Photos and slideshow by Jason Seidel: The Signal. Reggie Butler The Signal
The annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment celebrated the 177th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico April 20 at the San Jacinto Battleground in LaPorte, Texas.
The admission-free event is organized by the San Jacinto Museum of History, with assistance from Texas Parks and Wildlife and San Jacinto Volunteers. Visitors were able to view the San Jacinto Monument and Museum, the Reflection Pool and the Battleship Texas.
The primary mission of the event is to educate the public about local history and, more importantly, Texas history at the Battle of San Jacinto, in which General Sam Houston led the Texian Army to victory April 21, 1836. This victory won Texas’ independence from Mexico.
“History is important because we are the past; we are the sum of all the events – good, bad, and indifferent – that have happened to us, and this sum guides our actions in the present,” said Robert Hixon, chairman of the board of trustees of the San Jacinto Museum of History Association.
Hixon wants festival visitors to ponder the importance of the battle and whether or not Texas would still be a part of Mexico, had it lost the Battle of San Jacinto.
Hali Garcia, Baytown resident and festivalgoer, stated she took away “an understanding on how much of what has happened in history affects today’s society.”
A few new presentations brought to the festival this year were “The Women at San Jacinto,” presented by Mary L. Kelley Scheer, professor at Lamar University, and the “Rocking T Chuck Wagon,” which has been featured on the Food Network and competes in chuck wagon food competitions throughout the South.
This event had fun activities for all ages and included an entire children’s area of the festival. Children could take part in the petting zoo, face painting and archery zones.
The highlight of the day was the reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto. Volunteers from historical organizations came from all over Texas to participate in the reenactment, which dramatizes the 18-minute battle between the Mexican Army and the Texians.
Throughout the day, the pathway to the battleground was lined with blacksmith and weaver demonstrators who taught spectators about life in Texas during the 1800s. Before and after the battle, guests were allowed to walk on the battleground to study how the soldiers on both sides lived during the time surrounding the battle.
As the reenactment approached, hundreds of visitors of all ages positioned themselves along the sides of the battleground. The performance used pyrotechnics for the cannons and muskets used in battle.
Despite already knowing the outcome, spectators were able to see the strategy used during the battle and the small mistakes that General Antonio López de Santa Anna made throughout the days surrounding the climax that led to his capture and overall defeat, which ensured Texas’ victory.
“The festival is so much fun,” said John Hesselberg, a volunteer portraying a Mexican soldier in the battle reenactment. “You get to hang out, dress up in weird clothes, and enjoy the carnival atmosphere, all while educating the public about what happened here.”