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This weekend, Palestine is celebrating its 175th anniversary with a Heritage Festival.

“The heritage celebration is important because we all need a reminder every now and then where our roots are, and no matter where you were born, if you are planted in Palestine today, there is so much to be proud of,” said Mary Raum, tourism marketing manager for Palestine. “This event will showcase some of our historic sites with free tours, including behind the scenes of the Anderson County Courthouse and Masonic Lodge, just to name a couple. One of my favorite phrases is ‘Do it for the locals,’ and this celebration is just that. A celebration of the history and heritage of the residents of the city of Palestine.”

One hundred and seventy-five years ago, the newly formed Anderson County was in need of a county seat. With no established community fulfilling the requirement of being within one mile of the geographic center, Palestine was established.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1872, Palestine made a name for itself, competing with Dallas and Galveston for commerce and architectural dominance.

To this day, Palestine remains only second to Galveston in historic landmarks and architecture. It has a rich history worthy of study and celebration.

The grand finale of the weekend is the community picnic on Sunday, Oct. 17.

"No one will want to miss it,” Raum said.

Planned weekend activities include:

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Anderson County Courthouse

October 15 and October 16 – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Did you know that there is a bathtub in the courthouse? Or a staircase that skips the first floor?Get a full behind-the-scenes tour of the Anderson County Courthouse that takes you all the way above the stained glass dome. Tours are free and will begin at the West facing entrance of the courthouse each hour on the hour.

Candlelight Tour of Howard House

October 15 and October 16 – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Walk through one of the oldest homes in Palestine with a spooky twist. Step foot through the squeaky door to be met by a gypsy fortune teller and the halls decked for All Hallows Eve. Get a complimentary ticket from the Palestine Visitor Center starting Monday, Oct. 11.

Opening Ceremonies

October 16 - 10 a.m.

Kicking off a full day of festivities, the opening ceremony at the bandstand in Reagan Park will include a short presentation by Mayor Dana Goolsby, a poetry reading by the literacy competition winner and pledge and prayer blessing the community.

Heritage Village

October 16 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located on the southeast side of Reagan Park, see living history and lifestyle displays including blacksmithing, spinning, Dutch oven cooking and much more.

Games in the Park

October 16 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stay and play after the opening ceremonies. The city of Palestine Parks & Recreation Department will host small ninja warrior style obstacle courses in the park and inflatable slides and bounce houses from Milestone Celebrations.

Cultural Dance Demonstrations

October 16 – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Bring your lawn chair and set up with a front row seat to see cultural and heritage dances including Hispanic, square dancing and more.

Community Dance

October 16 – 7 p.m.

Grab your boots and head over to Reagan Park for an old fashioned dance under the stars and vintage string lights. Live performance by local band Midnight Highway.

Historic Masonic Lodge Tours – Palestine Masonic Lodge #31

October 16 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Learn the history of Palestine Lodge No.31, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons which was chartered on May 1, 1848 by the Grand Lodge of Texas. Since that time it has met continuously in Palestine, Texas. Local resident and mason Charles Steen will conduct the tours every half hour.

Texas MG Register Car Show

October 16 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A unique opportunity to see over 60 British MG cars all in one place. In the heart of Davey Dogwood Park, visit with the owners of these vintage vehicles. This event is free and open to the public to attend. Registration to participate in the show is closed.

Farmers Market

October 16 - 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

You never know what goodies you will find! The Palestine Farmers Market brings the community together while showcasing local unique, crafting and gardening talent. 813 W. Spring Street.

Railroad Heritage Center

October 16 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Relish the romance of the rails as depicted by the 37’ x17’ Domis HO scale model railroad and enjoy the various exhibits that illustrate many facets of railroading.

Historic Church Tour

October 16 - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Stunning stained glass, incredible detailing, beautiful architecture and displays of church history and heritage will be showcased featuring old family bibles open to the birth record pages.

First Christian Church: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 113 E Crawford, Guided Tour

Sacred Heart Church: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 503 N Queen St., Guided Tour

Mt Vernon A.M.E. Church: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 913 Calhoun St., Viewing Room

First Presbyterian Church: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 410 Avenue A, Guided Tour

Pilgrim Church: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1559 FM 861 Elkhart, Self guided

Maps for scenic driving trails including Davey Dogwood Park, Historic Home Driving Tour, North Loop Driving Trail and South Loop Driving Trail can be found at https://www.visitpalestine.com/heritagecelebration.

Community Picnic

October 17, 2021

The community, including local churches, families and organizations are invited to join together for a community picnic in Regan Park beginning at 12:30 p.m. Food trucks will be available onsite for lunch or bring your own picnic.

• Pot luck by church/group.

• The pavilion at Reagan Park will not be available to rent or reserve that day.

• No solicitation – no music permitted.

• Can bring tables/chairs but blanket picnics are preferred.

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