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Texas’ Food History Is Now On Display in Downtown Austin

‘Setting the Texas Table’ is housed at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

The 1970 National Watermelon Queen with Texas Governor Preston Smith
The 1970 National Watermelon Queen with Texas Governor Preston Smith
Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission

For those looking to see what a Texas Gulf Coast shrimp festival called Palacios Shrimp-O-Ree looked like in the 1960s, or see a picture of the 1970 National Watermelon Queen with Governor Preston Smith, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is hosting an entire exhibit downtown dedicated such fascinating historical curiosities. Entitled “Setting the Texas Table,” the exhibit is open now through April 29, 2019 on 1201 Brazos Street.

The exhibit aims to cover the ways the state government influenced and worked with the Texas foodways using archival records. On display are videos, maps, personal records from governors, photographs, and other materials from state agencies.

“Setting the Texas Table” is divided into six sections. “Cooking Up Texas” includes historical recipes and cookbooks. “The Lean Table” focuses on food hardship during the Great Depression and World War II, including rationing documents. “Farm to Market” shows food regions and state produce operations. “Making it Official” celebrates peaches and the state’s official cobbler. Land and Cattle showcases the meat industry from branding to images of Texas stock. Celebrating the Taste of Texas explores how food events like the Texas State Fair build community.

The exhibit is having a free opening reception tonight, October 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event includes refreshments from Texas companies, a panel on Texas foods, and a contest to decorate pumpkins (the official state squash of Texas).

The exhibit will be open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the second Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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