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Mountain Heritage Day announces main ingredient for 'Best in the West' recipe contest

Nuts will be the featured food for the popular “Best in the West” recipe competition this year at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day.

Mountain Heritage Day is Saturday, Sept. 29, on the WCU campus. A free, family oriented festival that celebrates Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and culture, the daylong event includes concerts, living history demonstrations, competitions and awards programs.

“Food with walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, any and all kinds of nuts as a main ingredient, will be accepted,” said Lois Stiles, office manager with WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center and an event organizer. “The recipe does not have to be an original. A family favorite passed down through the generations, something shared on Pinterest or torn from a magazine is OK, as long as the entry is made from scratch.”

In addition to the “Best in the West” recipe contest, the festival’s traditional food competition includes categories for canned goods, baked goods and heritage foods conservation. Competition is divided into adult and youth (16 and younger) divisions. Ribbons will be awarded to the top three entrants in each age category, plus a grand champion will be selected in each division.

Results from the traditional foods competition.

Canned goods and heritage foods entries should be brought to WCU’s Cordelia Camp Building room 134 on Tuesday, Sept. 25, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Baked goods and “Best in the West” nuts recipe entries should be dropped off there before 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, with judging taking place that afternoon. Winners will be announced and all items will be displayed at Mountain Heritage Day. For more information or to request a copy of “A Gathering in Traditional Food Competition” booklet, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129 or

The recipe and food contests are a part of several competitions held during Mountain Heritage Day. Chainsaw and crosscut saw competition in several categories is also a spectator favorite, as is a viewers’ choice antique car and truck show. A youth talent show, featuring a collection of winners from a series of regional youth talent shows, will be presented by the Jackson County 4-H and Catch the Spirit of Appalachia. There also is a juried selection for best arts and crafts vendors.

A popular 5K road race and fun run is held on campus the morning of the festival. It is organized and hosted by students in WCU’s sports management program, with proceeds going toward the Sports Management Association Scholarship. The course features a combination of pavement and gravel paths, and is appropriate for both beginner and accomplished runners.

The festival goes on, rain or shine. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for comfortable seating. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the grounds. For more information and updates, go to

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