Tag Archives: Workshops

The Overmountain Institute


March 8 – 10, 2019

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will be unveiling a new program this March entitled The Overmountain Institute. This new approach to sharing the regions rich cultural heritage will give participants the chance to get a closer more in-depth look at life on the 18th century frontier with a focus on the area known as the Watauga Settlement in the late 1700s.

Sycamore Shoals will be partnering will several skilled heritage interpreters, living historians and expert craftsmen who will bring life in the 18th century Watauga settlement to new light through a series of demonstrations, workshops, seminars, and hands on activities. Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the lives, hardships and accomplishments of the early settlers and native Cherokee who called this area home over two centuries ago.

The weekend activities kick off on Friday, March 8th with an evening presentation entitled “The Campaign to Kings Mountain” presented by Steve Ricker, Interpretive Program Director for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association. Steve’s authentic appearance and unique delivery transports listeners back in time as he gives a first person account of the journey of the famed Overmountain men and their decisive victory at the battle of Kings Mountain. Many historians have called this particular battle the turning point of America’s war for independence. A reception and light refreshments will follow the presentation.

Saturday, March 9th will be filled with six, one-hour presentations on unique aspects of life in this area over two centuries ago. Sycamore Shoals is proud to host these skilled heritage interpreters who present life on the 18th century frontier in such a way that participants cannot help but feel as if they have actually touched the past. Saturday’s presentations include the following;

“Nancy Ward – Beloved Woman of the Cherokee” presented by Jackie Fisher who serves as the Park Manager for David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone, TN. Jackie will share about the life of Nancy Ward who played such a pivotal role in the relationships between the Cherokee and early settlers, as well as share about the role of women in 18th century Cherokee society.


“Medicinal Plants & Herbs” presented by Elizabeth and Michael Hardy. Elizabeth is and educator and Michael is an author and historian from Crossnore, NC. The husband and wife team will share about the knowledge that the early settlers and natives possessed of the healing properties of native plants and herbs.



“Attakullakulla – Cherokee Peace Chief” presented by Robert K. Rambo. Attakullakulla, also known as the Little Carpenter, played such a pivotal role in Anglo-Cherokee negotiations. Attention is payed to every detail in Robert Rambo’s portrayal of this key figure in the early history of the Watauga Settlement. Robert joins us from Cullowhee, NC.


“A Frontier of Color” presented by Carol Jarboe. Carol’s first person presentations are some of the best in the living history community. She can be found sharing a myriad of topics from indentured servants and laundry techniques to resurrectionists and 19th century British aristocracy. This weekend Carol will be instructing on natural dyeing with plants available to this specific area.



“Faith on the Frontier” presented by Rev. John Frank Jarboe. Frank can usually be found portraying “Parson John” an itinerate minister delivering the Sunday sermon at various weekend living history events. He will be sharing the importance of faith to the frontier people and the impact it had in the early settlement days. Frank and Carol Jarboe join us from Woodburn, KY.


“18th Century Blacksmithing” presented by Will Vogt. Perhaps no one was more important to a frontier settlement than the local blacksmith. Settlers depended on the smith to repair wagon parts and farm implements, fashion hardware, shoe horses, and many other tasks. We are pleased to have Will Vogt join us to share his talents and talk about this essential member of the community. Will is from Limestone, TN and is the manager of Graysburg Forge.


Sunday, March 10th may be the last day of the institute, but it will not be short of activities. The day will begin at 11:00 am with a frontier worship service held in the confines of Fort Watauga and will be presented by Rev. John Frank Jarboe. The rest of the day will be dedicated to ongoing demonstrations, displays, talks, and presentations of daily aspects of colonial frontier life. Programs include, but are not limited to, 18th century music with a special presentation by the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps, black powder manufacturing, candle making, 18th century beverages, firearms and weaponry, butter making, lard rendering, natural dyeing, and much more.

The Overmountain Institute is limited to 100 participants. The fee to attend is $50.00 per individual and covers all three days of activities. To register please visit www.liberty.ticketleap.com/omi2019. You do not want to miss this opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most gifted living history educators in the community. Come see how you can make history at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

The Overmountain Institute is sponsored by the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia.


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 West Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643







Fiber Fair and Colonial Harvest Celebration planned for November 10 & 11


Saturday, November 10 from 10 am – 4 pm

Sunday, November 11 from 10 am – 3 pm


With cooling temperatures and signs of changing seasons about us, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is readying for our annual Colonial Harvest Celebration, Militia Muster, and Fall Fiber Fair!

We welcome re-enactors from the Washington County Militia and fiber enthusiasts from across the Tri-Cities and beyond as we plan for an educational weekend filled with history, tradition, and fiber arts demonstrations, workshops, and sales.

The Fiber Fair will take place in the Sycamore Shoals Visitors Center. Both days will offer the opportunity to take in spinning, weaving, and hand carding demonstrations, in addition to visiting with a variety of vendors who will have handmade items for sale.

If you are interested in learning a skill, consider registering for one of our workshops:

Tunisian Crochet Slippers

Saturday, November 10 from 10 am – noon

Instructor: Gina Mortara

Cost $30.00 includes supplies

Details: In this beginner’s class we’ll learn Tunisian crochet, make a pair of baby slippers in class, and take home a pattern and the know-how to be able to make adult slippers.

Crochet Christmas Stocking

Saturday, November 10 from 1 pm – 3 pm

Instructor: Barbara Henry

Cost: $30 includes supplies

Details: We will be making a stocking ornament, using a choice between 2 different patterns. This class will include yarn, crochet hook and written patterns. Must have basic crochet skills.

Hairpin Lace Cowl

Sunday, November 11 from 10 am – noon

Instructor: Susan Mortara

Cost: $30 includes supplies

In this beginners class, we’ll learn how to make beautiful hairpin lace and make a lovely cowl!

Drop Spindle

Sunday, November 11 from 1 pm – 3 pm

Instructor: Laura Whitfield

Cost: $35 includes supplies

Details: This class will give a brief overview on the history and current popularity of drop spindling, as well as a basic description of the types of spindles available and suitable for fibers. We will have hands on practice of spindle control and drafting.

Please register and prepay for workshops in advance by calling the park at 423-543-5808

We are happy to have a wide variety of artists and vendors who will be offering their items for sale during this event. Their talents consist of products made from handspun and dyed yarns, dryer balls, needle and wet felted items, hands knitted and crochet items, boot inserts, and kumihimo, just to name a few! Also available will be felt sheets, fiber color packs, drop spindles, knitting needles, and crochet hooks. A variety of fibers are offered for sale including batts, roving, and skeins of alpaca, merino, silk, linen, cotton, wool, and more.

This year’s vendors are Amie Greene of Spinning Beauty, Collette Cook, Denise Digh of Cloudslaine Farm Studio, Susan Fain of the Willows Knot, Sharon Walker & Amy Palmer of Wooly Mittens 4 Ewe, Renee Gray of Alpaca Outbacka, Laura Whitefield of Isley Creek Farm, Rudi & Arlene Angelmaier of Dragonfly Dreams, Too, John Plutchak, Corrine Hewett, Louise Nuttle of Only the Finest, and the Mortara Family.

At Fort Watauga, the Washington County Militia, the host living history organization of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, will be engaged in 18th century festivities as we enjoy a time of friendship and thanksgiving amidst a frontier harvest celebration. In Colonial America, before Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday, each colony or community observed days of thanksgiving usually after the harvest had been brought in or after a significant military victory.

Militia activities throughout the weekend will include; a reading of colonial governor Richard Caswell’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, open hearth cooking, flintlock musket and rifle demonstrations, and many more aspects of daily life on the colonial American frontier.

A schedule of events will be available online on this site after November 1.

For additional information please call the park at 423-543-5808.


1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, Tennessee   37643












Brian Allison, Interpreter, to offer NEW workshops at Sycamore Shoals!

Interpreter, Brian Allison, from Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee, to present workshops at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

 November 3rd, 2018 at 9 am and 1 pm


Join us at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park as we welcome interpreter, Brian Allison, for his workshops and talk centered on the late 18th and early 19th century.

Mr. Allison’s boasts a career rich in history, including his role as Interpreter at The Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee.   His accomplishments include the interpretation of historical characters including Judge John Overton, Ralph E. W. Earl, and Col. David Crockett. He is known for his educational programming such as “The Duel: Art of the Southern Gentleman. The staff of The Hermitage also benefit from special training focusing on art techniques of the 19th century, historical handwriting, and male costuming from 1790-1840.

Brian has taken his historic programs to the Civil War Preservation Trust, Historic Wynnewood, Rock Castle, Mansker’s Station, and other historic sites. At Travellers’ Rest Plantation, Nashville, Tennessee, he has filled the role of Interpreter, Staff Historian, and Curator. As an author, Mr. Allison has published two books, Murder & Mayhem in Nashville, The History Press, 2016 and The Tennessee State Penitentiary (with Yoshie Lewis), Arcadia Publishing, 2014 .

On November 3rd, he will be offering two entertaining and educational programs at Sycamore Shoals.   “Thus Friends Absent Speak- the Art and Technique of Corresponding” 1750-1850 from 9 am until 11:30 am and “Affairs of Honor- The Duel” at 1 pm. There is a small fee for each workshop and a discount if you attend both! Please pre-register by calling the park at 423-543-5808.


Thus Friends Absent Speak                                                      

The Art and Technique of Corresponding, 1750-1850

Saturday, November 3        9 am – 11:30 am

November 3rd, Sabine Hill Social Society will be hosting the acclaimed living historian Brian Allison who will be instructing on the art of letter writing in the late 18th and early 19th century. Attendees will learn how to use a quill pen, different paper types, letter composition, folding of the letter for mailing, sealing and post marking. This informative class will be held at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in the Gathering Room starting at 9 am. Cost: $25 for this 2 1/2 hour morning session. All supplies and teaching materials provided. To register with your tuition fee, call Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808.


Affairs of Honor -The Duel                                                      

Saturday, November 3          1 pm 

This afternoon session presented by acclaimed author and living historian, Brian Allison, will focus on the art of the duel, also known as Irish Code Duello, in fact and fiction. Journey with us as Brian explains the intricacies of the duel in the 18th and 19th Century, and how it was different in the states like Tennessee, South Carolina and Louisiana. Want to add more to your impression of the period, then this hands on workshop is a must. This informative class will be held at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Parks “Gathering Room” starting at 1pm. Cost: $10 or $5 if taken with his morning session “Thus friends absent speak”. To register with your tuition fee and reserve your spot, call Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808.


Sponsored by Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

and the Sabine Hill Social Society


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

1651 W. Elk Avenue

Elizabethton, TN 37643