When you’re visiting the Outer Banks, and need a break from the beaches and crowds, visit Roanoke Island Festival Park and enjoy a fun family day at the interactive 25-acre attraction. Adults will eat up the history, and kids will love that they can touch and try everything. It’s a totally hands on learning environment!
What I really appreciate about Roanoke Island Festival Park is that they replicate 16th-century Roanoke Island from both the perspective of the English settlers and from that of the American Indians.
The park is self-guided, but there are costumed interpreters throughout who are full of historical tidbits and information, so stop and see them! They do a fantastic job of bringing to life the relationship between the settlers and the Algonquins. I particularly enjoyed hearing stories about how they communicated and traded.
American Indian Town
This newest section of the park lets visitors walk through, touch and explore a 16th century Algonquin village. Inside the leader’s house (equivalent to today’s mayor), you can see how various hides, tools and supplies were used, and in the longhouse, visitors are encouraged to help complete the construction by using cordage to attach the mats that cover the frame.
The dance circle was used for special celebrations and festivals. The words used for dance and stop dancing were “whip” and “nae nae”. I wonder if it inspired the popular dance tune??
In the work shelter, get hands on and discover early pottery, fishing techniques, food preparation, how to make cordage, weave mats and more.
There’s also an area where visitors can practice scraping the burned out hollows of early canoes.
This area of the park is designed to show what daily life was like for the settlers. Visitors can try their hand at woodworking skills, watch a blacksmith at work, play Elizabethan games like Skittles, try on armor or watch a blacksmith at work.
I spent some time in the pillory where public scorn was meant to teach a lesson. Villagers might slap, spit, throw rotten cabbage and dead cats, or dump their empty chamber pots on the offender. Thankfully nobody did that to me.
Climb aboard the Elizabeth II, a full-scale working replica of a small merchant vessel, designed after one of the 7 vessels that sailed in the Roanoke Voyage of 1585.
Visitors are free to explore the entire ship, and there are interpretive, costumed sailors on board who can answer most any question about the ship itself or the historic Roanoke voyages.
Roanoke Adventure Museum
Explore 400 years of Outer Banks history at your own pace. Whether you’re learning about the indigenous people, the settlers, pirates or the ‘lost colony’, there’s a lot to see, touch and do within the museum.
Legend of Two-Path
We didn’t have time to view this short movie while at Roanoke Island Festival Park, but I’m anxious to go back and see it. It’s about two famous American Indians, Manteo and Wanchese, and using actual recorded European records, the movie was created to illustrate and dramatize the meeting, dialogue and relationship between the American Indians and Europeans.
Just starting to plan your Outer Banks getaway? Make a visit to OuterBanks.org for more information.