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Mountain Heritage Day planning for return to campus this fall

Mountain Heritage Day, the festival of cultural traditions presented by Western Carolina University, is again being planned as a live, in-person event on Saturday, Sept. 25.

The annual community celebration on campus regularly draws thousands to enjoy music, dance, food, and arts and crafts, but was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, a performance by Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band and a series of digital programs were viewed via university livestreams.

With an announcement March 11 that WCU would resume “close to” normal operations for the fall semester, Mountain Heritage Day was included in campus events and activities being reset.

The festival will adhere to its Catamounts Care protocols and the governor’s guidelines that are in place at the time of the event, organizers said. While still in the early stages of planning, there is an expectation of bluegrass, old-time and traditional music performances throughout the day, a morning 5K race (organized by students in WCU’s sport management program), chainsaw competitions, the classic car show and popular tractor rides, along with storytelling and sing-alongs.

The Mountain Heritage Awards, presented by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, also are on tap to honor an individual and an organization for contributions to or playing a prominent role in research, preservation and curation of Southern Appalachian history, culture and folklore.

The festival started as Founders’ Day on Oct. 26, 1974, at the inauguration ceremony of WCU Chancellor H.F. Robinson and became known as Mountain Heritage Day the following year. The event has been named one of the top 20 festivals in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society and is known for family activities, with free admission and free parking.

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