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TPWD News Release — Oct. 5, 2009

Abilene State Park Commemorates 75 Years

Park Reschedules Anniversary Celebration for Oct. 24

TUSCOLA, Texas — Abilene State Park, a park known to generations for its big, rustic rock swimming pool, its famous RV camping loop circle, and its large pecan and oak trees, has rescheduled its 75th Anniversary celebration for Saturday, Oct. 24.

This will mark the second attempt by park staff to commemorate the event, as the first try was cancelled because of rain back in May. The day’s activities will run from noon till 4 p.m., followed by a stargazing party led by the Big Country Astronomy Club that night.

The Abilene High School Eagle marching band-considered one of the oldest marching band programs in Texas-will kickoff the opening ceremony, just as the Abilene High band did back in 1934 during the park’s original grand opening. A tribute to companies of the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of the famed New Deal program instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s, and which helped build numerous parks nationwide including Abilene State Park, will also be made during the ceremony. Local dignitaries and community leaders will also be on hand to speak about the importance of the state park to Abilene and the Big Country region.

"I think the significance of this park is that it has always been a gathering place for citizens of this area, and for visitors to enjoy," said Okie Okerstrom, who is in her 17th year as park superintendent. "Maintaining this public land and resource and keeping it accessible emphasizes the importance of its history and preserving it for future generations. The Comanche people camped here; pioneer settlers settled here. The buffalo hunters were here... The park has always been a popular gathering spot."

Other activities scheduled for Saturday afternoon include birding and nature hikes, live musical and dancing entertainment from groups such as the Order of the Arrow Indian dancers, plus a Kid Fish in Buffalo Wallow and other hands-on activities for children and adults. Storytellers also will share stories of Indians and early settlers of the area.

In addition, there will be a classic car show and food vendors on site selling snack and fast food items. The park is waiving its customary $4 per-person adult entrance fee (kids ages 12 and younger are always free) all weekend long,

Over the years, Abilene State Park has become a symbol of both an unchanged landscape for traditional family fun, as well as one of how parks can adapt to the changing needs of their customers’ recreational interests. The park’s CCC-built swimming pool, scenic pecan groves and RV camping loop remain popular attractions that bring groups of people back year after year.

The park’s recent history, however, also includes some notable changes. Four years ago, the park expanded by roughly 1,000 acres with the addition of Lake Abilene to its original 529 acres. The lake acreage, which includes restrooms and a security fence, adds a new fishing and boating dimension to the park visitor experience. Abilene State Park also boasts the only Yurt tent sites in the state park system. A Yurt is a large, canvas tent structure with a floor and furnishings, giving campers yet another option of overnight accommodations.

Abilene State Park continues to represent a significant economic contribution to the Taylor County area, generating more than $1 million in sales to the local economy, having roughly a $560,000 impact on personal income, and adding more than $5,000 in sales tax each year.

For more information about Abilene State Park, the 75th anniversary celebration, contact Abilene State Park at (325) 572-3204.

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