The annual Mountain Heritage Day beckons guests to embrace Appalachian tradition and dive into the thriving legacy of North Carolina’s mountain culture on September 24. The festival, held in Cullowhee, N.C. at Western Carolina University, invites you with open arms to this authentic experience, complete with music, entertainment, shopping, activities and history.
Festival-goers can start their day by participating in the event’s 5k which winds through the beautiful college campus. Test your mountain skills in the chainsaw contest, or men can show off their best mountain appearance in the beard and mustache competition. Then, settle down to watch a stickball game between two Cherokee teams. What is Stickball you might ask? It is similar to lacrosse. In the Cherokee tradition, the objective is to hit a wooden fish that stands atop a 25-foot pole and collect points for your team.
Mountain Heritage Day will open with a bang at the black powder demo, coupled with the sacred heart demonstration to kick the festival off. Two main stages, Balsam and Blue Ridge, will showcase endless entertainment ranging from live music, costume contests and clogging routines. With fifteen live musical performances taking place in between contests, talent shows and dancing theatrics, guests can choose their entertainment of choice throughout the day.
For the musically inclined, bluegrass, the lullaby of the mountains, will sweep you onto your feet to dance to the sounds of fiddles and banjos. The sounds of old-time tunes and gospel permeate the solemn mountain silence. Attendees can bring their own favorite tunes to the group through the traditional social singing practice known as shape-note singing.
Clogging demonstrations showcase synchronized percussion beats that will reign through the mountains and inspire you to tap the night away. Clogging has deep roots in the North Carolina mountains, evolving from the square-dance in Asheville, North Carolina, and synonymous with Appalachian dance and music.
If your legs tire out on the dance floor, head over to the Arts and Craft exhibition tent and take a piece of the mountain spirit home with you. Browse through an eclectic assortment of handmade baskets, glasswork, hand-crafted jewelry, folk-art paintings, and more. For something entirely unique, artists are bringing forgotten trades front and center, including blacksmith iron and leather work.
A particularly noteworthy display, the Smoky Mountain Splendor Quilt Show, involves more than 300 hand woven quilts, representative of the warm and connected spirit of Appalachian hospitality. The display will debut September 22 and remain open for Mountain Heritage Day.
Don’t worry, we did not forget about the little ones. They have their own special tent that is filled to the brim with activities just their size. Kids will get the chance to attend their own concerts and live entertainment as well pint-size party games that will teach them the area’s history that they can cherish for years to come.
Mountain Heritage Day manifests a merging of centuries, showcasing Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and song mixed with an old-fashioned mountain fair. The 42nd annual Mountain Heritage Day is organized and hosted by Western Carolina University as its annual gift to the community. Enter the campus off of NC 107 and follow signs to on-campus parking options. The university CatTran will be running to provide shuttle service from parking areas to the Intramural Field, where the event is held.
For more information, call 828-227-3039 or visit the website at www.mountainheritageday.com.