28th annual Native American Culture Festival

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

is proud to announce our annual

Native American Festival

to be held

Saturday, and Sunday, June 2nd and 3rd , 2018.


This educational event provides the opportunity for our visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee. The event opens on Saturday, June 2nd, running from 10 am until 8:00 pm; and from 10:00 am until 6 pm on Sunday June 3rd. Most activities are held at Fort Watauga, unless it rains. In the event of rain the show will relocate to the Visitors Center.  On Saturday evening, a traditional campfire will be held at the far end of the meadow in front of Fort Watauga at 7:00 pm with several guest storytellers. Be sure to bring your own chair or blanket. Sunday morning will feature a special opportunity to visit and shop with the unique artisans and exceptional craftsmen before the day’s activities begin at 11:30.

This weekend long festival will feature traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, traditional Native American song and dance, Cherokee storytelling and legends, Native American flute, Cherokee language workshops, and craft demonstrations and sales.

A unique feature of the Native American Culture festival is our educational/ demonstration area, located within Fort Watauga. The dance circle is located in the center of the fort, where the popular traditional dance and drum performances take place. In addition, flute music, storytelling, lectures, and so much more take place within the circle, which share native culture and history with our visitors

The interior of the fort will also host a variety of excellent demonstrations, which include a children’s blowgun challenge, beadwork, gourd art, pine needle basketry, stone carving, Cherokee language, wood carving, flint-knapping, corn shuck dolls , native river cane flutes, pottery, and a replicated Cherokee cabin from the early 19th century with historical reenactors, Mark and Sherry Finchum.


Just outside the fort, exceptional Native American arts and crafts will be featured, in addition to ethnic Cherokee food, and a Lakota Tipi exhibit.

In our annual tradition, the circle will host several performances of Native American music, drum, and dance. The dancing demonstrations will include the Fancy Dance and Hoop Dance, the Jingle Dance, the Men’s Traditional, Grass and Straight Dances, and many more. All are invited to dance, so bring your regalia. Newly added will be a demonstration of 18th century Cherokee social dancing. The host of this portion of the event, Dale Cloer, makes his home in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Our featured Cherokee dancers are internationally known hoop dancer Eddie Swimmer, Head Man Dancer Dean Swimmer, and champion powwow dancer Nikki Crisp! Eddie Swimmer has captivated audiences across the globe using between 36 and 42 hoops. His accomplishments include a former World Champion Hoop Dancer title, performances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and in the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Dallas Texas as well as choreographing the Broadway show hoop dance for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Dean Swimmer has competitively placed in many powwows across the Southeastern United States for many years and has been the featured lead man dancer in a multitude of Native American Festivals. Nikki Crisp as danced across the world as well, and has been performing for over 20 years. Her talents also include traditional beadwork and authentic frybread cooking. Nikki Crisp will be providing food vending for this event, including her famous Indian tacos.

Our 2018 featured storyteller is Freeman Owle. He is a noted lecturer, historian, and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and has traveled all over the eastern United States lecturing to various groups, which include churches, military units, and schools.   Freeman Owle has told stories and presented programs on Cherokee history and culture throughout the Southeast for more than ten years.

Well known in the Cherokee community, Freeman Owle serves on the board of directors of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and is a coordinator for the Cherokee Heritage Trails project of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative. He is one of the featured storytellers in the book Living Stories of the Cherokee, and he also appears in the video documentary Cherokee: The Principal People, which aired on public television in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

Our featured speaker is Dr. Michael Abram of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery in Cherokee, NC, who will provide a glimpse into Cherokee history and legend. He will give two lectures on Saturday, “Cultural meaning of Cherokee Dreams”, and “The Life, Humor, and Wisdom of Will Rogers,” inside the circle of Fort Watauga. Dr. Abram has been presenting at this show since its beginning and is owner of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery. The gallery is presently being relocated from Cherokee to a location near Chattanooga. Dr. Abram has devoted his life to studying, preserving, and lecturing on Cherokee culture.

Daniel Bigay of Greeneville, TN will entertain with traditional flute music in addition to having his handmade, traditional Cherokee style flutes for sale. Daniel is a flute maker, Artist, Performer/Recording Artist, and demonstrator, who lives with his wife, Kay, in the mountains of Tennessee. He has released two CD’s, the most recent being nominated for best flute recording at the 2005 Indian Summer Music Awards. Daniel and Kay are passionate about education and sharing of the Cherokee culture in the school system, at Pow-Wow’s, and various shows and festivals.

Admission is $6.00 per adult, $1.00 for children. All proceeds from admissions go to Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area to support this event. This event is made possible by the support of Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, the DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Comfort Inn of Johnson City.

For further information please call

(423) 543‑5808.


1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643






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Sabine Hill – Historic Games & Tours!

Saturday, May 12 from 10 am til 3 pm

Historic Games on the Grounds throughout the day

House Tours scheduled at 11 am and 2 pm

Tour registration is required and the cost per tour is – Adults – $7.00; Ages 7 to 17 years – $3.00; 6 and under free. Pre-register by visiting www.tnstateparks.com/parks/events/sycamore-shoals


Join the Sabine Hill Social Society as they celebrate the arrival of spring and Mother’s Day with an afternoon of early 19th century historical games presented by interpreters in period attire.

The Sabine Hill Social Society supports Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park’s educational efforts by providing educational events related to the early 19th century which include English country dance, leisure activities, teas, workshops, speakers, and more.

In addition to our outdoor events, there will be two opportunities to tour the house at either 11 am or 2 pm. (Please note registration information above)

Sabine Hill is described as one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the State of Tennessee and was dedicated this past November of 2017. Restored by the Tennessee Historical Commission and operated by Tennessee State Parks, the house has been returned to its 1818 splendor.

Historic Sabine Hill located at 2328 West “G” Street, Elizabethton.

For your planning, please keep in mind that restrooms are not available at this site.

For additional information please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808.







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24th Annual Siege of Fort Watauga

May 19 – 20, 2018

On Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will host nearly 200 living history re-enactors for the annual Siege of Fort Watauga. Colonial, British, and Native re-enactors will converge at the re-created Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals to relive the days when America’s first frontier was the land beyond the blue ridge.

The Siege of Fort Watauga is a live retelling of the Cherokee attack brought upon the settlers of the Watauga valley in the summer of 1776. At Sycamore Shoals, Fort Watauga offered protection to nearly 200 settlers during a two-week siege led by Cherokee War Chief, Old Abram, and 300 warriors.

Sycamore Shoals will once again be the scene of war during the Siege of Fort Watauga. The event lasts from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 19th and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 20th. Step back in time as you visit the fort, militia camps, British encampment, and Native American camp. Be immersed in the 18th century as you witness daily aspects of colonial frontier life. See the clash of two cultures as the attack on fort Watauga is recreated at 1:00 pm on Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday. Also, attend our auction of 18th century reproductions on Saturday.

During the event, take advantage of colonial merchants selling period wares in “Sutler’s Row”. There will be several vendors offering a myriad of 18th century reproduction items for the colonial enthusiast or the primitive decorator. Vendors this year include “Johnson & Moffet” specializing in hand crafted wooden items and herbal remedies, The Virginia Floorcloth and Textiles Co offering hand painted canvas floor coverings and block printed neckerchiefs, Ft. Vause Outfitters specializing in finished leather goods, Windhil Woolens offering hand processed and dyed woolen goods such as yarn, blankets, and clothing, and several other vendors offering everything from 18th century reproduction clothing, weaponry, and original antiques, to replica housewares and military accouterments. Food vending and concessions will also be available for purchase from the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

Several Revolutionary War living history units will be in attendance and will make the 18th century come to life during the weekend. Units include the 1st Maryland based in Hendersonville, NC, Musgrove’s Mill Militia and the South Carolina Rangers based in upstate South Carolina, and British units; the 42nd Light Infantry, the 71st Highland Regiment, and the British Legion. The host unit is the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia based at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. Also, enjoy musical entertainment from The Sons of Liberty, Faire Wynds, and the Watauga Valley Fife & Drum Corps. Numerous individuals also participate in the event portraying many 18th century walks of life including Cherokee Natives, Backcountry Hunters, Farmers, Housewives, Indentured Servants, Commoners and Gentry.

A special addition to this year’s event is an evening concert on Saturday, May 19th featuring the talents of the Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums, the official fife and drum corps of the State of Tennessee. During the concert corps members will showcase traditional and martial music of the 18th century on fife and drum as well as individual performances on other traditional instruments. This is a great opportunity to be entertained and educated by a truly talented group of young performers and historians. The show begins at 7:30 pm at the Fort Watauga Amphitheater. Admission to the concert is $5/Adults, $3/ages 7-17, and children 6 and under are free. Concert tickets will be available during the daytime events at the park as well as before the concert. Proceeds will benefit the Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums in their mission to promote the cultural heritage of our area through music and historic interpretation.

For more information on this and other exciting events at Sycamore Shoals please contact the park at 423-543-5808 or visit the park’s website at www.sycamoreshoalstn.org. Admission to the event is free so bring the entire family and see how your ancestors played a crucial role in our region’s history and in the formation of our nation. Witness the 18th century come to life, hear the rattle of muskets, smell the campfire smoke, and come “Share in the Glorious Cause of Liberty” at the Siege of Fort Watauga. This event is sponsored by The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia and The Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.

Schedule of Events

Saturday, May 19th

10:00   Raising the Colors

10:30   Frontier Scout Skills: Stalk & Hide

11:00   Ulster Scots in America

11:30   Early American Music with the “Sons of Liberty”

12:00   18th Century Medicinal uses of Plants and Herbs

1:00     Battle Reenactment: “Siege of Fort Watauga – Part 1”

1:30     Field Music: Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums

2:00     Patience Cooper: Enterprising Woman of the Frontier

2:30     Salt Making on the Frontier

3:00     Auction (18th century reproductions, clothing, housewares, books and much more)

4:00     Living History Camps Close for the day.

7:30     Evening Concert: Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums (Fort Watauga Ampitheater)

Admission Fee: $5/Adults, $3/ages 7-17, children 6 and under are free.

Concert tickets will be sold during the daytime events at the park as well as before the concert.


Sunday, May 20th

10:00   Event Opens.

10:30   Militia Muster and Inspection

11:00   18th Century Worship Service

12:00   Early American Music with the “Sons of Liberty”

1:00     Patience Cooper: Enterprising Woman of the Frontier

2:00     Battle Reenactment: “Siege of Fort Watauga – Part 2”

2:30     Field Music: Watauga Valley Fifes & Drums

3:00     Retiring the Colors


Ongoing Activities Throughout the Weekend

Native American Camp, Colonial Games, Cornshuck Dolls, Medicinal Plants, Salt Making, 18th Century Laundress, Weaving, 18th Century Market Faire, Hand Sewing, Flax Processing, Art Displays, Colonial Music, Colonial Balladeer, Open Hearth Cooking, Flintlock Firearms Demonstrations, 18th Century Militia Encampment, British Camp, And Many More Aspects of 18th Century Life!



Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643








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