Find out what life was like in a Civil War prison at Andersonville Revisited Living History Weekend March 11-12. In its 14 months of operation, the infamous Confederate POW camp held 45,000 inmates. Thirteen thousand of them died, making Andersonville one of the worst prisons of the era.
Throughout the weekend, you’ll get to see re-enactors portraying scenarios of camp life, including prisoners’ arrival, guard inspections, drills and the issuing of rations. You’ll also witness escape attempts and the punishment prisoners risked.
On Saturday evening, you can take a candlelit tour of the facility and see the prisoners’ makeshift tents (which they called shebangs). Admission is free; reservations are recommended for candlelit tours. Visit <www.nps.gov/ande/pphtml/eventdetail17479.html> or call (229) 924-0343 for details.
Ride ’em, Cowboy
Saddle up your horse and round up your family: It’s time for the 16th annual Festival of the West March 16-19. This event celebrates cowboy life in the 19th century and features three stages of Western entertainment, more than 200 merchants, mountain men re-enactors, movie stars and cowboy poetry.
Stimulate your senses with smells and tastes of the old West at the chuck wagon cook-off, where competitors prepare meals cattle-drive style — from the backs of authentic and reproduction wagons using 1880s-era utensils. Once you’ve indulged your culinary curiosities, head over to the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association’s Grand American Championship. You’ll see riders sporting old-time garb as they gallop around the arena shooting at balloon targets (rest assured, the bullets are blank).
This year’s event also will feature a tribute to Western films, with guest appearances by Western celebrities and artists such as Rex Allen Jr., Morgan Woodward, Buck Taylor and June Lockhart.
Admission costs $12 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $4 for children ages 5 to 12. You’ll pay $40 for a four-day pass. Call (602) 996-4387 or visit <www.festivalofthewest.com> for more information.
Grab your grass skirt and coconut bra and dance over to the 43rd annual Merrie Monarch Festival and Hula Competition April 16-22. Throughout the weeklong celebration of Hawaiian heritage, you can purchase crafts from local artisans and attend a parade showcasing decorated floats and area high school marching bands. Thursday through Saturday nights, watch talented dancers sway their hips and glide their arms to tell ancient stories while competing for top honors in the esteemed hula contest.
Admission is free for most events. Hula competition tickets range from $10 to $25, depending on the number of nights you plan to attend. For additional information, visit <www.merriemonarchfestival.org> or call (808) 935-9168.
Party Time, Southwest Style
San Antonio, Texas
In 1891, a group of women decorated horse-drawn carriages and paraded them in front of the Alamo to honor heroes of the legendary 1836 fight at the fort. Today, that parade has grown into an elaborate 10-day citywide party to commemorate the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto, as well as celebrate San Antonio’s diverse cultural heritage. This year marks the 115th annual Fiesta San Antonio April 21-30.
The fiesta features more than 100 events, including three parades — one of which floats down the San Antonio River. You also can see a traditional American Indian powwow, taste regional and ethnic cuisine, and listen to a variety of musical entertainers, including Tejano, jazz, mariachi and rock ‘n’ roll groups. Or join in pilgrimage to the Alamo, tour Victorian and other historic homes, stroll down the San Antonio River Walk to view an art show, and more.
Ticket prices and hours vary by event. For a schedule of events and other details, visit <www.fiesta-sa.org> or call toll-free (877) 723-4378.
Ever wonder how it felt to be a fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad? Now you can experience the emotions and drama at Conner Prairie living history museum’s interactive event Follow the North Star April 6-8, 20-22 and 27-29.
This intense program immerses you in a life-or-death escape by casting you in the role of a runaway slave in 1836. After you’re part of a slave sale, you’ll be required to direct your eyes downward and remain silent until you’re spoken to. During your stint as a fugitive, you’ll encounter the hostility and hospitality of characters such as a Quaker family of “conductors” and a belligerent transplanted Southerner. Trying to avoid a reward-seeking slave hunter will keep you on your toes as you seek refuge.