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Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

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Now known as the “Little Alsace” of Texas, Castroville, located in the Texas Hill Country, was colonized in the mid-1840s by a group from Alsace, a province of France. Most of those who immigrated to Texas were attracted by the promise of free land, which was readily available when the Republic of Texas was settling its immense territory. At this same time, Henri Castro had been granted title to settle on Texas soil in return for recruiting other like-minded individuals (through the empresario system). Castro had received a large land grant of over a million acres on which to settle a number of families within a three-year period.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Facebook/I Love Texas

With the promise of one square mile of land for the head of each family and 320 acres for each single male, aged 17 or older, Castro had the most success with Alsatians. In late 1842, the first group of his settlers set out from France on a ship to Texas. Their 66-day voyage by sea was only the first of their hardships, however. After arriving in Galveston, these settlers were required to load all of their earthly belongings onto oxcarts to begin a 200-mile journey to Castro’s land grants, averaging three to four miles per day, in the midst of miserable winter weather and poor health conditions. By September 1844, Castro, together with 27 oxcarts and 50 men, crossed the Medina River and founded Castroville, just 25 miles west of San Antonio. Between 1842 and 1847, Castro was second only to Stephen F. Austin (also an empresario) in introducing settlers to the Republic of Texas. He brought more than 2,100 to this land and helped them to succeed through the provision of food, livestock, farm implements, seed, various medicines, and many other items for their wellbeing and welfare. “Castroville architecture and style were distinctly European… A visitor in the 1850s described Castroville as quite ‘un-Texan,’ with its ‘steep thatched roofs and narrow lanes’ and the inn whose interior suggested ‘Europe rather than the frontier,’” according to the Texas State Historical Association. To this day, the City of Castroville maintains pride in its origins, being a locale in which visitors can learn much about the settlement of Texas, the people who worked hard to make their roots here, and how the town grew to prosper into what you now see today.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Facebook/Landmark Inn State Historic Site

Since these humble beginnings, Castroville has grown to be recognized as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also a Certified Local Government in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission and the National Park Service, and was awarded the First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award. Castroville is a Preserve America City, including 97 historic American buildings which can be seen on-foot in a walking tour that features such sites as Henri Castro’s original homestead, the Landmark Inn State Historic Site, and the Tarde Hotel, to name a few. To this day, Castroville continues to be a hub of historical detail and a wonderful place in the Texas Hill Country to vacation, including unforgettable RV parks, situated on lush, natural acreage. The Castroville RV Park and the Alsatian Resort boast great serviced and pull-through sites and wonderful amenities. They’re also in close proximity to area features such as the Medina River, the Castro Regional Park (for those who love to hike, jog, or simply be amongst nature), local luxury features, and great dining.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Facebook/Today’s Catholic

There are also great things to do while visiting Castroville. Residents continue to celebrate St. Louis Day (each year, on August 22 or the weekend closest to that date), commemorating their patron saint, St. Louis IX of France. It’s one of many things this Texas Hill Country town has the privilege of celebrating. However, in advance of that celebration, Castroville holds a delightful annual Fourth of July gathering that focuses on family, friends, and the amazing appeal of small-town Lone Star State life. This year’s celebration has been divided into two wonderful events – making the most of weekend time with family and friends as well as the mid-week national holiday which is forthcoming.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Facebook/Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Texas

On Saturday, June 30, the town will hold a Picnic in the Park. This family-friendly event features an 8 a.m. color run, food and drink vendors, inflatable water slides and a kids’ park, and live entertainment starting with Jeremy Richards at 3:30 p.m., followed by Nick Lawrence, Gabe Garcia, and headlining act, Rick Trevino! The day will close with some amazing fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Those of all ages are invited to come out for a tremendous time. Parking will be available at Houston Square (located in Castroville’s historic commercial district) and VIP parking options are also offered. Shuttle service is available to and from the Picnic in the Park, and cost for access to everything at the event is $5 per person, with children 13 years or younger admitted free of charge. A full event schedule for June 30 is available on the Castroville website at the link provided here.

Celebrating Family, Friends, and Life in Castroville: The ‘Little Alsace’ of Texas

Photo: Paul Casanova Garcia Via Castrovilletx.gov

Following that, on July 4, the annual 4th of July Parade will take place in historic downtown Castroville. It features approximately 90 entries in a wide variety of floats that proudly participate in this wonderfully old-fashioned, family-friendly Texas Hill Country event. Crowds range from 1,000 to 1,500 annually for this substantive parade that recalls summertime in Texas, small-town charm, and the celebration of family, friends, and life in Castroville. After the parade, local businesses welcome everyone to Houston Square for games, giveaways, and free refreshments! A full schedule for Castroville’s annual 4th of July Parade is available on the town’s official website at the link provided here. Everyone is welcome to come early, save your seat, and prepare yourself for a uniquely amazing time in the heart of Texas!