Father of Texas event draws cozy crowd

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San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site held its annual Father of Texas Celebration Nov. 2 at the museum with a small but enthused crowd.

Hosted by the Friends of the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, the event this year offered a sneak-peek of Villa de Austin, a replica village of the original town that was razed during the Runaway Scrape in 1936.

“This was one of the best programs we’ve ever done,” said Bryan McAuley, manager of the site.

Tents were set up to approximate the buildings that are planned to be constructed on the site to represent a block of the former capital of Stephen F. Austin’s colony.

McAuley said about 75 costumed volunteers offered programming for the couple hundred visitors to the event.

“Our hope is that this will continue to improve,” he said.

In addition to activities and demonstrations, there were workshops on outdoor bake ovens and log and timber frame construction. McAuley said the programs were very well received.

One of the bonuses this year was having Cody Mobley demonstrate 1850s wet plate photography methods. Although outside the timeframe of the San Felipe story, McAuley said it ties in with the new Faces of San Felipe temporary exhibit in the museum. The photo essay shows pictures of San Felipe residents, many of them elderly, as photography didn’t exist during the Texas Revolution and the images were captured decades later.

There was also an archeology demonstration conducted that weekend at the site. One of the main attractions of the Villa de Austin attraction will be a brick bake oven similar to one that was prominently used in the original town. At the baking demonstration Nov. 2, rather than make bread, guests were treated to a more modern delight – pizza. Other demonstrations included sewing, music, blacksmithing, woodworking, and more.

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