Johnson City Press: Native American Festival highlights busy June at Sycamore Shoals
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Native American Festival highlights busy June at Sycamore Shoals

John Thompson • May 28, 2019 at 8:50 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The weather has turned warmer and children are out of school. Perfect conditions for activities at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. Activities are picking up at the park, as it gets ready to host one of its most popular annual events, the Sycamore Shoals Native American Festival.

The festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2. Admission is $6 for adults and $1 for students, aged 7-17, children 6 and under are admitted free.

Saturday’s schedule includes:

10 a.m.: Native American flute performed by Daniel Bigay.

10:30 a.m.: “The Role of Women within Cherokee Culture during the 18th Century” — a presentation by Jackie Fischer.

11 a.m.:  “Are you Smarter than a …” a presentation by Mark and Sherry Finchum.

11:30 a.m.: Cherokee storytelling with Freeman Owle.

Noon: Cherokee dance and drum demonstrations and blowgun demonstration with Dale Cloer, Mossy Creek Drum Group.

2 p.m.: Native American flute with Daniel Bigay.

2:30 p.m.: “The Work of Cherokee Women within the Clan during the 18th Century,” a presentation by Jackie Fischer.

3 pm: “Are you Smarter than a …” a presentation by Mark and Sherry Finchum.

3:30 p.m.: Cherokee Storytelling with Freeman Owle.

4 p.m.: Native American dance and drum demonstration and blowgun demonstration with Dale Cloer, Mossy Creek Drum Group.

7 p.m.: Traditional evening campfire, attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or a folding chair. The event features Freeman Owle, Mark and Sherry Finchum, Dale Cloer, and Daniel Bigay.

It is located in the shaded area between the walking trail and Fort Watauga, just below the picnic area. Subject to cancellation if weather is bad.

Sunday’s schedule includes:

10 a.m.: An opportunity to visit with the demonstrators and shop with the unique artisans and exceptional craftsmen.

11:30 a.m.: Cherokee Language Workshop with Freeman Owle.

Noon:  Cherokee dance and drum demonstrations and blowgun demonstration with Dale Cloer, Mossy Creek Drum Group.

2: p.m.: Native American flute with Daniel Bigay.

2:30 p.m.: “The Role of Women within Cherokee Culture during the 18th Century ” a presentation by Jackie Fischer.

3 p.m.: “Are you Smarter than a …” presented by Mark and Sherry Finchum.

3:30 p.m.: Cherokee storytelling with Freeman Owle.

Another event that will take place at the park on Saturday is the biweekly meeting of the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps for practice from 10 a.m. to noon. The corps performs at historical events, dedications and parades. The corps is looking for new members to join its ranks and musical experience is not required, only a willingness to learn. The corps also meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

There are two events on Sunday, June 9:

• At 1:30 p.m., the Watauga Valley Art League will hold its monthly meeting and program. This monthly meeting is open to all. Each month a unique program is presented that ranges from talks, to demonstrations, to hands-on projects.

• At 2:30 p.m., the Sabine Hill Social Society Annual Gathering will take place. Whether you are a member of the Sabine Hill Social Society or are interested in learning more about the Friends of Sycamore Shoals, you are invited to come. You will have the opportunity to learn early 19th century dance (no experience is required) and also learn card games from that period. This event will take place at the park’s picnic shelters.

There will be two events set for Wednesday, June 12:

• 10 a.m.: Ranger-led bicycle ride. The cost is $5 and the maximum number of participants will be about 10 people. Pre-registration is required, go to www.tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals. Choose “Upcoming Events” in the left hand menu. Join Ranger Jason Davis for a ranger-led bike ride up the Tweetsie Trail to the Elizabethton Covered Bridge, then back to the park via the Elizabethton Linear Trail. Total loop will be about 6 miles and take approximately one hour depending on the average ability level of the attending participants. Portions of the route will not be suitable for pull-behind child carriers. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring your own water. Program will be cancelled/rescheduled in the event of bad weather. Cash payments must be made at the park office during regular operating hours prior to registration cut-off date.

2 p.m.: Tomahawk Throwing Workshop. Cost is $5. Maximum participation: 5 students. Pre-registration required, go to: www.tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals. Choose “Upcoming Events” in left hand menu.

Master the unique frontier skill of tomahawk throwing by joining Davis for a hands-on tutorial. Topics will include proper technique and release, as well as versatile applications of tomahawk use in the outdoors. No children younger than 12. Parents who wish to be present but not participate do not need to register. Dress appropriately for the weather. Bring your own gloves and water, all other supplies will be provided. Cash payments must be made at the park office during regular operating hours prior to registration cut-off date. Pre-registration required, go to: www.tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals. Choose “Upcoming Events” in left hand menu.

There will be two events on Thursday, June 20:

•9 a.m.: Join Ranger Corbin Hayslett along the banks of the Watauga River to see what is biting. Everyone will be fishing from the bank so no waders will be necessary. Dress appropriately and wear close-toed shoes. Necessary equipment and licensure is required. Children 13 and younger do not need a fishing license. Meet at the terminus of the riverfront trail. Cash payments must be made at the park office during regular operating hours prior to registration cut-off date.

•2 p.m.: Banjos through time will be presented. The cost is $10 and maximum participation is 15. Pre-registration required, go to: www.tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals. Choose “Upcoming Events” in left hand menu.

Hear first-hand the way the banjo transformed from a rhythm instrument of natural materials to a melodic machine. Join Hayslett at the historic Sabine Hill home and hear sounds of 200 years’ worth of banjo music ring through one of our region’s most unique historic homes. Cash payments must be made at the park office during regular operating hours prior to registration.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23, a flint knapping workshop to teach students how to make stone tools will be presented by Bob Estep and his friends. The class will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The cost: is $110. This will cover the costs of two days of instruction, flint knapping kit and stone — yours to keep.

Students will make stone tools such as the arrow point using only traditional techniques. Register no later than one week prior to the class. Adults only.

On Sunday, June 23, from 1:30-4 p.m. the Old Time Music Jam — led by Art Lang —will once again be presented. Enjoy the rich musical traditions of our region each month. Old time musicians of all levels are welcome. Don’t play an instrument? Come on over, kick back, and enjoy the tunes.

On Saturday, June 29, and Sunday June 30, the military muster marking  “Independence on the Frontier: Militia Muster at Fort Watauga” will be presented. The muser will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Experience independence 18th century-style. What did colonists think about a new nation? Be a guest in Fort Watauga as news of independence arrives on the colonial frontier. Walk among historical characters and hear their varied reactions to the Declaration of Independence, from fear of war to the hope of a brighter future. Special public reading of the Declaration of Independence each day.

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