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Mountain Heritage Awards call for nominations, celebrating 50th anniversary

mhd bob plott

Bob Plott receives the 2023 Mountain Heritage Award from Chancellor Kelli R. Brown.

By Julia Duvall

Nominations are being accepted for the annual Mountain Heritage Awards, which recognize contributions of regional artists, nonprofit leaders and an array of organizations for their commitment to Appalachian culture and preservation or interpretation of the history of Southern Appalachia.

Presented by Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, recipients will be honored during the 50th Mountain Heritage Day festival in a public ceremony which will be held midday on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Western Carolina University.

mhd affrilachia

Front row: Marie Cochran holding 2023 Mountain Heritage Award, Selma Sparks. Back Row: Ellerna Forney, Ann Miller Woodford, Chancellor Kelli R. Brown

Award winners will receive an engraved commemorative plaque.

"Mountain Heritage Day started as the university’s way to combat Appalachian stereotypes and celebrate regional craft,” said Mountain Heritage Center director Amber C. Albert. “This will be the 48th year the festival has granted awards to individuals and groups who create exemplary mountain arts and prioritize cultural education.” 

The winner of the first Mountain Heritage Award was John Parris in 1976.

Honorees are selected by a committee comprised of community and WCU representatives. The two award categories recognize an individual and an organization for distinguished service, accomplishments, influence or expertise in maintaining the cultural viability of the region.

Nominations must be emailed to by Monday, July 15, at 5 p.m.

Nominations should be five pages or less; outline the nominee’s accomplishments; describe the nominee’s impact on their field, such as crafts, music, or a social or environmental cause; explain the nominee’s role as a teacher, advocate, leader or preserver of mountain culture and heritage; list the nominee’s awards or other recognitions; and provide links to online support materials (optional).

Individual award winners include musicians Gar Mosteller and Doyle Barker, visual artist Ann Miller Woodford, and, last year, Bob Plott. Plott was nominated as a grassroots educator for his work on North Carolina Plott Hound original programming, exhibitions and publications.

Previous recipients of the organizational award include the Cherokee artists’ cooperative Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., the Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church and most recently the Affrilachian Artist Project. The group was nominated for its commitment to providing artists of color opportunities to collaborate and showcase their work through performances and exhibitions.

For more information about the history of the festival and the awards, visit 

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