Devine Cactus Zoo inspiration for renaming of Devine Cactus Fall Festival

On November 2nd, the 59th community festival will come with a new name, DEVINE CACTUS FALL FESTIVAL! Now this is a name that our area can really relate to because we have lots of cactus all around us! But I was curious to hear how this new name came about. So, I decided to go straight to the source!
In an interview with the Devine Chamber of Commerce president, Marcus Buckner, he told me how the name change came about. “I had heard about the Devine Cactus Zoo and thought that was an appropriate theme since it was such a unique attraction for our area. It is a great thing to tap into about the history of Devine, as it was such a success at putting Devine on the map!”
Well, this was something that I had heard about and saw a picture or two over my lifetime of living in Devine. The Cactus Zoo was well known in the mid to late 1950’s and was a famous area attraction. There were huge sculptures of animals and scenes made of thousands of cacti of various kinds, sizes, and shapes. It was well-known and visited by people across the state, nation, and even world-wide! It was a regular stop for Greyhound buses and had many overseas visitors. There was nothing like it in the world. Unfortunately, the prolonged drought of that decade was the demise of the zoo. And what better way to honor our city’s history of a famous landmark than to associate our annual festival with it!
In fact, there were even postcards made during the Cactus Zoo heyday that were favorite souvenirs, like this one (pictured) which was sold online on
“There will be a free cactus-themed exhibit featuring historical artifacts of the former Devine Cactus Zoo at the fall festival. It will be held in the Dr. George S. Woods Community Center,” relayed Mr. Buckner.

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All in all, I am pretty excited that the Chamber is bringing back some Devine history to our citizens through the name change and exhibits at the Devine Cactus Fall Festival! So mark your calendar, and invite your family and friends, for the family-friendly fun, food, and live entertainment of the 59th annual Devine Fall Festival and Parade set for Saturday, November 2, 2019 sponsored by the Devine Chamber of Commerce.
“The community-wide parade begins at 10 a.m. and this year’s grand marshal is John Baker, son of O.T. Baker the creator of Devine’s famous Cactus Zoo.” The carnival will again be in front of the Driscoll Public Library, and the festival area will include vendor booths, food trucks, activity stations, and even live entertainment from noon until midnight.
Check out the Devine Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and get more information on the schedule of activities and live entertainment. And you can even order, for the first time, a Cactus Fall Festival shirt!
If all this got you curious about the Cactus Zoo, ask some of the people who might have lived here during that time. And go through old family photos, you may find some cool pictures from when your family visited it.
If you have any old photos or stories to share of the Devine Cactus Zoo, you are welcome to contact me at 210-289-6205 or at, or contact Marcus Buckner at Marken Media. We can make copies of your pictures to use in articles or at the festival. This is something we plan to build on each year, so if you come across pictures later in the year, after the festival, we will be glad to see those too!
In next week’s Devine News I will have some more history of the Devine Cactus Zoo, a picture or two of more cactus sculptures, and an update on any festival news! So, stay tuned!
By Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff