these items in the bin fast and move out of the aisle for other passengers. The longer you stand in the aisle the longer the line to pass becomes and in some cases this can cause a delayed flight.
  • Remember that armrests are shared with your fellow seatmates so show restraint when stretching out to get comfortable.

Parking and Picking up at Dallas Love Field Airport

  • If you are picking up an arriving passenger at Love Field Airport do it in front of the Baggage Claim on the upper roadway of Herb Kelleher Way. 
  • The Cell Phone waiting lot is currently closed due to construction in Parking Garage C. For passengers looking for a parking garage to leave the car, Garage C is a no go.
  • Another option for picking up a passenger is the new Express Parking located in Garage A to wait for arriving passenger.  You can leave your vehicle and meet the passenger at Baggage Claim and the first hour is free to park.  After 61 minutes, you will be charged for the entire time you are there. 
  • Parking Garages A and B offer the first 30 minutes of parking free.  These garages are also good options for parking your vehicle for trips.   Pay attention to the cost per day of these parking garages however, since remote parking sites located near the airport might offer better rates if you plan to be gone for more than a few days.

Parking at the DFW Airport

  • If you are wondering where to park at DFW the new Terminal E Parking Garage is now open.  The garage has 3500 parking spaces and features DFW's Parking Guidance System, which uses overhead lights and electronic signs to guide customers to available spaces on each level of the five story structure.
  • In addition, for the first time, DFW will offer Electronic Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations. The eight charging stations in Terminal E can be found in the garage's one-hour parking areas, with four EV stations available near Gate E16 and four available near Gate E33. DFW will offer EV Charging Stations at other terminals in the coming months.
  • Regarding DFW Airport Parking you can opt for Valet, Terminal, Express and Remote Parking so the choice is yours.  For details check out
  • Remember, in some cases because of the size of DFW Airport you might leave from a different terminal than you arrive back home.  This is an easy solution.  If you didn’t check a bag and you know you parked in a different terminal, as soon as you deplane head for the Skylink train inside security.  This will take you to any terminal you need to go so you can easily get to the terminal where you parked your car. 
  • If you checked a bag you will have to leave security and take one of the free terminal buses that transports passengers from terminal to terminal on a regular basis.

Travel Apps offered at DFW Airport

  • "This summer, we're rolling out new Mobile Food Ordering, the DFW Journey Planner and opening an enhanced parking facility for easy access to Terminal E," said Ken Buchanan, Executive Vice President of Revenue Management for DFW.

That means Mobile Ordering is a good way for customers to pre-order and pick up their next meal at DFW. Customers can use the DFW Mobile App to scan restaurant menus, place their orders and pay whether their flight is taxiing to the gate or before they arrive at the Airport. The green "mobile ordering" icon makes it easy to find participating restaurants, and the app makes it easy to pay in advance and avoid the wait.

  • Passengers might also want to check out the Journey Planner for travelers at DFW Airport.  This planner gives customers the ability to create a custom itinerary for their time at the Airport.  There is also an integrated interactive map to help folks get the most of their time spent on the ground at DFW.  The DFW Airport Mobile App is available as a free download for Apple TV, Apple Watch, Apple iOS (iTunes) and Android (Google Play Store) mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.

Passenger’s rights for cancelled and delayed flights

One last thing and very important since delays and cancellations seem to be rampant across the board these days with all the airlines. And unfortunately, these situations often leave travelers scratching their heads. So what are a passenger’s rights?

  • If the airplane is delayed for over two hours call the airline and ask them how they will compensate you.  I travel over 100,000 miles a year on American Airlines alone and in the last six months I have been compensated over $600 because of delayed flights. There are rules and the airline is responsible for getting you from point A to B in a timely manner.
  • When you have a connecting flight and you are delayed out of the first airport pick up the phone and call customer service to find out what the airline plans to do if you miss your next flight.  Be adamant about it and don’t follow the gate agent’s instructions to talk to the gate agent when you arrive at the next destination. Likely, especially from DFW Airport there are many people trying to catch a connecting flight and you will get stuck in a long line to receive help.
  • If the flight is delayed and you have to spend the night in the airport you have some options.  If it is weather related you will likely not be compensated. If it is a technical problem the airline has to offer you a hotel and meal voucher for your trouble. Insist on it.
  • When the flight is cancelled you are due a meal and hotel voucher if you are forced to spend the night stranded.  In some cases the cancelling airline can book you on another carrier in order to get you to your destination.  Ask the person helping you rebook if that is possible, it is not always offered so insist.
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EV charging stations at IKEA Bolingbrook, IL - 2.j

In just one more of the many ways IKEA Grand Prairie plans to solidify its eco-friendly presence in the area, the company recently announced it will install three Blink® electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the future store.

Joseph Roth, IKEA U.S. Expansion/Property Public Affairs said the company’s commitment to suitability is not just about IKEA being sustainable, but also about helping its customers or members of the public be sustainable. 

“One of the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles is consumers’ range anxiety,” Roth explained.  By having more frequent charging stations available to the public, perhaps it will encourage folks to use electric vehicles.”

This EV initiative also reflects the continued partnership between IKEA and Car Charging Group, Inc., the owner of the Blink Network and Blink EV charging stations. 

“As a retailer, IKEA realizes that a focus on the sustainable transport of people can help empower customers to live sustainably,” said said Lars Petersson, IKEA U.S. president. “Meeting the needs of EV drivers in North Texas helps achieve both goals.”

To charge an EV at the future IKEA Grand Prairie, drivers can tap their Blink InCard (RFID card) to the reader below the screen, initiate the session directly from the Blink Mobile application, or use a guest code provided via the Blink Mobile app, or Blink Customer Support (888-998-2546).  Once the session is initiated, drivers can plug the charger into the EV, and then shop and eat at their leisure in the IKEA store while the vehicle is charging.  

Even better, EV drivers can become a Blink member for free and typically receive discounted charging fees at thousands of Blink units. 

Currently there are EV charging units at 29 U.S. IKEA stores. There are three units located at the Frisco IKEA and three units at the Houston store as well.

The probability is also high that the future Fort Worth IKEA will feature the charging stations. Roth said the company is hoping to begin construction on the proposed IKEA Fort Worth next summer, 2018.

“Right now, our focus is on security governmental approvals from the city and state,” Roth added. “After the new year, we will begin evaluating potential sustainability options.”

One of the main ideas behind IKEA and its Swedish heritage is respect of nature.  With that in mind the company believes it can do good business while minimizing impacts on the environment. 

Other specific U.S. sustainable efforts the company employs include recycling waste material, incorporating environmental measures into buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water-conserving restrooms.  Operationally, eliminating plastic bags from the check-out process, and selling only LED bulbs is also an IKEA standard.  Consistent with its goal to be energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings worldwide and owns nearly 350 wind turbines, including 104 in the U.S.   

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Courtesy of John Tesar

Anyone familiar with the Dallas food scene knows the name John Tesar.

He’s done his fair share of helming restaurants. He began his Dallas career at the infamous Mansion on Turtle Creek and since that time he has wowed the Dallas crowd with tasty morsels.

These days his restaurant Knife located at the Highland Dallas on Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane is his baby. But he recently had a new one too.

A book called “Knife” Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home.”

Tesar says the book has been a real blessing for many reasons.

“One reason was the support I’ve received from Flatiron Books,” he explains. “We worked really hard on it and I think that shows. Josh Ozersky passed away before he could write it, but Jordan Mackay is an incredibly skilled writer and really understood my voice and story. It’s a book of content and I hope that people pick it up to see for themselves. It’s more than just a book on steak.”

Taking 18 months to complete, Tesar says to him the best part about the book project was telling the stories.

“It was sitting with Jordan and telling him my stories, and then actually being able to appreciate his talent to capture my voice. When I read the book, I thought it was myself talking but just through an editor.”
While steak is clearly the thing at Knife, Tesar is also interested in healthy eating and what that means in his world too.

From a cleaning eating perspective overall, he explains “Everybody knows it’s all about my relationship with 44 Farms and Heartbrand Beef. They both have the same feed program and they don’t use antibiotics or any chemicals. The feed program is very special and what we’ve learned is that the feed program is what’s serving us so well in the dry aging process.”
In fact, Tesar is so happy with his meat supplier he says he hopes there will be another book in the works soon about his involvement with cleaning eating at Knife.

“Hopefully [it will be] another book about dry aging with a professor from Texas Tech and Jordan Mackay. It’s a collaboration of dry aging.”

While this is Tesar’s first book, he has had his hand in cookbooks with recipes, “but this is my first real cookbook,” he adds.

So now with that first book under his belt what was his favorite part of the book now that is it finished?
“That is being able to tell people the real story of who I am and where I came from in the first chapter of the book,” Tesar says. "This book is the culmination of so many dreams, aspirations and days and nights of hard work. I'm so overjoyed I first got to share it with all my Dallas friends, who have supported me unconditionally in my adopted city that I now call home.”

In addition to “Knife” Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home” fans will be seeing a lot more of Tesar and Knife in the near future. Knife, the restaurant will be expanding to Willowbend Mall in Plano in early 2018. Rumor is there are some new locations in the works outside of Texas as well.

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Treat dad to a Babe's Old Fashioned at Stirr

Not sure what to do for Father’s Day tomorrow.  Here are some ideas around town that are sure to make any foodie lovin’ dad very happy

It is rare to enjoy prime beef at a top steakhouse in the Big D for under $30. For Father’s Day, III Forks is making that happen.  One of Dallas’ most iconic destination dining favorites known for the amazing prime cuts of beef is offering its Prime Rib Eye for $29.95.  If he’s hungry this is the perfect way to tell Dad you love him.

The chefs at CiboDivino Marketplace will grill 44 Farms steaks outside on the patio and lawn at the Italian marketplace on Sunday. Pick your cut of steak and Chef Ryan will grill it right there. Classic sides and pasta salads will be available as well as 11 craft beers on tap or guests can ask Chef Daniele to offer an expertly paired wine.  

On Father’s Day, RJ Mexican Cuisine will offer a Father’s Day special featuring Ribeye and St. Louis Ribs served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables for $34.99. This is in addition to the regular brunch, lunch and dinner menus.

 It’s Texas so meat is always going to be the thing.  At Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse Fathers will receive a complimentary draft beer at Father’s Day brunch.  Celebrate in true Texas style with a special Brunch Menu, crafted by chef Tony Street. Guests can choose from a variety of starters, entrees and desserts such as Shrimp and Grits, Pecan Crusted Rainbow Trout, or the Texas Hill Country Omlette.

Stirr is a refined yet casual dining experience featuring modern American cuisine infused with new age spices and flavors. For Father’s Day, Stirr will feature whiskey specials on favorites such as Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46 and Basil Haden. Chef Nick Harrison will also be featuring Texas game-inspired dishes for Dad to enjoy.

Father’s Day at Nikkea is all about treating Dad to unique dishes like the Slow Cooked Chicken boasting a delectable coconut piri piri or the Moqueca Shrimp, featuring tiger shrimp, coconut, aji rococo and tomato puree. A unique-to-market dining concept serving Japanese-Peruvian fare, Nikkei also serves an assortment of sushi offerings, desserts, and cocktails hand-crafted to reflect the unique flavors of Nikkei.

The Mansion Restaurant is offering special dishes in addition to existing brunch and dinner menus. Special Father’s Day entrées by Executive Chef Tom Parlo will include "Land and Sea" with Wagyu Sirloin and Maine Lobster Gratin; and Veal Tenderloin "Oscar" with crab, asparagus, béarnaise. A sweet addition to the dessert menu will include a unique creation from Pastry Chef Nicolas Blouin: "the cherry on top" pistachio financier, poached black cherries and basil ice cream. Celebrate with the family in one of The Mansion Restaurant’s distinct spaces including the Veranda, with arched-ceilings and large windows overlooking a terrace surrounded by Oak trees, and The Library, offering dark wood paneling, incredible stained glass windows and a hand-carved fireplace.

Want something a little different?  At Pinstack you get a unique dining and entertainment destination featuring a full-service restaurant with a chef-inspired menu.  There is a full bar and state-of-the-art bowling lanes with a two-level laser tag arena and a rock climbing wall. For Father’s Day, try the 7/10 Split – a larger than life ice cream sundae he’s sure to love. The dish features layers of brownies and chocolate chip cookies, topped with nine scoops of ice cream (three chocolate, vanilla and strawberry each), whipped cream, chocolate sauce, a pair of bowling shaped sugar cookies and a cake pop.

Still not sure what to do?  The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden invites dads to celebrate Father's Day in the garden. With a purchase of one child's main garden admittance you get one adult admittance to the main garden complimentary. You can also enjoy BBQ paired with local beers at Café on the Green from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m or dine in the historic Restaurant DeGolyer offering Sunday brunch amid the 66-acre garden. ZimSculpt, a modern Zimbabwean stone sculpture exhibit placed throughout the garden is in its final weeks as an added bonus for dad’s special day.




III Forks, CiboDivino Marketplace 44 Farms, RJ Mexican Cuisine, Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, Stirr, Nikkea, The Mansion Restaurant, Pinstack, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

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What do children learn at school or even the public library about being a better environmental steward.

You might be surprised.  Some local cities have public libraries, as in the case of the City of Duncanville encouraging children to learn to grow in the library garden.

Later this year an outdoor garden will be added off the Children’s Library at the City of Grand Prairie’s Main Library.

The City of Cedar Hill’s Public Library has a community garden that is open to kids too.  Part of the library’s Zula B. Wylie Public Library Community Garden offers an educational plot called the Children’s Garden.

The Children’s Garden is incorporated into a learning program at the library where kids learn about where food comes from, while actually getting their hands dirty.

Cedar Hill’s Lake Ridge Elementary has a garden and students at the school can take part in the world of gardening by joining the school’s Gardening Club. Gardening Club students are in grades three to five.  It was the Zula B. Wylie Public Library’s children’s garden that served as the model for the Cedar Hill ISD school garden project. There are currently six plots at Lake Ridge Elementary and the garden is used as a model.

Diane Rahrig, Secretary to Director, Mansfield ISD-Student Nutrition Department said that ISD has some community garden aspects as well.  They offer classes on subjects like EnviroScape and water issues.

Grand Prairie ISD has gardens at all the elementary campuses as well as some secondary.  There are also teachers that serve as garden coordinators and work to make sure the gardens are utilized for instruction as well as maintained. 

Brenda Townsend, NSEC Program Coordinator at Grand Prairie ISD said “Each campus goes about this differently...for example, some have outside volunteers, others have clubs of students, some create schedules for all classrooms to use the space, etc.”

In the case of Lancaster Middle School where children are actually growing food by using Aquaponics students recently even had a chance to dine on food they had grown.  Students had planted lettuce seeds in January and were able to harvest the lettuce three months later.  The students also raise catfish.

“Aquaphonics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water,” said Lancaster Middle School Librarian Raquel Hewitt. 

The children grow and raise the fish and then use the fish’s waste to grow food.

A very important Magnet Academy in DeSoto just had a nice gift added to its garden. The City of DeSoto Parks and Recreation Department donated a shade structure for the campus garden area at Ruby Young Elementary. The structure will allow classes to take place outside and give the students shade while learning about the garden.  Ruby Young Medical and Environmental Sciences Magnet Academy students use the greenhouse, gardens, and outdoor learning spaces for everyday classes. The program gives students the opportunity to study different forms of clean energy (solar, wind, hydro), soil, and insects that play a vital role in the life cycle of plants, and the habitat and nutrition of small animals. Students are active in the garden where learn the process of planting, pruning and harvesting various crops and plant life. 

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Volunteers earlier this month assembling meal kits

Memorial Day is a time to remember and it is also a time to be thankful. If you are looking for a way to give back this weekend here’s a chance to get a good meal and make a difference.

The la Madeleine “Recipes for Hope” campaign is wrapping up next week, but during the long weekend if you take the time to stop in at one of these local French bakeries you can make a difference in regard to childhood hunger.

The Children’s Hunger Fund along with la Madeleine are challenging guests to consider a meal for a meal. 

For every guest who purchases a jar of la Madeleine Tomato Basil Soupe, Jam or Caesar Dressing the company will donate $1 to Children’s Hunger Fund.

“Over the past five years, our generous guests have helped us provide 5 million meals through our ongoing partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund,” said la Madeleine President John Cahill. “By working together to deliver our Recipe for Hope, we are able to further the mission to put an end to childhood hunger one meal at a time, and we hope our guests will join us once again in our annual effort.”

The goal for this year’s campaign is $350,000 and 1.4 million meals provided.

Over the year the partnership between La Madeleine and the Children’s Hunger Fund has been so successful it has provided over five million meals.  The success story goes even further in that Children’s Hunger Fund opened a distribution center in Dallas, marking the second distribution center in Texas.

Every dollar raised this weekend and until the end of May will provide four meals to hungry children in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Earlier this month 50 volunteers assembled more than 42,000 meal kits - enough to feed 1,500 families for a week for the Recipes for Hope campaign. 

Inside the 20-pound meal kit there is staple food designed to supplement a family of four for about a week. Typical items include dry beans, pasta, vegetables, fruit, tomato sauce, canned meats, peanut butter, canned goods, cereal, granola or protein bar, and cooking oil

“Partnerships with companies like la Madeleine French Bakery & Café do more than raise money – they inspire the hope that together, we can solve the problem of childhood hunger,” said Children’s Hunger Fund Executive Director, Relationship Development Michael Richards. “With la Madeleine’s ongoing support, we have been able to build a Dallas distribution center that provides a cost-efficient way to get food to families in need, and through campaigns like Recipes for Hope, purchase the food itself.”

In addition to taking part in the Hope by the Jarful in which la Madeleine will donate $1 for every jar of Tomato Basil Soupe, Caesar Dressing, or Jam purchased, guests can also take part in the Recipes for Happiness.  Recipe for Happiness allows la Madeleine guests to donate $5 and receive a “Recipes for Happiness” card featuring sharable offers, rewards and discounts.  Folks can also make an open donation and every $1 donated provides up to four meals.

Since its founding in 1991, Children’s Hunger Fund has distributed more than $1 billion in aid to children in need.

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photo compliments of IKEA.

The southern part of Dallas County is certainly all abuzz about the upcoming opening of the IKEA store in Grand Prairie.  But the popular home furnishings retailer is also proud of its Swedish heritage in respect to doing good business while also minimizing impacts on the environment.

That’s why the new Grand Prairie IKEA is planning to install a solar atop its future store that will be 181,500-square-feet.  That is equal to the emissions of 197 cars and electricity provided to 208 homes yearly. 

This installation is the 48th one that IKEA has done in the United States at their stores nationwide.

Joseph Roth, IKEA U.S. Expansion/Property Public Affairs representative said while the retailer overall does not have an “original statement per se” as to why the company strives to be kind to the environment,” he does add “it's just our Swedish heritage and our IKEA values.”

Roth said too, “In general, all new projects are evaluated for onsite renewable energy potential.”

The panel installation has already began at the Grand Prairie IKEA, which is set to open in early fall.

The solar array will consist of a 1.25 MW system, built with 2,800 large format panels and it will produce roughly 2,000,000 kWh of electricity annually for the store. 

That means the equivalent of reducing 1,406 tons of carbon dioxide.

In terms of costing a bit more to save the environment, Roth said “it definitely makes the project more expensive because of the investment to purchase the solar energy system.  However, we have realized costs savings in others stores by going solar, and expect it to happen in Grand Prairie too.”

The development, design and installation of the new store’s solar power system is being done by SunPower, one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable energy companies. 

“We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment and a low-carbon society with solar panels on this Grand Prairie store,” said Lars Petersson, IKEA US President.  “IKEA has a mission to create a better everyday life for the many, and IKEA Grand Prairie can add to this goal while also keeping us the largest non-utility private solar owner in Texas.”

IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings versus solar leasing and has allocated $2.5 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2020.  In addition, the company has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 300 wind turbines, including 104 in the United States. 

The Grand Prairie IKEA store will be located at Highway 161 and Mayfield Road north of Interstate-20.  With 290,000 square-feet and 1,100 parking spaces it is being built on 30 acres of land.

A Fort Worth IKEA is also scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. 

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A celebration at the various festivals going on in May.

The Dallas area and the month of May are loaded this year with all kinds of ways to taste, see and experience the great outdoors.  Here are a few upcoming ideas to include the perfect al fresco weekend with family and friends.

The City of Addison is going on 23 years with its Taste Addison event coming up this weekend May 19 to 21.  A three-day menu of fun, Taste Addison delivers Addison’s favorite eateries with great music at Addison Circle Park. Known for 180 restaurants in less than 4.4 miles and its nationally recognized special events, Addison serves up a good time no matter the craving. On Friday, May 19, check out a performance by Dallas’ own Vanilla Ice. Headlining Taste Addison on Saturday night, May 20 is country artist Gary Allan with opening act Granger Smith. On Sunday, May 21, take your family on a trip down memory lane with classic hits from great tribute bands. Located in Addison Circle Park tickets are $20 per person and children under are free. Sunday, May 21 is a free day for everyone.

The Grapevine Main Street Fest Craft Beer Experience is this weekend May 19 to 21 and going on its 33rd year. There will be live entertainment, carnival rides, more than 75 craft beers from 36 breweries and a variety of wine, artisans, festival foods and a kid zone.

The Taste of Irving is set for May 20 from noon to 6 p.m. with more than 20 restaurants selling samples of their dishes for $5 or less.  Head on over to Irving’s Cimarron Park and the admission is free. There will also be cooking demos by local chefs, live music, a kid’s Zone and craft marketplace.

The Scarborough Renaissance Festival has begun from now until the end of the month.  So dress yourself in a renaissance outfit and expect a true renaissance feel since the festival grounds are styled to look like a 16th-century English village. With costumed revelers and nonstop performances it’s 24 stages, artisan demos, giant turkey legs and performers, rides and games during the celebration.  Everyone heads south toward Waxahachie during the month of May at some point for the best medieval celebration in the state.

May 21 is the DFW Dragon Boat, Kite and Lantern Festival.  The event is free from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. with Dragon boat races, Asian folk dances and performances at the Las Colinas Urban Center. The event is a landmark multicultural festival in the DFW area and draws around 20,000 people.  Expect kite making as well as cultural performances along with traditional ethnic foods and gondola cruises.

The City of Ennis will hold its annual National Polka Festival in Downtown Ennis from May 26 to 28. So bust out the kolaches and if you don’t know how to dance you will learn.  Going into its 51st year of Czech Heritage in the area, the festival kicks off with an opening dance Friday at 6:00 p.m. featuring polka music and the King and Queen Dance Contest. At 10:00 a.m. Saturday floats, bands and colorful costumes will kick-off the downtown festivities.  Brave Combo will be playing at the festival as well as the Ennis Czech Boys, the Dujka Brothers and more. Admission to halls $9 to $13 with the other downtown events free.

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It’s the perfect celebration in Texas.  It’s also the perfect time to enjoy a margarita while chilling with friends and learning a little more about the culture just south of the border.

Cinco de Mayo in Dallas is celebrated in many different ways.  Here are our top five choices on how to spend your May 5 this Friday.

Culture First

In collaboration with the Mexican Secretariat of Culture, The Dallas Museum of Art is offering the exclusive U.S. presentation of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde, through July 16, 2017. The exhibit features 190 works of painting, sculpture, photography, drawings and films that document the country’s artistic Renaissance during the first half of the 20th century. Organized by Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s new Eugene McDermott Director, and the result of a combined cultural endeavor between Mexico and France, this major traveling exhibition showcases the work of titans of Mexican Modernism alongside other pioneers to revisit the moment when Mexican art captured the attention of the world. The exhibit also includes a number of rarely seen works by female artists as it reveals the full history and development of modern Mexico and its cultural identity.  Tickets to the DMA’s México 1900–1950 are $16 with discounts for seniors, students, and military.

Grab a Margarita

Grab a margarita at Moe’s Southwest Grill. They call it Cinco de Moe’s and they’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year with the launch of the Moe-Rita™--a delicious family-friendly take on the traditional margarita. The Moe-Rita combines limeade, lemonade, orange and original flavors for a refreshing margarita-inspired sip that pairs perfectly with your favorite Moe’s meal. As always, guests can enjoy free chips and salsa with every order – perfect to pair with your Cinco Moe-Rita.

Party on the Lawn

Cafe Herrera and Omni Dallas have partnered for a party this year to celebrate the first ever Cinco de Mayo party at the Pegasus Lawn on from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on May 5.  As the first ever #LocoOnTheLawn Cinco de Mayo Party presented by Omni Dallas Hotel, attendees can enjoy thirst quenching margaritas, Mexican beer, street tacos from Cafe Herrera, live Mariachi bands and lawn games.  Even better, participate in a raffle for a chance to win round trip airfare from Southwest Airlines to any Omni property in the U.S.

Two good reasons to drink

Eastwood’s Bar on McKinney Avenue, dubbed the “living room of Uptown,” wants folks to spend Cinco de Mayo at the bar. Guests can enjoy $8 frozen margaritas, $5 house margaritas, $28 beer buckets with 16-oz Dos Equis bottles and $28 for a Jose Cuervo shot bucket. The bar opens at 11 a.m. for lunch and that includes $5 specials.  There will also be live music on the patio from 8 to 11 p.m.

Checkered Past Winery offers an array of wines to enjoy while taking in the Cinco vibe.  The party starts at 5 p.m. with free wine and sangria samples.  The place also serves food so try the Cinco special Tamale Plate served with Spicy Mexican Ice Cream.  At 8:30 p.m. Spanish guitarist Raul Rodriguez and his crew play live music.

And Eat….

Even Schlotzsky’s is getting in the mood for traditional fare this Cinco.  Check out Schlotzsky’s Fiesta Chicken Meal Deal to satisfy any south of the border craving. On Friday, May 5 customers can score the $5 Fiesta Chicken Meal Deal featuring a small Fiesta Chicken sandwich on a toasted, Fresh-from-Scratch® Jalapeño Cheese bun, chips and small drink.

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It was last summer when Senior Lake Ridge High School football player Alex Ordaz went in for his annual sports physical and echocardiogram.  He and his family never imagined a heart abnormality would be found, but it was.  Such a condition can easily prove dangerous to a young athlete.

After all, it was a sophomore at Mansfield Summit High School who fell to the ground at a junior varsity football game that was the reason Methodist Mansfield Medical Center decided to offer student athletes in the Mansfield and Midlothian ISDs the yearly sport’s physicals.

The young Mansfield student had been heading back to the sideline after a play when he fell.  Even as athletic trainers from Summit and their opponent, South Grand Prairie tried to revive him by administering CPR and using an automated external defibrillator, the 6-foot-2 defensive end died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The sports physicals and echo’s program evolved after that and Methodist Mansfield President, John Phillips, FACHE said “A tragedy like this can wound a community.  It hurts even more knowing it could have been prevented.  From that day, Methodist Mansfield decided we weren’t going to let another athlete die. We gathered the team and volunteer champions like cardiologist Alan Taylor, MD, and sports medicine physician Jeff McDaniel, MD, and others to develop the sports physicals and echo’s program for middle and high school athletes.”

Since 2008 the Medical Center in Mansfield has been offering the free screenings.

“We are actively involved in local communities, lending leadership, time and other valuable resources to efforts to improve the quality of life for families,” Phillips said.  
While the athletes in the Mansfield and Midlothian school district are screened free of charge, the schools do charge a small fee for the physicals that goes back to the athletic department at the school.

All hospital staff and physicians volunteer their time to conduct the tests.

Phillips did add that the UIL sports physical is not intended to replace a student’s regular physical exam with their primary care physician. It does meet UIL requirements to medically clear students before they can participate in any organized sports activity. The echocardiogram procedure is a screening exam and does not rule out all heart-related causes of illness. It is a test in which ultrasound is used to examine the heart to help detect abnormalities and/or other cardiovascular conditions that may affect student athletes.

McDaniel will lead the team of physicians in performing the physicals, along with volunteer nurses, allied health professionals, and independently practicing physicians from Methodist Mansfield. Taylor, also on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield, will perform the echo screenings.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our student athletes to have a quality physical exam,” said Mansfield ISD Athletic Director Philip O’Neal. “The generous donations of time and equipment mean many of our students will have access to comprehensive tests.”

This year Mansfield ISD is charging $10 and Midlothian ISD is charging $20.  The hospital will also offer free optional echo screenings to the first 100 students.

  • The Mansfield ISD screenings will be this Saturday, April 29, 9 a.m. to noon, Methodist Mansfield, 2700 E. Broad St., Mansfield.
  • The Midlothian ISD screenings will be Saturday, May 20, Heritage High School, 4000 FM1387, Midlothian.

 Echo screenings are by appointment only by calling 682-242-6401.

“We are proud to give back to the community,” Phillips concluded. “The purpose of the physicals and echocardiograms is to keep our athletes safe, identify any potential issues they might have, and to treat any injuries or illnesses before they enter the playing field.  These sports physicals and echo’s potentially identify current heart conditions.”