SOURCE: Jamestown 2007

March 20, 2007 12:27 ET

America's Anniversary Weekend Launches 'New' Jamestown

Centerpiece of 400th Anniversary Introduces Compelling New Jamestown Story, World-Class Facilities

WILLIAMSBURG, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 20, 2007 -- A "new" Jamestown is about to be unveiled to the world in spectacular fashion. After a decade of planning, hundreds of millions of investment dollars and research that has reshaped history, the world will be re-introduced to our nation's earliest days when international attention turns to Jamestown, Va., May 11-13 for America's Anniversary Weekend.

The weekend is the centerpiece of America's 400th Anniversary, an 18-month international commemoration honoring the 1607 founding of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

"When most Americans hear 'Jamestown,' they think about John Smith and Pocahontas," said Tommy Norment, co-chair of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and chairman of the Jamestown 2007 management committee. "Through revealing archeological discoveries and illuminating new scholarship, the people, politics and importance of Jamestown have come into focus like never before. We're being reminded that the founding of Jamestown really was a world-changing event, and America's Anniversary Weekend will showcase that fact."

While Anniversary Weekend offers inspiring performances and special events, above all it connects Americans to the nation's earliest days in surprising ways. Details about how Jamestown made democracy, free enterprise and cultural diversity defining characteristics of American society are brilliantly conveyed at newly opened world-class facilities at Historic Jamestowne, site of the original fort, Jamestown Settlement, an AAM-accredited 17th-century living history museum, and Anniversary Park, a complementary site developed for only America's Anniversary Weekend featuring exhilarating interactive events, children's activities and inspiring patriotic performances.

In preparation for the 400th anniversary, Historic Jamestowne, a partnership between APVA - Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service, has opened new facilities to showcase the original site of the first permanent English settlement in North America. The recently opened Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center offers an overview of Jamestown's 92-year history as capital of Virginia through exhibits and a multimedia presentation. Exhibits on the landscape relate the archaeological features to the people and events that took place at this national landmark. A prominent feature is the archaeological remains of the original 1607 James Fort. The fort site -- long thought to have eroded into the James River -- was discovered in the mid-90s, and has yielded more than a million artifacts that have reshaped the understanding of the early years of the colony and how the colonists, African Americans and Virginia Indians lived, worked and interacted.

The "Archaearium" is a new concept in archaeological museums that opened in May 2006, bringing to life the people of Jamestown through the artifacts they used and the words they spoke. More than a thousand of the artifacts unearthed during the excavation of James Fort in recent years are on display, and they reveal a new understanding of the struggles and adaptation that occurred on Virginia's shores.

Historic Jamestowne will have wide variety of historical programs, living history presentations and musical performances, in addition to an increased number of interpreters and staff members on-site throughout Anniversary Weekend to enhance visitors' experience.

Jamestown Settlement, which opened for the 1957 commemoration as "Jamestown Festival Park," has made dramatic investments to reflect changes in our understanding of the Jamestown story. A new documentary film and 30,000-square-foot galleries offer fresh insight, including an emphasis on cultural interaction in an inviting environment featuring dioramas, re-created structures, small theater presentations and more than 500 artifacts. The museum's re-created James Fort and Powhatan Indian village have been transformed, and visitors will find new replicas of Godspeed and Discovery ready to board.

Jamestown Settlement also is hosting an important new exhibit assembled expressly for the commemoration. "The World of 1607," which features artifacts loaned from collections around the world, places Jamestown in global context by highlighting events on many continents in the early 1600s.

Throughout Anniversary Weekend, Jamestown Settlement will offer an array of interpretive demonstrations, military drills, and historical dance and musical performances. The museum's Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery will sail in the James River and dock at the museum pier on May 12 amidst pageantry and cannon salutes.

A one-day, date-specific Anniversary Weekend ticket provides parking, continuously running shuttle transportation and admission to all three Jamestown sites. Tickets sales have been limited to 30,000 per day, ensuring guests a comfortable visit 400 years in the making. No annual passes or other tickets to Jamestown Settlement or Historic Jamestowne will be valid on these days.

Anniversary weekend tickets and accommodations are available through Colonial Williamsburg, the official hotels of the commemoration, and may be reserved by phone at (866) 400-1607 or by visiting www.Americas400thAnniversary.com. Guests may purchase date-specific, single-day tickets at $30 for adults and $15 for children 6-12. Children 6 and younger will be admitted free. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Callers outside of regular operating hours will be prompted to leave a message, which will be returned the next day.

Americans have observed Jamestown anniversaries every 50 years since 1807. America's 400th Anniversary continues the tradition of grand commemorations, offering 10 signature events during an 18-month period.

Jamestown 2007, a sub-agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, is coordinating efforts to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. The nation's first representative government, free enterprise system and culturally diverse society began at Jamestown. State, national, and international commemorative events to salute these legacies began in May 2006 and continue into 2008. Major corporate sponsors of America's 400th Anniversary include Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Other supporters include Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. (NYSE: BUD), AirTran Airways (NYSE: AAI), Consol Energy and CNX Gas Corporation, Dominion, James City County, Lockheed-Martin, McGuireWood LLP, Philip Morris USA, SunTrust, TowneBank and Wolseley PLC/Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. Contributors include the City of Poquoson and Rutherfoord Insurance. More information about the commemoration is available at www.Americas400thAnniversary.com.