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Rio! Rio! celebrates natural and cultural resources at Goliad State Park

By KBell
Nov. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.

James Doughty fires a rifle using the old style black powder as kids from area schools cover their ears and jump in reaction. More than 1,000 students attended Rio! Rio! at the Goliad State Park where they participated in demonstrations of how life was when the mission was in use.

GOLIAD - A group of Nordheim Elementary School third graders were deep into an 1800s trail ride cookout when they were startled back to reality by a loud bang.

Jim Doughty, 77, of Lagarto, had just fired a pre-Civil War .58 caliber black powder rifle across the yard at the Goliad State Park's Rio! Rio! event Friday morning.

Back at the campfire, Benny Martinez, 76, again lured the kids into imagination land with the beans, beef stew and peach cobbler he had cooking and the trail ride stories he concocted.

"We're studying Native Americans and their habitats," said the kids' teacher, Pam Wick. "This fell right in with the unit we're studying."

In past years, the park hosted an event called "Spanish Tracks and Trails," which featured both Doughty and Martinez, as well as other demonstrators who re-enacted what life was like when the Spanish missions were active.

This year, they decided to bring attention to the San Antonio River, which runs along the park.

"The mission would have never been put here were it not for the river," the park's superintendent Brenda Justice said. "We're celebrating the river and blending the cultural and natural resources that we have here at the park."

Indeed, two signs greeted the more than 1,050 kids who visited the park on Friday - one pointing right that said "Natural Resources," the other to the left displaying "Cultural Resources."

On the natural resources side, Texas Parks and Wildlife set up booths that featured live animals, fish and a "Wall of Shame," which displayed native animals that were trapped illegally.

The San Antonio River Authority was also there, teaching students about water pollution through an interactive exhibit.

"This year we decided to expand to include some of the interesting and unique resources we have here," said event coordinator Beth Ellis. "Water is the interconnecting thread of all life. We're trying to get the kids to understand people are not separate from the natural world - that we're a part of it."

The Nordheim third graders seemed to connect all the dots - the cultural and natural resources of the area and how those fit in with what they were learning in class.

"We're talking all about Native Americans and how they lived a long time ago," said 9-year-old Trevor Smith.

"And how they used the natural resources," his friend, David Torres, 8, chimed.

The class was waiting in line for a clay pottery demonstration, which Trevor said he was most looking forward to.

That is, until Doughty shot off another round.

"Cool!" Trevor yelled. "Are we doing that next?"

The Rio! Rio! event will be open to the public on Saturday.



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