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Siege at Fort Watauga to celebrate 25th year at May 18-19

John Thompson • Updated Apr 30, 2019 at 11:29 PM

ELIZABETHTON — One of the largest annual gatherings of 18th century historical re-eneactors will celebrate its 25th observance of the “Siege at Fort Watauga,” at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Ave., on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19.

The event attracts over 200 re-enactors, who will portray the famed Overmountain Men, settlers, Cherokee warriors, British soldiers and agents.

The re-enactors will help portray what life was like on the frontier of the newest nation on Earth.

“The Siege at Fort Watauga” is a live retelling of the Cherokee attack brought upon the settlers of the Watauga Valley in the summer of 1776. At Sycamore Shoals, Fort Watauga offered protection to nearly 200 settlers during a two-week siege led by Cherokee War Chief Old Abram and 300 warriors.

Sycamore Shoals will once again be the scene of war. The event lasts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 18 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 19. Re-enactments are performed against backdrops that include the recreation of the 18th century fort, militia camps, a British loyalist encampment, and a Cherokee camp. The weekend’s events lead to the clash of two cultures as the attack on Fort Watauga is recreated at 1 p.m. on May 18 and 2 p.m. on May 19. Visitors can also attend the auction of 18th century reproductions on Saturday.

During the event, take advantage of colonial merchants selling period wares in “Sutler’s Row.” There will be several vendors offering a myriad of 18th century reproduction items for the colonial enthusiast or the primitive decorator.

Vendors this year include:

• Zettlemoyer Pottery, specializing in hand-crafted redware and stoneware pottery.

• C. Read Apothecary, carrying perfumes, ointments, and creams.

• The Kentucky Trading Post, offering 18th century reproduction clothing and accouterments.

• Ft. Vause Outfitters, specializing in finished leather goods; Windhil Woolens, offering hand processed and dyed woolen goods such as yarn, blankets, and clothing.

• Walnut Hill Embellishments, specializing in 18th century reproduction and historically inspired jewelry, and several other vendors offering everything from 18th century reproduction clothing, weaponry, and original antiques, to replica housewares and military accouterments.

Several Revolutionary War living history units will be in attendance and will make the 18th century come to life during the weekend. Units include:

• 1st Maryland, based in Hendersonville, N.C..

• Musgrove’s Mill Militia and the South Carolina Rangers, based in upstate South Carolina.

• Johnston County Militia, based in Nashville.

• Salisbury District Militia, from Western North Carolina.

British units include:

• The 71st Highland Regiment.

• The British Legion.

The host unit is the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, based at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.

Visitors may also enjoy musical entertainment from The Sons of Liberty and the Watauga Valley Fife & Drum Corps.

Numerous individuals also participate in the event portraying many 18th century walks of life, including Cherokees, backcountry hunters, farmers, housewives, indentured servants, commoners and gentry.

For more information, call the park at 423-543-5808 or visit the park’s website at www.sycamoreshoalstn.org. Admission to the event is free.

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