Western Carolina University presents its festival of traditional mountain culture, Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 24.
WCU’s fall festival features a variety of art and crafts, music, clogging, folk rats, contest an activities all wrapped up in a one-day event. All Mountain Heritage Day activities, including stage performances, will take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. with the exception of registration for the woodcutting contest, which starts at 9 a.m. This year’s festival will be held on fields behind the Cordelia Camp Building, in parking lots and grassy areas around the Camp building and in the Mountain Heritage Center, which is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. Admission and parking are free.
Arts, crafts and food
The arts and crafts show will feature items such as basketry, ceramics, fiber work, glasswork, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, pottery and woodwork. A festival committee reviews the creations of all arts and crafts show applicants to ensure high quality, and those who present the best works are recognized with awards.
About 25 food vendors also are signed up to participate in the festival, offering products ranging from barbecue, hamburgers and chicken-on-astick to fried pickles, chocolate-dipped cheesecake and Cherokee frybread.
Traditional music and clogging
Continuous free entertainment will be offered from traditional and contemporary bluegrass to old-time, gospel and folk music.
Clogging by the Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers, Fines Creek Flatfooters and Dixie Darlins, and an audience participation clogging demonstration led by well-known clogging instructor Bill Nichols and his daughter, Simone Nichols Pace, is at 2:45 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Stage.
The Circle Tent will provide a music workshop type of experience. An 11 a.m. Fiddle Circle will feature John Duncan and Summer McMahan, and a 1:30 p.m. Banjo Circle will show off the picking talents of Annie Fain Liden, Steve Sutton and Charles Wood.
Other Circle Tent activities include a 10 a.m. presentation by the Jackson County Historical Society, a 12:30 p.m. Poetry Circle featuring local writers, and a 3 p.m. Ballad Circle with the Deitz Family, Gaye Johnson and Jeanette Queen Schrock.
Other musical performances will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., when singers from around the region will gather to demonstrate the mountain tradition of shapednote singing in the gymnasium adjacent to the Camp Building, with participants singing from the “Sacred Harp” and ‘Christian Harmony” hymnals.
WCU’s museum of Appalachian culture, the Mountain Heritage Center, will be open during Mountain Heritage Day and will feature performance by “The Liars Bench” a Southern Appalachian variety show.
Stickball and other Cherokee games
The Snowbird Stickball Team from Graham County will demonstrate that ancient sport of traditional Cherokee game of stickball at 11 a.m.
Another Native American tradition will be featured at 1 p.m., when team members will join with their female associates in playing the courtship game of “Fish.’ The team also will demonstrate the use of Cherokee blowguns at 3 p.m.
Youngsters can learn to make old-fashioned toys in the Children’s tent and take part in other heritage activities at 10 a.m., and then at 11:40 a.m., Franklin bagpiper Jean Hayes will present an introduction to bagpipe playing, then lead a procession to the Blue Ridge Stage for a 12: 10 p.m. awards ceremony.
Musical activities for children will be held through the afternoon and will feature the Whitewater Bluegrass Co., the Deitz Family, Phil and Gaye Johnson, Ellie Grace and Carol Rifkin.
Folk arts demonstrations
Folk art demonstrations ranging from Cherokee doll-making to sorghum molasses-making from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Demonstrations of authentic mountain folk arts and skills will include corn shuck crafts, spinning, Cherokee beadwork and doll-making, blacksmithing, chair-making and black-powder shooting.
Peter Koch, educational associate at the Mountain Heritage Center, will demonstrate the loading and firing of a black powder flintlock rifle at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
A folk arts demonstration of draft horses and mules at work will be presented by Curtis Allison of Webster and Dwayne Franks with wagon rides for the children.
Auto show, fun contests and awards
— A vintage auto show begins at 10 a.m.
— Traditional mountain dress contests for both children and adults, and a beard and moustache competition begins about 12:20 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Stage.
— A woodcutting contest, with chain saws and crosscut saws, will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Centennial Dr. and University Way.
— Traditional foods contest winners will be recognized at 11:30 a.m. on the Balsam Stage, along with the winning vendors from the festival arts and crafts competition.
— WCU will present its Mountain Heritage Awards for 2011 to one individual and one organization in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the preservation or interpretation of the history and culture of Southern Appalachia, at 12:10 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Stage.
Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for comfortable seating. Shuttles operate throughout the day, with stops at designated locations.
For more information visit http://www.mountainheritageday.com/ or call (828)227-7129.