Celebrate history at Mountain Heritage Day
The traditional folk ways of the Southern Appalachian Mountains will take center stage as Western Carolina University presents the 37th annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 24.
The fall festival will feature a variety of arts and crafts, music, clogging, folk arts, contests and activities that is hard to find in a one-day event, said festival coordinator Trina Royar of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.
All Mountain Heritage Day activities, including stage performances, will take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., except 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 building and in the nearby Mountain Heritage Center, which is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building.
Visitors will find nearly 100 booths of juried arts and crafts. Items for sale will include basketry, ceramics, fiber work, glasswork, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, pottery and woodwork.
About 25 food vendors also are signed up to participate in the festival, offering products ranging from barbecue, hamburgers and chicken-on-a-stick to fried pickles, chocolate-dipped cheesecake and Cherokee frybread.
The traditional Cherokee game of stickball has been a favorite attraction for festival visitors in recent years, and the Snowbird Stickball Team from Graham County will make its second appearance at Mountain Heritage Day to demonstrate that ancient sport 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.
Fans of traditional music and clogging should head to the two main stages, which will offer continuous free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Balsam and Blue Ridge stages will present many types of traditional music — traditional and contemporary bluegrass to old-time, gospel and folk music.
Clogging fans will want to check out performances by the Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers, Fines Creek Flatfooters and Dixie Darlins, plus this year’s festival will present an audience participation clogging demonstration led by well-known clogging instructor Bill Nichols and his daughter, Simone Nichols Pace, at 2:45 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Stage.
Festival music won’t be limited to the two stages. Visitors will have an opportunity to see some rapid-fire picking up close and personal at the Circle Tent, which will provide a music workshop 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.
Singers from around the region will also gather to demonstrate the sacred mountain tradition of shaped-note singing.
WCU’s museum of Appalachian culture, the Mountain Heritage Center, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the museum also will host a free performance of The Liars Bench, a Southern Appalachian variety show, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
For younger festival goers, the children’s tent will provide fun and educational sessions all day.
Youngsters can learn to make old-fashioned toys and take part in other heritage activities beginning at 10 a.m.
Folk art demonstrations ranging from Cherokee doll-making to sorghum molasses-making will be showcased throughout the festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and area residents who own vintage automobiles will be driving them to Mountain Heritage Day to show them off in the festival auto show.
Admission and parking are free, though pets are not allowed on festival grounds. Shuttles operate throughout the day, with stops at designated locations.
For more information, call 828.227.7129 or visit mountainheritageday.com.
9 a.m. – Registration begins for woodcutting contest
10 a.m. – Woodcutting contest begins; festival booths open, offering arts, crafts and food; antique auto show begins; demonstrations of folk arts and skills begin; Mountain Heritage Center opens
10:30 a.m. – Exhibition of black-powder shooting and “Sacred Harp” shaped-note sing begin
11 a.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee stickball begins
11:30 a.m. – Recognition of arts and crafts awards, and food contest winners, at Balsam Stage
12:10 p.m. – Presentation of Mountain Heritage Awards, traditional attire contests for children and adults, and beard and moustache contest, all on Blue Ridge Stage
1 p.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee courtship game “Fish” begins
1:30 p.m. – “Christian Harmony” shaped-note sing begins; presentation of “The Liars Bench” show begins in the Mountain Heritage Center
2:30 p.m. – Exhibition of black-powder shooting
3 p.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee blowguns begins
4 p.m. – Mountain Heritage Center closes
5 p.m. – Festival closes
(Rodney Sutton, master of ceremonies)
10 a.m. – Hawk Tawodi Brown
10:30 a.m. – Cherokee Traditional Dance Group
10:40 a.m. – Hominy Valley Boys
11:10 a.m. – Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers (clogging)
11:30 a.m. – Recognition of arts and crafts awards, and food contest winners
11:40 a.m. – Deitz Family
12:15 p.m. – Jerry and Paul Wilson
12:55 p.m. – Spring Chickens
1:15 p.m. – Fines Creek Flatfooters (clogging)
1:40 p.m. – Queen Family
2:20 p.m. – Woolly Jumpers
3 p.m. – Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent winners
3:45 p.m. – Blue Eyed Girl
4:20 p.m. – Sweet Tater Band
MOUNTAIN HERITAGE CENTER EXHIBITS
(10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
“Migration of the Scotch-Irish People” – Permanent exhibit focusing on some of the first settlers to the mountains. A new exhibit update explores the tension between religion and lawbreaking as expressed by the temperance movement and moonshining.
“Qualla Arts and Crafts” – Celebrates the 65th anniversary of this craft co-op in Cherokee. This exhibit features the skill and craftsmanship of Cherokee artisans.
“The Carolina Mountains: Photography of Margaret Morley” – Sixty compelling images reveal glimpses of life in western North Carolina in the early 1900s.
“Progress of an Idea” – Permanent exhibit on the development of Western Carolina University, its local origins and evolving mission, with a special focus on music at WCU.
“Jesse Stalcup: Craftsman and Builder” – Exhibit of handcrafted furniture from the early 1900s.
BLUE RIDGE STAGE
(Bill Nichols, master of ceremonies)
10 a.m. – Mountain Faith
10:30 a.m. – Stoney Creek Boys
10:45 a.m. – Dixie Darlins (clogging)
11 a.m. – Whitewater Bluegrass Co.
11:45 a.m. – Anne Lough
12:10 p.m. - Presentation of Mountain Heritage Awards, traditional attire contests for children and adults, and beard and moustache contest
12:30 p.m. – Phil and Gaye Johnson
1 p.m. – Buncombe Turnpike
1:45 p.m. – Tried Stone Gospel Choir
2:15 p.m. – Stoney Creek Boys
2:30 p.m. – Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers (clogging)
2:45 p.m. – Clogging demonstration with Bill Nichols and Simone Nichols Pace
3 p.m. – Wild Hog Band
3:30 p.m. – Five O’Clock Shadows
4 p.m. – Paul’s Creek
FOLK ARTS AND SKILLS DEMONSTRATIONS
(10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Curtis Allison and Dwayne Franks – horses and mules
Lori and Chuck Anderson – corn shuck crafts and broom-making
Cassie Dickson – spinning and flax culture
Nancy, John Henry and Johnnie Ruth Maney – Cherokee pottery, beadwork and doll-making
William Rogers – blacksmithing
Larry Stout – sorghum molasses-making
R.O. Wilson – logging skills
Max Woody – chair-making
(Phil Jamison, moderator for musical circles)
10 a.m. – Presentation on “Jackson County People and Places” by the Jackson County Historical Society
11 a.m. – Fiddle Circle with John Duncan and Summer McMahan
12:30 p.m. – Poetry Circle with Thomas Rain Crowe, Barbara Duncan and Brent Martin
1:30 p.m. – Banjo Circle with Annie Fain Liden, Steve Sutton and Charles Wood
3 p.m. – Ballad Circle with the Deitz Family, Gaye Johnson and Jeanette Queen Schrock
10 a.m. – Heritage toys and activities
11:40 a.m. – Jean Hayes with an introduction to bagpipes and parade
12:30 p.m. – Whitewater Bluegrass Co. presents play party games
1 p.m. – Deitz Family
1:30 p.m. – Phil and Gaye Johnson
2 p.m. – Ellie Grace
2:30 p.m. – Carol Rifkin
3 p.m. – Heritage toys and activities