By Frank Ruggiero
With climactic battle sequences and the booming report of musket and cannon fire, “Horn in the West” has brought explosive outdoor drama to the High Country for almost seven decades.
Organizers would like to see it continue for another seven and, to that end, are hosting a membership drive in 2019.
Produced and presented by the nonprofit Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA), “Horn in the West” draws regulars and newcomers every summer to Daniel Boone Park, where they witness a tale of the Revolutionary War unfold beneath the High Country sky.
The amphitheater’s natural surroundings, coupled with Boone’s temperate weather, make “Horn” an idyllic way to spend a summer evening, said Carson Sailor, executive director of SAHA. And this year, he added, is only going to get better.
“We’re streamlining certain aspects and are really trying to increase the quality of not only our production, but the visitor experience in general,” Sailor said.
These improvements are most evident in the benefits granted through SAHA membership, levels of which include VIP status at “Horn” showings. VIP packages grant holders a fast pass into the show with a red-carpeted entryway, discounted tickets, an exclusive concession window and early access to one’s seats.
But that’s only the tip of the horn.
The $100 Patriot level includes recognition in the “Horn” program, an invitation to opening night, priority access to VIP offerings, a $5 discount on tickets and pre-sale notice on special events.
The $250 Hornet level includes everything in the Patriot level, along with a complimentary souvenir program.
The $500 Kings Mountain Victory level includes all of the Patriot and Hornet benefits, plus a complimentary upgrade to VIP tickets with any ticket purchase.
Lastly, the $1,000 Boone’s Trailblazers level includes all of the membership perks above, plus a memorial in the entryway and “ownership of one evening of the show,” meaning printed recognition and public acknowledgement.
Sailor noted that these new giving levels don’t only benefit members, but the organization as a whole.
“The membership drive is more than just money in the pocket,” he said. “It also benefits us when applying for grants, both locally and nationally, as these institutions want to see that people care about your mission.”
According to its mission statement, SAHA “celebrates and preserves the diverse cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. Centered around Daniel Boone and the fight for American independence, SAHA engages individuals through historical education and cultural entertainment.”
“We also conduct research, manage internships and seek publishing opportunities,” Sailor said. “In fact, we published three books through SAHA, which is pretty neat.”
Although synonymous with “Horn,” SAHA also hosts the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, adjacent to the amphitheater.
Home to six historic cabins, the museum features interpreters in period clothing, who offer guests a glimpse into the daily lives of the area’s early settlers. Educational programs include general tours and period craft workshops for guests of all ages.
The 69th season of “Horn in the West” will run June 21 through Aug. 10, with show times at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Hickory Ridge is open April through November, with tours running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
SAHA will also offer a “Trail to Victory” program in early June, which will highlight the battle of Kings Mountain.
“It’s an immersive event, so you’re going to get to follow the entire Kings Mountain story from beginning to end and look at it through a personal lens, as well as why it’s historically important,” Sailor said. “We’ll have actors taking you through the museum, and you’ll wind up smack dab in the middle of an 18th-century battle.”