Huntsville and Sam Houston State University will celebrate Gen. Sam Houston’s 215th birthday with a weekend of activities beginning Saturday.

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum will host a reception from 3-5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Katy and E. Don Walker Education Center, featuring food, music and programs about the Texas leader.

According to Patrick Nolan, director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, the museum has been honoring Houston’s birthday in some form or another since 1936, the year the museum was built.

“Sam Houston’s birthday is also Texas Independence Day, and Sam Houston himself always liked to claim that he scheduled his birthday on Texas Independence Day on purpose,” he said.

During the public event, the Huntsville community can preview Denton Florian’s unfinished documentary on the life of Gen. Sam Houston.

“Florian will be managing the film,” Nolan said. “He’s actually an independent film maker and producer, and the documentary will be shown on public television.”

The Huntsville Children’s Choir will perform, and Una Grace Nash will portray Sam Houston’s wife, Margaret in a shorter version of the museum’s Gone To Texas Program.

The celebration continues on Sunday, Sam Houston’s birthday—also designated as Texas Independence Day, Texas Flag Day and Walker County Pioneer Day—during a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. at the Walker Education Center.

At 1:30 p.m. beginning at Austin Hall, the SHSU history department and the Walter P. Webb Historical Society will continue its traditional “March to the Grave.”

Bob Bowman, author, columnist, publisher and Texas historian, is speaking at the ceremony at 2 p.m. at Oakwood Cemetery.

Bowman and his wife Doris of Lufkin, Texas, have written 36 books about East Texas History and folklore and are working on four more. They have also served as chairs of the Texas Council for the Humanities.

Bowman is the author of a history column for about 70 East Texas newspapers and is the great-great-great grandson of Alamo defender, Jesse B. Bowman.

He refers to himself as a collector of forgotten towns, historical murders, East Texas Trivia, good ol’ boy expressions and the “bests” of East Texas history.

He’s also a member of the Texas Historical Commission, past president of the East Texas Historical Association and a former member of both the Texas Sesquicentennial Commission and the Texas Capitol Centennial Commission.

During his speech, Bowman will share unusual stories related to the independence of Texas.

Sunday’s activities will end with a toast to Texas and birthday cake at the Wynne Home Arts Center immediately following the ceremony.

The cost for Sunday’s luncheon is $15 and requires reservations. All other events are free and open to the public.

SHSU’s Program Council is celebrating from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday with hot dogs and birthday cake in the Lowman Student Center Mall Area.

The Walker Education Center is located at 1402 19th St., and the Oakwood Cemetery is located at Sam Houston Memorial Drive (Avenue I) and 9th St.

In the event of rain, Sunday’s memorial ceremony will be held at Mance Park Middle School.

For more information, call the Sam Houston Memorial Museum at (936) 294-1832 or the Program Council at (936) 294-1763.