The crane flies have arrived in Fort Worth, and this year, they're here in droves.

Fragile, leggy, and whisper-light, crane flies are most often found around streams and lakes. But at certain times of year, they show up in urban areas, hovering and bobbing around houses and doorways.

If you live in certain areas — green, suburban areas — you've surely encountered them or seen complaints on your cranky Facebook neighborhood page. This, even though they don't bite or want to bother you in any way.

To bug experts like Janet Hurley, an Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, their arrival means one thing: Spring is officially here.

If they seem to be in larger numbers, it's, as usual, related to weather.

"The weather has been warmer, and we've had a number of damp days," Hurley says. "We've also had an unusual 2023, with spring bouncing in and out for a couple months. They usually show up during or right before spring break. But we all joke that if you see the crane fly, you won’t be seeing freezing temperatures again."

Of all the pests Texas must endure, crane flies have to be the most innocuous. Now-retired Texas A&M entomologist Mike Merchant called them "among the gentlest of insects."

It's a myth that they prey on or are related to mosquitoes. Crane flies are larger, and unlike mosquitos, their wings do not have scales. They also don't want your blood. They live on fat reserves built up during their larval stage.

They live short but amorous lives. Their sole purpose is to mate and make more crane flies for next spring.

Hurley says that they might be a nuisance but to consider the alternatives.

"Once they're gone, the mosquitoes come in," she says.

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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.

These 10 beefy Fort Worth restaurants flip the best burgers in town

Tastemaker Awards

It’s a passionate subject in a city nicknamed “Cowtown” – burgers, that is. Everyone has their favorite, from unfussy classics to flashy gourmet versions with their aioli and brioche buns.

We're throwing charcoal on the grill and stoking fires of debate by making Best Burger our "Wildcard" category the 2023 CultureMap Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards. The Wildcard category changes every year depending on what's hot. And there's no hotter cuisine right now than burgers.

This group of nominees covers restaurants serving up wide-ranging styles, including the smashburger, the pitmaster burger, the fancy truffle burger, the eccentric burger made with local beer-infused ingredients, and the traditional chargrilled hamburger served basic with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Study up on the selections - and all the other nominees - in a special editorial series leading up to the Tastemaker Awards ceremony and signature tasting event, being held April 27 at The 4 Eleven (411 S. Main St.).

The event, emceed by Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell, will feature bites and beverages from the nominees. Note that early bird ticket sales end April 2. Snag those here.

The Tastemaker Awards, returning for a second year in Fort Worth, shine a spotlight on the people making the local restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Nominees and winners are determined by a panel of industry experts, including past winners — except for Best New Restaurant, which is determined by reader vote.

Here are the 10 nominated restaurants for Best Burger, in alphabetical order:

B&B Butchers & Restaurant
The Shops at Clearfork steakhouse knows how to get fancy with burgers in a big way. Maybe it’s topping them with a thick pad of indulgent truffle butter and slathering them with truffle aioli and three-onion jam, like on the restaurant’s Truffle Burger. Or maybe it’s serving them open-faced with fried oysters, filet, and pork belly as they do with the Carpet Bagger Burger. There’s also the Hill Country Burger featuring smoked sausage, barbecue sauce, and pepperjack cheese; and the Butcher Shop Burger loaded with thick applewood smoked bacon. All are served with thick-cut steak fries and are available only at lunch.

The Bearded Lady
The half-pound burgers are always head-turners at this South Main Street gastropub and patio. One example: The Bill Dill, a mile-high pickle-themed burger topped with fried pickles, bacon, dill ranch, queso made with Martin House Brewing Company’s Best Maid pickle beer, and pickles soaked in Martin House’s Salty Lady beer. There’s also the BOTM (burger of the month), a limited special that goes wild with creativity. March’s feature is The Jambalaya, ladeled with actual sausage and chicken jambalaya along with blackened shrimp and “dirty gravy.” Get ready to get messy.

Dayne's Craft Barbecue
Dayne Weaver’s elusive OG Burger is available from his barbecue trailer as a special only on Thursdays and Fridays, and word is that they can sell out by lunchtime. Comprised of two juicy patties made from a mix of ground beef and brisket trimmings, the smoky smashburger draws legions of fans for its cheesy, heavenly goodness. Because of its limited supply, the burger has achieved legendary status. Look for it to be a daily menu offering once Dayne’s opens its brick-and-mortar location in the up-and-coming Westland area on Camp Bowie West.

Dutch's Hamburgers
This TCU-area burger hub holds a lot of history. It’s named for legendary TCU grad and football coach “Dutch” Meyer and is located in the former home of another iconic TCU burger joint, Jon’s Grille (the original, not the reincarnated version recently opened by Jon Bonnell on West Berry Street). Burgers are mostly traditional here; they come with half-pound patties, shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles if desired. Slightly flashier versions include additions like hickory barbecue sauce, bacon, blue cheese, mushroom and Swiss cheese, and fried onion and jalapeño strings.

Fred's Texas Café
Having moved after more than 40 years in its original Currie Street location to Camp Bowie West in 2022, Fred’s picked right up where it left off. The look and feel – with a patio stage for live music, icy schooners, and rustic Texas décor – is still the same, as are the medium-cooked Black Angus burgers that still come with a big pile of hand-cut fries. While the chipotle pepper and grilled onion-topped Diablo Burger is still popular, don’t sleep on creative newcomers on the menu like the Enchilada Burger; Guajillo Burger with Dr Pepper candied bacon; and the Spicy Todo Jalapeño Burger with fried jalapeños, jalapeño cream cheese, and jalapeño jam served on a cheddar jalapeño bun.

Hookers Grill
There’s nothing scandalous about this hidden Stockyards burger shack, where orders are taken and picked up from an outdoor window. Hooker is the last name of Ruth, who runs the place with her mom, Kathryn. Here, fried onions are pressed into the thin Hereford beef patties, which almost fall apart between smashed, griddle-top-toasted buns. The ensemble comes wrapped in red-and-white checkered paper and is a delicious, addicting mess. Most popular is the “regular,” which comes with mustard and pickles. Customers can add cheese, jalapeños, bacon, chili, green chili gravy, or a fried egg. Hookers is open late on Friday and Saturday nights to accommodate the honky-tonk crowd after dancing.

JD's Hamburgers
After losing its roof from high winds during storms on March 2, JD’s Hamburgers is still working hard to reopen. The Westland district burger café and patio debuted last September, drawing happy crowds from West Fort Worth and beyond for its long list of burgers and Southern-inspired bites like deviled eggs, salmon patties, and fried green tomatoes. Burger varieties include the Sherlie Ann & Donnie with bacon, peach pico de gallo, and Swiss cheese; the Cheryl & Bo with Hatch chile queso; and the more traditional Allie Mae & JD with shredded lettuce, American cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, and pickle ribbons. All come on a toasted sourdough bun and may be served with sweet potato fries or long-cut okra fries.

Kincaid's Hamburgers
The longtime Camp Bowie Boulevard burger dive evolved out of a 1940s grocery store and is still family owned and operated, now with five locations across Tarrant County. Praised on countless “best burger” lists over the decades, Kincaid’s keeps things simple with its half-pound chargrilled burgers presented with the classic build of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, white onions, and pickle chips. Additions include cheese, chili, and bacon, and all burgers come with mustard unless the customer requests otherwise. There are “fancier” options, like the “Cowtown Deluxe” with pimento cheese, bacon, and grilled jalapeños and onions, but it’s the humble original that’s kept customers coming back for generations.

Little Red Wasp
This downtown restaurant and bar hangs with the local burger elite for its “knife + fork” cheeseburger. The beefy ensemble can come with one or two patties, each melted with aged cheddar cheese and stacked with thick-cut tomatoes, red onion slivers, pickle chips, crisp lettuce, and a tangy “Wasp sauce.” A toasted potato bun holds it all in place. The concept is owned by restaurateur Adam Jones and chef Blaine Staniford, who also own and operate nearby downtown fine-dining destinations Grace and the new 61 Osteria Italian restaurant.

Wishbone & Flynt
Ask for the Flynt Burger at this South Main Street hub for high-end, home-cooked dishes. With a custom-blended patty made from short rib, ground chuck, and brisket seared in rich and luxurious duck fat (a game-changer), the result is juicy and flavorful. The burger comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, along with tangy slices of white cheddar melted on top. A fluffy, toasted brioche bun keeps everything in place.


The Best Burger category is sponsored by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan. The Tastemaker Awards event will feature a Burger Throwdown where attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite slider.

These are the 6 must-indulge events at the 2023 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival

This week in gluttony

The most delicious four days in Fort Worth begin Thursday, March 30 with the start of the annual Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival. It's such a big deal that we are devoting this week's Best Food and Drink Events feature to the multi-day culinary extravaganza.

With six sip-and-stroll tasting events showcasing more than 100 local chefs, restaurants, bartenders, and food artisans, the festival mostly takes place along 13 acres at the Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork under pop-up tents and huge shades trees. (There’s just one rogue event elsewhere at Whiskey Ranch.) Live music, chic seating areas, tasting bars, and plenty of photo ops combine to create one of the most talked-about weekends of the year.

It's also good way to preview food and beverages nominated for CultureMap Tastemaker Awards; these events will no doubt leave you wanting another helping at the awards ceremony and signature tasting event on April 27.

Produced by the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation, the festival is more than a good time – proceeds raise funds for local grant programs and scholarships for culinary students in Fort Worth. To date, the non-profit has raised more than $325,000 for the cause.

After a pandemic-related two-year hiatus, the festival returned in its full format last year and welcomed more than 7,000 hungry foodies. Organizers have expanded the experience this year to welcome even more attendees, but folks aren’t sleeping on their chance to indulge. Two of the six signature events are already sold out, and Weekender passes (which allow access to the entire festival) and early entry tickets to all events are also long gone.

So, act fast to get in on the feeding frenzy. Limited general admission tickets remain for just four of the following six events. Here are details on all of them:

Tacos + Tequila
Thursday, March 30, 8-10 pm (early entry ticketholders may arrive at 7 pm)
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
Attendees who’ve already snagged their ticket can plan for a pairing that never disappoints. There’ll be 18 chefs and 12 tequila vendors sharing their tastiest creations at this festival kick-off event. Try tacos from Calisience, Guapo Taco, Mesero, and Toro Toro, along with dishes from unexpected participants like Dusty Biscuit Beignets and FunkyTown Donuts & Drafts. Find the full list here. This event has sold out.

The Main Event
Friday, March 31, 6:30-9 pm (early entry ticketholders may arrive at 5:30 pm)
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
This grand affair is the festival’s showcase event. Ticketholders should arrive hungry and thirsty for more than 100 wines, craft beers, and spirits to pair with dishes from 27 chefs, restaurateurs, and food artisans. Participants include some of Fort Worth’s most iconic restaurants, like Bonnell’s, Fitzgerald, Michaels Cuisine, Reata, Shinjuku Station, Ellerbe Fine Foods, and newcomers like The Beast & Co. Find the full list here. This event has sold out.

Night Market
Friday, March 31, 9-11 pm (early entry ticketholders may arrive at 8 pm)
Whiskey Ranch
Formerly called Nite Bites, this reimagined event will let guests experience global flavors, with influence from Mumbai to Mexico City, under the Texas stars in a street food market setting. It will feature bites and beverages from 27 chefs and mixologists. Cocktails will be crafted with TX Whiskey, and craft beer and wine will also be available. Participants include Malai Kitchen, Coco Shrimp, Clay Pigeon Food & Drink, Tributary Café, and Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. Find the full list here. Tickets are $65, and early entry is sold out.

Rise + Dine
Saturday, April 1, 11 am–2 pm
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
Wake up and smell the best of Fort Worth’s brunch scene. Indulge in classic morning favorites to seafood dishes paired with cocktails, coffee, craft beer, and of course, lots of bubbly. Twenty restaurants and food artisans will participate, including Pearl Snap Kolaches, Brewed, Café Modern, 3rd Street Market, Avoca Coffee Roasters, and Three Danes Baking Company. Find the full list here. Tickets are $85.

Burgers, Brews + Blues
Saturday, April 1, 6-9 pm (early entry ticketholders may arrive at 5 pm)
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
Thirteen chefs will grill their best burgers in slider form for celebrity judges and guests to select their favorite. Participating burger joints include JD’s Hamburgers, Fred’s Texas Café, Rodeo Goat, and Tommy’s Burgers. Find the full list here. This event is also for beer lovers – local craft brewers from near and far will pour samples of their best selections to also be judged by guests. Take it all in while enjoying live blues under the shade trees. Tickets are $85, and early entry is sold out.

Ring of Fire: A Next-Level Cookout
Sunday, April 2, 2-5 pm (early entry ticketholders may arrive at 1 pm)
Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork
Here’s what happens when you gather the best pitmasters in Fort Worth and let them loose with live fire: the ultimate backyard barbecue. Guests can plan for both traditional and unexpected smoked dishes from participants like Smoke-A-Holics BBQ, Panther City BBQ, Brix Barbecue, Heim Barbecue, Olmos BBQ, Cousins BBQ, 225 BBQ, BBQ on the Brazos, Dayne’s Craft Barbecue, Hurtado BBQ, The Original Black’s Barbecue, and more. Also look for The Babes of Que, an onsite activation during the event featuring women in the world of barbecue. Babes of Que podcast host Betina Miller will be joined by Cecilia Guerrero and Kimberly Ovalle of Goldee’s Barbecue, among other leading lady pitmasters. Tickets are $85, and early entry is sold out.