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Horn in the West 61st Season Ends with a Bang

Aug. 16, 2012. As the summer comes to a close and the leaves begin to change, life slows down a bit at “Horn in the West.” The amphitheater has closed its gates for the season and the cast and crew have packed their bags and are bidding farewell to their mountain home of the past three months.

The Daniel Boone Amphitheater was packed for the finale of “Horn in the West” and over 900 tickets were sold. During closing weekend, local residents were able to purchase discounted tickets for only $6 each. For many, visiting “Horn” is a family tradition, especially for those that have grown up seeing the show, selling concessions, and even playing a part in it.

“We are very appreciative of the support of our community” said Katy Cook, an intern in the office at the Southern Appalachian Historical Association. “Our opening and closing nights were packed with locals. After such a rainy season, it was uplifting to see so many Wataugans here for closing night.”

Since its debut in 1952, “Horn in the West” has been telling the tale of the famous mountaineer, Daniel Boone, and his trek into the Blue Ridge as he led reform-minded Regulators toward freedom. This outdoor drama is based on historic events and offers guests adventure, excitement, and educational value.

Though every year brings about changes in the script and characters, one of the most significant changes this season was not in costume or the dance routines. The dialects of the characters were greatly adapted to be representative of the era, when the colonies were made up of settlers from various backgrounds. Rev. Isaiah Sims took on a Scottish accent while Widow Howard was German.

“It was amazing to see more people at our final show than we’ve had for the past six seasons on closing night. I really enjoyed speaking with and recognizing community members that came to see the show” said Jake DuVernois, who has spent his summers working at “Horn” since he first got involved in high school. 

The Southern Appalachian Historical Association, the nonprofit organization responsible for “Horn in the West” and the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, strives to preserve mountain heritage for future generations to enjoy. For 61 years, SAHA has been dedicated to offering an opportunity for visitors to experience Appalachian life as it was in the late 1700s.

“The culture in these mountains is incredibly strong and the history is intriguing, whether you are a native to the area or not. I’ve grown up in Watauga County and now attend ASU, but because my family was not from here, I missed out on a lot of the cultural heritage until I began working at ‘Horn,’” said Cook. 

During the summer season, “Horn in the West” is performed Tuesday through Sunday evenings from mid-June to mid-August. The museum opens every evening before the show and, during the off-season, is open at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings until the end of October.

On Saturday, October 13, guests are invited back for another glimpse into the past with the Boone Heritage Festival. This is the second anniversary of this event celebrating mountain culture. The festival will take place on the grounds and, in addition to touring through the museum, guests will be able to enjoy traditional Appalachian music, craft and food vendors, and historical demonstrations. Children will enjoy crafts, contests and old-fashioned toys.

Vendor space is still available for the festival. Additional crafts and activities have been added to the agenda and Dave Davis, curator of the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, is hopeful that “this year it will be bigger and better than ever.”

In late October, SAHA will host Haunted Horn, a Halloween trail through the woods. Guests will follow a haunted trail with spooky surprises waiting at every turn.

For more information about all that the Southern Appalachian Historical Association has to offer, call 828-264-2120 or visit www.HornInTheWest.com or www.HickoryRidgeMuseum.com.