The year 2012 marks Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary, and to help commemorate this important milestone, Fort Loudoun State Historic Park will host an 18th Century Christmas celebration on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
This annual event blends a festive holiday spirit with both educational opportunities and traditional entertainment. Re-enactors will bring 18th century lifestyles back to life with blacksmithing demonstrations and musket and artillery firings. In addition, there will be a special hour-long candlelight tour of Fort Loudoun beginning at 6 p.m. Soldiers will also perform a rare nighttime firing of the Fort’s cannon. The event is free and open to the public.
“We are very excited to celebrate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary this year,” said Park Manager Eric Hughey. "This event heralds back to a day when Christmas was simple but festive. We have exciting opportunities for all ages and we encourage everyone to come out and help us kick off the holiday season.”
The 18th Century Christmas event begins with a “roll call,” summoning re-enactment soldiers to their posts just as it would have been done 250 years ago. Throughout the day, costumed living history re-enactors will go about their garrison duties, while taking time to interact with visitors. Demonstrations of both crafts and skills will also be conducted.
Park visitors will get a chance to see an 18th century infirmary, as well as soldiers’ barracks, the commander’s quarters and a Cherokee encampment. Throughout the day, soldiers will be commanded to sing Christmas carols and guests are encouraged to add their voices. The day’s schedule will also include a Christmas church service and wassail tasting. Fort Loudoun’s visitor center and museum will be open throughout the program and light refreshments will be served just before the candlelight tour begins. The Fort’s gift shop and bookstore will also be open for visitors to find that unique Christmas gift.
At 5:15 p.m., Barton Redmon will be on hand to sign his book, “For Six Pence a Day” in the visitor center. Redmon’s book is an exquisitely detailed exposition on the life of the common soldier in the British Army during the Seven Years’ War, known as the French and Indian War in North America. Contents include food rations, care of equipment and recipes. The book can be purchased at the Fort’s bookstore.
Also making an appearance at the celebration will be Tennessee State Parks’ new traveling anniversary exhibit, which hit the road earlier this year to tour state parks and various communities – sharing Tennessee State Parks’ rich and storied history. Enclosed in a colorful trailer emblazoned with various images and logos, the exhibit interprets the origins and heritage of Tennessee’s state park system.
The Tennessee State Parks system was established through legislation in 1937, and those laws – with modifications and additions over the years – remain the framework for park operations today. As in most states, Tennessee began in cooperation with federal programs that instigated individual parks. Later, Depression era recovery programs gave a boost to the idea and the possibility of creating parks. The Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration worked on land conservation, but also delved further into the actual planning and construction of what would become the first of 54 Tennessee State Parks.
Today, there is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Tennessee. A 2009 University of Tennessee study highlights the positive economic impacts that state parks provide local communities, particularly in rural areas of the state. The study found that for every dollar spent on trips to Tennessee State Parks, an additional $1.11 of economic activity was generated throughout the state. When the direct and indirect expenditures were combined, the impact of Tennessee State Parks to the state’s economy was $1.5 billion in total industry output, supporting more than 18,600 jobs.
“Our vision statement highlights the inherent value of our natural environment, along with the value of the many physical reminders of Tennessee’s past,” said Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “Tennessee’s state parks have played such an important role in our history, and they play a critical role in our health and quality of life, which will benefit Tennesseans well into the future.”
Tennessee’s state parks deliver a rich fabric of natural landscapes, wild places, preserved ecologies, outdoor recreational opportunities and protected historic scenes and resources – together representing the heritage of Tennessee in the landscape.
Tennessee's 54 state parks and 82 state natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups. State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses. For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 888 867-2757. For upcoming events in connection with the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, please visit the state parks website at www.tnstateparks.com.
In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation launched an innovative new microsite at www.tnstateparks75.com. Established in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the microsite displays Tennessee State Parks’ rich heritage and showcases the many outdoor adventures awaiting state park visitors through rich media and dynamic content.
Fort Loudoun State Historic Park is a 1,200-acre site on the location of one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier, built in 1756. Nearby were the principal towns of the Cherokee Nation including Tenase, namesake of our state, and Tuskegee, birthplace of Sequoyah. Today the fort and the 1794 Tellico Blockhouse overlook TVA's Tellico Reservoir and the Appalachian Mountains and are located one mile off Highway 411 on Highway 360 in Vonore. For more information about the park or a complete schedule of events for Christmas 1757, please contact the Fort Loudoun State Historic Park office at 423 884-6217 or visit the website at www.tnstateparks.com/FortLoudoun.