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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

'Liberty!' Named Tennessee's State Outdoor Drama

Posing at a statue of an Overmountain Man are, from left, Dustin Goforth, Mountain States Health Alliance Executive and cast member; U.S. Representative Phil Roe; Mike Carlton, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Assistant Commissioner; Speaker of the House Kent Williams; Jennifer Bauer, manager of the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area; and Herb Roberts, Tennessee State Parks, East Tennessee Manager.
Posing at a statue of an Overmountain Man are, from left, Dustin Goforth, Mountain States Health Alliance Executive and cast member; U.S. Representative Phil Roe; Mike Carlton, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Assistant Commissioner; Speaker of the House Kent Williams; Jennifer Bauer, manager of the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area; and Herb Roberts, Tennessee State Parks, East Tennessee Manager.

Tennessee General Assembly Bestows Honor

July 20, 2009

ELIZABETHTON, TN Speaker of the House Kent Williams on Saturday presented to Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area the resolution of the General Assembly designating "Liberty!" as the Official Outdoor Drama of the State of Tennessee.

Williams said the historic area hosts what is "unquestionably the state's finest outdoor drama and now, as it begins its 31st year, it is a great pleasure for me to present this framed copy of the resolution to the park. This park and its success is vital to the entire region, just as Sycamore Shoals was two centuries ago. We are seeing impressive growth in tourism and many other related areas because of what is happening here. We all look forward to many more years of continued success."

Last year (2008), more than 300,000 people visited Sycamore Shoals, which this season is hosting more than 60 re-enactments, musical concerts and special events, including the acclaimed Native American and Celtic festivals.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-1st) followed Williams to center stage with a Congressional Resolution honoring the drama and its volunteers and supporters. Roe said, "First, it is appropriate to remember the sacrifice of the most important volunteers the citizen soldiers that are central to this story and to the story of America" and asked that all veterans stand and be recognized.

Having recently returned from an overseas trip to war zones, Roe said, "You can be proud of these young men and women who are serving our country. They live up to the highest standards."

The congressman read his statement from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., earlier in the week. "I want to congratulate and sincerely thank all of the volunteers that contribute their time and efforts to 'Liberty!' for honoring our great state of Tennessee," Roe said.

A number of dignitaries and guests were on hand for the local presentation, including Mike Carlton, assistant commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation, who traveled from Nashville.

Nat E. Hyder, president of the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area (FSSSHA), said the recognition was "a milestone that we share with many who have helped us reach this plateau. Volunteers, people who genuinely and completely love this park, are its lifeblood. They sew, clean, cook, plant and build. And that's before the huge cast ever arrives to begin rehearsal."

Hyder continued, "'Liberty!' is our flagship program but, in truth, every activity, every re-enactment, every presentation and every story told here really is about one thing: remembering and honoring an extraordinary breed of people. We all want to teach the great lessons from the 18th century and, in so doing, we all learn more about ourselves and our country."

FSSSHA Vice President Jim Bishop, whose "tireless work in support of the park and the drama for a quarter-century" has earned what Hyder believes is the most respectful sobriquet available — "the glue that has held us together" — said the words of the resolution "ring true down through time."

Bishop said, "This is a wonderful night,. It is the reaffirmation of the importance that Sycamore Shoals has played in the birth of our nation. The events that took place here shook the earth and forever changed the political landscape in our country."

"We are fortunate to have such a program, to bring great renown to the park and all the other activities that take place here," said Dr. Paul Gabinet, adviser to the FSSSHA board of directors. "We are able to entertain audiences and then seamlessly help them continue their education about the lifestyles on the frontier, and to incorporate that interest that is sparked by the drama in the many re-enactment, musical, dramatic and storytelling events we host."

The audience was already cheering and whistling, almost drowning Williams out as he completed reading the resolution, and continued as Gabinet announced, to a musical fanfare, the opening of the show: "Ladies and gentlemen, for the very first time, welcome to "Liberty!' the Official Outdoor Drama of the State of Tennessee."

Park Manager Jennifer Bauer said it is "an honor for the historic area to be home to the drama, and a great thrill that our major public outreach holds this designation. "Liberty!' defines who we are and why we are here. The drama has become well-known and brings so many people to the park who might not otherwise even hear about it and the many activities we have for people of all ages."

"Liberty!" will be performed Thursdays-Saturdays, July 16-25, 2009, in the Fort Watauga Amphitheater behind the Visitors Center at the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. Tickets are $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; $8 for students; and children 5 and under are admitted free.