Mountain Heritage Day to include foods competition, other fun contests

Local residents are invited to enter their honey and home food products in “A Gathering In,” the traditional foods competition held annually in conjunction with Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day.

The 38th annual festival of traditional Appalachian culture, set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, on the campus in Cullowhee, also offers a number of other fun contests.

The foods competition will include divisions for canned goods, baked goods and “heritage foods,” plus the “Best in the West” whole grain recipe contest. There also is a competition for extracted honey with categories in light, dark and comb.

The recipe contest will highlight the importance of whole grains in the regional diet, said Peter Koch, education associate at the Mountain Heritage Center. “A number of whole grains were brought by migrants from Europe and incorporated into the diet settlers learned from the Cherokee,” Koch said. “The recipes for the competition do not have to be original, but the entries must be made from scratch and must include whole grains such as wheat, oats, rye or sorghum.”

The foods contest is coordinated jointly by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service’s Jackson County Center and the Mountain Heritage Center. Ribbons will be awarded to the top three entries in youth and adult divisions and a grand champion will be selected from each of the divisions of canned goods, baked goods, heritage foods conservation and honey.

Food entries will be accepted at the Mountain Heritage Center at specific times during the week leading up to the festival. Canned goods, honey and heritage foods can be dropped off at the museum between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Baked goods and whole grain recipe contest entries should be brought to the Mountain Heritage Center between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28.

Winners will be announced from the Balsam Stage at Mountain Heritage Day at 12:15 p.m. All entries must be picked up from the Mountain Heritage Center by 5 p.m. Friday, October 5.

For more information about the foods contest or to obtain a contest guideline booklet, call the Jackson County Center at 828-586-4009 or Peter Koch at the Mountain Heritage Center at 828- 227-7129, or visit http://www.wcu.edu/mhd for a downloadable contest booklet.

A 5-kilometer foot race  and other competitions will take place on the day of the festival.

Sponsored by WCU’s Sport Management Association, the 5-K will begin at 8 a.m. from McKee Building. Registration and check-in will be held from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Entry fees are $15 for runners who register before race day, $25 for those who register the day of the race, and $10 for students with a valid identification card. The first 250 registrants are guaranteed a race T-shirt, and T-shirts will be available for non-runners at a cost of $15.

Full race details are available at http://claws.wcu.edu/sma/5K/. More information also is available by contacting David Tyler at 828-283-0203 or dtyler@wcu.edu.

Other competitions scheduled for Mountain Heritage Day include a chain saw contest, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and competition starting at 10 a.m.; and an old-fashioned attire contest for children and adults, and a beard and moustache contest for men, at 12:15 p.m. on the Balsam Stage. Also, owners of classic automobiles are invited to compete for awards by participating in the festival car show that will be going all day.

For more general information about Mountain Heritage Day contests, call 828-227-7129.

Winners from the Mountain Heritage Day traditional foods competition are on display at the event.