Come and Take It

On the first weekend of each October, Gonzales celebrates the firing of the first shot in the Texas revolution. It was on October 2, 1835 that the men of Gonzales sent a message to Santa Anna's troops that they were not giving up their little brass cannon. The "Old Eighteen" of the town unfurled a white flag upon which were inscribed in black the words "Come and Take It!" and they fired the shot that sent the Mexican soldiers scurrying back to San Antonio.

In 1998 the celebration was on October 2, 3, and 4, with the official cannon-firing ceremony held on Oct. 3 at high noon on Texas Heroes Square. A memorial service and ceremony was held by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas at noon on Sunday at that square.

A re-creation of the skirmish is held on Saturday afternoon, when Living Historians from around the state gather at Pioneer Village to bring the Texas Revolution to life. They parley with the Mexican soldiers, then they haul out the little cannon, load and fire it, sending the army scattering once again.

In 1997 Gonzales honored the men and women of "The Runaway Scrape" by dedicating the annual event to them. Thirty-two men rode from Gonzales to the Alamo, joining nine from the town who were already inside the walls of the fortress. When the Alamo fell, General Sam Houston gathered his army here, ordering the town evacuated and burned to the ground, which became known as "The Runaway Scrape". After the San Jacinto battle, the settlers returned to Gonzales, rebuilding their homes and their lives from the ashes of the revolution.

In addition to the battle re-enactment, the celebration included a huge parade Saturday morning, a giant carnival, canoe races on the Guadalupe River, tour of nine historic homes, car show, biergarten with special polka music all weekend, a free street dance on Friday, "Texas Unlimited" street dance on Saturday, food booths, arts and crafts sales, a chicken-wing cookoff, 1800s style show, square dancing; golf, softball and bridge tournaments; art competition and sale; horse-shoe and washer pitching; kids' games and "Nail-Driving Mamas". There was also a photography show and competition during the three days of the festival.

Singer K.R. Woods and the Fathers of Texas Band presented two afternoon shows that told the story of the Texas revolution in song and narration, taken from Woods' album and sound track.

Most of these event took place on the downtown squares of Gonzales, where there was no grounds admission charged. "Come and Take It" is one of the largest celebrations held in south-central Texas each year. For more information: Gonzales Chamber of Commerce, 830-672-6532.

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