"Liberty!" outdoor drama begins 2019 presentation on Thursday

John Thompson • Jul 9, 2019 at 5:11 PM

EILIZABETHTON — There are lots of great things to do in the Tri Cities during the warm evenings of July, but watching a performance of Tennessee’s official outdoor drama, “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals,” is on of the many privileges of lining in Northeast Tennessee in the summertime. The show has been presented every summer for 40 years.

The 41st year of “Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals” will debut Thursday at the amphitheater of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, 1651 W. Elk Ave.

The play tells the story of some of the first settlers to Tennessee in the late 18th century and the events of national significance that took place on the banks of the Watauga River where the amphitheater now stands.

The first significant event portrayed by the drama is the story of the creation of the Watauga Association in 1772. Theodore Roosevelt wrote in his 4-volume classic “The Winning of the West” that it was the first self-government organization independent of the Crown in the New World.

The second event depicted in the play comes from 1775. The Transylvania Purchase took place at the Watauga “Old Fields,” where Judge Richard Henderson and other land speculators purchased 20 million acres of land from the Cherokee. This negotiation sparked a series of Cherokee attacks on the pioneers of the Watauga and surrounding settlements a year later.

The most exciting section of the play is the third event of the play, which takes place with the events of June 1776, when the new settlement was under siege. “Liberty!” is set in front of the full-scale replica of Fort Watauga, which was used to defend the settlement against attacks from a faction of the Cherokee, led by Chief Dragging Canoe, who opposed the sale. Ultimately, the settlement was successful in staving off the attack and siege of the fort.

The fourth event took place a few years later. Sycamore Shoals served as the gathering place for the Overmountain Men, who were an essential part of a broader militia that defeated Major Patrick Ferguson and his British force at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. That event is often noted as a major turning point for the American Revolution.

Liberty runs Thursdays-Saturdays, July 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27. General admission tickets range from free for children 5 and under; to $6 for students 6 to 17; $11 seniors 55 and up; and $14 for adults. Members of Friends of Sycamore Shoals, veterans, and first responders may attend the drama any night for a reduced adult/senior admission price of $7.

Online ticket sales are at www.TheLibertyDrama.com or you can purchase tickets at the door until all seats are sold.

Opening Night on Thursday, July 11, features First Responders’ Night. Admission this night is free for a first responder and one guest. Reduced admission for opening night is also offered to adults and seniors at $9 each.

Veterans Night is on Thursday, July 18, when veterans are formally thanked for their service during the show, and also with free admission for them and a guest.

The production of “Liberty!” is supported by Friends of Sycamore Shoals each season.


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