Battle re-enactment the largest in the state
HOUSTON — Hundreds of history re-enactors — 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 re-enactment in the state is the centerpiece of the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 26 on the grounds surrounding the San Jacinto Monument.
Sponsored by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the San Jacinto Volunteers, the festival is a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun set amidst living history.
The battle re-enactment, which begins at 3 p.m., serves as the marquee event of the day and is presented by hundreds of members of the San Jacinto Volunteers and other living history organizations from across the state. The re-enactment dramatizes the cannon duel and decisive battle in which Gen. Sam Houston led his much smaller Texian army to victory over the Mexican army.
“For the Texans, their victory at San Jacinto led to Texas’ annexation into the United States,” says Robert B. Hixon, board chairman of the 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.”
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
- 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 re-enactors 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.
- Texas Parks and 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 Gen. Santa Anna’s troops.
- 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-foot 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:
- A 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.
- 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.
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 re-enactment.
- 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 or (281) 930-9091.
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 contact the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at 281.479.2431.