For those interested in Southern Appalachian culture, there’s just about no better place to be than the annual Mountain Heritage Day, hosted by Western Carolina University.
The 47th Mountain Heritage Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at WCU’s main campus in Cullowhee, just over 50 miles west of Asheville.
Mountain Heritage Day includes something for everyone interested in mountain culture. The festival will be jam-packed with concerts, storytelling, craft demonstrations, dance and theatrical performances and Cherokee games. The festival also will feature more than 130 craft and food vendors.
While every skill or craft represented is unique to this region’s heritage, some are even more specific to Western North Carolina. For example, Cherokee basket weaving will be on demonstration, as well as Cherokee stickball, to be played by the Kolanvyi (Big Cove) youth team from Cherokee. Other unique demonstrations will include kudzu basket weaving, natural dyeing using local plants, cornshuck crafts and more. For the kids, there will be a dedicated children’s tent with storytelling, sing-alongs, workshops and a community square dance.
Music is a big draw for the Heritage Day crowds, which have topped 20,000 at past events. There will be multiple concerts from old-time, bluegrass and gospel performers. One band, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, will return to Mountain Heritage Day for the 25th time this year. The Grascals, three-time Grammy nominees and two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year, also will perform, along with many others.
Aside from entertainment, the festival will welcome a 5k race to benefit the WCU Sport Management Association Scholarship. And finally, there will be the Mountain Heritage Day Classic Car Show, where attendees will be able to showcase their cars and vote for their favorites.
Mountain Heritage Day is a free event with free parking and a free shuttle service. A full schedule can be found at wcu.edu/engage/mountain-heritage-day/schedule.aspx#balsam.