Monthly Archives: July 2016

Veteran’s Night highlights the opening of LIBERTY!’s 2nd week of performances on July 21


Watching the cast of Liberty! share the stories of Sycamore Shoals is humbling, exciting, and above all…….inspirational.   Comprised of over 100 volunteers, our neighbors from throughout the Tri-Cities and beyond, come together each January to begin auditions and rehearsals for the July drama. Giving an enormous amount of time and energy, they ask nothing in return – just the opportunity to be a part of ensuring that historic events of national significance are always remembered. Within their hearts you will find a passion and strong desire to honor our ancestors – patriots in the truest sense of the word.

Leaving the comforts of home, long hunters, and then families, began leaving the 13 colonies to begin a new life, free of the rule of the British Libertyking. They crossed over the mountains beyond the Proclamation Line of 1763 discovering land that was cleared, yet uninhabited. The “Old Fields” of the Watauga quickly became the heart of frontier settlements on land belonging to the Cherokee. Set in the 1770’s, Liberty! relates the good times and the sad times; the struggles and the sacrifices – of families who were willing to take incredible risks to create a democratic society against a multitude of obstacles.

Liberty opens its second week of performances on Thursday, July 21, and continues Thursday through Saturday through July 30th. With just two more weeks to go, we hope you will mark your calendars now to attend Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama – Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

On Thursday, July 21, the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, the Liberty! Cast, and the park staff, wish to thank and honor our veterans by offering each veteran and an escort, free admission to Liberty! on this night.

Additionally, on Friday, July 22, an interpreter for the hearing impaired will be signing the play as it is performed.

Set beside the Watauga River, the story unfolds with Fort Watauga as the backdrop. The outdoor amphitheater provides bench seating with backs and an opportunity to sample great food within a short distance from your seat at Carter’s Store Concessions.

Thursday through Saturday, July 21 – 23 and 28 – 30, we offer a dinner theater, by reservation only. Your one price ticket provides you with a great meal and your admission to Liberty!

Liberty! continues July 21 – 23 and the 28 – 30, closing the 38th season on Saturday, July 30th. General Admission seating and Dinner Theater reservations can be purchased in advance online at

For additional information please contact the park.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643



Liberty! to offer reduced admission opening night….


Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is pleased to be able to offer special ticket pricing for opening night, Thursday, July 14th!  

“First Night” is an exciting time for our Liberty! cast who have been working and practicing tirelessly since early April preparing for the 38th season of Liberty! On Thursday, July 14th, adults and seniors can attend Liberty! for $8.00 per person, children ages 6 to 17 years for $5.00, and 5 and under are free.

The drama is presented for nine nights each July running Thursday through Saturday, July 14, 15, 16; 21, 22 & 23, and 28, 29, and 30.   The box office opens nightly at 6 pm and the show begins at 7:30 pm.

Photographed by Bruce Green

We also offer the option to purchase your tickets in advance, online at   All seating is general admission.  Take advantage of this new service to insure your admission on the night of your choosing. Tickets may also be purchased on-site the night of the performance, with a maximum seating capacity of 450 total seats.

Tickets are $12.00 for Adults; $10.00 for Seniors (55 & up); $5.00 for Children (6 to 17 yrs); and 5 and under are free. Friends of Sycamore Shoals members are $6.00 and must present their membership card at the box office.

On Thursday, July 21, Liberty! will honor our veterans by offering them free admission to the show, along with an escort.

The 2016 season also marks the 7th exciting year for Pepsi’s Carter’s Trading Post, a venue named in honor of the original store opened by pioneers John Carter and partner William Parker shortly after they arrived on the frontier in 1771.  A fine menu of mouth-watering treats will be offered each evening for Liberty! guests.

Come early and enjoy an excellent dinner prior to the performance of Liberty! The Dinner Theater will be offered all 9 nights, except opening night, July 14th. The dates are July 15 & 16, July 21 – 23, and July 28 – 30. Dinner is served at approximately 6:00 PM. Doors open at 5:30 PM.

The Liberty! Dinner Theater is available by advanced reservations only. Reservations must be made by 1:00 PM the day of the performance. Dinner theater tickets are $25.00 for Adults; $23.00 for Seniors (55 and up); $18.00 for Children (6 to 17 years); 5 and under Free with a paying adult; and $19.00 for Friends of Sycamore Shoals members. Dinner Theater tickets include the cost of your meal and admission to Liberty!

Each Friday night, a sign language interpreter will be with us, bringing the story to life for the hearing impaired. In addition, we also have a Williams Hearing Impaired system transmitting on 72.9 MHz during all performances for those that have a receiver and ear piece.

Henderson arrives

Mark your calendars now and join us for this great opportunity to see the story of nationally significant events unfold in a dramatic presentation performed on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals with the reconstructed Fort Watauga as the backdrop. Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals is a two act outdoor drama depicting four major events that took place in the late 18th century within the Watauga Settlement now present day Elizabethton, TN.

These events reflect the rich and vast historical significance that surround Sycamore Shoals and the East Tennessee region as a whole, and the role that early settlers played in the formation of a new nation. Visiting The Official Outdoor Drama of the State of Tennessee is a great way to see these stories unfold. Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals begins its 38th season Thursday, July 14, and continues for a three-weekend run.

Liberty! Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama to open Thursday, July 14th


Come Out and Celebrate the 38th Season

of Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton boasts a great deal of educational programming and an on-site museum detailing the region’s history, and in particular, it’s Defenserole in the establishment of the United States of America. That history comes to life with the Official Outdoor Drama of Tennessee, known as Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals! This engaging performance will be enjoying its 38th consecutive season this year.

Several nationally significant events occurred at Sycamore Shoals and the Watauga settlement. The Watauga Association, formed in 1772, was widely recognized as the first continental government that was “free and independent” of the British Crown. This designation was recognized by no less than President Theodore Roosevelt. It was designed by leaders to provide for law and order and the right of every free man to vote.   Later, the area was annexed by North Carolina and became known as the Washington District, named in honor of General George Washington, who was leading the fight for American Independence at the time.

At this location, in 1775, The Transylvania Purchase was conducted at the Watauga “Old Fields” where Judge Richard Henderson and other speculators purchased 20 million acres of land from the Cherokee. This negotiation sparked a series of Cherokee attacks on the pioneers of the Watauga and surrounding settlements. Later the purchase was voided, with ample compensation for Henderson, by the states that gained authority over the land.

Liberty! is set in front of the full-scale replica of Fort Watauga, which was used to defend the settlement against attacks from a faction of the Cherokee, led by Chief Dragging Canoe, who opposed the sale. Ultimately, the settlement was successful in staving off the attack and siege of the fort.

These grounds also served as the gathering place for the Overmountain Men, who were an essential part of a broader militia that defeated Major Patrick Ferguson and his British force at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. That event is often noted as a major turning point for the American Revolution.

This play covers these critical developments as well as demonstrating the life of pioneers in a frontier settlement. Moreover, it gives faces to the names we see on many of our street signs and other local area designations. For example, we meet John Sevier, who went on toMilitia musters in search of Ferguson become the first Governor of Tennessee. We are also introduced to John Carter, and his son Landon, both of whom are reflected in the full name of the Carter Mansion, the oldest frame house in the state. It’s preserved by the Park and the associated Friends of Sycamore Shoals group, and open to tours each year from late May through mid-August, Wednesdays through Sundays at 2 pm, or by appointment. Landon also lent his last name to Carter County.

The amazing strength and skills of the local pioneer women are far from neglected in the drama. Another character is Mary Patton, who learned the art of manufacturing gun powder from her father. Her assistance was crucial in the defense of the settlement during the siege. Moreover, she supplied the Overmountain Men with a minimum of 500 pounds of gunpowder for their foray into North Carolina.

We also encounter Catherine “Bonnie Kate” Sherrill, a lively lass who was caught outside the fort during the siege attack, and was rescued by Sevier, whom she later married. While Tiptonville was the original name of Elizabethton, as part of the State of Franklin, it was later renamed for Landon’s wife, Elizabeth MacLin Carter, who also appears in the drama.

This is only a partial list of fascinating local contributors to regional and national history, and putting the play on is quite an undertaking. It features professional lighting and sound, a well-maintained amphitheater, as well as an all-volunteer cast of nearly 100 local actors in speaking and extra roles.

Liberty runs Thursdays-Saturdays, July 14 – 16, 21 – 23, and 28 – 30, 2016 in the Fort Watauga Amphitheater at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, TN (use 1651 West Elk Avenue for GPS purposes). And, all of this is provided to local residents and area visitors at a most reasonable price.

General admission tickets range from Free for children under 5, to $5 for students 6 to 17 years, $10 for seniors 55 and up, and $12 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

First Night tickets to the opening show on Thursday, July 14th are only $8 for adults and seniors and $5.00 for students.

Veterans Night is on Thursday, July 22nd, where Veterans are formally thanked for their service during the show, and also with free admission for them and a guest.

A Dinner Theater also runs most nights of the play, where for $25 (with seniors/student discounts), one can enjoy an all-you-can-eat, sit-down meal cooked by a prominent local chef, and be regaled with tales of the site prior to the show. The price of the ticket includes your meal and admission to the show. The Dinner Theater requires advanced reservations made at the website listed above, or by calling 423-543-5808.

Likewise, everyone is encouraged to become a member of the Friends of Sycamore Shoals group to help support the Liberty drama, as well as a host of other educational park activities, such as classes in gardening, sewing, Scottish Heavy Athletics, and basketry, to name but a few. The park also plays host to annual Celtic and Native American Festivals, as well as militia reenactments presented by the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia.

Don’t be one of the many who say “I’ve heard about it, but never gone.” And, if you’ve seen it, you’re most welcome to come again. Support your local history educators and preservationists; come learn about our history in a fun and entertaining context, and spread the word. We’ll see you at the Old Fields!

“Liberty!” 2016 – Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

Performance Dates & Ticket Information


Performance Dates     Thursday, Friday & Saturday, each week

Opening week: July 14 – 16         Week 2:   July 21 – 23       Week 3:   July 28 – 30

Interpretation for the Hearing Impaired each Friday

Make your reservation online at:

Seats not pre-sold online will be available to walk-in guests.

Ticket Prices                                 The Box Office opens at 6 pm. Show starts at 7:30 pm

Adults (18 and up)                                          $12.00

Seniors (55 and up)                                         $10.00

Student (6 to 17 years)                                   $5.00 student

5 and under                                                     Free

Friends of Sycamore Shoals Member            $6.00          Must present membership card


Group Sales – NOT Available online – Call-In Reservations Recommended or at the Box Office.    Please contact Johnnie Pilk or Jennifer Bauer for reservation information

$1.00 discount per ticket per person for Adult & Senior tickets only– 20 or more people

One person must purchase all the tickets.

A group is an organized entity, such as a church group, scouts, bus tours, senior centers, nursing homes, etc.   An extended family is not considered a group


Special Nights –

Thursday, July 14th“First Night” – Adult & Senior – $8.00/ Student – $5.00/ 5 & under – Free

Thursday, July 21st“Veterans Night” – Veteran and an escort are admitted for Free that night.


Dinner Theater Ticket Sales & Dates –   (Includes admission to Liberty!) 

Each Thursday through Saturday (Except Opening Night -July14 )

July 15 & 16; 21, 22 & 23; and 28, 29 & 30          Box Office opens at 5:30/Dinner at 6

Reservations can be made online at or

by Calling the Park before 1 pm the date of the reservation.

Adult                                                                  $25.00

Senior (55 and over)                                       $23.00

Student (6 to 17 years)                                   $18.00

Children 5 and under                                      Free with a paying adult

Friends of Sycamore Shoals Member        $19.00             (Must present membership card)


Dinner Theater Group Sales (20 or more) – Call-In Reservations Only –

Adult   $23.00             Senior              $21.00             Student            $16.00             5 and under – Free

Friends of Sycamore Shoals Member – $18.00 (Must present membership card)


1651 W. Elk Ave., Elizabethton, TN 37643   423-543-5808