Holiday Events at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site

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Washington on the Brazos offers rich interactive experiences for those who want to “unplug” from the modern-day holiday madness and experience with two holiday events are especially magical: Twilight Firelight and Christmas on the Brazos.

For those who want to “unplug” from the modern-day holiday madness and experience Texian festivities from the mid-1800s, Washington on the Brazos is the place. In addition to its rich interactive experiences and its steady schedule of living history events held year-round, two holiday events are especially magical: Twilight Firelight and Christmas on the Brazos. Twilight Firelight occurs the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend at Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site; Christmas on the Brazos occurs the second Saturday of December at Washington on the Brazos—and both include frontier festivities, period music, visits with interpreters and candlelit venues (more details below).

In addition, Washington on the Brazos and Fanthorp Inn are open most of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday weekends. Thanksgiving Weekend: Washington on the Brazos (including Star of Republic Museum, Independence Hall and Barrington Living History Farm) and Fanthorp Inn are closed on Thursday, November 23, 2017 for Thanksgiving Day; all reopen on Friday morning, for the weekend except Fanthorp Inn which will reopen Saturday, November 25. Christmas and New Year’s Day: Washington on the Brazos is only closed Monday, December 25 and Monday, January 1, 2018; Fanthorp Inn will be closed Monday, December 25. The Star of Republic Museum will close Sunday, December 24 and will reopen January 2, 2018.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

November 25, 2017 – Twilight Firelight: 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. (Fanthorp Inn): Board a replica stagecoach in downtown Anderson and travel back to 1850. Enjoy candlelit tours of historic Fanthorp Inn while visiting with interpreters dressed in period clothing. Tap your feet to the sweet sound of old time music or join in the barn dance. Mule-drawn coach and wagon leave from downtown Anderson, near the courthouse beginning at 4:30 p.m. with last ticket being sold at 7 p.m. Rides run continuously during the event. Last ride departs Fanthorp for downtown Anderson at 8 p.m. Dress appropriately for the season as parts of the event are held outdoors, and the wagons/stagecoaches are open air. The barn and first floor of Fanthorp Inn are accessible. Event tickets are available beginning at 4:30 p.m. the night of the event in downtown Anderson for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Contact Jon Failor at 936-878-2214, ext. 224 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.texas.gov.

December 9, 2017 – Christmas on the Brazos and Candlelight Christmas: Begin the holiday season by spending special time at Washington on the Brazos. Activities commence in the early afternoon at Independence Hall and the Star of the Republic Museum and extend into the evening, bringing an 1850s Christmas alive for all.
The highlight of the celebration is Candlelight Christmas, from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Barrington Living History Farm. Meet St. Nick; fall in with some noisy, rowdy revelers; experience the Jones family lighting the Christmas tree; attend an evening service with a traveling minister; and discover how the enslaved people celebrated Christmas. Allow at least one hour to complete the full experience, reservations are highly recommended and will be accepted starting November 15 by phone at 936-878-2214, ext. 246. Regular admission fees apply. No-cost parking and park admission, fees to attractions still apply. Contact Bruce Wardlow at (936) 878-2214, ext. 246 or bruce.wardlow(at)tpwd.texas.gov.

Other activities during the day include:

  • An Afternoon with Dickens: 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (Independence Hall) - Staff dressed in period clothing will be regaling visitors with tales of Olde Time Christmas, as told by the great author, Charles Dickens.
  • Christmas Lore and Traditions: 4 p.m. (Independence Hall) - A look at the historic origins and lore of some of the diverse Christmas traditions and celebrations brought to Texas by early settlers. Contact Jon Failor at (936) 878-2214 ext. 224 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.gov.
  • The Star of the Republic Museum will host “make-and-take” period crafts (regular admission fees; no charge for the crafts); museum open for extended hours from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Contact Donna Barker at (936) 878-2461 ext. 245 or donna.barker(at)blinn.edu.

SCHEDULE OF OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS – NOV THROUGH DEC 2017:

November 4, 2017 – Foraging for Food: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Barrington Living History Farm): Visitors will discover the wild edible plants plentiful in Texas. Hosted by Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Ph.D., one of the area’s intrepid explorers, will teach which plants are edible and/or medicinal. He will proselytize on how foraging heals the body, mind and soul. Class size is limited and recommended for ages 12 and up. To make reservations, call Perry Foskey at (936) 878-2214, ext. 246 or perry.foskey(at)tpwd.texas.gov.

November 11, 2017 – Behind the Scenes Tour: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Barrington Living History Farm): Come see how the staff keep a working farm running when it is closed to the public. Join them in some not-so-period farm work and learn some secrets about Barrington Living History Farm. Contact Mike Edwards at (936) 878-2214, ext. 246 or mike.edwards(at)tpwd.texas.gov.

November 18, 2017 - Hands-On-History – Corn Husk Dolls: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Star of the Republic Museum): Join museum staff on the third Saturday of each month to make crafts and toys that pioneer kids made during the Republic time. Visitors can also discover what life was like for kids living in the 1830s in the newly renovated Pioneer Playroom. Contact Donna Barker at (936) 878-2461, ext. 245 or Donna.barker(at)blinn.edu.

December 16, 2017 - Living History Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Independence Hall and Old Washington Townsite): Travel back in time to where a nation was born in 1836. On the third Saturday of each month staff and volunteers dressed in period clothing bring to life the people and events of Old Washington providing a unique opportunity for the entire family to discover various aspects of life surrounding the birth of the Republic of Texas. Visitors can write with a quill pen and sign a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence; meet militia soldiers travelling through town or play early Texas games. This program will feature Quill pen writing and 19th century medicine. Activities may vary and some are weather dependent. Traditional tours of Independence Hall will not be offered these days. Contact Jon Failor at (936) 878-2214, ext. 224 or jon.failor(at)tpwd.texas.gov.

Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site

It was March 2, 1836 when 59 delegates bravely met at Washington, Texas to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico. From 1836 until 1846, the Republic of Texas proudly existed as a separate nation. Washington on the Brazos is, indeed, “Where Texas Became Texas.”

Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site has many onsite amenities and is open daily, as well as an incredible schedule of events and programs. On the grounds of this 293-acre, TPWD-run state park is Independence Hall (the site in 1836 where the representatives met to sign the declaration of independence); the Star of the Republic Museum (collections honoring the history, cultures, diversity and values of early Texans; administered by Blinn College); and Barrington Living History Farm (where interpreters dress, work and farm as the earliest residents of the original farmstead did). The site’s Visitor Center features interactive exhibits which present a timeline of the Texas Revolution and highlight the historic attractions located within the park; it also houses the spacious Washington Emporium Gift Shop, which offers snacks and a wide range of Texas-themed items and keepsakes. The entrance to the park grounds, Visitor Center and parking is always no cost; fees apply for access to Barrington Farm and the Star of the Republic Museum, and guided tours of Independence Hall. The expansive park grounds provide a beautiful setting for picnicking, sightseeing and bird watching, as well as four geocaching sites. It also features a Conference and Education Center, outdoor amphitheater and two pavilions available to rent for meetings, weddings and reunions. The Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site is a wonderfully preserved example of a 19th century stagecoach inn, located nearby in Anderson, TX open on weekends.

Those who join the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association will not only enjoy the irreplaceable satisfaction of helping to uphold Texas history through the Association’s support of celebration and programing. Association memberships are available for individuals, families and businesses and include no cost admission to the site’s attractions for a year, and—for some levels—private parties during the park’s special celebrations.

Leashed pets are allowed in the park, but NOT allowed onto Barrington Living History Farm or in the buildings. Attractions are accessible. For lodging information, please contact the Brenham Visitor Center at http://www.visitbrenhamtexas.com/ or 1-888-BRENHAM, or the city of Navasota at http://www.navasotagrimeschamber.com.

Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site is located at 23400 Park Road 12, Washington, TX, 77880—approximately halfway between Brenham and Navasota, off of State Hwy. 105. From Hwy. 105, follow either FM 912 or FM 1155 to Park Road 12. For additional information, call (936) 878-2214 or visit the Park Association’s website at http://www.wheretexasbecametexas.org or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Washington-on-the-Brazos-State-Historic-Site-1562674683997696/.

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