Annual "Siege of Fort Watauga" highlights May at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

John Thompson • May 1, 2018 at 10:11 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The 24th Annual Siege at Fort Watauga highlights May, along with several guided tours of Sabine Hill and a spring bird walk around the grounds.

The siege is a live retelling of the Cherokee attack brought on the settlers of the Watauga, Nolichucky and Holston valleys in the summer of 1776. At Sycamore Shoals, the fort offered protection to nearly 200 settlers during a two-week siege led by Cherokee War Chief Old Abram and 300 warriors.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Ave., will host many historical re-enactors for this annual event, which will take place at the park Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

In addition to settlers taking refuge in the stockaded fort, there will be Native Americans portraying a Cherokee war camp along with an American militia camp and a British encampment.

The siege does not happen until the end of the month, but the first weekend will offer guided tours of Sycamore Shoals’ newest addition, Sabine Hill, the home completed by Mary “Polly” Patton Taylor, the widow of Brigadier Gen. Nathaniel Taylor. He died immediately after he returned home from the War of 1812.

The house, which overlooks the western entrance to Elizabethton, is described as one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the state. It was restored by the Tennessee Historical Commission and turned over to the Tennessee Park System.

The state hired leading experts in restoration of early 19th-century homes, and work continues on furnishing the home. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to take in the colorful and architecturally detailed interior while learning about the Taylor Family, who would go on to provide Tennessee with two governors, Georgia with another governor, a U.S. District Court judge, professors, journalists and clergymen.

The tour will meet at 2328 W. G St. There are no restroom facilities on the grounds, so plan accordingly.

The tours will take place Saturday, May 5, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children from 7 to 17. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Reservations are required and can be made online at: www.tnstateparks.com/parks/events/sycamore-shoals.

Also on that Saturday and every Saturday will be weekly rehearsals. The Junior Corps is open to new members and beginners. Musical experience is welcome but not necessary, just come with a willingness to learn. Junior Corps members have opportunities throughout the year to move into Senior Corps as they progress. The Junior Corps rehearses every Saturday from noon to 1 p.m.

The Senior Corps rehearses from 10 a.m. to noon. The Watauga Valley Fife & Drum Corps performs at historical events, dedications and parades.

On Sunday, May 6, the Watauga Valley Art League meeting and program will take place at 1:30 p.m. Each month a unique program is planned that ranges from talks, to demos to hands-on projects.

The Liberty Spinners will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday, May 8, at 9:30 a.m. This gathering of spinners and fiber artists is open to anyone interested in the art of spinning.

Also on Tuesday, May 8, the first of three classes, “Beyond Beginning — Mountain Dulcimer” will be taught by Jim Miller. The classes will be Tuesday, May 8, 15 and 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost for the three weeks is $45.

The course will allow you to continue your learning on this traditional Appalachian instrument. The course covers chords, harmonies and several intermediate tunes.

Nature will be the theme for Saturday, May 12. The bird walk with the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society will be at 8 a.m. Participants will have the opportunity to meet other birders and naturalists at the park for a morning of birding during the migratory season.

Also on Saturday, May 12, the Jr. Ranger poisonous plant and critter identification will take place from 11 a.m. to noon. The cost is $5 for children 6 to 12. Pre-registration is required online at www.tnstateparks.com/parks/about/sycamore-shoals.

The children will learn how to be safe while having fun playing outside this summer. Bring your kids to join Ranger Davis and discover how to identify common poisonous plants, snakes and insects that live in our area.

A field guide will be provided for the kids to write and draw in during “class” and take home for their outdoor adventures this summer. Parents are encouraged to be present to assist with “note taking,” but do not need to register.

Dress appropriately for the weather and bring your own water. Meet in the picnic area beside the visitor center.

Another fun nature event for children on May 12 will be the “recycled camping stoves” class. It will take place from 2-3 p.m.

Ranger Corbin Hayslett will show the children how to cook in a can, using recyclables to make a camping cook stove out of aluminum cans, plant fertilizer and gas-line antifreeze.

Pre-registration is required and can be made online at www.tnstateparks.com/parks/about/sycamore-shoals. The cost is $5 and the class is open to children 10 and over. Parents accompanying youth who do not wish to participate are admitted free. All supplies are provided, and you get to take the stove home.

The final event of the month is the Old Time Music Jam, led by Art Lang. It takes place Sunday, May 27, from 1:30-4 p.m. Participants can enjoy the rich musical traditions of our region each month.

Old time musicians of all levels are welcome. Don’t play and instrument? Come on over, kick back and enjoy the tunes.

For more information, call 423-543-5808 or go to www.sycamoreshoalstn.org.

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