There are few Texans who don’t enjoy rubbing in the fact that Texas was once its own country. It’s one of the things that the rest of the country hates about us.
But many people, especially in my generation, don’t consider or even know about the decisive battles in the Texas War for Independence that led to victory over Mexico.
Growing up, I was lucky to have two younger brothers who were Boy Scouts. Because of them, I got to tag along on many camping trips and educational adventures. One such adventure was to Goliad, TX for the annual reenactment of the 1836 Goliad Massacre and the battles of Goliad leading up to the Massacre. Goliad was an important location during the Texas War for Independence. Though the events there were tragic for Texas and its allies, they compounded with the fall of the Alamo to galvanize Texas forces to continue the fight for freedom.
I have never been to anything like Reenactment Weekend in Goliad. It is one-of-a-kind, eye-opening, sobering and enjoyable…all at the same time.
Before I give you my top tips for getting the most out of Reenactment Weekend in Goliad, you should know that this annual event only takes place one weekend every year – the weekend closest to March 27th.
I highly recommend Reenactment Weekend as a weekend get-away or a Saturday day trip. It is perfect for your whole family, you and your significant other or even as a lone ranger adventure. If you can’t make it this year, it’s not too early to start planning for next year!
Because it can be hard to approach a trip to any new place, here are my Top 6 Goliad Tips for you:
1) Buy tickets for the Presidio La Bahia on Saturday. The Presidio was originally built to house Mexican forces, so they could protect the area. The Presidio was captured by the Texians in 1835, then taken back by Mexico in 1836 right before the Goliad Massacre.
Entrance tickets are $3 each ($1 for kiddos 5-11).
Tickets get you:
- Entrance to an extremely instructive and interesting mini-museum,
- A movie that runs throughout the day,
- A view of the surrounding area, and – best of all –
- Access to the “living history” inside the Presidio. The reenactors who you will see during the reenactments over the weekend set up camp within the Presidio with period tents, equipment and clothing. Though an anachronistic item appears here and there, overall the reenactors work hard to make the experience genuine for visitors. You may see a gunsmith with period guns on display, young girls instructing crowds on animal pelts, or meals cooking in large cast iron pots over open fires.
2) Don’t worry about seeing all three skirmishes. There are three skirmishes on Saturday, with the last one occurring around 3:30 PM. Though I’m sure observers with a sharper eye for tactical detail would disagree with me, the first and second skirmishes always look about the same. In my opinion, you can pick one of the two to see, but you don’t need to see both if you’re busy in the Presidio or enjoying a mid-day siesta.
However, I’d definitely suggest that you watch the third and final skirmish. It’s the reenactment of the Battle of Coleto Creek, in which the Texians were surrounded and captured by the Mexicans. Though the real battle took place many miles away, it’s reenacted in front of the Presidio for convenience.
3) Don’t miss the Candlelight Tour. Only 750 tickets are usually sold, and they typically sell out on Saturday morning. Candlelight Tours take place inside the Presidio on Saturday night. After standing in line outside, you are let inside with a small group of other ticket-holders. You silently bear witness to historical scenes, acted out in front of you by the reenactors themselves. You see the aftermath of the battles you witnessed during the day, and you experience the conflict leading up to the Goliad Massacre, which you will see on Sunday morning.
The Candlelight Tour was Austinot Eric’s favorite part of his first Goliad experience last year, and it has always been a favorite part for me as well.
4) Stick around for Sunday morning. Meet outside the Presidio chapel with hundreds of others, and follow the Texian prisoners and their Mexican captors on a march to the actual massacre site. There, the Goliad Massacre is reenacted as you stand in reverent silence.
5) Plan to camp. If you’re going to visit Goliad, TX for the weekend, camping at Goliad State Park is a superb idea. It is a short walk and an even shorter bike ride to the Presidio; the wildflowers are beautiful, and the Park officials are gems. They have full hook-ups for campers, as well as tent camping areas. There are also bathrooms and showers throughout the Park.
However, reserve your spot early! I reserved during the first week of January, but there were others who reserved months before me. Probably too late for this year, but like I said, never too early to plan for next year!
6) Remember sunscreen, shade and sno-cones. Pretty self-explanatory. There isn’t a lot of tree cover inside or outside the Presidio, and the South Texas sun beats down.
In addition to sunscreen, I’d suggest getting to the skirmishes early and claiming some of the limited shaded area.
And don’t forget a sno-cone! There is a sno-cone tent set up on the North side of the Presidio by the gift shop there, and that syrupy ice can be a lifesaver!
Experiencing Goliad as a child was fun and educational, and I’m so happy that I got to return as an adult this year to experience Goliad with new eyes. It’s totally worth the drive from Austin!
Do you have any questions about Reenactment Weekend in Goliad, Texas?