Celebrating the Taste of Texas

The Setting the Texas Table exhibit logo showing a plate with a fork, knife and spoon on top of a red outline of Texas

Celebrations bring people together in a purposeful way to build community. Food is central for convening and solidifying bonds. Fairs, festivals, fiestas and other celebrations held around the state market local products and in turn promote the state’s diverse cultures and economic interests by highlighting and serving favorite dishes.

Established in 1886, the Texas State Fair is the granddaddy of all state celebrations. The Texas Department of Agriculture uses the opportunity to promote home-grown flavors annually at the Food and Fiber pavilion, where one may find Texas pork, honey, nuts, sauces, and much more from the wealth of products raised and grown in the state.

Exhibit Video

"Here's Texas: Fiesta" - Texas Department of Public Safety records. 1983/050. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is the custodian of the motion picture film “Here’s Texas: Fiesta.” This film is presented online with permission from the estate of the original copyright owner Linda Shuler. Use of this film for any other purpose is restricted and requires permission of the current copyright owners.

Exhibit Items

The front of the letter with the Washington County Fair Association letterhead on top.  F.H. Dever to Oscar B. Colquitt, October 3, 1913, and announcement. Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt records, Box 301-278, folder 5The announcement of a speaking contest on corn growing in the Washington County Fair, yellow paper with black text. The front of the letter with the Washington County Fair Association letterhead on top.  F.H. Dever to Oscar B. Colquitt, October 3, 1913, and announcement. Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt records, Box 301-278, folder 5F.H. Dever to Oscar B. Colquitt, October 3, 1913, and announcement. Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt records, Box 301-278, folder 5.

This letter and announcement for a speaking contest on corn growing at the Washington County Fair shows the importance of food to Texan celebrations. Governor Colquitt was involved in these local celebrations.

 

 

 

 

A photograph of a man grilling pork chops on a grill wearing a cowboy hat. Texas Pork King Cook-Off, August 1978. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-68, image number 78-103-B5Texas Pork King Cook-Off, August 1978. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-68, image number 78-103-B5.

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A photograph of people in a room with balloons and a buffet. Cinco de Mayo Celebration at Hispanic Employee Association, May 3, 1991. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-156, image number 91-039-10Cinco de Mayo Celebration at Hispanic Employee Association, May 3, 1991. Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection, Box 2001/078-156, image number 91-039-10.

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A photograph of a booth at the festival with a woman giving a man a food sample. Chili festival, undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency audiovisual materials, transparencies, Box 1991/077-35, image number 703-10 (Digital facsimile)Chili festival, undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency audiovisual materials, transparencies, Box 1991/077-35, image number 703-10 (Digital facsimile).

The “Texas cattle empire” – as mentioned in this article – helped mold the state’s identity. To this day, Texas remains the national leader in cattle production, in both quantity and selection.

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A photograph of a band playing brass instruments and wearing lederhosen. Wurstfest, New Braunfels, Texas, undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency audiovisual materials, Box 1991/077-13, image number 208-10 (Digital facsimile)Wurstfest, New Braunfels, Texas, undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency audiovisual materials, Box 1991/077-13, image number 208-10 (Digital facsimile).

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The cover of the event program showing illustrations of two quail and black text on yellow paper. Fiesta Caceria: A Benefit for the Nuevo Santander Museum Association. January 26, 1980. TSLAC-Texas Documents Collection, Z L200.6 F464cac 1980The program opened to show the names of the dishes and the chefs. The cover of the event program showing illustrations of two quail and black text on yellow paper. Fiesta Caceria: A Benefit for the Nuevo Santander Museum Association. January 26, 1980. TSLAC-Texas Documents Collection, Z L200.6 F464cac 1980Fiesta Caceria: A Benefit for the Nuevo Santander Museum Association. January 26, 1980. TSLAC-Texas Documents Collection, Z L200.6 F464cac 1980.

Celebrations and food go hand-in-hand. This program for Fiesta Caceria, held at the Laredo Civic Center, included a menu prepared by chefs.

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A photograph of the bottle with a tiny cowboy hat on top of it. J.R.’s Secret Sauce, 1986. Texas Sesquicentennial Commission records, Box 1987/092-30A photograph of the bottle without the cowboy hat. J.R.’s Secret Sauce, 1986. Texas Sesquicentennial Commission records, Box 1987/092-30A photograph of the bottle with the cowboy hat and wrapped in cellophane. J.R.’s Secret Sauce, 1986. Texas Sesquicentennial Commission records, Box 1987/092-30J.R.’s Secret Sauce, 1986. Texas Sesquicentennial Commission records, Box 1987/092-30.

The Texas Sesquicentennial included numerous promotional food items, such as this barbecue sauce. The three bottles show the different types of accessories included with this item.

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The cover of the square brochure showing the number 68 in large type. Report to the Texas Legislature, 1968. HemisFair 1968 brochures, Box 2-23/886The square brochure opened up with the text on the left showing Minimum Economic Benefits to the State of Texas From Hemisfair 1968Report to the Texas Legislature, 1968. HemisFair 1968 brochures, Box 2-23/886.

This brochure shows the predicted economic impact of the 1968 World’s Fair held in San Antonio, Texas.

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The cover of the brochure calendar showing blue and red ink on the cover. Calendar of centennial celebrations, 1936. Texas Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations records, Box 4-16/117The brochure calendar open and showing blue and red ink for the calendar of events. Calendar of centennial celebrations, 1936. Texas Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations records, Box 4-16/117Calendar of centennial celebrations, 1936. Texas Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations records, Box 4-16/117.

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A typed written letter, black ink on yellow paper. J.T. Tanner to Governor James V Allred, June 20, 1936. Texas Governor James V. Allred records, Box 1985/024-34 J.T. Tanner to Governor James V Allred, June 20, 1936. Texas Governor James V. Allred records, Box 1985/024-34.

Celebrations in Texas not only featured food, they served as an opportunity for Texans to come together from different backgrounds. There were celebrations held throughout Texas in 1936 for the state’s centennial. In this letter, an individual complains about the racial integration of the Dallas celebration. This celebration occurred at the State Fair grounds.

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An aerial photograph of the state fair grounds with a stadium in the background. State Fair, 1985. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F10-51 (Digital facsimile) and State Fair, 1981. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F3-18 (Digital facsimile) A photograph showing people visiting a booth at the Fair Grounds that is selling Texas honey. An aerial photograph of the state fair grounds with a stadium in the background. State Fair, 1985. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F10-51 (Digital facsimile) and State Fair, 1981. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F3-18 (Digital facsimile)State Fair, 1985. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F10-51 (Digital facsimile) and State Fair, 1981. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-21, image number 2011/139-21-F3-18 (Digital facsimile).

Celebrations in Texas not only featured food, they served as an opportunity for Texans to come together from different backgrounds. There were celebrations held throughout Texas in 1936 for the state’s centennial. In this letter, an individual complains about the racial integration of the Dallas celebration. This celebration occurred at the State Fair grounds.

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A photograph of a chef preparing a plate of food in a kitchen. Chef Stephen Pyles, 1987. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-25, image number 2011/139-25-F11-24 Chef Stephen Pyles, 1987. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-25, image number 2011/139-25-F11-24.

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A menu with the State of Texas seal on the top and cursive lettering showing the menu items. A totally Texas menu at the governor's, 1995. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-26, image number 2011/139-26-F2-menu A totally Texas menu at the governor's, 1995. Texas Department of Agriculture slide collection, Box 2011/139-26, image number 2011/139-26-F2-menu.

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A photograph of a woman holding a side of pork. Pork proclamation and luncheon, 1970. Texas Department of Agriculture photographs, Box 2001/078-006, image number 70-088-01 Pork proclamation and luncheon, 1970. Texas Department of Agriculture photographs, Box 2001/078-006, image number 70-088-01.

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A photograph of the Governor sitting at a desk with watermelons on top with a woman wearing a tiara and sash standing next to him. Governor Smith and Watermelon Queen, 1970. Texas Department of Agriculture photographs, Box 2001/078-005, image number 70-075-02 Governor Smith and Watermelon Queen, 1970. Texas Department of Agriculture photographs, Box 2001/078-005, image number 70-075-02.

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Setting the Texas Table Exhibit Pages:

Setting the Texas Table | Cooking Up Texas | The Lean Table | Farm to Market |
Great Eats! Making It Official | Land And Cattle | Celebrating the Taste of Texas |

 

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Page last modified: September 28, 2018