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

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