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October 4, 2019

Summer may have already given way to Autumn, but the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is ready to heat things back up - with a little bit of help from fire-breathing dragons.  On Saturday, October 19 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the museum will host its 3rd annual Dragon Festival, offering visitors a renaissance fair atmosphere and the opportunity to explore the lore of dragons, the impact these creatures have had on cultures across the globe, and the science behind the growth and dissemination of their myth.

"We're a science-based museum that wants to bridge the gaps between science, myth and lore with this festival," said Ben Williams, museum science administrator.  "Although no scientific evidence supports the existence of dragons, there are scientific phenomena that might help explain how the myth of dragons came to be."

Dragon art at Dragon Festival 2018 Fire performer at Dragon Festival 2018

Dragon Festival helps provide such clues through a festive atmosphere that combines science with many of the sights and sounds you'd expect at a traditional renaissance fair.

"Dragon Festival is a stark departure from the type of festival the museum traditionally hosts," said Williams.  "The festival will include a renaissance fair atmosphere outside of the museum that will host a large variety of vendors and exhibitors, allowing visitors to shop for dragon-themed and medieval-themed items, interact with vikings, witness fire performances, view blacksmith presentations, participate in live music performances, and meet a large variety of science fiction and fantasy genre authors, including New York Times best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb.  We'll even have stilt walkers roaming about inside and outside of the museum.  Inside the museum, visitors will be able to view a variety of dragon displays and art, interact with museum researchers, learn about specimens that link science with fictional lore, and take part in dragon-themed games and activities.  You don't have to be a dragon enthusiast to have a ton of fun at Dragon Festival."

The museum also wants to make sure festival goers don't go hungry or thirsty during the day.

"Not only will the museum's PALEO Café be open all day long, but we'll also have food trucks on-site throughout the event featuring everything from barbecue to desserts," said Williams.  "Additionally, we'll have a beer garden open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. featuring a variety of beers from Parkway Brewery and mead from Blacksnake Meadery."

Admission to Dragon Festival is $10 for adults ages 19-59, $5 for children and youth ages 3-18, and $5 for seniors 60 and older.  Admission is free for children under 3, museum members, and members of any ASTC Passport participating museum or science center.  Festival admission also includes access to the museum's exhibit galleries.

The museum also participates in the Museums for All Initiative, offering discounted admission to low-income families.  Those who present an EBT card and accompanying ID at the gate will receive reduced admission rates of $2 for adults 19 and older, and $1 for children and youth ages 3-18.

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