No Panthers? No problem: Plenty to do in Charlotte

Pots bubbling, bustles bustling, designers embossing and photographers autographing (well, OK, one): This Panthers-game-less Sunday had plenty going on within three miles of the stadium – and if you were willing to trek a bit farther (though not as far as that rescheduled Bank of America 500 race), you could add a 25th-anniversary festival, too.

Take a look:

▪ The Dilworth South End Chili Cookoff packed parking lots by Atherton Mill with long rows of tented, chili-cooking hopefuls (a sampling: Nacho Mama’s; Dogwood; “Bowls of Steel/Fist of Thunder Chili”), plus issue-awareness tables, beverage service and dogs – so many dogs.

From the Chihuahua being ferried in a wagon to the Lab crunching happily amid a bed of several buckets-worth of ice to a series of photogenic Great Danes, these warred for mid-afternoon attention with a Cheap-Trick-playing band.

For 10 bucks (free for kids), you got all the chili you could sample, and Sir Purr and big firetrucks were also on the agenda. The event benefited three nonprofits: Camp Kudos (for kids with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes), Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Alzheimer’s Association.

▪ The grand opening of small, upscale menswear store Tabor brought out a crowd commensurate with its size (as in: another jovially jammed parking lot), checking out the wares and meeting designers and makers who came to town for the event.

Leather and canvas work from Billykirk and Wiley Belts (with some custom-embossing being done on-site), for example, and apparel by Mark McNairy and Justin Townes Earle (son of Steve) did offer up a set ranging from nearly sedate to “this might offend your grandmother.”

Back inside, at SOCO Gallery (in the same building, the shop and the art space flow together), photographer Matthew Porter was slated to sign copies of his book “Archipelago.” Food on hand: whole-hog barbecue to a kind of lamb gyro with tzatziki. (Tabor: www.capitolcharlotte.com/tabor; SOCO: www.soco-gallery.com.)

▪ Those in search of wedding dresses and other nuptial-related services (need help on how to get your dog involved in the big day, for example?) stopped in at a boutique bridal show at CenterStage@NODA at 2315 N. Davidson St. Tickets let you browse through 20-plus small booths, including Barks and Blooms (no worries: they can bring your dog to your wedding and take him home, too) and cake- and beverage- and tidbit-sampling.

▪ And for those willing to go farther, the Latin American Festival was nestled at Symphony Park in SouthPark, with traditional dance demos and music, foods and crafts, the 25th annual one such celebration put on by the Latin American Coalition. More: www.latinamericancoalition.org/festivallatinoamericano.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer