Sycamore Shoals to celebrate independence like it’s 1776

Published 9:16 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Contributed Photo The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia will be encamped in and around Fort Watauga giving visitors a glimpse of life in 1776.

Contributed Photo
The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia will be encamped in and around Fort Watauga giving visitors a glimpse of life in 1776.

If the clock was turned back 239 years, freedom from Great Britain would be a foreign concept to people living in this area.

That’s why Sycamore Shoals State Park Director Jennifer Bauer hopes the upcoming two-day Independence on the Frontier program ignites an appreciation of what it was like for Americans back then.

“Sometimes we forget how this all started and how meaningful it was to people in 1776,” she said.

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If not for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Americans would not have a reason to celebrate their freedom by hosting a family barbecue, watching a firework display or by simply saluting Ol’ Glory.

Going back to the roots of the tradition, Sycamore Shoals State Park has annually celebrated the nation’s independence in this unique fashion.

“It’s a very different approach,” Bauer said.

Of course, news did not travel quite as swiftly as it does today, Bauer said.

“Really it was about two months after the signing of the Declaration that news made it here to the frontier,” she said. “We hope people leave with a sense of elation from receiving news that the Declaration has been written.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the event is when a courier rushes into Fort Watauga to read the Declaration aloud, Bauer said.

“Everybody gathers around to hear what the excitement is all about,” she said.

This event will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in between the myriad of other activities, which includes militia drill and training, artillery firing demonstrations, open hearth cooking and tomahawk throwing. Activities that embrace the time period also pick back up the following day.

“The way we present this event is from the eyes of the people might have been living here at that time,” she said. “We ask questions like, ‘What might it be like? Or, what might it have felt like?”

The Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia helps create an authentic frontier atmosphere.

“We want to get people in the mood to appreciate their liberty and freedoms,” Bauer said. “We also want them to experience life in this region during 1776.”

By hosting the event one week prior, Bauer hopes it makes the next weekend that much more meaningful to guests.

“We do this event a week early because there are so many options for the Fourth,” she said.

The event will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. with the final program at 4 p.m. On Sunday, the festivities continue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call the park at 543-5808 or go online to or

Schedule of Events

Saturday, June 27

10 a.m. – Raising the Colours

10:30 a.m. – Wataugan Footsteps

11 a.m. – Fix Bayonets

Noon – Echoes of Revolution

1 p.m. – Reading of the Declaration of Independence

2 p.m. – Kids Militia & Rubber Band Rifle Shoot

3 p.m. – Artillery Drill and Demonstration: Learn about 18th century artillery as the Militia fires

the Fort’s Cannon.

4 p.m. – Militia Drill & Retiring the Colours

Sunday, June 28

10 a.m. – Raising the Colors

11 a.m. – Worship Service

1 p.m. – Kids Militia

2 p.m. – Artillery Drill and Demonstration

3 p.m. – Militia Drill & Retiring the Colours

Visitors will also have the chance to observe 18th century cooking techniques, colonial carpentry, wool spinning and fiber arts, flintlock rifle and musket firings as well as colonial woodsmen skills.