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San Jacinto Day Festival on April 16 Celebrates Texas’ 175th
LA PORTE – The annual reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto takes on added significance this year with the celebration of the 175th anniversary of Texas independence. The freedom-winning battle in 1836 will be recreated at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 16, with hundreds of Texian and Mexican army reenactors, booming cannons, cracking musket fire and thundering hooves
The public is invited to witness the excitement at the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The festival, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., features a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun set amidst living history.
The battle reenactment, the most popular event of the day, features reenactors dramatizing the decisive battle where Gen. Sam Houston led his Texian soldiers to victory over the Mexican Army, eventually leading to almost a million square miles of Mexican territory becoming a part of the United States. The reenactors will dramatically interpret the Runaway Scrape (Texians fleeing from 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.
During the day visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian camps to learn what the soldiers of that era were doing prior to the battle and to see how civilians lived in 1836. In the military camps, visitors will learn how to perform the close order drills of the day. A few lucky children will be chosen to stand with the cannon crew and pretend to load the cannons. Afterward they will be presented with cannon soot to wear on their noses as a badge of honor.
Festival activities taking place at the base of the San Jacinto Monument celebrate this special day in Texas history with entertaining and educational activities, including Celtic string band music, K. R. Wood’s “Camp Cookie” chuck wagon review in song and words, Liz Talley’s Texas dancehall tunes, dulcimer music and square dancing performances. Last Chance Forever, the Birds of Prey Conservancy will display hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, vultures and other magnificent birds.
A children’s area will feature a petting zoo, a 55-foot train, Lucas Miller, the “Singing Zoologist” as well as crafts and games from the 1800s.
For more family-friendly festival fun:
- Texas Parks & Wildlife Department interpreters will offer guided tours of the restored marshlands and answer questions about the wildlife inhabiting the park, including otters, diamondback terrapins, peregrine falcons, wood ibises (storks), brown pelicans, reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, osprey, mottled ducks and American avocets. The marsh is historically important in that it barred the escape of many of Gen. Santa Anna’s troops during the 1836 battle.
- Battleship Texas, the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S., is open for visitors (fees are listed below.)
- Blacksmiths, 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 at military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares. The Tiny Town Texas display shows how towns were laid out in the 1800s.
- Visitors can browse through the vendor area to admire unique hand-crafted items, Texas products and history-related items.
- 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.
- Inside the San Jacinto Monument, visitors can enjoy the artifacts of the San Jacinto Museum at no charge, and for a modest fee, take a 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the Monument. Visitors also can see the film, Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto, and tour museum exhibits.
Visitors will enjoy free admission to the festival and battle reenactment. Combo tickets for the elevator ride, exhibit and movie inside the monument can be purchased: $12 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and $8 for children. Fees for the Battleship Texas are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for school and youth groups with a reservation, and free for children 12 and younger.
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located just 22 miles east of downtown Houston — take Highway 225 east to Independence Parkway north (formerly Battleground Road) and for approximately 3 miles. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for comfortable viewing of the Battle Reenactment.
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 or visit www.sanjacinto-museum.org. For more information on the Battleship Texas, please call the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at (281) 479-2431.
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