February at Sycamore Shoals includes early 19th century social dancing and sweetheart tea

John Thompson • Jan 30, 2018 at 6:34 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Things are changing at Sycamore Shoals. First it was John and Landon Carter building their fine home upstream on the Watauga River and now the Taylors have built Sabine Hill above Buffalo Creek. The rough edges are certainly coming off the people once called the Overmountain Men.

For decades, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park has shown and celebrated the way life was lived on the frontier. Now, with the recent addition of Sabine Hill to the park’s assets, it is able to show the what life was like when Tennessee was a newly created state and no longer a part of the frontier.

The events planned for February at the park certainly show this new story, as well as the other re-enactments and classes for which the park is known.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, there will be an afternoon of early 19th century dance with the Sabine Hill Social Society from 1-4 p.m. Beginners and seasoned dancers alike are welcome. The afternoon will include English Country Dance and early Appalachian dance techniques. Coffee and hot cocoa will be provided. The group will meet at the Visitor Center at 1651 W. Elk Ave.

Another example of the civilizing effect of the early 19th century on Sycamore Shoals will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18, from 2-4 p.m. The park will celebrate an early 19th century Formal Sweetheart Tea. With the inclusion of Valentine’s Day in the exact center of the month, February is the month for sweethearts, so the Sabine Hill Society has planned a fun afternoon of refreshments and entertainment. The cost for adults is $20 per couple or $12 per person. The cost for children ages 6-12 is $8 each.

The park’s historically inspired event will have an early 19th century flavor in keeping with the recently opened Sabine Hill house. One featured entertainer will be professional harpist Frieda Winter. The menu for the event includes coffee, tea, finger foods, appetizers and pastries served by historical interpreters in period attire. Space is limited. Call 423-543-5808 to pre-register.

Of course, Sycamore Shoals will always be celebrated for the events that took place there in the 1770s through 1780, and there are plenty of activities that reflect that proud heritage and also workshops and classes to teach 18th century skills and craftsmanship, as well as how to make other artistic creations.

The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps meets every Saturday at the park from 10 a.m. to noon. The group has a prominent role in historical events, dedications and parades in the region. The group is open to anyone ages 13 and up. Musical experience is welcome but not necessary. Just come with a willingness to learn. Lessons are free of charge, just call ahead to 543-5808 to let the group know you are coming.

Although we are still in the midst of winter, Sycamore Shoals is offering an annual raised bed gardening class, taught by gardener extraordinaire Ben Hunter. The class will be taught on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon, and it is not necessary to register for this session.

Hunter will discuss his experiences and techniques for growing the garden of your dreams. The event is sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardeners.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon, Barbara Jernigan will teach a water media painting class. Students will paint with watercolors and acrylics on paper. Jernigan says the possibilities are endless, it may be a snowy landscape, spring flowers, a mountain vista, or maybe a selfie. Photo references or takings will be provided. Students may paint their own composition or follow along with the instructor. Students with supplies may use watercolors, acrylics or fluid acrylics on paper. The cost is $20 if supplies are not provided, $12 to those who bring their own supplies.

On another artistic note, the Watauga Valley Art League will hold its monthly meeting at the visitors center on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 1:30 p.m.

The event the park is best known for begins its annual run in February. Auditions will be held for the state’s official outdoor drama: “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals” on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 2-4 p.m. and Saturday, March 3, from 5-7 p.m.

The drama tells the story of the events that took place in Sycamore Shoals in the 1770s and the Overmountain Men’s march to Kings Mountain in 1780. The performances take place at the outdoor theater during the last three weekends in July.

Also on the last Sunday of each month, the park will once again host the monthly Old Time Music Jam, led by Art Lang from 1:30-4 p.m. on Feb. 25 Musicians are invited to join in, while those who don’t play and instrument are invited to just kick back and enjoy the tunes.

For more information or to make reservations, call 543-5808.

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