The Virginia Museum of Natural History is heating things up this summer by putting on the inaugural Dragon Festival June 17, offering patrons a chance to learn all about the mythical creature.

The festival which takes place from 9am to 3pm, will feature a fire-breather, parade, sculpture, inflatables, art, and poetry sessions all themed around dragons. Vikings of the Valley, a historical re-enactment group from Roanoke, will also be performing its live-action history production “Dragon Hunters.”

“This event is going to be a bit different than what you might expect the museum to host,” Ryan Barber, deputy director of VMNH says. “We’re also encouraging everyone who is interested in live-action role playing to come to the festival in character that’s related to the dragon theme.”

The festival will delve into the history of dragons, the science of myth and the effect these fictional creatures have had on society at-large throughout history.

The Dragon Festival was inspired by work from the Dragon Research Collaborative of Roanoke College. Calling themselves “Team Dragon”, the collaborative is an “academic think-tank” that seeks to connect the dots between science and dragon myths.

Team Dragon was started by DorothyBelle Poli and Lisa Stoneman, both professors at Roanoke College, when they began asking questions about fossils being excavated for the museum and college’s collections.

Barber said there is a respectable amount of scientific evidence showing how people came to believe dragons existed and why they have such a strong footing in modern popular culture.

“When you think about it, dragons have been a myth shared by countless societies throughout the world for centuries,” Barber says. “How did people at opposite ends of the world, with no contact with one another, all conceive the idea of the dragon?”

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