Liberty! drama kicks off 40th season on Thursday

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Liberty! the Saga of Sycamore Shoals is opening for it’s 40th anniversary season on Thursday, and park officials are anticipating record attendance for the milestone event.

Liberty! opens its 40th season of outdoor drama at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on Thursday, July 12th and runs for 3 weekends. Performances are held Thursday through Saturday each week, offering the opportunity for audiences to become immersed in our region’s history.

Liberty! tells the stories of the sacrifices of our ancestors and their strong desire for freedom played a critical role in our nation’s ultimate independence from Great Britain and the creation of America as a new nation. Our regions connection to our history is strong and has been the catalyst for years of dramatic presentations that retell the stories of those who lived in the Watauga Old Field in the late 18th century.

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Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals is the official Outdoor Drama of the State of Tennessee.

Outdoor drama is not new to Elizabethton; as a matter of fact, the earliest known dramatic presentation of the story of Sycamore Shoals, took place in 1922, when the people living in the communities of Elizabethton and Carter County came together to present a five-act play. Jim Bishop, one of Elizabethton’s most important leaders in historic preservation, came across the program prepared for the 1922 event, saying “Our stories have been told from one generation to the next; to our families and our children. These are stories of our ancestors, the people who were instrumental in the formation of our new country – America, with a government based on the principles of democracy and freedom! The drama presented in 1922 was the earliest known play presented here, which featured veterans from World War I.”

Ninety six years later, we are honored to be able to carry on the 1922 tradition of presenting the story of Sycamore Shoals to guests from all over the United States and beyond, continuing in the format of an outdoor drama!

The series of events that unfolded at Sycamore Shoals were critical to the formation of our state and our nation in the 18th century. These dramatic chapters in America’s westward expansion set the tone for a number of events that helped propel the British colonies towards independence and a democratic form of government.

The concept of outdoor drama offers a very unique format in which to present a theatrical performance. Without a doubt, experiencing live theater, beside the cool waters of the Watauga River, with Fort Watauga as the backdrop to the play, is unlike any other. Theatrical lighting, professional sound, and a host of unexpected effects completely immerse the audience in the lifestyles of the late 18th century.

The skill and professionalism of our 2018 cast, composed completely of volunteers, sets the stage for an unforgettable audience experience. You will feel their joys, their sorrows, and often be on the edge of your seats as the action unfolds. Liberty! presents the opportunity to connect with a cast who brings the 18th century at Sycamore Shoals to life in a very engaging way.

Michael Barnett, President of Friends of Sycamore Shoals, has tirelessly devoted himself to the successful production of Liberty!

“It is heartwarming and humbling, to see over 100 volunteers come together, beginning in January each year, to share their time with us in telling one of America’s most important stories,” Barnett said. “My energy level is at an all-time high as Liberty! approaches.”

“The people – the cast, the guests; their love and appreciation of our efforts make the entire behind the scenes work worth every minute invested,” he added. “When you see that spark of inspiration and gratitude in their eye, you know your efforts have not been in vain.

Chad Bogart, Museum Curatorial Assistant for Sycamore Shoals is fully immersed in planning that continues throughout the year.

“The dedication of our cast is meaningful beyond words,” Bogart said. “Our Liberty! family represents all that is good in our world; people filled with a deep passion and commitment to do their part in making sure the sacrifices and contributions of our ancestors are remembered and honored.”

Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals will host nine performances this year, presented by Friends of Sycamore Shoals at the Fort Watauga amphitheater, Thursdays – Saturdays, July 12 – 14, 19 – 21, and 26 – 28. Gates open at 6:00 pm with the show starting at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are $14.00 for Adults (18 and over), $11.00 for Seniors (55 and over), $6.00 for Children (6 – 17 yrs), 5 and under are free.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Liberty! we anticipate high attendance, thus we encourage you to purchase tickets for General Admission Seating, in advance, by visiting – we want everyone to have the opportunity to see one of the most nationally significant stories in the history of our great country!

The Fort Watauga Amphitheater comfortably seats 400.   Tickets can also be purchased the night of the event at the door for seats that have not been purchased in advance.

Concession stand opens nightly at 6:30 pm.

Special reduced admission nights this year include:

  • Thursday, July 12th – First Night – Adults and Seniors – $9.00
  • 1st Responders Night – 1st Responder & a Companion admitted Free
  • Thursday, July 19th – Veterans Night – Veteran & a Companion admitted Free.

For additional information please contact Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park at 423-543-5808.