Local artist tells story of Liberty! through coloring book

Published 9:23 am Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Tennessee’s Official Outdoor Drama, a local artist has created a coloring book that shares the saga of Sycamore Shoals and the Overmountain Men as told in Liberty!

Each year in July, the Friends of Sycamore Shoals group mounts the annual production of Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals. Those attending get to meet colorful characters from local history — such as Bonnie Kate and Judge Richard Henderson — while the cast brings to life some of the notable historical events that occurred in what is now Carter County.

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A few years ago, Mike Hill, of Roan Mountain, became involved in the outdoor drama, and this year he decided to put his talent to work promoting the event while also helping to raise funds to support the Friends of Sycamore Shoals group and their annual production.

Through his work as a commissioner representing Roan Mountain on the County Commission, Hill served on a Tourism Task Force formed by the Commission to come up with ideas for promoting tourism. It was while working with that Task Force that Hill got to know some of the individuals involved in the production of Liberty! and decided to get involved himself.

Hill joined the Friends of Sycamore Shoals group, and along with some of his fellow commissioners accepted a walk-on role in the production. Now Hill serves on the Board for the Friends group.

With this year being the 40th anniversary for the production, members of the Board began discussing ideas for doing something special to commemorate the milestone.

The “Scenes of Liberty” coloring book was born in part from those discussions and in part from a conversation between Hill and a friend.

In working with the re-enactors who bring Liberty to life each year, Hill was impressed by their work keeping the stories alive and passing them on to new generations.

“These are some amazingly dedicated individuals,” Hill said.

Hill began drawing pencil sketches of the actors and different scenes from the outdoor drama.

Hill said Robert Benfield and the Elizabethton Arts Alliance planted the seed for what turned into the Scene of Liberty coloring book.

“I asked Robert what I should do with all of these drawings, and he said ‘How about a coloring book,’” Hill said.

Hill then began preparing the drawings for reproduction and adding the text to the pages to tell the story. Now, the book is finished and is available for purchase at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at the cost of $4. For each book sold, Hill said $2.50 of the cover price will be going to the Friends of Sycamore Shoals group to help support the drama and their other programs.

Sycamore Shoals will be hosting an Artists Reception for Hill to kick off the sale of the coloring books on Saturday, June 16, at 2 p.m. in the Visitors Center at the park. In addition to the coloring books, visitors will be able to purchase some reproductions of Hill’s drawings that make up the pages of Scenes of Liberty. Hill will have mechanical reproductions, giclee prints, canvases, and even postcards available for purchase. His artwork will be on display in the Visitors Center from June 16 through July 1.