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April 7, 2008
Re-enactment of Battle of San Jacinto, Festival Slated for April 26
LA PORTE, Texas — The San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-enactment on Saturday, April 26, celebrate Texas’ independence won at the famous Battle of San Jacinto.
The admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Jacinto Monument on the 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. There will be a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun set amidst living history.
On April 21, 1836 — in 18 short minutes — Gen. Sam Houston led his Texian soldiers to victory over the Mexican Army, officially securing Texas’ independence from Mexico and leading to the addition of one million square miles of territory to the United States.
Each year on April 21 the official State of Texas ceremony marking the anniversary date of the San Jacinto Battle takes place at 11 a.m. on the steps of the San Jacinto Monument. The commemorative ceremony is open to the public.
Also, at 9:30 a.m., the Battleship Texas Foundation will stage a small ceremony aboard Battleship TEXAS to commemorate the ship’s being moored at the San Jacinto Battleground for 60 years.
The April 26 Battle of San Jacinto re-enactment — one of the largest in the state — recreates one of the most important battles of American history. The day’s most popular event begins at 3 p.m., complete with thundering cannons, musket fire, horses, pyrotechnics and hundreds of re-enactors.
The re-enactment replicates the Runaway Scrape (Texians 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 resulting cannon duel, and the final battle between the two forces. Mexican Army Gen. Santa Anna’s surrender to Texian Army Gen. Sam Houston completes the re-enactment. A laying of wreaths to honor the sacrifices of both armies follows.
The festival celebrates this special day in Texas history with entertaining and educational activities:
- Blacksmiths, basket weavers, weavers, spinners, quilters and other demonstrators will give visitors a full sense of how life was in the early 1800s. Sutlers (civilians who sold provisions to military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares.
- On the Main Stage, popular local and regional entertainers will perform. Liz Talley, a European Country Music Awards 2008 Female Vocalist of the Year nominee, and her band will play traditional acoustic country. Also performing will be K.R. Wood, a native Texan, singer, songwriter and historian. He brings along a historic chuck wagon and performs his "Camp Cookie" review and other Old West shows. Woods has been adopted by the descendants of Davy Crockett for his dedication and continuing efforts to keep the Alamo hero’s legend alive. Woods also is a member of the Texas Commission on the Arts, one of only a handful of Texas artists chosen for this elite membership. Austin rising stars Sam Sliva and The Good combine southern rock, Texas country and alternative music sure to entertain.
- From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department interpreters will offer guided tours of the restored marshlands and answer questions about wildlife inhabiting the park, such as otters, diamondback terrapins, peregrine falcons, wood ibises, brown pelicans, reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, ospreys mottled ducks and American avocets. Guests can now more easily see the marsh as a result of the ADA-accessible boardwalk expansion project funded in large part by Shell Oil. The marsh is historically important because it hindered the escape of many of Santa Anna’s troops during the decisive 1836 battle.
- Battleship TEXAS, the nation’s first battleship memorial museum, is open for visitors.
- Inside the San Jacinto Monument lobby will be an exhibit of recently restored artifacts on display. The free exhibit includes artifacts restored thanks in part to funding from the Summerlee Foundation, Mrs. William T. Kendall, Betty and Bill Conner and the San Jacinto Museum of History Association. The display includes military uniforms believed to have been worn at the Battle of San Jacinto, a 19th century rifle used by Jesse Walling who served under Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto, and Thomas Jefferson Chambers’ dress uniform. Visitors also can view several recently acquired printed items showing the Mexican point of view of the Texas Revolution.
- Last Chance Forever’s "Birds of Prey" demonstrates such magnificent birds as hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures.
- Texas Independence Square Dancers will demonstrate square dancing and give lessons.
- Music from the North Harris County Dulcimer Society and Celtaires will entertain folks as they walk along the reflection pool.
- Instead of 1836 fare, such as possum and cornmeal mush, vendors will offer Texas-style food prepared to be more pleasing to modern palates.
- The Children’s Area features a stage with family entertainment throughout the day sponsored by the H-E-B Tournament of Champions. Activities and shows in the Children’s Area include:
- Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus, billed as a "family-friendly, audience-interactive, historically accurate, educational street theatre."
- Two young entertainers-Kalei Dodson from Seguin on accordion and singer Caitlyn Norris from Houston-will perform separately to dazzle kids and adults alike.
- For $2, kids can hop aboard a 55-foot-long train complete with train whistle and Texan and American flags.
- Make-and-take history activities and crafts for children will be available as well.
- The Houston Zoomobile, Armand Bayou Nature Center and Bar Mollys Place will be on the grounds with native Texas animals, interesting demonstrations and nature games.
- Marsha’s Petting Zoo brings in animals for an up-close and personal look at nature.
- Children can hunt for artifacts at a dig site hosted by the Houston Archeological Society.
During the day visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian military camps to learn what the soldiers of that day were doing prior to the battle and to see how civilians lived in 1836. Visitors will learn how to perform the close-order drills of the day and a few lucky children will be part of the cannon crew.
The historically accurate encampments and the Battle Reenactment are presented by hundreds of members of the San Jacinto Volunteers and other living history organizations from across the state.
Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to the festival and re-enactment.
"Each year we work hand in hand with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to coordinate this event," said Larry Spasic, president of the San Jacinto Museum of History Association. "This year members of the 1st Battalion Texas Maritime Regiment (TMAR) of the Texas State Guard will assist us."
Visitors enjoy free admission to the festival, battle re-enactment and the exhibit in the Monument lobby. For a modest fee, festival goers can take the famous 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the Monument and enjoy the digital presentation "Texas Forever!!: The Battle of San Jacinto." Combo tickets can be purchased: $12 for adults, $8 for children. 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.
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located 22 miles southeast of downtown Houston. To reach the site, take State Highway 225 east to Battleground Road north, approximately three miles from the freeway.
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 more information on the Battleship TEXAS, please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (281) 479-2431.
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