The audience takes the stage at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day this year
A new platform will join the three performers’ stages at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day, Saturday, Sept. 28, on the campus in Cullowhee – right in front of the Balsam Stage, created for audience members to share their dance skills while the bands play on. WCU’s free celebration of Appalachian culture also will feature a full schedule of mountain music, fun activities, about 100 booths of the region’s finest arts and crafts, and 28 vendors offering ethnic, heritage and festival food. Parking and festival admission are free.
The 39th Mountain Heritage Day will have attendees kicking up their heels between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., preceded by the 5-K foot race. Planned by students of WCU’s event management course taught by David Tyler, the 5-K will begin at 8 a.m. from the Stillwell Science Building. Race-day registration and registered runner check-in will be held from 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. Entry fees are $20 for runners and speed-walkers who register by noon Friday, Sept. 27; $25 for those who register the day of the race.
Balsam and Blue Ridge stages and the Circle Tent will offer continuous mountain music, clogging and storytelling. Musical performers will include Buncombe Turnpike, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Sons of Ralph, the Queen Family, Jeff Little Trio, Wild Hog Band, Blind Pig Gang, Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, Mountain Faith and others. Some will accompany the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Fines Creek Flatfooters and J Creek Cloggers.
The Circle Tent will feature a banjo circle, sacred and spiritual music, ballads of crime and punishment and a discussion about Jackson County’s listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Sites such as the Jarrett House in Dillsboro, Judaculla Rock on Caney Fork and the Mordecai Zachary-Tolbert House in Cashiers will be discussed at 10 a.m. by Janice Blanton, Gerald Green, Jane Nardy, Tim Osment, Joe Rhinehart and others.
Other areas will be active with demonstrations of Cherokee blowguns, stickball and the Cherokee courtship game “Fish,” Sacred Harp singing and an antique auto show. The Children’s Tent will provide entertaining activities for younger visitors throughout the day, and kids also will enjoy free wagon rides and hayrides.
Mountain Heritage Day also offers a variety of demonstrations and contests centered on authentic mountain folk arts and skills: competitions for best beards and mustaches, period costumes, canned and baked goods, and chainsaw woodcutting. A stroll through other areas will feature 19th-century wood furniture carpentry, black powder shooting, blacksmithing, harnessing draft animals, weaving, natural color fabric dyeing, corn shuck crafts and broom-making. In addition, the Mountain Heritage Center’s exhibits of Appalachian culture and history will be open all day, and storyteller Gary Carden will spin tales of mythical beasts in three sessions at its auditorium.
Rain or shine, the festival will bring history to life and fun to thousands. Though pets are not allowed on festival grounds, service animals are welcome. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for comfortable seating; and hats and sunblock as needed. Shuttles will operate throughout the day, with stops at designated parking and attraction locations.
Whether sitting, standing, riding, strolling or dancing, visitors will be able to pack a few centuries’ worth of learning and entertainment into a single day on Saturday, Sept. 28.
For more information, go online to www.MountainHeritageDay.com or call (828)227-7129.