Texas Heritage Day, Saturday April 6, brings homestead to life at Jesse Jones Park

What was life like for early East Texas settlers? How did they survive without modern day conveniences such as refrigerators, gasoline-powered vehicles or electricity? What would they do for entertainment? And what better way to find out than with a full day of old-time fun? Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the homestead comes alive as Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center hosts its annual Texas Heritage Day.

Visitors of all ages have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of folk music and demonstrations, try their hand at seldom-seen crafts and skills, sample old-fashioned foods and enjoy many other 19th century activities.

Demonstrations, music and other activities are featured in the green space at the front of the park, while staff members and scores of volunteers transform the Redbud Hill Homestead into a living, working homestead of the 1800s. Volunteers offer a taste of the past when they offer samples of cornbread from the bread oven, or stick bread and hoecakes cooked over an open fire. Members of the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers demonstrate how wood was fashioned into useful tools, furniture and other items in the wood shop, and other volunteers are on hand to show off their metal working skills in the blacksmith shop. Jones Park staff member Mike Howlett will share his favorite jerky recipe at the smokehouse, and visitors may even savor a tasty nibble or two. Volunteer member Don Roe of Roe’s Rangers demonstrates how black powder weaponry was used.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a soldier during the Civil War, take this opportunity to visit with authentically outfitted Civil War re-enactors as they patrol the homestead and demonstrate Civil War era weaponry and military life. And performer Violene Beene demonstrates how stories and traditions have been passed down through the generations as she tells Native American stories in the Akokisa Indian Village’s council lodge. Other demonstrations include lye soap making, quilting, kitchen gardening, a petting zoo, Native American crafts and much more. Visitors can even try on period costumes and get their picture taken in a variety of settings.

Younger park visitors can try their hand at some of the same chores done by children in the 1830s, such as making beeswax candles, shelling and grinding corn, washing clothes on a washboard and churning butter. Youngsters will also be able to ride ponies, listen to stories, shoot bows and arrows and make paper bonnets or cornhusk dolls.

Students from the North Harris College arts department show off their painting skills as they paint the faces of anyone wanting to enjoy this form of expression.

The Jones Park outdoor stages feature many varied types of festive folk music and other performances throughout the day. The Eagle Wind Dancers perform authentic Native American music and dances in fully costumed splendor. And the Paragon Brass Ensemble takes listeners on a musical tour of Texas through the ages, from the early days of Spanish exploration to the Civil War era. Other groups and performers include Billy Bratton, Dog Days of Summer, The Fiddle and the Bow, the North Harris County Dulcimer Society and Tall Cotten.

Hayrides are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and travel from the playground parking lot to the park entrance and from the park entrance to the homestead.