Mountain Heritage Weekend to feature Friday concert, Saturday festival

The traditional culture of the Southern Appalachians will be celebrated on the Western Carolina University campus as the Crowe Brothers present a bluegrass performance at WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center on Friday, Sept. 25, and the university holds its 35th annual Mountain Heritage Day festival on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Activities for Mountain Heritage Weekend 2009 will begin with the Crowe Brothers taking the arts center stage at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25.

Guitarist Josh Crowe and bassist Wayne Crowe have been recording and touring together since 1975 and have recorded four albums with legendary Maggie Valley banjo player Raymond Fairchild, and four albums as the Crowe Brothers. With the release of the brothers’ latest album, “Brothers-N-Harmony,” music reviewers are hailing the Crowes as one of the top bluegrass ensembles carrying on the tradition of brothers singing beautifully blended harmonies. The opening song on the album, “Cindy Mae,” reached No. 1 on the Sirius radio bluegrass chart and No. 8 in Cashbox.

A writer for Country Standard Time News Magazine wrote that “Josh and Wayne Crowe have perfected a style that’s part bluegrass, part classic country, and full of traditional brotherly harmony singing that makes genre distinctions take a back seat in service of some great tunes.”

For the Sept. 25 concert, the Crowes will take the stage with a group of backup musicians that will include banjo player Steve Sutton, a WCU alumnus who formerly toured with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage.

To purchase general admission tickets at $10 each, call the Fine and Performing Arts Center at (828) 227-2479 (Visa or MasterCard) or visit the box office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets also may be purchased online at https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/team.asp?SponsorID=2164.

MOUNTAIN HERITAGE DAY

Mountain Heritage Day kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, with a 130-booth midway featuring handmade arts and crafts, 30 booths offering traditional mountain food, and more than 30 free performances of traditional music and clogging at the festival site adjacent to WCU’s Cordelia Camp Building.

Arts, crafts and food booths will be allowed to remain open until 6 p.m. this year – kickoff time for Catamount football. A vendor guide will be available at festival information booths for those who plan to shop along the midway.

WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center once again will sponsor area folk artists demonstrating arts and skills such as blacksmithing, stone carving and pottery making on the main festival grounds. The museum’s Circle Tent will offer historical presentations by the Jackson County Historical Society, free heritage activities for children, a storytelling session with Marilyn McMinn-McCredie, and guitar and fiddle sessions. New to the festival this year will be living-history demonstrations of an 18th-century hunters’ camp, and draft horses and mules at work.

The Mountain Heritage Center sponsors performances and demonstrations on the main festival grounds, but the museum doors will be open on Mountain Heritage Day to allow visitors to view its exhibits and displays. Located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building, the center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free hayrides will transport visitors between the Mountain Heritage Center and the festival grounds.

Festival-goers will have a chance to experience a unique American musical tradition during two sessions of shape-note singing. Other events on the agenda are exhibitions of Cherokee Indian ball (also known as “stickball”) and black powder shooting with a flintlock rifled musket; a woodcutting contest featuring chainsaw and crosscut saw masters; and other competitions, including a 5-K foot race, 1-mile Fun Run for children, antique auto show, costume contests for children and adults, and a beard and moustache contest. Also, winners from “A Gathering In,” the festival traditional foods competition, will be on display all day.

Mountain Heritage Day is held outside, rain or shine. Close parking is limited, but shuttles operate throughout the day to transport visitors between outlying parking areas and festival grounds. Visitors coming onto campus should watch out for designated shuttle pick-up locations. Special parking is available to those with physical disabilities.

Admission and parking at Mountain Heritage Day are free. Pets are not allowed on Mountain Heritage Day grounds, but service animals are welcome.

For more information about Mountain Heritage Day, call (828) 227-3193 or visit MountainHeritageDay.com.