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February 16, 2011

2011 Texas Independence Day Celebration at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site

Free, two-day festival features descendents of original signers of the Texas Declaration, including U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Washington, Texas – The Birthplace of Texas - The 175th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence will be recognized during a celebration, Feb. 26-27, 2011 at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. This celebration brings the Republic of Texas era to life. Events will be held on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., with endless opportunities for family-oriented activities. Admission is free.

A special commemorative program will be held on Sunday afternoon at the Tom & Jane Bullock Amphitheater, featuring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a direct descendant of Texas Declaration of Independence signer Charles Taylor, as the keynote speaker. A contingent of the Fighting Texas Aggie Band will start things off at 1:00 p.m.  Direct descendants of the 59 declaration signers will also be recognized during a dramatic roll call of each of the signer’s names.

At 3:00 p.m., the Star of the Republic Museum, administered by Blinn College, will join with the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, and the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association to unveil The Big Picture! – a “Texas-sized” reproduction of a famous painting by artists Charles and Fanny Normann. The Normanns originally created their dramatic “Reading of the Texas Declaration of Independence” for the Texas Centennial Celebration in 1936.  The image was divided into 72 segments. More than 70 local artists, both professional and amateur, were assigned a segment of the image to paint on a 2 X 3 ft. panel. When complete, the segments will be assembled to create an 18 X 24 ft. reproduction of the original painting, three times its original size.

At 3:15 p.m., a Texas sized birthday cake will be served to audience members, with the help of the Washington County Historical Society Heritage Belles. Following the program, a performance of The Convention of 1836 by the Navasota Theater Alliance will be held in the amphitheater at 4:00 p.m.

Throughout the two-day celebration, the 293 acre park along the Brazos River will be transported back to the time when Texas was a sovereign nation. Re-enactors in period clothing and members of the Texas Army, along with skilled craftsmen and talented musicians, will fill the park as Texas commemorates its inception. Statesmen of the era, such as Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and William Barret Travis, will be on hand to bring the history to life.

On Saturday, the Star of the Republic Museum will open a new exhibit entitled Fifty-nine for Freedom. On March 2, 1836, as Santa Anna was approaching San Antonio, the delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos declared: “Our political connection with the Mexican nation has now forever ended, and the people of Texas do now constitute a free and independent republic.”  By signing this Declaration, these men were signing their own death warrants, jeopardizing their property, and the lives of their families. Fifty-nine for Freedom will explore the life and contributions of each delegate with numerous artifacts and documents owned or created by many of the 59 signers.

Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site features three attractions that are open year round – Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm. All admission fees will be waived during the celebration weekend. Food vendors selling a variety of festival foods will be on site. This event is made possible through funding from Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association, Exxon Mobil Corporation and The Bank and Trust of Bryan/College Station.

A schedule of events is available at or by calling 936-878-2214.