By Harley Nefe
The Southern Appalachian Historical Association is celebrating the Fourth of July in a revolutionary way at the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors can begin the celebration with a tour of Hickory Ridge’s historic 18th and 19th century cabins and see how life was back then in the High Country.
In order to follow social distancing guidelines, Marrena Greer, who is the operational manager said Hickory Ridge aims to break the event up into two separate groups, putting about 25 people together in the first group and another 25 in a second group around 2 p.m.
Individuals have the opportunity to be welcomed to a continental army encampment, see a black powder rifle demonstration and colonial magic show and participate in a tomahawk throw and tavern activities. Actors from the Horn in the West Outdoor Drama will give the reading of the Declaration of Independence, and 13 toasts will be made to represent the thirteen colonies.
Horn in the West is the nation’s longest-running Revolutionary War outdoor drama, as the adventure has offered entertainment to generations of Americans since it premiered in 1952, according to its website.
The play brings to life the story of the hardy pioneers who, with the help of famed frontiersman, Daniel Boone, and Cherokee allies, settled in the Blue Ridge wilderness as they sought freedom from British tyranny.
However, the 2020 Horn in the West season has been postponed to 2021.
The Hickory Ridge Living History Museum opened for the 2020 season on May 12 and gives the chance for people to travel back in time and experience what life was like for early settlers in the High Country.
According to a press release, the museum features six 18th and 19th century cabins that each represent different aspects of life in the back country during the settlement period of the colonial era and offers a glimpse of the frontier in the days when Daniel Boone roamed the mountains and pioneers put down roots and called the rugged area home. It was a time when owning a flintlock rifle and hunting for food was a necessity. The museum’s costumed guides explain how food was cooked over an open fire, how blacksmiths forged hand-made tools and shod horses, and how women spun material for making their own clothes.
“We’re putting a different spin on cabin-fever,” museum educator Taylor Osborne said in a press release. “This may be the oldest log cabin in North Carolina. It was built before the American Revolution, and families that lived here knew a thing or two about war, pestilence and making it through a rough time. We want kids to learn about that.”
Museum tours operate every 45 minutes and last approximately 30 minutes. The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except for July 4, where the hours are from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets are typically $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children under 4. However, it should be noted for young children that there are loud noises from the rifles. Admission to the Fourth of July Celebration is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.
Tickets for the Fourth of July Celebration are first come first serve, and Hickory Ridge will have tickets available at the door.
The Hickory Ridge Living History Museum is located at 591 Horn In The West Drive, off of U.S. Hwy 321 in Boone.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the costumed historical guides will wear a protective face mask for the protection of visitors, and face coverings are required for guests. Groups are also limited in regular tours to six people and will be asked to refrain from handling the artifacts. Appointments may be scheduled and more information can be found at horninthewest.com.
“Come visit us this summer,” Osborne said, “and learn something old.”
Scenes from Hickory Ridge Living History Museum. Photos by Wendy Fletcher, Southern Appalachian Historical Association.