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In addtion to showcasing folk arts and crafts, the General Sam Houston Folk Festival stages a variety of pioneer life skills demonstrations.

Sam Houston Folk Festival
Pays Tribute to Bygone Era

Festival to feature
native American
arts and crafts

This year, with the help of a grant from the Huntsville Arts Commission, the General Sam Houston Folk Festival will feature native American craft demonstrations.

In cooperation with the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation near Livingston, these vanishing skills will be demonstrated by tribal artisans who hope to pass on their crafts to younger members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes.

Chief Clayton Sylestine will show how to make river cane baskets utilizing the native cane which grows along the stream banks in East Texas;

Rosa Thompson and Wilma Williams will demonstrate bead working and pottery crafts; and

Ida Mae Noack, one of the last practitioners of the art of making baskets from the long-leaf pine needles, will show how her ancestors utilized this abundant piney woods resource.

An artist-in-residence grant from the Huntsville Arts Commission will enable the festival to support these artisans for all three days of the program, providing festival visitors a rare opportunity to witness these unique arts.

The General Sam Houston Folk Festival was created over ten years ago with the mission of preserving "old time" pioneer crafts and artistic traditions. General Sam Houston, whose memory is enshrined in the festival, was a great friend of native Americans. He was adopted as a youth into the Cherokee Tribe and when he lived in Huntsville was frequently visited by his friends, the Alabama-Coushatta.

Peering out of the piney woods about 70 miles north of the city bearing his name, a colossal statue of General Sam Houston welcomes Interstate 45 travelers to the rolling forested hills of Huntsville--the town this celebrated Texas hero once called home.

The monument, as big as the Sam Houston legend, is a tribute to a man whose biography, stripped of embellishment, still reads like a tall Texas tale.

On April 17-19, Huntsville will pay homage to the life and times of the world's most famous Texan when the 11th Annual General Sam Houston Folk Festival is staged on the Sam Houston Memorial Museum grounds.

The annual event celebrates the state's rich and diverse heritage showcasing folk arts, crafts, music, and cuisine in a setting that transports festival goers back to the days of the Texas frontier.

Right in Sam Houston's old backyard, a cast of historic figures and colorful period characters will mingle through the festival crowd and demonstrate skills pioneer families used to survive the wild Texas frontier. The demonstrations include archaic domestic arts like blacksmithing, broom making, hearth cooking, quilting, spinning, tanning and tatting.

For the youngsters, the popular "Memories of Yesteryear's Child" program will provide an opportunity to get some hands-on practice with these early pioneer crafts.

A 45-minute historical show, "Gone to Texas," will be staged during the festival at the Walker Education Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18. Now a major highlight of the celebration, "Gone to Texas" features a cast of historical figures including Margaret Lea Houston, Andrew Jackson, and Chief Ooleteka, Sam's Cherokee mentor.

Another festival attraction, the citizen soldiers, are patterned after Houston's ragtag Texian army. The groups members shoot black powder rifles, stage tomahawk throwing contests and spin tales of the 19th century West.

Now in its 11th year, the festival is an ever-growing celebration blending pioneer spirit with modern life. While providing a fun, educational setting where traditional folklife activities of the frontier Texans can be experienced, festival raises funds to benefit the many programs and exhibits sponsored throughout the year by the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

Traditionally, the festival kicks off on Friday with its "School Day" event, held from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. School Day provides students with an opportunity to participate in many of the activities common for children in Sam Houston's day. This year more than 4,600 fourth graders and teachers representing more than 50 East Texas elementary schools are expected to attend.

The first day, Friday, April 17, the General Sam Houston Folk Festival is open until 7 p.m. and admission is only $1.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, festival admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children age five to 12 and free for children under five. Weekend passes are available for $8.

The festival will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday and from noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Free parking is available on the Sam Houston State University campus and a free shuttle bus will transport festival goers from the parking lots to the festival entrance on 19th Street.

Additional information on the General Sam Houston Folk Festival is available from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum office at (409) 294-1831. You can also visit the Sam Houston Memorial Museum web site and learn more about Sam Houston's relationship with Chief Ooleteka and the Cherokees.


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing
April 3, 1998

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