• July 27, 2014

City event highlights state’s culture, diversity

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Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011 12:00 pm

By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen's Texas Independence Day Celebration on Saturday saw a lot of cultural dancing and music, but little spectator turnout for the inaugural event at the Killeen Community Center.

"I hope to have this annually and hope for it to grow," Killeen City Councilman Larry Cole said. "We started late and we didn't have really any sponsors. Next year, hopefully, we will be town."

The Texas Independence Day Celebration is a four day-event, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and continuing Wednesday, the state's actual Independence Day.

It was organized by the Killeen Multi-Ethnic Cultural & Arts Association and was the brain child of Cole.

"We celebrate a lot of things here in Killeen," Cole said. "Out of all the groups and celebration we have in Killeen we celebrate everything but Texas. They all celebrate their culture but we don't celebrate Texas culture."

Since Texas is a really diverse state with many different cultures from Germans to the Spanish settling in the state, Cole recognized that if he brought all the cultures together, they could celebrate Texas Independence Day.

And that is what MECA did on Saturday by having several different groups perform. They included Conjunto, MECA Marachi de Colores, Heart of Texas Fiddlers & Cloggers, Killeen Kicker Square Dancers and the Brazos Valley Cloggers of Waco

Despite the low turnout, Heritage Arts Productions was honored to travel from Houston to Killeen to play their accordions and other instruments, said Shelia Lee, Heritage Arts Production instructor.

"The kids had a ball, and they worked hard," she said.

The accordions has its roots in Texas culture because in the 1870 the Germans, Czech and Polish migrated to Texas through Galveston, Lee said. They often brought the accordion with them.

The instruments was then picked up by the Mexican laborers and ranchers that were already here, she said. They took it back to Mexico and now they are bringing it back through Tejano music.

Square dancing in the state can also be attributed to early settlers, said Dan Kott, of MECA.

Dancing was a common practice for traveling parties on both the Oregon and Chisholm trails, the different styles of dancing depended on where they were, he said.

"A lot of what is done is to add on to the dancing," Kott said. "In most of the places you did it to stay warm, and a lot of the forms cross over."

Kott also hoped that the celebration would grow in the future, but was looking forward to MECA show casing Texas style dance on local TV at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday as the end of the celebration.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.

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