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TPWD News,, 512-389-8030

June 18, 2009

Texas State Parks Showing Patriotic Fervor

AUSTIN, Texas — From two diamond anniversary celebrations and fireworks extravaganzas to live music performances and bicycle parades, more than a dozen Texas state parks are planning a host of special events to commemorate the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Two of Texas’ oldest and best known state parks — Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle and Caddo Lake in the northeastern corner of the state — will celebrate 75 years of welcoming the public to some of the Lone Star State’s most spectacular natural wonders. Both parks were developed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s most ambitious public works programs instituted during the Great Depression era.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park’s 75th anniversary celebration stretches over two days, with Saturday, July 4, events including a special daytime program on the canyon’s history and the Independence Day version of the renowned outdoor musical drama, "Texas!" that night. Park entry fees are waived.

On Sunday, in the same Pioneer Amphitheater, music fans will be treated to a rare concert by Texan-born music legend Boz Scaggs and his band. Amarillo’s famous Big Texas Steak Ranch will cater both events. Tickets for both nights’ entertainment can be purchased by visiting or by calling (806)655-2181.

Caddo Lake State Park & Wildlife Management Area will commemorate the park’s opening on July 4, 1934, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a special program on the CCC and Caddo Indians that will include traveling exhibits, the unveiling of a time capsule buried 15 years ago and collection of items for burial in a new time capsule to be recovered at the park’s 150th anniversary in another 75 years. Local park supporter Mary Jane Sanders, who attended the original park opening in 1934, has been invited to share stories of the park’s early days.

The state park gets its name from 26,000-acre Caddo Lake, a sprawling maze of cypress swamps, bayous and slough that once comprised the only natural lake in Texas until it was dammed below. It was the state’s first planned CCC park project with land acquisition beginning in 1933. The original recreation hall and cabins still stand. Cabin 1, renovated in 2001, will be open for tours during the celebration. Several local organizations, including the Caddo Lake Institute and City of Uncertain, will have booths set up at the event. Day use fees will be waived on July 4 for visitors attending the 75th anniversary event. For more information, call (903) 679-3351.

The seat of Texas independence — Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site between Navasota and Brenham — will host a full day of 4th of July events from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., culminating with "Fireworks on the Brazos" presented by H-E-B. Festivities will include strolling Western entertainers, a Kid Zone, free music concerts at the amphitheater, a performance by the Brenham Children’s Chorus and at 7 p.m. free Blue Bell ice cream and Coca-Cola. The celebration event is free, but tour fees apply. Call (936) 878-2214 for details.

Another Texas Parks and Wildlife Department-operated site — the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens — will host "Fireworks at the Fishery" on July 4.  What is touted as one of the largest fireworks displays in East Texas will follow a day of free fishing. Call (903) 676-BASS for more information.

Several state parks will be hosting traditional holiday activities. Kids can decorate their bikes for 4th of July parades through Inks Lake, Martin Dies Jr. and Purtis Creek state parks, and participate in sack races, egg relays and three-legged races at the World Birding Center at Estero Llano Grande State Park. (See detailed listings below)

"Fourth of July in the 1900s" at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site will feature traditional German family holiday fun such as horseshoes, washer pitching and stickhorse races. Historical houses and buildings will be open for guided tours by interpreters dressed in period clothing during the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. event. Call (830) 644-2252 for information.

Other state parks hosting July 4 festivities include:

On the Net:

RM 2009-06-18

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