- Posted October 3, 2013 by
Gaffney, South Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Shutdown over: What next?
Upstate SC Revolutionary War Weekend plans cancelled due to National Park Closings
By TOMMY MARTIN
Cherokee Chronicle Editor
The old adage, “when the world gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” has been adopted by the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and the three national park sites located in this county that Congress has shut down this week - only days before the biggest Revolutionary War celebration of the year is scheduled to take place.
Chamber Executive Director Pam Foxx said Wednesday that she has been in contact with a number of congressional representatives and with several national TV networks about featuring the plight of Cherokee County and its “Revolutionary War Weekend” set to begin Friday.
“Most of them do not realize that Cherokee County is the only county in the entire United States that contains portions of three Revolutionary War park sites – Cowpens, Kings Mountain, and the Overmountain Trail,” Ms. Foxx said. “We want them to help us tell our story and also to see what a predicament we’re in because of the park closings.”
Foxx has discussed the issue with representatives of Rep. Nick Mulvaney and Sen. Lindsay Graham. Both offices told her there is still a chance that the national battlefields will reopen by Friday. “If they remain closed, then we’re probably going to lose several thousand tourists,” she said.
Kings Mountain Chief Ranger Chris Revels said that this is historically the biggest weekend of the year for that national park and that they were expecting 5,000 to 10,000 visitors before Congress shut down the parks.
Likewise, Cowpens Park Superintendent John Slaughter says that all but one employee there has been furloughed due to the shutdown even though a huge crowd and long list of activities were scheduled there this weekend.
“Revolutionary War Weekend” is celebrated throughout Upstate South Carolina but is particularly attractive to Cherokee County because of its three park sites and two actual battlefields. It is sponsored locally by the Chamber, the Cherokee History Museum and Cherokee County Council, which appropriated $15,000 to help advertise the dates nationally.
The negative financial impact to local hotels, shopping centers and restaurants will be enormous, Ms. Foxx said.
“That’s why I’m hoping some network will help get our story out,” she said. “At the very least, they can let people know that they can come to Cherokee County and get a real history lesson in the Revolutionary War and see parts of three national parks.”
One important part of the weekend’s activities, a Symposium set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at the History Museum and featuring Revolutionary War expert Dr. Bobby Moss, will still go on without a hitch since it is not connected directly to the national parks. Tickets are $30 each and also feature a low-country boil and entertainment that night by Mill Hilly Blues.
As for Monday’s wreath laying originally planned for Kings Mountain, the City of Gaffney has stepped in to assist if needbe. Gaffney City Administrator James Taylor said, “I have been working with the Sons of American Revolution on a contingency plan for the wreath laying ceremony for the anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain. We have a plan for the City of Gaffney to block Limestone Street Monday morning and have the wreath laying, by the different DAR and SAR groups, at the Col. James Williams grave site located at the old county admin building(Carnegie Library).
“Limestone Street is a SC DOT road and yesterday we received permission to block the road for this event. City of Gaffney street crews and the Gaffney Police department will handle the logistics of this. Of course we all hope something will be worked out in Washington so the Kings Mountain Park will be open,” Taylor added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Foxx continues to “make lemonade.”
“A lot of people have spent so much time, effort and money to make this Revolutionary War Weekend special,” she said. “It’s such a shame that it might not go on as planned, but we want them to know that Cherokee County and it’s three national park sites will be here from now on. We invite them to come visit us anytime!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-the-minute updates, continue to check with The Cherokee Chronicle Facebook page.)
Contact info: Tommy Martin, email@example.com; 864-488-1016