Last year, the annual Gonzales Come and Take It Celebration was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with hopes of coming back better than ever for 2021.
Now, organizers are encouraging patrons to “come and enjoy it” as they prepare for the return of the 65th Come and Take It, which will take place from Friday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 3, in downtown Gonzales.
Brad Cox, executive director of the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture, which puts on the annual event, said there has been a steady buzz of excitement over the return of the chamber’s largest festival, which draws between 10,000 to 12,000 people each year, especially as some other major events, such as Victoria’s Bootfest, were recently postponed or canceled.
“We spoke with the people from the city who run Bootfest and they said, ‘We've told everybody to come to Come and Take It instead’ because it was going to be the same weekend. So I said, ‘Well, how many people do you normally have in attendance at Bootfest, and they said about 15,000.
“So, although we expect 10,000 to 12,000 people, we may get hit with some sort of tsunami of people, which would be great. I mean, it'd be great if we had 30,000 people here 40,000 people. I mean, it'd be awesome.”
Cox said the Chamber has been inundated lately with visitors coming to Gonzales to learn more about the community and about the “Lexington of the Texas Revolution,” which occurred on Oct. 2, 1835, when defiant Texians planted a homemade flag daring the Mexican Army under dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to use force to retrieve a cannon given to the community for its defense many years prior.
“They're coming here because many of them are making a pilgrimage — either a genealogical pilgrimage for their family or many of them are self-described history buffs who are here because they want to research the beginnings of the Texas Revolution,” Cox said. “So the fact we're going to be having this Come and Take festival despite there being a pandemic as the rest of Texas continues with their own celebrations that are going on as well as like football games, I think that we're going to get huge amount of people who are excited about coming and getting to celebrate Texas independence.”
Live music, food, a parade, a carnival, arts and crafts and other fun events are hallmarks of the Come and Take It Celebration and this year will be no different, Cox said.
This year’s live music will feature two groups which are known to draw a loyal following — Reckless Kelly and Los Garcia Brothers, both of whom will perform Saturday, Oct. 2, preceded by Backwater Buda Land and Jackson Taylor. Other performers will include Nueva Vida, Standing Peppers and Jase Martin on Friday, Oct. 1 and the Shiner Hobo Band on Sunday, Oct. 2.
The parade will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, along the parade route from the corner of St. Louis and Shiner streets to St. James St. to St. Lawrence to St. Joseph to St. George and then up St. Paul towards Apache Field.
“Everyone is juiced about parade and they can’t seem to get enough of the parade,” Cox said. “What’s surprising to me is how we get people who call in, and we’ve had around 80 entries already, and they all want to be in certain spots. So we are working on those parameters and trying to put them in the spaces they want. I do know the streets will be lined and there will be people everywhere to watch the parade that day.”
Other major events include the carnival, the petting zoo, the re-enactment of the Battle of Gonzales, a Sunday car show, the Lions Club T-bone Cookoff and the ever-popular Rotary Club “Come and Fly It” Chicken Flying Contest.
Cox said street closures and tent setup for the festival actually begins on Saturday, Sept. 25, the same day as Miss Gonzales County Voting Day (see separate story about voting). Tents are set up on the east and west side of Independence Square and all vehicles have to be removed from the parking spots in those areas. Bathroom trailers get set up at the southwest entrance this day as well.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, is food booth set up at the east tent on Independence Square. Then the carnival sets up on Texas Heroes Square on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. Independence Square then closes completely at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, and all vehicles have to be removed from Independence Square at that time.
The stage gets set up on the Northwest side of Confederate Square at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, and then beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, the following streets are closed until 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3:
• St. George between St. James and St. Peter;
• St. Joseph between St. Louis and St. Francis;
• St. Lawrence between St. James and St. Paul;
• St. James between St. Louis and St. Lawrence; and
• St. Paul between St. Louis and St. Francis.
All vehicles on those streets must be removed by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.
For more information about Come and Take It Celebration, call the Chamber of Commerce at 830-672-6532 or visit gonzalestexas.com/come-and-take-it.
Learn more about the origin of the Come and Take It celebration as well as about the Chicken Flying Contest in next week’s Gonzales Inquirer.