Events scheduled throughout the weekend
Newport is turning 150 this year and to mark the occasion the community will hold a three-day event this weekend with tours, concerts, Civil War re-enactments, an auction and an appearance by a television personality.
“Newport has a lot of history that people aren’t aware of,” said Dianne Johnson, executive director of the Newport Historical Museum.
She said Newport has gone by several names during its history - Bells Corner, Shepherdsville and Lucknow. The community dates to the 1700s.
Johnson said Newport was just a little village during the Civil War when the Battle of Newport Barracks was fought on Feb. 2, 1864. It was the largest Civil War battle in Carteret County, she said.
“The reason for the battle was that the Union soldiers were holding the fort to protect the bridge across the Newport River so that supplies could come from New Bern down to Beaufort,” she said. “The Confederates attacked. They came up from Wilmington, attacked the fort. The Union soldiers actually left the fort and burned the bridge. In a few days, the Confederates were gone and the Union soldiers took it back.”
Johnson said Newport began to grow when a Civil War-era soldier who came to Newport put up a hotel.
“He put the hotel together from houses that were right there, connected the houses together and made a hotel,” she said.
Much of the community’s history is gathered together in the Newport Historical Museum.
“Dianne has just done a wonderful job in trying to rally the resources that have tried to come together and do what we needed to do to make all this happen,” said native Bob Quinn, who was one of her classmates at the Newport Consolidated School. “There should be a lot of credit given to a lot of different agencies but Dianne has been, in my opinion, the spark plug to coordinate that and create pretty much what we have got here today. There’s a lot of people that contributed, but she’s helped make it happen.”
Derryl Garner, who served as Newport’s mayor for almost 36 years, said he hoped the people of Newport and those who have a connection to Newport come out to celebrate the town’s history this weekend.
“I’m really interested in our people in Newport supporting this and supporting the event,” he said. “But, I would also encourage those in the area especially if they have interest in Newport to come and find out more about their town and find out how it was begun and the efforts that people put forth even through hardships to bring it to what it is today and to keep these memories and to allow them to have some memories in the future of what Newport was like and try to convey to them some of the things that have meaning to those of us who are older who were part of this town years ago. These are the things that we did to make a living. These are the things that we did to entertain ourselves.
“If we do not, then soon it is an obscurity. No one remembers anything about it anymore. There are those of us who feel dedicated enough to that to try to instill in the minds of those who are following after us what Newport was like when their grandfathers and their mothers and fathers and so forth were growing up here.”
Bob Garner, who does weekly reviews of restaurants across the state for UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Weekend” and is a contributor to “North Carolina Now,” will be the featured speaker after a barbecue chicken dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. James United Methodist Church. Garner’s parents are from Newport. The event is $10 per person. The evening will be capped with an auction from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
Saturday is actually the anniversary of the town. The Newport Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there will be an encampment of the 5th North Carolina Troops next to the museum. Tours of the town will be available for $5 per person.
On Saturday night, the Sounds of Time, a Law Vegas-style variety show featuring Newport native Paul Bell, is scheduled for the Morehead City Civic Center. Tickets are $20 per person.
On Sunday, the museum will be open from 2 to 4 p.m.
A VIP package is available for all events for $50. Tickets are available at the Newport Town Hall and First Citizens Bank in Newport. For more information, call Dianne Johnson at 241-1793.