Joara, Mike Richardson, Haliwa-Saponi TribeMorganton, NC – One of the most important yet least-known chapters of American history took place just north of Morganton, NC. You can celebrate this 450-year-old piece of Carolina history at the Remembering the Encounter: 450th Festival on Saturday, August 5 from 2pm-8pm at Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton.

Burke County is home to the site of the first European inland settlement in the United States. Forty years before Jamestown, Spanish explorers established Fort San Juan alongside Joara, a Native American village.  The settlement co-existed with the village of Joara for 18 months before being destroyed by the natives.

“Few Americans understand our early colonial beginnings and fewer still understand the depth and breadth of Native American history and culture.  This festival is a reminder of our past and a reflection on the diversity of our world today,” says Dr. David Moore, Senior Archaeologist, Exploring Joara Foundation.

Joara, Raven Dial-Stanley, Lumbee TribeThe Eastern Band of Cherokee, Catawba, Coharie, Haliwa-Soponi, Lumbee, and Waccamaw Siouan Culture from North and South Carolina will share their culture through dances, music, storytelling, and craft demonstrations. International performers the Cherokee Warriors of Anikituhwa will entertain crowds along with artists, potters, basket weavers, bead workers, silversmiths, blacksmiths, quilt makers, woodworkers, and pipe makers.

One of the most prestigious groups of 16th-century Spanish interpreters will also perform. The Men of Menendez from St. Augustine, Florida will present historical information through living history demonstrations. The demonstrations depicting Spanish colonial troop camps feature authentic weapons, clothing, and lifestyles.

There will also be a variety of games and hands-on activities like making corn husk dolls, Spanish boats, spear throwing, and much more!

“The encounter at Joara between Juan Pardo, his troops, and the Indians of the Catawba Valley changed world history and set the course for the future American colonies.  We live today with the consequences of those events,” says Moore.

Admission is Free. Parking is $5. For directions and more details, call 828-439-2463 or go to

Photo: Mike Richardson, Haliwa-Soponi Tribe. Photos courtesy of Exploring Joara Foundation.