Tag Archives: Sycamore Shoals

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 http://www.TheLibertyDrama.com 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:   www.TheLibertyDrama.com

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 www.TheLibertyDrama.com 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

www.sycamoreshoalstn.org    www.friendsofsycamoreshoals.org

22nd Annual Siege of Fort Watauga

IMG_2863On Saturday, May 21st and Sunday, May 22nd, 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 on 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 5:00 pm on Saturday, May 21st and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 22nd. Step back in time as you visit the fort, militia camps, British IMG_2846encampment, and Native camp. Be immersed in 18th century frontier life as you witness daily aspects of colonial culture. See the clash of two cultures as the attack on fort Watauga is recreated both days at 1:00 pm. Also, attend our auction of 18th century reproductions on Saturday.

This year we are excited to welcome author, journalist, composer, and film producer Nadia Dean as our guest speaker. On Saturday, May 21st at Nadia Dean11:00 am Dean will be speaking about, and previewing her film Cameron.

“Alexander Cameron–married to a Cherokee—soon finds himself in conflict with southern colonists who are in rebellion against the king. The Cherokees are likewise forced into divided loyalties between the British and colonial rebels. Nadia has at last given a voice to Cameron and the Cherokee warrior Dragging Canoe” (Ila Hatter, Appalachian author).

The film is based on Nadia Dean’s latest book A Demand of Blood – The Cherokee War of 1776. The books are available in the Sycamore Shoals Gift Store, and there will be an opportunity to have your book signed by the author.

Also 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, Trader Bob offering tanned animal pelts and hides, Ft. Vause Outfitters specializing in finished leather goods, and several other vendors offering everything from 18th century reproduction clothing, weaponry, and original antiques, to replica housewares and military accouterments.

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 two British units; the 42nd Light Infantry and the North Carolina Highland Regiment. The host unit is the Washington County Regiment of NorthSiege of Fort Watauga Carolina Militia based at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. Numerous individuals also participate in the event portraying many 18th century walks of life including Cherokee Natives, Backcountry Hunters, Farmers, Housewives, African Slaves, Commoners and Gentry.

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. 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. Hear the rattle of muskets, smell the campfire smoke, and see the 18th century come to life at the Siege of Fort Watauga. This event is sponsored by The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia and Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Ave. Elizabethton, TN 37643

Ph. 423-543-5808








Carter Mansion Celebration


Saturday, April 2 & Sunday, April 3   

Ramona Invidiato


Travel back to the 1780s… The American colonies have declared Independence, but the outcome of this bitter struggle is still in question. Hardy frontiersmen have crossed the mountains in defiance of British law and have carved out homes in the wilderness. Conflict is rising between American Patriots, Loyalists who support the Crown, and native Indians who struggle to retain their way of life. But the people of this time still find cause for celebration and merriment so come out and see it all come together at the oldest frame house in Tennessee.

The Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion, built ca. 1775-1780, boasts beautiful over mantle murals, hand carved moldings and raised panels making it one of the most treasured sites in Tennessee history. The house is the only surviving link to the famed Watauga Association, the democratic government set up by the early settlers in the Watauga Valley. The home’s builder, John Carter, served as a chairman of the Association.

The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, Sycamore Shoals’ host living history organization, will be celebrating its seven-year anniversary during this exciting celebration! The Militia will be encamped on the grounds of the Carter Mansion and will present demonstrations of the daily lives of 18th century backwoods settlers. As part of the activities a re-enactment of a small battle between Patriots and Tories will be presented each day.

Local craftsmen and artisans will be on hand throughout the weekend showcasing and demonstration traditional arts and crafts. Other activities throughout the weekend will include Tours of the Carter Mansion: Tennessee’s oldest frame house, Militia Drill, Musket and Rifle demonstrations, Traditional Music, Storytelling, Colonial Military Music by the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums, and much more. Come join us for a weekend of History, Entertainment, and Family Fun!

sponsored by the Washington County Regiment of

North Carolina Militia

The Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad Street in Elizabethton, Tennessee.  For further information please contact:

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643