From Staff Report – TheRecordLive

WASHINGTON, Texas – Close to a thousand historical re-enactors and

descendants of the original signers of the Texas Declaration of

Independence, including special guest U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison,

are expected to gather on the banks of the Brazos River next month to

celebrate the 175th anniversary of the state’s independence.

The free, two-day festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 26-27 at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site to celebrate the birth of the Republic of Texas.

Sen. Hutchison, who will speak at the Sunday afternoon commemorative

program in the park’s amphitheater, is a descendant of declaration

signer Charles Taylor. Taylor was one of 59 men who attended the

Independence Convention March 1-17, 1836, in an unfinished frame

building in the heart of a growing Texas colony seeking independence

from Mexico.

Highlighting the program, which kicks off at 1 p.m. with music from a

contingent of the Fighting Texas Aggie Band, will be the dramatic roll

call of each of the declaration signer’s names. A black powder salute by

the Texas Army will follow. At 3 p.m., a giant, 72-panel reproduction

of the original painting, “Reading of the Texas Declaration of

Independence,” created in 1936 by Charles and Fanny Normann, will be

unveiled. When complete, the segments painted a number of different

artists, will be assembled to create a reproduction of the painting

three times the original size. Afterwards, the traditional Texas-sized

birthday cake will be sliced and served.

Throughout the day on Saturday, park visitors will be able to witness

a re-enactment of key moments of the convention, including the arrival

of Texian Col. William Travis’ famous letter announcing the siege of the

Alamo, as well as the reading and signing of the Declaration of


“Texans and others who seek a better understanding of the state’s

unique legacy should visit this year during the annual celebration,”

says Scott McMahon, the park’s lead historic interpreter. “This is our

175th birthday at the place where Texas was born and the last capital of

the Republic of Texas.”

McMahon will portray Daniel Boone McMahon, a pioneer who lived just

across the Brazos River from the pre-Republic burg of Washington. His

relative joined the Washington Guards, a local militia that acted as the

rear guard for Texian Gen. Sam Houston during the Runaway Scrape and

fought during the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The two-day celebration at the 293-acre park along the Brazos River

transports visitors back to the time when Texas was a sovereign nation.

Costumed re-enactors and members of the Texas Army, along with skilled

craftsmen and talented musicians, fill the park as the Lone Star State

commemorates its inception. Re-enactors portraying statesmen of the era,

such as Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, will be on hand to explain

the importance of Texas independence. On both days, vendors will be

selling food and drinks.

Both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to enjoy a

performance of “The Texas Convention: The Birth of a Republic,” by the

Navasota Theater Alliance in the park amphitheater.

During the weekend, park visitors will be able to stop in at a river

overlook campsite and experience a slice of what daily life was like for

those who volunteered to fight for Texas independence as a member of

the Texian Army. There also will be small arms and artillery firing

demonstrations at the overlook and the Washington House behind the Star of the Republic program.

The museum will be opening its news exhibit, “Fifty-nine for Freedom,”

that explores the contributions of each delegate through various

artifacts and historical documents.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site features three

attractions that are open year round: Independence Hall, the Star of the

Republic Museum and the Barrington Living History Farm. The event is

made possible through funding from the Washington-on-the-Brazos State

Park Association, Exxon/Mobil Corporation and Bluebonnet Electric Co-op.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site is located between

Brenham and Navasota off State Hwy. 105 and FM 1155, approximately one

hour northwest of Houston. For directions or more information, call

(936) 878-2214.

A schedule of other upcoming Texas 175th anniversary events, such as

the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment on April 16, are

available at: