JAMESTOWN, Va. (AP) _ The debuts of a stamp and four orchestral pieces were bookends of the opening day of the commemoration for the 400th anniversary of the founding of America's first permanent English settlement.
On Saturday, the festivities were to take to the water.
A replica of the small boat that settler John Smith used to explore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries will set sail to retrace Smith's voyage.
The shallop will depart from Historic Jamestowne, the site on the James River where the colonists built a triangular fort after they arrived in May 1607. Archaeologists found the fort's remains, long thought to have been washed away, in the mid-1990s.
Activities during the three-day commemoration were taking place at Historic Jamestowne as well as the nearby Jamestown Settlement museum, which has a replica of the fort, and at Anniversary Park, a former campground across from the museum.
``It's a special weekend, a once-in-a-lifetime thing,'' said Christine White, a third-grade teacher from Williamsburg who was especially interested in Jamestown because it figures in her lesson plans on early explorers.
The weekend includes musical performances, demonstrations by glassblowers and other artisans, fireworks and a Sunday appearance by President Bush.
On Saturday, a crew of a dozen aboard the shallop were to start a 1,500-mile trip that will inaugurate the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the first all-water national historic trail established by the federal government. The nonprofit Sultana Projects Inc. of Chestertown, Md., crafted the 28-foot open boat.
Smith launched his exploration in 1608, and the trip yielded a comprehensive map that guided English settlers for nearly a century.
More than 100 white tents and several stages have been set up around the Jamestown venues, giving them the feel of a state fair.
Kevin Brown, a Pamunkey Indian, stood on a stage in one tent Friday, carving a man's face into a dance totem made of plaster that he eventually will cast in bronze.
The features on the face are a blend of his own and those of various family members. The nearly 6-foot pole rises from a three-sided base that recalls the settlers' fort.
``It's a statement that the Indians have survived,'' Brown said.
Events got under way Friday with history lovers standing in line for more than hour to buy a newly issued Jamestown postage stamp that is three-sided, like James Fort, and features a painting of the colonists' three ships.
In the evening, the Virginia Symphony and Richmond Symphony orchestras combined for the first time to perform the world premiers of four pieces written for the commemoration, including a number called ``Jamestown Hymn.''
Virginia has been recognizing major Jamestown anniversaries every 50 years, but organizers have been careful to call the 2007 event a ``commemoration'' instead of a celebration.
With the arrival of the English, native Indian tribes eventually were pushed off their lands, and slavery in America is traced to Jamestown, where the first Africans in the country arrived in 1619.
This year's anniversary is the first to focus on all three of those cultures.