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Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. U.S. Gymnastics Championships come to Fort Worth ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics. For the country's top gymnasts, the road to the Paris Olympics will run through Fort Worth next year: The 2024 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships will take place at Dickies Arena, May 30-June 2, 2024. The four-day men's and women's competition will crown national champions and determine the members of the U.S. National Team who will then compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Minneapolis, June 27-30, 2024.

2. Fort Worth neighbor booms as 6th fastest-growing U.S. college town, report says. Fort Worth might be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., but there's one North Texas city that's outdoing it in a different category of population growth. A new study by university scholarship website BrokeScholar has deemed Denton the No. 6 fastest-growing college town in the country.

3. RSVP to the 13 must-attend galas and fêtes in Fort Worth this fall. To borrow the oldest pun in the checkbook, philanthropic events are putting the "fun" in "fundraising" around Fort Worth this fall. With themes like "Disco Cowboy" (Cowtown Ball), "Rewind to the '90s" (Behind the Mask), and "Out of this World," (Monster Mash), who wouldn't want to RSVP to every gala and soiree this season?

4. Fort Worth chef Hao Tran plots new gourmet grocery for Magnolia Ave. A new grocery store and take-out food market is coming to the Near Southside, courtesy of one of Fort Worth’s most well-known chefs. Called Hao's Cho Bep, it’s a new concept from Hao Tran, who earned acclaim in Fort Worth foodie circles for her dumplings, and will open in early 2024.

5. Wondrous wine shop in Fort Worth's Sundance Square salutes the ladies. A new wine spot has opened in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square – one with the ladies in mind. Called Wines From A Broad, it's from popular Fort Worth chef-restaurateur Dena Shaskan, and features wines made entirely by women winemakers.

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Traverse Texas this fall and winter for festivals, food, art, and more

Hit the Road

One of the perks of living in Texas is having a handful of other big, fun cultural cities within driving distance. Perhaps you've already blown through your PTO or still have some vacation time you're looking to fill — why not hop in the car and drive to one of Texas' big five?

We're talking Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, and boy do these cities have a full calendar coming up to close out 2023.

Whether you're looking to experience the holiday spirit in another area code or are tempted by one of the local festivals, fall and winter are the ideal times to visit your Lone Star neighbors.

Here's a month-by-month look at what's happening around the state:

Austin Food + Wine Festival
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Austin Food + Wine Festival is back this November.


AUSTIN: Pecan Street Festival
The Pecan Street Festival, a twice-yearly arts festival, is returning to downtown Austin on September 16-17. Over 300 local artisans and vendors will be selling their handmade art, crafts, clothing, and more in booths lined along 6th Street between Brazos Street and I-35 for the weekend. Live performances by local musicians are also scheduled throughout the weekend. And the best part? The festival is free.

DALLAS: Autumn at the Arboretum
This yearly festival features 100,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash hailing from the pumpkin capital of Texas, Floydada, and 150,000 beautiful fall-blooming plants throughout the garden. For its 18th year, running September 16-November 5, the theme is "It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" with the return of the Peanuts Gang, themed pumpkin houses that make up the Pumpkin Village, a hay bale maze, and plenty of special events.

FORT WORTH: Oktoberfest
This three-day, Munich-style celebration of German culture includes a ceremonial tapping of the kegs, carnival rides, dachshund races, a brat-eating contest, bier barrel-rolling, stein-hoist competition, the Oktoberfest Run Und Ride, and plenty of polka bands. It's held in Trinity Park September 21-23.

HOUSTON: Houston International Jazz Festival
Head to the Miller Outdoor Theatre on September 16 for this celebration of jazz in Houston, this year featuring the Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Charlie Young. Special guests Paul Mercer Ellington (Duke's grandson) and Tierney Malone will be there, along with the featured work of acclaimed artist Jack Whitten.

SAN ANTONIO: McNay Art Museum presents "Dreamland: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas"
In the exhibition, a 30th-anniversary celebration of filmmaker Tim Burton’s 1993 stop-motion animated film, visitors can reacquaint themselves with Burton’s awkwardly charming cast that includes Sally, Oogie Boogie, Bone Crusher, and the beloved hero, Jack Skellington. Also meet unusual characters created by artists from the McNay’s collection, including José Clemente Orozco Farías, Julie Heffernan, Eugene Berman, Marilyn Lanfear, Willem de Kooning, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Julie Speed, and others. The exhibition runs through January 14.


AUSTIN: Austin Film Festival
During the eight-day festival, held October 26-November 2, audiences can view screenings of film and television premieres galore, plus competition films, documentaries, shorts, and more, with all-star line-ups and Q&As by your favorite writers, actors, and filmmakers.

DALLAS: State Fair of Texas
The State Fair of Texas begins its run in Dallas September 29, with 24 days of live music, carnival games, fried food creation competitions, and more. Luckily for CultureMap readers, here's a thorough guide to getting every possible discount at the fair this year.

This festival on the lawn at Will Rogers Memorial Center, now in its second year, celebrates visual arts and classical music October 20-22. Expect artists' exhibitions plus demonstrations of decorative arts disciplines,such as glassblowing, metal pours, potters wheel, and wood-turning.

HOUSTON: Bayou City Art Festival
A juried art festival that's responsible for raising more than $3.7 million in support of local nonprofit organizations. The outdoor festival attracts more than 20,000 attendees, offering the opportunity to meet with exhibiting artists, buy one-of-a-kind art, and enjoy food, music, and entertainment.

SAN ANTONIO: Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival
Culinaria and Visit San Antonio head up this four-day epicurean experience that allows food and wine lovers alike to explore the unique flavors of Texas for themselves. Guests can look forward to enjoying live music, educational panels, and sampling a variety of cocktails, wines, and craft beers from October 26-29. The best part is that it’s a party with a purpose — the James Beard Foundation is the beneficiary, with $250,000 committed to support culinary students in Texas.


AUSTIN: Austin Food & Wine Festival
The 12th Annual Austin Food and Wine Festival will feature chefs, restaurants, and wine and spirits experts over two days, November 4-5. Festival highlights include the new Made In Texas Saturday night event; the return of the Hands-On Grilling event with chef Tim Love; the Fire Pit, featuring bites hot off the flames; cooking demonstrations and conversations; samples of signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; wine, beer and cocktail tastings; live music; and more.

DALLAS: Chi Omega Christmas Market
A 46-year tradition, this massive market will feature more than 200 merchants and is expected to welcome more than 10,000 shoppers in search of the holiday spirit on November 15-18. Browse holiday decor, women’s clothing and accessories, home accents, children’s clothing and toys, food items, and more. All proceeds from ticket sales, merchant booth fees, and donations are donated to vetted local charities.

FORT WORTH: Lone Star Film Festival
Since its founding 16 years ago by local film advocates and legendary actor and Fort Worth native Bill Paxton, the Lone Star Film Society has provided film education programs for hundreds of students interested in filmmaking in the Fort Worth area. The festival itself has grown into a premier destination for filmmakers, producers, industry professionals, and film enthusiasts, with the honor of being ranked a “Top 50 Film Festival” by MovieMaker Magazine. Catch it November 2-5.

HOUSTON: Nutcracker Market
The 43rd annual Nutcracker Market will host more than 270 merchants from across the country — including more than 30 new merchants — showcasing a curated collection of unique holiday items, gourmet food, apparel, jewelry, accessories, home decor, gifts, toys, and more. Go shopping November 9-12 at NRG Park.

SAN ANTONIO: Cirque du Soleil Bazzar
Cirque du Soleil’s first return to San Antonio since 2006, and the first time the city will welcome a Big Top show, Bazzar is a dazzling homage to the Cirque du Soleil legacy that highlights its awe-inspiring acrobatic displays, adroit dancers, and talented musicians. Inspired by a traditional Middle Eastern bazaar, the production captures the bustling kinetic environment of the centuries-old, open-air market setting through its ensemble of diverse characters. It runs November 5-December 3 at Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium.


AUSTIN: Trail of Lights
What began as a small gathering in 1965 known as the Yule Fest, a gift to the city of Austin from Austin Parks and Recreation Department, has now grown into a community wide celebration of the unique spirit and people of Austin. In the 59 years since the first Yule Log was lit, the Trail now features more than 2 million lights illuminating the park, 96 lighted holiday trees, and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. You can visit December 8-23.

DALLAS: BMW Dallas Marathon
The annual event, held this year December 8-10, features a half-marathon (running and, new this year, walking), 50K ultra marathon, five-person marathon relay, and two-person half-marathon relay. There is also a 10K, 5K (running and walking), 5K team challenge, kids' 100-yard dash, and Oncor Kid’s Race on the following day, and return of the Friday Night Lights Mile. The weekend's events directly benefit Scottish Rite for Children. Since being named as the primary beneficiary in 1997, the Dallas Marathon Festival has donated more than $4 million to the organization.

FORT WORTH: Lightscape at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
Lightscape returns for its second year with 80 percent newly designed displays. Visitors will walk a one-mile-long path with suspended strands and tunnels of light, see a fire garden, undulating wave of bluebonnets, singing trees, treetop sculptures, and artistic installations, all while toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate and other seasonal drinks at stations along the trail. It opens November 17 and runs through January 1, 2024.

HOUSTON: Moody Gardens Ice Land
Part of Holiday in the Gardens, Ice Land lets visitors experience the vibrancy of rainforests with the monkeys, birds, butterflies, and orchid, as Christmas-decked leaf-cutter ants lead you through a magical world intricately carved from ice. Go down the giant ice slide that transports guests from the canopy to the forest floor, past ancient ruins, and along river edges. There is even an opportunity to enjoy Shivers Ice Bar, featuring festive holiday spirits inside this ultra-cool bar made completely out of ice. Visit November 18-January 16, 2024.

The 2023 Valero Alamo Bowl will be played at the 65,000-seat Alamodome and broadcast on ESPN on December 28, kicking off at 8:15 pm. Last year, the Valero Alamo Bowl and its partners awarded more than $1.2 million split between students representing every participating San Antonio-area high school and four-year university — a record-setting number.


No matter where your next adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.

With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.

Clark's Oyster Bar Facebook

New chef-driven seafood restaurant tops this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. Get oysters and seafood at new restaurant from Fort Worth chef Marcus Paslay. A new seafood restaurant called Walloon's, from Fort Worth chef Marcus Paslay, is opening in The 701, a mixed-use development at 701 W. Magnolia Ave., at the corner of and Hemphill in Fort Worth’s Near Southside district. The menu is focused on seafood and Southern cuisine, with oysters, deviled eggs, and redfish beignets.

2. 5 great girlfriend getaways within a 4-hour drive from Fort Worth. And just like that…summer is halfway over. Which means the time is right to schedule that girls’ trip you and your gal pals are always talking about. There are many fun places to squeeze in a quick getaway within a short drive from Fort Worth, even if it's just over to Dallas. Here are five to consider.

3. Dierks Bentley, Koe Wetzel among headliners for starry music fest's Fort Worth debut. A popular music fest is hitting the highway to Fort Worth this fall, bringing big-name headliners to town for its inaugural run. Gordy’s Hwy 30 Music Fest, which started in Idaho in 2009, will travel outside of the state for the first time, coming to Texas Motor Speedway, October 19-22.

4. The Grinch will steal the show as Gaylord Texan Grapevine's 2023 ICE! theme. The Grinch won't steal Christmas spirit in Grapevine this year (as if anything could?). The Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas will be the theme of the Gaylord Texan's 2023 ICE! holiday walk-through attraction, running November 10-December 31.

5. Texans spend the 3rd lowest amount of money on energy, new report finds. It doesn't have to be 100 degrees for Texans to lambast the singularly most-hated request that could ever be asked of them: to raise the temperature on their air conditioner. As it turns out, a new report commends Texas as the third least energy-expensive state in the nation.

Clark's Oyster Bar Facebook

Get oysters and seafood at new restaurant from Fort Worth chef Marcus Paslay

Chef News

A new seafood restaurant called Walloon's, from Fort Worth chef Marcus Paslay, is opening in The 701, a mixed-use development at 701 W. Magnolia Ave., at the corner of and Hemphill in Fort Worth’s Near Southside district.

The restaurant, which has been hosting friends and family previews, is still in "soft opening" mode — official opening set for August — with a menu focused on seafood and Southern cuisine, with oysters, deviled eggs, and redfish beignets.

Paslay also owns restaurants such as Clay Pigeon, Piattello Italian Kitchen, and Provender Hall. He says in a statement that he's happy to be in the neighborhood.

"I'm excited to finally be in the Near Southside and create a restaurant that fits the eclectic and cool vibe of the district," he says. "We've had our eye on this neighborhood for quite some time and wanted to become a part of the growing community."

Walloon's features a raw bar plus American grill items like steak frites, sandwiches, and entree salads.

Starters include oysters rockefeller, deviled crab dip, steak tartare, French onion dip, Louisiana BBQ shrimp, beer-battered redfish beignets, and "Church Lady" deviled eggs.

Four salads include a wedge; a calamari salad with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, hazelnuts, strawberries, green apple, mint, and basil in a poppyseed vinaigrette; chopped salad with lettuce, cucmber, radish, avocdo, sunflower seeds, and salmon in green goddess dressing; and a steak salad with arugula, cherry tomato, avocado, cucmber, radish in chimichurri.

Sandwiches include a burger with American cheese, lobster roll, and Chicago-style Italian beef with sirloin, provolone, and giardinera on a French roll.

A raw bar offers oysters, shrimp cocktail, spicy tuna crudo, and a two-tiered seafood tower with oysters, shrimp, and tuna crudo on ice, with Saltines on the side.

Walloon's neon signWalloon's boasts a handsome old-school neon sign.Walloon's

Entrees include

  • trout Almandine with green beans
  • steak frites
  • moules frites
  • bouillabaisse with redfish, mussels, shrimp, tomato
  • short rib with potato puree and roasted vegeteables
  • seafood mac & cheese with lobster, shrimp, and three cheeses
  • salmon with leeks and potatoes

Three desserts include affogato, bread pudding, and "something chocolate" ( seems to be chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream).

Prices are not-outrageous by current standards: from $22 for moules frites to $39 for steak frites.

The location was previously home to the Fort Worth National Bank, established in 1873, and there's an insignia on the wall marking its roots. The interior feels urban and bright, with windows lining the perimeter, cherry-red banquettes, a painted tin ceiling, and gleaming brass accents. Outside, there's a handsome old-school neon sign done in blue-and-white depicting a mermaid.

Paslay says he lets the neighborhood define the restaurant, not the other way around.

"We never start with a restaurant concept and try to find a home," he says. "Instead, we discover a neighborhood we want to be a part of and develop a concept to complement the existing people and tastes."

"I believe that Walloon’s will do just that .. with a mixture of fresh quality food in a laid-back environment where everyone feels like a regular, with a spot created just for them," he says.

Courtesy rendering

Texas chef Stephan Pyles to concept restaurant for MCM motel in Stephenville

Hotel News

A motel in the works in Stephenville, Texas, has drafted the services of a well known chef from Dallas-Fort Worth: The Interstate Inn, which will debut in summer 2024, will make that debut with a restaurant called The Seeker, to be conceptualized by chef Stephan Pyles.

The Interstate Inn will open in the former Caravan Inn, a historic property in Stephenville that's being renovated by Mod Motels, the lodging company from Texas entrepreneurs Lisa Lennox and Kirk and Cathy Bonner, into a boutique, luxury, mid-century modern, 33-room motel, with a full-service restaurant, the abovementioned The Seeker.

Lisa Lennox, the visionary behind the motel's transformation and the restaurant's concept, says in a statement that they're thrilled to introduce The Seeker with Chef Stephan Pyles to the growing community of Stephenville.

"Our goal is to share the love of food and create an experience where guests can savor the ambiance of the motel while enjoying innovative and delectable dishes that showcase the best of Modern Texan Cuisine," Lennox says.

They hope the project will revitalize the spirit of American motoring and revolutionize the dining scene in Stephenville, 105 miles from Dallas and 78 miles from Fort Worth. Maybe they can convince Stephenville to change its name to Stephanville, to match the unusual spelling of Pyles' first name. Just a thought.

Pyles has been an indomitable force in the world of Southwestern cooking, earning him the reputation of a pioneer and gamechanger.

He'll bring his signature Modern Texas Cuisine steeped with influences from his upbringing in Big Spring, as well as flavors and heritage from cultures around the world.

“Working with Mod Motels and Lisa Lennox’s family perfectly intertwines my past with the present," Pyles says in a statement. "Its destinations are right on trend in a market where Americans are moving beyond the big cities and enjoying small town life again as locals, vacation homeowners, nature lovers, or travelers preferring the open road."

Photo courtesy of Crescent

Luxe new hotel with TV chef checks into week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere. Best Fourth of July events and fireworks are here.

1. Fort Worth's luxury Crescent Hotel to open with restaurant and TV chef. A new luxury hotel in Fort Worth's Cultural District is opening with a brand-name chef: The Crescent Hotel, the new property from Crescent Real Estate (Ritz-Carlton, Dallas) that's debuting in late summer, will open with two restaurant concepts led by Executive Chef Preston Paine.

2. Downtown Fort Worth bar reveals new speakeasy and party spaces after $4 million renovation. One of Fort Worth’s pioneering craft cocktail bars is nearly ready to reveal the results of a $4 million facelift: Thompson’s Bookstore has renovated and expanded across all four floors of its home in the historic Vybek building, at 900 Houston St., downtown. New features include a reimagined underground speakeasy, plus a private event space and cigar bar on two floors that have not been used for 70 years.

3. Hot dog restaurant made famous on Real Housewives opens in Fort Worth. A TV-famous hot dog joint from Atlanta has debuted in Fort Worth: The Original Hot Dog Factory which you may have seen featured on BRAVO’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, has opened a location at 6318 Hulen Bend Blvd. next to the AMC movie theater with an expansive menu of hot dogs of all kinds.

4. Upscale Asian restaurant debuts in historic downtown Fort Worth hotel. An Asian fusion/sushi restaurant from Dallas has arrived in Fort Worth: Called Musume it has opened inside the Sandman Signature Hotel at 810 Houston St., where a release promises it will provide an unrivaled Japanese dining experience.

5. Chip and Joanna Gaines' Fixer Upper castle in Waco goes up for auction. Hear ye, hear ye: The most famous castle in all of Texas is seeking new owners. By royal decree (aka Facebook post), renovation king and queen Chip and Joanna Gaines have revealed that they're auctioning off the historic Waco castle that they spent years rehabbing and made the focus of a special Fixer Upper series on Magnolia Network.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Former Fort Worth Vietnamese restaurant Four Sisters mounts a comeback

Bun News

A Vietnamese restaurant in Fort Worth that closed in 2022 is making a comeback: Four Sisters - Taste of Vietnam, the acclaimed, family-centric restaurant which left its location at 1001 S. Main St. in December after four years, will re-open at a new location in Mansfield.

According to owner Tuan Pham, the restaurant will open with the name Four Sisters - a Taste of Vietnam Moms Kitchen — because "Four Sisters - Taste of Vietnam" is just not long enough? — at 3806 E. Broad St. #124, in a space that was previously home to an Asian restaurant called Sprouts Springroll and Pho.

They plan to be open for service in November.

Pham, a Fort Worth native, worked as a chef at restaurants such as Shinjuku Station and Tokyo Café, before opening Four Sisters in late 2018 — named for his sisters, with a cuisine inspired by his mother that honored the Vietnamese cooking of his childhood.

The restaurant won the award for Best New Restaurant in CultureMap's 2019 Tastemaker Awards as well a a nomination for Pham for Best Chef of the Year.

Four Sisters also made the 2019 list of Best New Restaurants in the state by Texas Monthly magazine, the only restaurant in Fort Worth to make the list that year.

The menu ranged from shaken beef and lemongrass tofu, to trendy items like bao buns, pho, stir-fried lobster, and crab fried rice. The restaurant also had a liquor license, with craft cocktails.

Pham attributed the closure in Fort Worth to construction.

"So much is happening down the street, and Four Sisters being the only tenant on my side of Main Street was tough," Pham says. "It was a tremendous run, but this chapter is coming to a close."

A new chapter begins.

Surprising family-friendly suburb tops this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere. Headed to the State Fair? Find a full list of discounts here.

1. Surprising Fort Worth suburb named No. 5 most family-friendly U.S. city. If Fort Worth-area residents are looking for the perfect new place to buy a home and raise a family, they should steer their interest toward Watauga. The northeast Fort Worth suburb, impressively, has been named the fifth most family-friendly city in the U.S. by real estate marketplace Opendoor.

2. Mr Gatti's Pizza returns to home turf Fort Worth with new location. A Fort Worth-based pizzeria concept has opened a location in Fort Worth: Mr Gatti's Pizza has opened a restaurant off Camp Bowie at 2812 Horne St. #100, a space previously occupied by Helen's Hot Chicken, where they're open with pizza, pizza rolls, and their signature ranch dressing.

3. Texas Christian University ranks as No. 6 school in Texas for 2024 by U.S. News. Texas Christian University has achieved a high ranking for its high-quality educational experiences this year. The home of the Horned Frogs earned a top-10 spot on U.S. News and World Report's just-released list of the Best Colleges in Texas for 2024.

4. Ultra-chic Postino WineCafe brings wine and bruschetta to Southlake. A nationally acclaimed wine bar-restaurant has opened in Southlake: Postino WineCafé, specializing in wine, bites, and a chic atmosphere, opened a location at 1440 Main St., in Southlake Town Square, in the no-brainer slot next to Trader Joe's.

5. Quonset hut in south Fort Worth to be transformed into ballroom. A Quonset hut in south Fort Worth is about to make a Cinderella-like transformation: Called the Quonset Ballroom, it's being developed into an entertainment space which will host live music, food trucks, and events.