Skip to main content

WCU Stories

Mountain Heritage Day returns, heritage award nominees sought

With the popular Mountain Heritage Day community festival returning to campus at Western Carolina University on Saturday, Sept. 25, nominations are being sought for Mountain Heritage Awards to honor an individual and an organization for contributions to Southern Appalachian history, culture and folklore.

Recipients are chosen by a committee comprised of regional and campus representatives. The awards, through two categories, recognize an individual and an institution or organization for distinguished service, accomplishments, influence or expertise in maintaining the cultural viability of the region.

Mountain Heritage Day is an annual event with live music, dance, food, arts and crafts vendors, with free admission, parking and shuttle service. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 festival was a virtual event.

The Mountain Heritage Award was first presented in 1976 to John Parris, a newspaperman and author. Parris, who died in 1999, was widely regarded for his long running “Roaming the Mountains” columns in the Asheville Citizen Times. He helped establish WCU’s journalism studies program and championed the establishment of a center to preserve the traditions and cultures of the Western North Carolina mountains, which led to the founding of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

Previous organizational honorees include Qualla Arts & Crafts, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church and Cashiers Historical Society. Individual award winners include corn shuck artist Annie Lee Bryson, Cherokee storyteller Lloyd Arneach, and visual artist and community historian Ann Miller Woodford.

Nominations should be five pages or less, with a list of the nominee’s accomplishments, awards and recognition; information about the nominee’s influence in the relevant field of expertise, such as crafts, music or organizational cause; or information about the nominee’s role as a teacher, advocate, leader or curator of mountain culture. Include a website address if applicable; the mailing address of the nominee; the founding date for organizational nominees.

Nominations should be delivered no later than Friday, July 30, to the Mountain Heritage Center offices, located in Room 240 of WCU’s Hunter Library; mailed to Mountain Heritage Center, 176 Central Dr., Cullowhee, N.C. 28723; or emailed to

Office of Web Services