HOUSTON — Hundreds of history reenactors—complete with cannons, horses, dogs, women, children and pyrotechnics—will recreate the events leading up to Texas winning its independence 178 years ago at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. The largest battle reenactment in the state, it is the centerpiece of the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival, held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument.
Sponsored by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the San Jacinto Volunteers, the festival is a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun, set amidst living history.
The most popular event of the day, the battle reenactment begins at 3 p.m. and is presented by hundreds of members of the San Jacinto Volunteers and other living history organizations from across the state. The reenactment dramatizes the decisive battle where General Sam Houston led his Texian soldiers to victory over the Mexican Army, including the cannon duel and the final battle between the two forces.
“We are so proud to continue to present this festival with free admission and free parking to the public, and it would not be possible without our presenting sponsor H-E-B, as well as The Dow Chemical Company, Vopak, Pasadena Strawberry Festival, CenterPoint Energy and LyondellBasell,” says Larry Spasic, San Jacinto Museum of History President. “Just as important are our partners who help us coordinate this event, including TPWD, the volunteers from San Jacinto College and Deer Park ISD, Clean Harbors, KHOU, La Porte EMS and Hampton Inn Deer Park.”
All festival activities are updated continually on the San Jacinto Museum of History website at www.sanjacinto-museum.org. Entertaining and educational activities scheduled include:
- Dan Barth will use his Medicine Show Wagon to tell the tales of special 19th century cure-all elixirs, and entertain with a little magic.
- Nonstop entertainment on the main stage with Galveston’s Brandon McDermott playing his brand of lively Texas/Red Dirt Music; Last Chance Forever, The Birds of Prey Conservancy and its magnificent birds including hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures; Mariachis Los Galleros who first appeared in 2012 and were a big crowd pleaser; and K.R. Wood.
- Abigail Taylor, musician/singer/songwriter from Houston, will showcase her country music on the children’s stage.
- Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus and Wahoo Medicine Show will captivate the audience offering cures for all maladies at his Wahoo Medicine Show, and as Flea Meister for Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus, putting his (invisible) fleas through their paces.
- K.R. Wood (Camp Cookie) will bring history to life through songs and tales with Chuck Wagon of Texas History, complete with Dutch oven demonstrations, samples, roping steer head demonstrations, stick horse relay races, and historical stories about the Texas Revolutions and the cattle drives. K.R. was nominated for Texas Musician of the Year in 2009 with the Texas Commission for the Arts; is a member of the American Chuck Wagon Association; has been recognized by the 75th Texas Legislature in 1997 for keeping Texas History alive with his first Fathers of Texas CD; is an adopted member of the Davy Crockett family and the Texas Alabama Settlement Group; and his Fathers of Texas album was approved by the State of Texas as Texas history curriculum through Harcourt Publishing.
- Texas Snakes – a fun and hands-on educational show for all ages of many different species of non-venomous indigenous snakes of Texas for the children to view and touch. Emphasis is teaching about the environment and how snakes/reptiles provide their part for the balance of nature.
- Blacksmiths, weavers, spinners 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.
- Visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian camps of the reenactors to learn what the soldiers of that day were doing prior to the battle in 1836. In the military camps, a few lucky children will be chosen to stand with the cannon crew and pretend to load the cannons; they will be presented with cannon soot to wear on their noses as a badge of honor.
- Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will offer archery classes for young people
- Visitors can also visit the restored marshlands and look for otters, great blue herons, osprey, mottled ducks and American avocets. The marsh is historically important because it barred the escape of many of General Santa Anna’s troops during the 1836 battle.
- Members of the San Jacinto Descendants, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Sons of the Republic of Texas, as well as representatives from the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Independence Trail Region, will be on hand to share their history.
- Texas Independence Square Dancers—square dancers from various groups throughout Texas—will demonstrate square dancing and give lessons.
- Visitors can browse through the vendor area to admire unique hand-crafted items, Texas products and history-related items.
- Music from the North Harris County Dulcimer Society will entertain folks as they walk along the reflection pool.
The Children’s Area—sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company and Deer Park ISD—includes:
- A 55′ train complete with train whistle and Texan and American flags.
- Make-and-take history activities and crafts created by Gifted/Talented specialists from Deer Park ISD; overseen by volunteer teachers from DPISD and student volunteers from San Jacinto College.
- Marsha’s Petting Zoo with sheep, goats and other friendly small animals.
- Sandbox Dig created by the San Jacinto College.
Festival goers can also enjoy the attractions that are open year-round in the San Jacinto Monument or on the grounds of the 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, including:
- the free lobby exhibit in the Monument now featuring artifacts from The Carabajal Collection: A Glimpse of Goliad – an exhibit that features 400+ archeological artifacts dug up by several generations of the Carabajal family. “Painstakingly taken from the ground owned by a family for 11 generations, it contains artifacts from a range of native cultures, colonial-era finds, Texas Republic relics and countless items from the early years of Texas’s statehood,” says Elizabeth Appleby, Curator, San Jacinto Museum of History. “Derived from land situated next to Presidio la Bahia in Goliad and with the Camino Real literally running through the property, their collection presents a wealth of historical treasures that is truly amazing to behold.”
- the famous 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the Monument; the digital presentation Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto; and the museum’s exhibit Making a Mark, Leaving a Legacy which looks at the tools that have traditionally been used to make a mark, the people that have left a mark on our region, and the symbols that our predecessors used to convey important ideas and concepts. Combo tickets for the elevator ride, the exhibit and movie can be purchased for $12 for adults, $10.50 for seniors, and $8 for children.
- Battleship TEXAS, the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S.; fees for the Battleship TEXAS are $12 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for school and youth groups with a reservation, and free for children 12 and younger.
Sponsors for San Jacinto Day Festival include H-E-B, The Dow Chemical Company, Vopak, Pasadena Strawberry Festival, CenterPoint Energy, KHOU, LyondellBasell, San Jacinto Museum of History Association, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, San Jacinto College, Deer Park ISD, Hampton Inn & Suites Deer Park, San Jacinto Volunteers, Clean Harbors, Brand Extract, Office Systems of Texas and La Porte EMS.
“For the Texans, their victory at San Jacinto led to Texas’ annexation into the United States,” says Robert B. Hixon, Chairman of the Board, San Jacinto Museum. “In the end, the United States would gain not only Texas but also New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. Most Texans, and dare I say most Houstonians, don’t realize that the Battle of San Jacinto is recognized as one of the top ten battles of the world to change history.”
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located just 22 miles east of downtown Houston. Take Highway 225 east to Independence Parkway north and continue for three miles.
Tips to further enjoy the 2014 festival:
- Do not take the ferry on I-10; because there is only one ferry working right now, the wait is long.
- Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for comfortable viewing of the battle reenactment.
- Visitors should park at the first parking lot they come to and take the shuttle to the festival grounds; buses will stop at the farthest parking lots first, so those visitors will be first to board.
DISCOUNTED LODGING: Discounted room rates of $109 per night are available during the festival for the nights of April 25 and/or 26, at Hampton Inn Deer Park. For reservations, call 281.930.9091 and mention San Jacinto Day. Breakfast buffet and internet included.
For more information about the San Jacinto Museum of History or the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment, please call 281.479.2421 or visit www.sanjacinto-museum.org. For more information on the Battleship TEXAS, please contact the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at 281.479.2431.