Sycamore Shoals preparing for second Overmountain Institute

Published 8:10 am Monday, February 3, 2020

Sycamore Shoals State Park is already preparing for the second iteration of its Overmountain Institute, bringing experts from across Appalachia to showcase history in its purest form: hands-on.

Museum Curator Chad Bogart said they received inspiration for the event from similar “institutes” in other areas.

“We wanted to tell our story in a different way than we normally do,” Bogart said.

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The Institute will run from Friday, March 6, through Sunday, March 8. Demonstrations throughout the weekend will include power horn art, lessons on midwives and frontier medicine, frontier fashion and much more.

Bogart said last year, the first time they put it on, was a huge success.

“What surprised me is most of the participants were not reenactors,” he said. “They were just people who wanted deeper knowledge.”

He said they did get history enthusiasts at the event, of course, but the common person’s genuine interest was visible, and already they are seeing the same response this year, demonstrating the event’s power in showcasing history and its significance to the region as a whole.

The event gives a greater spotlight on a hands-on form of history participants might not get elsewhere, especially for a park like Sycamore Shoals.

“I think it goes a little more in-depth than we normally offer,” Bogart said. “Each program is very focused.”

The Institute has another benefit: attracting non-Carter County residents to the region.

“Any time we can draw people who have never been here before is good,” he said. “That was an unforeseen benefit. I love bringing in folks from other historic sites.”

In the meantime, Bogart said the Institute will be unique in its scope compared to the rest of the region.

“You will be hard-pressed to find another event like this, with people from so many different backgrounds,” he said. “Knowledge is tremendously important.”

Registration takes place at the Sycamore Shoals State Park website. Each ticket is $50, though he said the value of the event is worth the price, especially since the event is a chance to connect with other history-enthusiasts, experts or both.

“You are spending three days with these people,” he said.