The Texas Pecan Festival opens with a little softer shell — or, ahem, sell — than its predecessor festivals.

This evening it’s just a little Bluegrass music starting at 7:30 p.m. at Heartland Mall. Oh, of course, hopefuls for the specialty and side dish recipe contests will need to turn in their entries, but even Texas’ favorite nut can’t compete with Friday night football, it seems. And this year, it’s not trying to.

Saturday, though, that’s a whole other story. All the old favorites will be in place. There’s a Pecan Breakfast at 9 a.m. at Heartland Mall to kick off the day. Tickets are required for admission, and ticket sales closed Thursday. All of the activities are at the mall.

After breakfast, the day’s chock full of activities. This year’s Texas Pecan Queen pageant is scheduled for 1 p.m. There are pecan cracking and pecan eating contests happening at 3 and 4 p.m. consecutively.

The educational presentations will be at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. There’s Teen Board Freeze Modeling at 2 p.m.; Dearl Hardy musical performance at 5:30 p.m.; and at 7 p.m. is the awards ceremony. More than $6,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded at this year’s festival.

This year’s children area includes a “free to see” zoo; arts and crafts; a coloring contest; and pecan races. Also, for the second year in a row, the “Nuts About Education” displays will be on exhibit.

One of the most popular aspects of the festival is the recipe contest. The schedule for turning in entries is as follows: Specialty dishes, 6 p.m. today; side dishes, 7 p.m. today; desserts, 10:45 a.m. Saturday; bread dishes, 12:45 a.m. Saturday; and main dishes, 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Sanctioned and supported by the Texas Pecan Board, a state agency created in 1998 to fund research and development of the pecan nut and to market Texas Pecans, the Texas Pecan Festival draws people from across the state to participate in the recipe contest and other activities.