The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History on Saturday will present the 13th annual Texas Heritage Festival: Boonville Days, featuring the Buffalo Stampede Half Marathon and 5K and a heritage festival.
The heritage festival is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum and at the Boonville Heritage Park, where visitors can see frontier cowboys, musicians and artisans demonstrate skills and trades. There are also free pony rides, train rides, exhibits, activities and demonstrations.
"This [festival] is the biggest one we've had so far; it keeps growing every year," said Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History Museum Executive Director Deborah Cowman.
With new demonstrations and activities, the free, family-friendly festival is both fun and educational, she said.
"The event is special because we really try to infuse it with not only all the historical information and demonstrations, but also we try to interject science into it as well," Cowman said. "We feel it's part of our mission to infuse education. That's why we have the astronomy groups, The Urban Interface with live birds, so we just try to make it fun but at the same time, very educational."
There are more demonstrations this year than in previous years. The Texas A&M department of mathematics will offer activities with kids that promote math and geometry concepts. There are also new performances, including the Los Altos de Jalisco Ballet Folklorico. Other new features include a new mercantile tent in the chuck wagon area and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Buffalo Soldiers, who will be there with original tents and dressed in character.
There also are favorite features returning, Cowman said, including the Texas A&M Chemistry Road Show, The Illusionist, mechanical bull rides and arts and crafts with the Brazos Valley Art League. The returning live music and entertainment will include the Li'l Wranglers, Thaddeus Boggs and the Celtaire String Band.
The event wouldn't work without all the hard work of the small museum staff and many volunteers, Cowman said.
"The Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the Daughters of the American Revolution will be in period dress. There are a lot of volunteers and re-enactors; there's real community involvement," Cowman said. "We have a lot of local people that are participating and making the event great."
One of the focuses is to highlight Texas history and its diversity, Cowman said. A new demonstration is African Crafts by House of Adwoa. With the increasing number of activities and demonstrators, Cowman said she is excited that the event has expanded its use of the Boonville Heritage Park. Shuttle buses will carry visitors to and from the park to the museum.
The chuck wagon cook-off teams will be in period dress Friday while preparing and cooking for the cash prize. Pat Gavin and the Buckaroo Band will be performing live near the chuck wagons. At noon Saturday, the chuck wagons will be selling lunch that will include chicken-fried steak, beans, potatoes, cobbler and bottled water for $10. Tickets for the lunch can be purchased beforehand at the museum -- and often go fast.
The 10th annual Buffalo Stampede Half Marathon and 5K Race will kick off Saturday's events, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the Brazos Center. Onsite registration will be available, but preregistration is strongly encouraged, and packet and T-shirt pick up will be at the museum today and Friday.
There will be live bison at the event, because "it is a buffalo stampede after all," Cowman said.
The public is encouraged to come and cheer the runners on -- there will be prizes for the most enthusiastic cheerers. Also, if people want to walk the 5K, they are more than welcome to, Cowman said.
Uri Geva, owner of the Brazos Valley Bombers baseball team, will be the celebrity starter, and the Bombers' mascot, Kaboom, will be there to cheer with the crowd.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/Boonvilledays.