Celebrating Southern Appalachian Culture at Mountain Heritage Day

Autumn is nearly upon us, and that means fall festivals are on the horizon. One not-to-miss fall event is Mountain Heritage Day, which is held each year on the Western Carolina University campus. This annual festival celebrates the Southern Appalachian mountain culture that can be found throughout Jackson County and the rest of the surrounding Western North Carolina mountains.

Mountain Heritage Day is a prime example of WCU’s community involvement, drawing more than 15,000 visitors to the area to experience continuous live entertainment, more than 130 food and craft vendors, an interactive children’s area, and nonstop family-friendly activities. Both admission and parking for the event are free, with free shuttle service provided.

Taking place Saturday, September 29, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mountain Heritage Day welcomes visitors to start the day at the Mountain Heritage Day 5K, a timed race for both runners and walkers kicking off at 8 a.m. The course features both paved and gravel paths that wind their way through the beautiful WCU campus.

Once at the festival, set up your lawn chair and enjoy the sounds of live music on five different stages. An integral part of Mountain Heritage Day, bluegrass and old-time mountain music will fill the air with performances by well-known groups like Balsam Range, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Frogtown and the Queen Family – these are just a few of the more than one dozen artists on the performance schedule. The soulful gospel group known as Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Choir, an Asheville-based African-American choir, joins the Mountain Heritage Day lineup this year to bring a new dimension to performances.

Attendees are not off the hook, though, as ballad singers Sarah Elizabeth Burkey, Susan Pepper and William Ritter will encourage audience participation during their performance. Also taking the stage will be the Jackson County Junior Appalachian Musicians, a group of students learning and performing in the local Smoky Mountain music style.

Additional live entertainment includes exuberant and entertaining clogging by groups such as the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Southern Mountain Fire Cloggers and Apple Blossoms Cloggers, plus engaging storytelling performances by Freeman Owle, Ashton Woody and Tom Godleski.

In between performances, take time to stroll through the many arts and crafts vendors to check out the various styles of arts and craftsmanship. A sample of artisans scheduled to appear include Barnes Handcrafted Wood, Russellwood Pottery, Hope Leather Products and Wilson Custom Knives.

Of course, no festival is complete without mouth-watering food, and this year’s Mountain Heritage Day will deliver with a variety of delicious vendors. These include Dancing Bear Ice Cream, GlamHam Pork Rinds, Calhoun’s Cherokee Frybread and Nanny’s Old Fashion Lemonade.

Mountain Heritage Day will take place rain or shine, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for their comfort. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the grounds. For additional festival information, please visit MountainHeritageDay.com.

Visitors to Jackson County attending Mountain Heritage Day can find well-appointed accommodations near the WCU campus in both Sylva and Dillsboro. Due to expected crowds, they are encouraged to book sooner rather than later to ensure they receive the accommodations they prefer.

To plan your visit to Mountain Heritage Day and the surrounding communities of Jackson County, request a free Visitor Guide today.

Located in Cullowhee, Western Carolina University provides over 120 undergrad degree, minor and concentration options and more than 40 grad degree and certificate options for more than 10,000 students each year. The school’s educational and public programming are a big draw for residents in nearby Sylva, Dillsboro, Cashiers, Cherokee and other Southeastern cities beyond Jackson County’s borders.


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