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Battle Re-Enactment, Host of Activities Mark San Jacinto Day Festival Sat., April 21
LAPORTE, Texas — The San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-enactment on Saturday, April 21, marks the 171st anniversary of Texas’ famous Battle of San Jacinto and the enduring spirit of the nation of Texas that was born that day. This year’s celebration takes on additional importance because it is the 100-year anniversary of the designation of San Jacinto Battleground as the first Texas state park.
The admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site at the San Jacinto Monument, with a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun set amidst living history.
The battle re-enactment, one of the largest in the state, draws the most onlookers. The battle begins at 3 p.m. with thundering cannons and muskets, galloping horses, pyrotechnics and hundreds of re-enactors.
The costumed re-enactors replicate the Runaway Scrape (Texans gathering the few belongings they could to flee the advancing forces of Santa Anna,) the march of the Texas army from Gonzales to San Jacinto, the cannon duel, and the final battle between the two forces. The re-enactment ends with the surrender of Mexican Army Gen. Santa Anna to Texan Army Gen. Sam Houston, followed by the laying of wreaths to honor the sacrifices of both armies.
The Battle of San Jacinto, which lasted only 18 minutes, is truly one of the most important battles of American history. On April 21, 1836, Houston led his Texan soldiers to victory over the Mexican Army, officially securing Texas’ independence from Mexico and eventually leading to the addition of one million square miles to the United States.
The San Jacinto Day Festival begins at 10 a.m. with the official State of Texas ceremony on the steps of the San Jacinto Monument. Congressman Ted Poe will address the crowd. Ron Stone will serve as the master of ceremonies.
The observance includes a reading of General Houston’s battle report and the laying of a wreath in honor of those who fought at San Jacinto. The West Houston-Katy Children’s Choir—a professional, non-profit community choir of over 40 children from the 3rd to 8th grades—will sing patriotic songs; historic re-enactors in period dress will act as honor guards and fire a gun salute.
Instead of 1836 fare such as possum and cornmeal mush, the Texas-style food and beverages offered for sale will be more pleasing to today’s palates. Sutlers (civilians who sold provisions to military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares. Unique hand-crafted items by artists such as basket weavers and ironsmiths will be demonstrated and sold.
The festival celebrates this special day in Texas history with entertaining and educational activities, all of which are free:
- Entertainers will perform before and after the battle re-enactment, including The Legacy Band (classic rock-n-roll); Midland Express (gear-jamming bluegrass); Rich O’Toole (electrifying country rock-n-roll), Celtaire String Band, Harris County Dulcimer Society and the West Houston-Katy Children’s Choir.
- During the day visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texan camps to learn what the soldiers of that day were doing prior to the battle and to see how civilians lived at that time. In the military camps, visitors will learn how to perform the close order drills of the day.
- Dan Barth’s Old-Time Medicine Show. Using magic, ventriloquism and audience participation, Dan “Doc” Barth recreates the variety performances of early America. The pre-1920s antique box wagon used in this performance is a faithful reproduction of an original Medicine Show Wagon.
- Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus. Described as “family-friendly, audience-interactive, historically accurate, educational street theatre” performed by the Flea Meister in period costume. The performance consists of “snake oil, comedy, tall tales, breathtaking feats of Phydeaux’s world famous acrobatic fleas and shameless hyperbole that would have brought tears to P.T. Barnum’s eyes.”
- The children will love to ride the 55-foot long train complete with train whistle and Texan and American flags. ($2 fee.)
- Visitors can hunt for artifacts at a dig site hosted by the Houston Archeological Society.
- Presenting sponsor H-E-B Tournament of Champions will bring their Creamy Creations ice cream trailer and give out free samples. There will also be other fun prizes for children under their huge red tent.
- The Houston Zoomobile will be on the grounds with native Texas animals and other interesting demonstrations.
- Marsha’s Petting Zoo, located in the Children’s Area, will bring in animals for an up-close and personal look.
- Make-and-take history activities and crafts for children will be available, created by three Gifted/Talented specialists from Deer Park ISD. The San Jacinto Descendants, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Sons of the Republic of Texas will also have booths with children’s activities.
- Texas Parks & Wildlife Department interpreters will offer guided tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. of the restored marshlands and answer questions about the wildlife inhabiting the park.
- Blacksmiths, basket weavers, quilters and other demonstrators will give visitors a full sense of how life was in the early 1800s.
- Texas Independence Dancers—square dancers from various groups throughout Texas—will demonstrate square dancing and give lessons.
- Last Chance Forever: Birds of Prey demonstrates magnificent birds such as hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures.
- Texas authors including Jim Crisp will sign copies of their newest books and “talk Texana history” with guests.
- Living history re-enactors come from the San Antonio Living History Association, Primer Batallon de México, Texas Army, Wharton County Time Walkers, Cross Roads Living History and the Alamo Legends & Missions Association.
- Battleship TEXAS, the first battleship memorial museum in the US, is open for visitors.
The admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival takes place at the 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site at One Monument Circle, La Porte, just 22 miles east of downtown Houston. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to the festival and reenactment.
“This event would not happen if it weren’t for the hundreds of volunteers that return every year to bring this celebration alive,” says San Jacinto Museum President Larry Spasic. “The re-enactors come out days in advance to set up camp, traveling from throughout the state—and even across the ocean! We especially appreciate H-E-B, Rohm and Haas Texas Inc. and the San Jacinto Day Foundation, who support us financially and with volunteers.”
Other sponsors of the event include TPWD, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association and The San Jacinto Volunteers. Presenting Sponsor is H-E-B Tournament of Champions.
Visitors enjoy free admission to the festival, ceremony, re-enactment and museum. For a modest fee, festival goers can take the famous 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the San Jacinto Monument, enjoy the digital presentation Texas Forever!: The Battle of San Jacinto, and tour the museum’s new exhibit: Drawn from Experience: Landmark Maps of Texas at the San Jacinto Museum of History. This exhibit features a unique collection of antique and modern maps of Texas and the Gulf Coast Region from the 16th century to the present and runs through March 2008.
Combo tickets for all three activities can be purchased: $12 for adults, $8 for children, $10.50 for seniors and $4 for school groups. Fees for the Battleship TEXAS are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for school and youth groups with a reservation. Children 12 and younger are free.
For more information about the San Jacinto Museum of History or the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-enactment, please call (281) 479-2421. For additional information on the Battleship TEXAS, please contact TPWD at (281) 479-2431. The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located just minutes away from downtown Houston, can be reached by taking Highway 225 east and heading north three miles on Battleground Road.
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