Williamson County is turning 175 years old. Here's how the community is celebrating.
Williamson County is turning 175 years old Monday. To mark the demisemiseptcentennial (try saying that three times fast!), the community is holding a weekend celebration.
The events kick off Friday at 2 p.m. at the historic Williamson County courthouse on Main Street in downtown Georgetown.
The first day of the celebration will feature a flyover from the Falcon Flight Formation Team, birthday cake, live bands and a laser light show.
Winners of a student essay contest will also be announced.
All 11th and 12th grade students from public, private and home schools in the county were invited to participate in the contest, which posed the question: "What do you hope Williamson County will be like and look like in the next 175 years?"
One $1,500 scholarship prize winner will be chosen from each of the county's four precincts. An overall $2,500 grand prize winner will also be selected.
The celebration will continue Saturday in downtown Georgetown with Market Days on the Square.
The event will feature local artists and vendors, and children can take part in train rides, face painting and scavenger hunts.
To see the full Williamson County 175th Birthday Celebration schedule, go here.
All events are free and open to the public.
Community members are invited to help Toronto-based Iranian artist Yasaman Mehrsa paint a mural Friday and Saturday to mark the county's 175th year.
Mehrsa's design was selected by Georgetown’s Arts and Culture Board from 17 entries. The mural will be located on the south wall of the Williamson County Tax Office in downtown Georgetown.
Mehrsa, who has never visited Texas before, said her design required a lot of research.
"I did my research ... the nature, the buildings, the history, the agriculture," she said. "The design is the combination of the old days and ... modern life."
She spoke to KUT about the importance of community engagement art.
"It's important because this is for people ... this is not for me," she said. "I want them to feel that they own it."
Mehrsa also said it's a good opportunity for community members to try their hand at painting. No experience is required to participate.
"I think this is a good opportunity for them to see if they like it or not," she said.
Each painter will be able to paint for 10 minutes, and no is signup required.
A dedication ceremony will take place for the mural during the Georgetown Spring Arts Stroll on April 20 at 6 p.m.
New history exhibit
The Williamson Museum will be open on Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate the county's birthday.
The event will feature a new exhibit, "Still Making History: 175 Years of Williamson County," as well as a small birthday celebration and treats.
One of the exhibit's main attractions is a photo collage created by Georgetown resident David Valdez, the chief official White House photographer during the George H.W. Bush administration.
The museum's curator, Kathryn Conrad, explained the process behind the collage.
"He, for the last year, has been going around the county taking pictures of all the different events and people and places that make our county what it is today," she said. "And in talking about how to display that for the anniversary exhibit, we decided on a map of the county where we would put each picture roughly in its county location."
Underneath the collage, a question is posed to visitors: "How will you make history?"
Ron Bennett, who has been a volunteer at the museum for 10 years, said one poster in the new exhibit caught his eye.
"Hattie Cluck is the only woman that we know about ... that we have documented that went on a cattle drive," he said. "And then Bill Pickett. How can we forget Bill Pickett? Cowboy. He invented bulldogging — steer wrestling."
Conrad said it was important to include people like Cluck and Pickett to help community members build a bridge to the county's past.
"The county is the way it is because of these people — here's kind of our hall of famers, if you will," she said. "'How will you make history?' is part of that. Showing what the modern county is is part of that because we are the same community.
"If they could do it then, we can do it now."