Jamestown 2007's big weekend in May: The main event

Plenty of good seats -- nearly 80 percent of the tickets -- are available for Jamestown 2007's main event in three months.

The lack of an exact date for British Queen Elizabeth II's visit could be a factor in the slow sales. A na-tionally known headliner promised for one concert also could pump up demand for tickets, but the star hasn't been named yet, organizers said.

Maybe you've heard a bit about this big event, but you're still wondering what exactly is going on. Well, the event has long had a name -- America's Anniversary Weekend -- even if other elements are still up in the air.

Featuring concerts, exhibits, theater and fireworks, it will take place May 11-13 at the two Jamestown tourist attractions and a new site nearby that will be dubbed "Anniversary Park."

Anniversary Weekend will serve as the main event for the Jamestown 2007 commemoration. The entire commemoration is an 18-month series of activities in Virginia and England aimed at boosting tourism, teaching people history and marking the 400th anniversary of the New World's first permanent English set-tlement.

About 20,000 tickets have been sold for Anniversary Weekend, but there are still 70,000 available. At-tendance is capped at 90,000 revelers -- 30,000 for each day of the three-day event -- in large part because of logistics.

Organizers hope more announcements and publicity in coming months will boost sales, according to Kevin Crossett. He's a spokesman for Jamestown 2007, the main state agency planning anniversary events.

Jamestown 2007 officials said nine months ago that Anniversary Weekend could be scaled back if money fell short, but they reported last week they wouldn't need to cut back. For example, the event -- ex-pected to cost about $4.7 million to produce -- will feature six stages, as originally planned.

A single-day ticket, which costs $30 per adult, will grant its holder access to that day's special events, as well as to exhibits, performances, tours and presentations available on all three days.

The special events May 11 are scheduled to include a performance by the Richmond and Virginia symphony orchestras. May 12 is when plans call for a contemporary music concert with a nationally known headliner.

Crossett said organizers would announce the headliner in the next several weeks and that the star would be "a performer who people will know." He didn't give the act's genre of music but said it would feature guitar, piano, drums and bass.

May 13 could be when Queen Elizabeth and President Bush get involved. The queen has said she'll visit Jamestown at some point in May. Meanwhile, the president hasn't made any announcements, though he's expected to show up the same day that the queen does.

But Jamestown 2007's executive director, Jeanne Zeidler, said in November that May 13 was "that ac-tual anniversary day when we hope for, but don't know that we have, participation by heads of state."

In addition, a security plan for May 13 mentions extra protection measures for dignitaries.

The exhibits available on all three days will include an artisans' village at Anniversary Park with black-smiths, potters and glassblowers.

The performances will include elements of the summer's Godspeed Sail, a theatrical production for chil-dren called "Ba-baaah and the Windigo" and songs by a 16-member group called Anniversary Voices.

Tours and presentations will take place at the two Jamestown attractions, Historic Jamestowne and the Jamestown Settlement living-history museum.

Both boast recent improvements, from a new archaeology museum to new replica ships. They will be open only to people with Anniversary Weekend tickets during this event.

Zeidler said in November that organizers were hoping that the event led to big crowds not just during the three-day event but for months afterward.

Jamestown 2007's marketing strategy "focuses on positioning Anniversary Weekend not as the end of a commemoration or the middle ... but really as the grand opening of the Jamestown sites," said Zeidler, who's also Williamsburg's mayor. "Really sending a message that this is a place that is important to visit, not only in 2007 but well beyond."

And plenty of good seats are still available. *


A number of elements are still up in the air, but each day of "America's Anniversary Weekend" will have special events. The initial plans are:

Friday, May 11
* An afternoon opening ceremony ("Welcome America" is the working title.)
* An evening performance by the Richmond and Virginia symphony orchestras Saturday, May 12
* A concert of contemporary music is planned. The headliner hasn't been named. Sunday, May 13
* Organizers have hoped that British Queen Elizabeth II and President Bush will take part in this day.
* One thing that's firm: a fireworks show
* Performances by a choir with 1,607 singers and a 400-piece orchestra
* Original stage production, "Journey of Destiny"
* Hundreds of lights around Jamestown Island, creating an unusual aerial photo

* Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union 2007 will be at Hampton University on Feb. 10.
* "Journey Up the James" will feature the Godspeed replica ship at several local ports in April and May.
* The "World of 1607" exhibit opens at Jamestown Settlement on April 27.
* In late June and early July, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington features Virginia.
* The American Indian Intertribal Cultural Festival will be at the Hampton Coliseum on July 21-22.
* World Forum on the Future of Democracy will be in Williamsburg on Sept. 16-19.


Queen Elizabeth II is supposed to visit in May. It's hoped that she'll participate in America's Anniversary Weekend.

Performances from a choir, orchestras and a "nationally known" musical headliner are planned.

Eighty percent of tickets for the weekend -- about 70,000 -- are still available.

Don't expect to find any near the festival site. Ticketholders will be shuttled in from satellite lots.