Overmountain Institute to hold first annual session next weekend

The Overmountain Institute will soon be in session, with the first semester underway in just over a week, taking place from March 8 to March 10.

Museum Curatorial Assistant Chad Bogart said the event came about after a group of volunteers attended an event in West Virginia.

“We want to focus on our local stories,” Bogart said. “We want to take an in-depth look at colonial life on the frontier.”

The institute is going to be a weekend-long series of activities and speakers dedicated to showcasing colonial life in a different manner than previous events the state park hosts.

“Normally we do static displays or something of that nature,” he said. “This is a classroom setting, where people will come away with a better understanding.”

This will be a three-day curriculum. Friday evening will feature a presentation called the “Campaign to King’s Mountain.” On Saturday, six different presenters will showcase various aspects of pioneer life, including religious and medicinal practices and even blacksmithing.

“We had a huge response to our Evening with Andrew Jackson,” Bogart said. “People enjoy evening programs like that.”

The program, though still in its infancy, has attracted people from across the state of Tennessee to both attend and volunteer.

“These people are the cream of the crop when it comes to story-telling,” Bogart said. “We are getting folks from Kentucky and North Carolina.”

He said the event is for everyone, but especially those who wanted to go beyond the surface level of history.

The event has been in development for over a year.

“We have always wanted to do something like this,” he said. “This just became the best possible time.”

The timing gave the park some trouble, as Bogart said it was difficult to find a weekend during which both staff members and the presenters would be available.

Despite the challenges, people from every corner of the state are already expressing interest.

“We are getting responses west of Nashville,” Bogart said. “This is a far-reaching event.”

Those interested in attending can register either online or in person. Registration is $50 and the event has a ceiling of 100 participants, but Bogart said the fee covers everything during Friday and Saturday, while Sunday’s events are open to the public as a whole.

A full schedule of presentations and activities are on the Sycamore Shoals State Park website.

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