Sycamore Shoals State Park receives state award

Published 9:15 am Friday, January 31, 2020

Sycamore Shoals State Park recently received a state-level award for Excellence in Interpretation, honoring the park’s efforts in chronicling history and the many programs they put on in order to do so.

Park Manager Jennifer Bauer said the distinction was one of six categories parks qualified for during the Tennessee State Park’s program.

“It is very meaningful,” Bauer said. “I am particularly honored to see our staff recognized.”

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Sycamore Shoals State Park has been around since the late ’70s, providing the people of Elizabethton and the greater Carter County opportunities to see historic places such as Fort Watauga, the Carter Mansion and Sabine Hill.

Bauer said several factors play into why Sycamore Shoals received the honor.

“We are honoring and remembering the people that came before us,” she said. “We are honoring their contributions.”

Part of this programming includes the annual Liberty play, performances about the Overmountain Men and many different Living History endeavors, where visitors can see and touch history as if it were the present day.

“I think love and passion for the story is always evident,” Bauer said. “Their enthusiasm can be contagious.”

She said this enthusiasm permeates almost everything they do as a park.

“Everybody is excited about what they are doing,” she said. “They are providing opportunities for people to do hands-on activities. They engage in that one-on-one.”

This dedication to sharing is crucial, she said, because Carter County in particular has historical significance for the entire country.

“People were settled here before the founding of the nation,” she said. “The stories are remarkable. We are here as Americans because of the contributions of the people here.”

As a result of this dedication, Bauer said they try to provide programming that will fit different demographics, so as to have the widest reach overall.

“We try to keep a variety of different topics that people can participate in,” she said.

Even their trails contain history in them. Bauer said some of their trails run right next to where the Overmountain Men actually crossed.

Bauer said she wants the community to know more about what they offer as a park, particularly their history museum, which is at their main office at 1651 West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton.