All natural-born Texans and those who got here as soon as they could are invited to a Texas-sized 178th birthday celebration on the very spot “where Texas became Texas” in 1836 when delegates met to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico.
Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site will host the annual Texas Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2 on its expansive, 293-acre park grounds located between Brenham and Navasota. The two-day festival features live music, food, traditional crafts, living history presentations, black powder small arms and artillery firing demonstrations, historical encampments and commemorative programs — all with no park entrance or parking fees. Vendors selling a variety of festival foods will be on site.
Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos is the place where representatives of the people of Texas met to decide their fate and all Texans’ future. On March 2, 1836, 59 delegates to the convention listened to George Childress enumerate their grievances against the government of Mexico and the tyrannical rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
The delegates were embroiled in a revolution and faced an uncertain future when they met to declare Texas a free and independent republic and created a constitution for the fledgling nation. To honor their sacrifice and dedication, a special commemorative ceremony will open and close Saturday’s and Sunday’s festivities. The traditional cutting of the giant birthday cake will take place at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, in the park amphitheater.
Guests will step back into history to experience life in Texas in 1836 by visiting with reenactors and witnessing firing demonstrations in the Texas Army camps, and taking a virtual town site tour. Attendees can walk the same trail as Texas’ forefathers and pioneer families and witness cooking, weaving and period craft demonstrations.
Texas singer/songwriter Brian Burns, Celtaire String Band and the Texian String Band will provide musical entertainment at the event. Burns, the 2014 recipient of The Daughters of The American Revolution Texas State Media Award, is regarded as one of Texas’ top performing songwriters whose work has been covered by a number of legendary artists. More information on Burns can be found at www.brianburnsmusic.com.
The Celtaire String Band, whose members dress in 1800s period clothing, specializes in playing period Americana music on such acoustic instruments as the fiddle, pennywhistle, guitar, mandolin, vocals, banjo, “bass-box,” tambourine, autoharp, spoons, scrub-board and limberjacks. The Texian String Band will be playing music that would have been played on the Texas frontier and heard in the small riverside town of Washington around the time of the revolution.
The state historic site features three attractions: Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm) that will feature special activities during the March celebration. The admission fees for the museum and farm will be waived during the celebration weekend. Independence Hall is always open free of charge, however, visitors pay a modest fee for a guided program.
During the two-day celebration, the Star of the Republic Museum, which is administered by Blinn College, will open its new exhibit “Weather Wisdom: Forecasting in the Texas Republic.” The exhibit will include an assortment of 19th century scientific instruments used to measure wind velocity, atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity. The 19th century is seen as a transitional period from the use of weather lore (e.g. “when a whirlwind spins to the right, it means dry weather”) to the systematic collection of weather data. The exhibit will run through February 2015.
This event is made possible by ExxonMobil, Bluebonnet Electric Co-op, and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, The City of Brenham, The City of Navasota, Blinn College, KTEX 106 Sounds Like Texas, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association.
More detailed information on the festivities planned for March 1 and 2 will be continually updated at www.birthplaceoftexas.com. The public can also call (936) 878-2214 or email Scott.Mcmahon@tpwd.texas.gov for more information.