Image: Traditional mountain music
Visitors to this year's festival will find three stages of
traditional mountain music and dance.

CULLOWHEE - Western Carolina University's Mountain Heritage Day will mark 31 years of celebrating traditional Appalachian culture when the festival gets under way just after sunrise Saturday, Sept. 24, on the campus in Cullowhee.

Mountain Heritage Day has been rated as one of the top 200 craft events in the United States, but the festival's most vital role is in linking generations and helping maintain the folk arts of the mountains, organizers say. Western's Mountain Heritage Center once again will provide demonstrations and exhibitions of traditional skills such blacksmithing, weaving and soap making. A writer for Southern Living magazine once referred to Mountain Heritage Day as “an open textbook of Appalachian folk life.”

Visitors to this year's festival will find three stages of traditional mountain music and dance, with plenty of clogging, and toe-tapping fiddle and banjo music. Children will have an opportunity to learn about mountain culture in the Mountain Heritage Center's Hands-On History Children's Area. Activities for kids will include washboard laundry, hands-on farming artifacts, toy making, weaving, corn shucking, carding and spinning with wool and cotton, corn shuck dolls and storytelling.

Festival-goers will have a chance to experience a unique American musical tradition when sessions of shape-note singing are held at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The sessions have been a part of Mountain Heritage Day since the festival's beginnings.

This year's Mountain Heritage Day will include exhibitions of the ancient Cherokee game of stickball at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., an all-day farmer's market, and the first performance at Mountain Heritage Day by the Warriors of Ani Kituhwa, a group that is revitalizing the authentic Cherokee dances of the past.

The Warriors of Ani Kituhwa will perform at 2 p.m. on the Norton Stage. Designated as official cultural ambassadors by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the dancers include John Grant Jr., Daniel Ledford, John Bullet Standingdeer, Bo Taylor, Daniel Tramper, Robert Tramper, Will Tuska and Pat Smith. Their singer is Walker Calhoun, a respected Cherokee elder and recipient of several awards for his role in preserving Cherokee music and dance, including Western's Mountain Heritage Award.

The Mountain Heritage Day arts and crafts midway will offer handmade items ranging from woodwork and pottery to paintings, clocks and quilts. Food booths feature old-fashioned fare, but no soft drinks or fast food.

The festival offers visitors an opportunity to get in on the action by participating in just-for-fun competitions. A one-mile Fun Run for children is set for 8:30 a.m., and a 5-K footrace will begin at 9 a.m., with registration for both events beginning at 8 a.m. The festival woodcutting contest at 9 a.m. is always a crowd favorite, with chain saw and crosscut saw masters competing against one another. Registration for woodcutting begins at 8 a.m.

Classic automobiles will be on display beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the festival antique car and truck show, and a traditional mountain costume contests for women and children, plus a beard and moustache contest for men, will be held 12:15 p.m. at the Norton Stage.

Horseshoe competitions will be held in the afternoon, with men's singles at 1 p.m., and women's singles and men's doubles at 2:30 p.m. Also, winners from “A Gathering In,” the festival's traditional foods competition, will be on display all day.

Mountain Heritage Day attendees are encouraged to visit the nearby Mountain Heritage Center while on campus to examine the museums displays that depict the region's natural and human history. The museum is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building, and free hayrides will transport visitors between the main festival site and the heritage center all day.

Mountain Heritage Day will take on a literary tone this year as Western faculty members who have recently published books on Southern Appalachian topics are featured in a book signing and meet-the-authors event. The faculty authors will gather from 10 a.m. until noon in the lobby of the Mountain Heritage Center.

Mountain Heritage Day is held outside, rain or shine, and admission to the festival site is free. Activities begin around 8 a.m. and wind down around 5 p.m. Close parking is limited, but shuttles operate throughout the day. Special parking is available to those with physical disabilities. Pets are not allowed on festival grounds, but service animals are welcome.

For more general information about Mountain Heritage Day, call (828) 227-3193 or visit mountainheritageday.com.


FOLK ARTS EXHIBITIONS ( 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. )

Tom Brown - heritage apples

Annie Lee Bryson - corn shuck crafts

Bernadine George - Cherokee pottery

Penny Johnson - soap making

Bonnie Lanning - rug making

Earl Lanning - gunsmithing

Susan Leveille - weaving

Lloyd Owle - stone carving

Whit Sizemore - fiddle making

Alwin Wagener - blacksmithing

R.O. Wilson - saw sharpening


10:30 a.m. - Betty Smith

11 a.m. - Gar Mosteller and Doyle Barker

11:30 a.m. - Haywood Ramblers and the Cole Mountain Cloggers

12:30 p.m. - Deitz Family

1 p.m. - Queen Family

1:30 p.m. - Wilson Brothers

2 p.m. - Bill Fisher Family Band

2:30 p.m. - Ballad Singing with Lena Jean Ray and Friends

3 p.m. - Earl Cowart and Friends

3:30 p.m. - Crooked Road Old-Time Band


10 a.m. - “The Hog Rock Clay Mines,” a presentation led by Jackson County Historical Association

11 a.m. - Hands-On History Children's Area, featuring Traditional Stage performers, folk artists, the Steele Family and the educational staff of the Mountain Heritage Center

2 p.m. - Storytelling with Tom Hill

2:30 p.m. - Guitar Circle, with moderator David Brose, Doyle Barker, Henry Queen, Bill Deitz and others


9:30 a.m. - Ambassadors Gospel Quartet

10 a.m. - Frogtown Four

10:30 a.m. - Mountain Faith

11 a.m. - Stoney Creek Boys

11:15 a.m. - Dixie Darlin' Cloggers

11:30 a.m. - Dixie Darlin' Cloggers – Second Generation

11:45 a.m. - Lough Family Band

12:15 p.m. - Presentation of Mountain Heritage Award, Eva Adcock Award; costume contest for women and children; beard and moustache contest for men

12:30 p.m. - Wild Hog Band

1 p.m. - Phil and Gaye Johnson

1:30 p.m. - Whitewater Bluegrass Co.

2 p.m. - Warriors of Ani Kituhwa

2:30 p.m. - French Kirkpatrick & Co.

3 p.m. - Stoney Creek Boys

3:30 p.m. - Rough Creek Cloggers

3:45 p.m. - Mountain Valley Cloggers

4 p.m. - Pirates of the Tuckaseigee

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Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University