By Dave Fairbank | Correspondent
The best lessons not only inform, Lebame Houston believes, but also entertain and inspire. Not just the target audience, but presenters, as well. That’s why the local historian and archivist is so enthusiastic about the upcoming symposium dedicated to people and developments related to the Outer Banks.
“OBX History Weekend: Searchers of New Horizons” is a four-day event, March 30 to April 2, that will include presentations and discussions of colonial figures, Native Americans and modern aviators, site tours and living history episodes. Experts in various fields are expected to attend from all over the country and as far as Europe and Australia. Those who cannot attend in person will send video presentations or participate remotely.
“Our focus is on the people that came to the Outer Banks,” Houston said. “They were seeking something, they were inventors, dreamers. They wanted to do something or become something. We decided that we’d put it all together and look at our history and see if we couldn’t bring in some of the leading authorities in the world (to discuss) people who have either been here to gain some inspiration or came here and accomplished something, we’d like to think, because they were here.”
Presentations include new research on the Lost Colonists including new information about Roanoke colonist Thomas Harriot, a brilliant polymath who was an advisor to Sir Walter Raleigh; the Carolina Algonquians, the Wright Brothers and their sister Katharine, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, Gen. Billy Mitchell and Francis Rogallo.
“There’s been a lot of new and exciting research,” said Houston, a board member of the First Colony Foundation and the Roanoke Island Historical Association. “We wouldn’t have put this together just to rehash old material.”
Site tours will take place at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the archaeological grounds at Fort Raleigh and the Billy Mitchell Airstrip in Frisco. Symposium sessions and discussions will be held at the Gazebo Theatre at Fort Raleigh, except for the session on Mitchell, which will be held at the Pioneer Theatre in downtown Manteo. The session includes a screening of the 1955 Gary Cooper film, “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell.” On Saturday, April 2, a vintage aircraft fly-over is scheduled, weather permitting, that will be visible from the Wright Brothers Memorial and Fort Raleigh.
Artifacts, photos and artwork related to the event will be on display at the Dare County Arts Council building in downtown Manteo from April 1-9. All sessions are free and open to the public, though registration is suggested. For further information and details about each day, go to the Events link at www.bryanculturalseries.org or www.firstcolonyfoundation.org.
“A major purpose is to make local people aware of their heritage,” Houston said. “Not just their Elizabethan heritage, but things that have happened in their land. We hope it not only informs, but perhaps they enjoy it and think deeper about where they live and what they can put back into the community.”