Texas Independence Day Celebration
03/04/2017 - 03/05/2017, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Location: Washington on the Brazos Site
All Texans (natural born, and those that got here as soon as they could) are invited to a Texas-sized 181st anniversary celebration here at Washington on the Brazos. It was March 2, 1836 when 59 delegates bravely met at Washington, Texas to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico.
Texas Independence Day Celebration (TIDC) is an annual two-day celebration held on the expansive 293-acre park grounds. The birthday celebration features live music, food, traditional crafts, living history presentations, cannon and musket firing lines, historical encampments and commemorative programs so guests can experience life in Texas in 1836. Reenactors from across the state set up a bona fide 1836 Texas Army camp where visitors can wander freely Saturday and Sunday around the camp to learn how the soldiers and their families lived in 1836.
Special guests and entertainment will include Texas A&M University Singing Cadets; a historical play titled “The Birth of a Republic” about the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence; family reunions of the descendants of the 58 men who signed the Declaration; wreath laying ceremony at the Children’s Monument; demonstrators and musicians will bring old time music, crafts and additional historical reenactments; and walking the same trail as Texas’ forefathers and pioneer families. Texas musicians and actors will provide musical and theatrical entertainment. A Kids History one will allow children to dress up in historical costumes; sign a large scale copy of the Declaration; and take photos near the real Declaration.
The Star of Texas Dulcimers will entertain visitors in the Museum’s theater with performances of American folk music. The Museum will also feature demonstrators showcasing period skills such as quilting, hand knitting and tatting.
Special performance: “Dr. Balthasar’s Medicine Show” by Interpretive Education Specialist, Mike Follin will be on Saturday and Sunday. Dr. Balthasar is a character based on research conducted on the medicine shows performed from late 1700s to late 1800s; Follin recreates a 19th century frontier patent medicine salesman to help audiences to understand this part of history and early day health care. Follin uses the rapid-fire patter and entertaining techniques that attracted early American country folk to attend a sales talk and purchase mostly useless tonics.
Keynote speaker Judge Ken Wise will speak on Sunday, March 5. A native Houstonian and fifth generation Texan, Judge Wise sits on the Texas 14th Court of Appeals, is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, and writes/records a Texas history podcast called “Wise About Texas.”
The Star of the Republic Museum at Washington on the Brazos will celebrate the 181th anniversary with its new exhibit, “Heirloom Genealogy: Tracing your Family Treasures,” beginning March 4, 2017, and continuing through February 15, 2018. Stories will come to light as artifacts are examined in-depth through lineage research. Documents reveal where the artifacts originated, who owned them, and how they got to Texas. Items in the exhibit include three year-old Edward Boylan’s buckskin suit; Pleasant B. Watson’s diary; Heinrich Riemann’s clog-making tools; and Clara Lang’s grand piano, among others. The Museum’s new Pioneer Playroom simulates a Texas frontier homestead, with inside and outside features allowing children to immerse themselves in the role of pioneers through role-playing and interactive experiences such as loading a covered wagon; dressing in period clothing; and building a log cabin.
Admission fees are waived for the site’s attractions (Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm) during the TIDC weekend celebration. Admission to the grounds, on-site shuttles and parking are also free.
Visiting from out of town? Stay at the Ant Street Inn or Best Western both in Brenham. At Ant Street Inn, guests rooms for the weekend may be reserved online at a discounted rate of 20% by entering the promotion code “TxInd” or call (979) 836-7393 while availability lasts. At the Best Western, guests rooms for the weekend may be reserved online at the discounted rate of 15% by entering promotion code 1836 or calling (979) 251-7791.
NEW THIS YEAR: TIDC weekend has expanded to a three-day celebration across Washington County with additional events and evening entertainment.
Friday, March 3
Sam Houston Day Proclamation Ceremony—4 p.m., Texas Baptist Historical Museum, Independence, TX (hometown of Sam Houston); hosted by the Museum and The Sam Houston Heritage Trail. Proclamations will be read from Texas and Tennessee Governor offices and Supreme Court Justice of the Cherokee Nation. The museum will be open before and after the ceremony; additional historical tours begin at 2 p.m. Texas Baptist Historical Museum is located at the intersection of FM 50 and FM 390. For more information, visit SamTrail.net; TexasBaptistHistoricalMuseum.weebly.com; and IndependenceTX.com.
Eve of Texas Independence events—6 p.m., Alamo Alley, downtown Brenham. This event will emulate the days immediately before the 1836 Constitutional Convention with authentic foods of the era catered by Funky Art Café, period music, entertainment, historical characters, and the feature movie Houston: The Legend Of Texas starring Sam Elliott¬¬—a portrayal of Sam Houston and Texas’ fight for independence showing at 8 p.m. at Barnhill Center at Historic Simon Theatre, 111 W. Main Street. Reservations for the Eve of Texas Independence event are required by Friday, February 24 and cost $75 per person or $140 per couple. Movie-only tickets will be $10/adult and $5/children under 12 and can be made in advance or purchased at the door. Proceeds benefit Barnhill Center at Historic Simon Theatre. For reservations or more information, visit www.downtownbrenham.com/eveoftexas.
Saturday, March 4
Feature movie Two for Texas starring Kris Kristofferson, Tom Skerritt and Peter Coyote will show at 7 p.m. at Barnhill Center at Historic Simon Theatre. This is an action-packed story of Texas Independence, focusing on the Battle of San Jacinto. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For reservations or more information, visit www.downtownbrenham.com/eveoftexas. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.
Photos from the 2016 Texas Independence Day Celebration
Location Map (Washington on the Brazos Site)