The buses rolled into town on Monday afternoon (May 18) and dropped off some 100 international guests at the Beaufort Historic Grounds for the opening ceremonies of the International Association of Beauforts. Host families and delegates from Beauforts in France, Australia, Luxembourg and South Carolina assembled as Mayor Stanley officially welcomed the reunion delegates. The Menhaden Chantymen performed some of the old, traditional fishermen work songs that once rolled across the water which brought many misty eyes to the audience.
Foreign delegates mingled with their Beaufort hosts and enjoyed a bountiful choice of tasty treats and wine provided by the Beaufort Women’s Club before they retired to an evening with their hosts and new friends.
Tuesday morning, bright and early and in spite of the cold and rain, the visitors boarded the Mystery for a harbor tour during which they were suddenly surprised by a mock cannon attack by Captain Sinbad and his Meka II. After embarking the Mystery some of our visitors headed straight for the Beaufort Historic Association double-decker bus for a tour of Beaufort while another group toured the historic grounds.
After a fine lunch at Clawson’s restaurant, while the international town leaders held the Annual International Association of the Beauforts business meeting in the old Beaufort train depot, the remaining delegates set up their exhibit booths in the North Carolina Maritime Museum auditorium and welcomed the public with information about their towns and regions. Carteret Catch supplied a taste of local seafood to the delight of all. An after hours tasting of seafood, sponsored by East Carolina Community Development Inc. introduced the guests to more bounty of our waters. Scallops seviche, crab ravigote, smoked trout and Carteret Co. caviar were prepared and served by our 2008 culinary exchangees, Jason Foster and Kathern Baumer, from Carteret Community College.
Another early morning on Wednesday took the visitors on a tour of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse during which the bad weather left one group stranded on the island for over an hour while the rest of the party enjoyed a Pig Pickin’ lunch and entertainment by the Unknown Tongues at the Core Sound Museum. The stranded party finally made it back in time to partake in the festivities and relate their exiting experience on the boat. The film, “Ribbon of Sand”, was also shown at the Cape Lookout National Park Headquarters with a French soundtrack, thanks to Connie Mason and French interpreters Catherine Mennear & Jose Vecina.
Thursday morning Dr. Aquadro’s and Mark Wilde-Ramsing’s presentations of “Exploring with Jacquees Cousteau” and “Queen Anne’s Revenge” in the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and tours of Fort Macon and the North Carolina Aquarium in the afternoon, exposed our international guests to more local scenery and interests. A week of the sights, sounds and tastes of our local culture culminated in the annual IAB Reunion Dinner Dance at the Civic Center in Morehead City, which was attended by all IAB delegates, their host families and several local dignitaries including Mayor Stanley. After a delightful dinner catered by Beaufort Grocery Restaurant, the delegates or mayors from each town were presented with gifts by Beaufort Sister Cities, NC, pottery crafted by local artist Keith Lambert, and in return presented gifts from each town to Mayor Stanley and the town of Beaufort, NC. A pirate costume contest and dancing to the music of the Southeraires followed and eventually ended an extremely enjoyable evening week for all.
Friday morning the leaders of each town planted “Friendshp Roses”, donated by the Beaufort Gardening Club, at the town gate and returned to the Beaufort Historic Grounds to join the other delegates and host families for the closing ceremonies and a farewell picnic. The visitors endlessly expressed their gratitude for a week of Beaufort hospitality, entertainment and friendship that, and as IAB Secretary, Emmanuel Guetin Male-Prade, said “you have raised the bar to another level that will be hard to top at the next reunion in 2010 in Beaufort-Haute Garonne, France
As the visitors headed to the buses, accompanied by our Beaufort hosts, interpreters and board members, hugs and kisses, and more than a few misty eyes said their final “merci beaucoup et à bientôt (thank you very much and see you soon). While waving good-bye as the buses rolled away, there was a feeling of great camaraderie with newly found international friends.
Although the Beaufort Sister Cities, NC group orchestrated a program that presented a thorough picture of our local cultural and historical heritage, the most lasting impression our International Association of the Beauforts delegates most likely have of our Beaufort is the hospitality and friendship that our people, above all the many hosts who shared their homes, their friends, neighbors, lifestyles and time to accommodate everyone. Many of our host families got their guests together with other families for pot-luck dinners and evening socials – a great cultural exchange. It was a wonderful week of sharing ideas and customs, and for international friendship and communication, in spite of the language differences, which proved to be no “barrier”.
The Board of Beaufort Sister Cities sincerely offer our utmost gratitude to all the host families for extending their extraordinary and gracious hospitality to our association delegates. Also we sincerely thank all of you who have helped make this event such a success – the Town of Beaufort, Beaufort Historic Association, North Carolina Maritime Museum, Dr. Charles Aquadro, Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Beaufort Women’s Club and Mr. & Mrs. Hunter Chadwick, Beaufort Garden Club, First Citizens Bank, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Fort Macon State Park, NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shore, Beaufort Business Association, Carteret Community College Culinary Program, Beaufort Grocery Co. Restaurant, Clawson’s Restaurant, Scott Taylor Photography, Carteret Catch, East Carteret Community Development Inc., Mutual Distributing Co, Jaillance de Die, Carteret County Decorative Painters, Capt. Horatio Sinbad and Lt. Terry Brown, Keith Lambert, Connie Mason, Wendy Davidson, artists Jennifer Crowley, Jon Masterson, Lorna Beam, Amy Friend and a special thanks to our Interpreters, Catherine Mennear, Paul Rudd, Jose Vecina, Katherine and Frank Lyons, Jacqueline Hellersperk, Dennis Adams, Sally Anger, Sara Bell, Francoise Boardman, Jackie Davis, Helen Nearing, Elisabeth Patterson, David Robert, Nicole Sullivan, Ann Goellner and Vicky Thayer who presented our tours in French and were constantly on hand to faciliate communication.
- Gabriele Bothe-Schmidt