No need to wait for the 450th to start celebrating St. Augustine’s heritage. This Saturday, the commemoration of the city’s 449th anniversary will be the focus of several Founders’ Day events. From re-enactments to religious ceremonies to eating like it’s 1565, this year’s options won’t disappoint.
Eat Like Menendez Ate
History never tasted so good. A tasty new event, “Eat like Menendez Ate,” the first Founder’s Day Taste Fest, has been added to the already full menu of annual Founder’s Day activities at the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
“To ramp up for the 450th, we wanted to start a new and ongoing landmark event to go along with our Founder’s Day festivities,” said Kit Keating, public relations manager.
Held in the park’s Event Pavilion from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, the taste fest will feature traditional 16th century dishes, as well as modern fare from the Kingfish Grill, Juniper Market, St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Five Flag’s Café. Beer, wine, soft drinks and water will be available.
The St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation will be serving a traditional cocido, a flavorful pork stew with saffron and garbanzo beans.
“The cocido would have been made with bare-bones ingredients, with whatever fare the ship still had when it docked,” Keating said. “The Spanish landed officially on Sept. 8, 1565, with much pomp and circumstance. Then after the mass, they held a feast of thanksgiving. They fed the Timucuan Indians first, as an extended olive branch of friendship, and then they all ate together.”
Tickets for the Taste Fest will be sold on-site for $4-$7 per plate. Standard park entrance fees also apply.
This event is just part of the FOY’s full day of Founder’s Day activities beginning at 9 a.m. The celebration includes an authentic 16th century encampment, re-enactments by the Historic Florida Militia and the Men of Menendez, equestrian demonstrations, and cannon fire every hour. At 1 p.m., 16th century re-enactors will march in a Grand Procession from south Magnolia Avenue to the FOY park and then participate in the reenactment of the first “real” Thanksgiving dinner. Following the feast, demonstrations of 16th century Spanish military and civilian life will be held from 3-5 p.m.
The grounds of the Fountain of Youth park are believed to be the original site of Pedro Menendez de Avile’s St. Augustine settlement in September 1565. It was also an original site of the Timucuan Indian village for 3,000 years as well as the location of the 1587 Mission Church of Nombre de Dios, the first Franciscan Mission Church in the country.
Standard park admission rates apply to all activities. Located at 11 Magnolia Avenue near downtown St. Augustine, the park is pet-friendly.
Founder’s Day 2014 Heritage Event
Organizations in St. Augustine are offering more than one way to celebrate Founding Day this year.
In addition to something new, one event has been around foryears at that’s at the Mission Nombre de Dios.
Starting at 9:50 a.m., Florida Living History, Inc. in partnership with Mission Nombre de Dios will celebrate the city’s 449th Founders Day with a historical re-enactment, a mass of Thanksgiving, a grand procession following the mass as well as a few other things.
The historical re-enactment will be performed by Florida Living History, which has been performing it since 2010, according to current president, Davis Walker.
The performance will re-enact the event from years ago when Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles stepped ashore at the Mission Nombre de Dios and founded the city and its Catholic faith.
Coming up after the landing, at approximately 10 a.m., is the ceremonial kissing of the cross, raising of the Spanish flag and a proclamation read by a city official.
“(Visitors) will watch as Menendez steps ashore to kiss the cross,” said Eric Johnson, director of Mission Nombre de Dios.
Menendez, portrayed by Chad Light, will kiss the cross alongside the Bishop.
Following the re-enactment, kissing of the cross and city proclamation is a Mass of Thanksgiving.
Unlike the re-enactment, the mass will be a religious ceremony that will be conducted by Bishop Felipe J. Estevez of the Diocese of St. Augustine.
Johnson said, “It’s a real Catholic mass.”
Just as Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales did in 1565, Estevez will celebrate mass at the rustic altar.
After mass is the grand procession where visitors will witness the unveiling of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s plaque honoring the statue of Father Lopez’s listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Gearing up for the 450th, this celebration is important.
“This event commemorates the establishment of the first permanent European presence in what is now the continental United States,” Walker said.
He believes this event is important because other colonizing efforts failed while St. Augustine survived.
“St. Augustine is unique and it is the only colonial city that still exists on its present site and always has since 1565,” Walker said. “That did not occur anywhere else in the continental U.S.”
For those that plan on coming out for the Founding Day Heritage Event, Walker says there are a few precautions that need to be taken.
“Basically, be prepared to be outdoors in Florida in September,” he said.
Because doing a living history event is much like doing a play outdoors, Walker advises those planning on attending the event bring water, a chair and a sun hat and be sure to dress for the weather.
The celebration will begin at 9:50 a.m. Saturday at the Mission Nombre de Dios.
Admission and parking is free.