Now in its 43rd year and scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30, the annual celebration of Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and culture has evolved over the years while staying true to its homespun roots.
“As a folk festival, this was one of the earliest events of its kind,” said Stacy MacGregor, WCU special events director and a festival organizer. “It started with a vision for an event that links past and present and displays the essence of the region and the resourcefulness of the people who call the mountains home. Today it continues as a festival that blends mountain tradition with all the festival favorites including great food, 140-plus arts and crafts vendors, two stages with live entertainment throughout the day, tons of kids’ activities and so much more.”
Mountain Heritage Day continues a tradition of being a premiere showcase for Appalachia lifestyles activities, living-history demonstrations and Cherokee stickball games. For music lovers, the performances are nonstop, with shape-note singing, bluegrass, old-time string bands and ballads from numerous stages. This year’s headline acts are Mountain Faith, an “America’s Got Talent” finalist and international award winning bluegrass band, and Country Current, the U.S. Navy’s bluegrass band.
“While popular with people in Western North Carolina and reaching into east Tennessee, upstate South Carolina and northern Georgia, this recognition as a ‘Top 20’ festival exposes Mountain Heritage Day to an even greater audience,” said Mark Haskett, festival co-chair who has been involved with planning and photographing the event for more than 20 years. “This is quite an honor for a volunteer-, student- and community-supported free event like this.”
Visitor participation is a large part of Mountain Heritage Day through a variety of contests centered on authentic mountain folk arts and skills, including competitions for period costumes for adults and children; canned, preserved and baked goods; and chainsaw woodcutting. Rain or shine, the festival brings history to life and fun to thousands. Shuttles operate throughout the day, with stops at designated free parking and attraction locations.
The Southeast Tourism Society was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Atlanta. The nonprofit promotes tourism for 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
To learn more about WCU’s festival, visit www.mountainheritageday.com or call 828.227.3039.