Mountain Heritage Day organizers chalk up another success

Mountain Heritage Day always has included Cherokee folkways, arts and crafts and the popular stickball games, and this year’s event had added significance as WCU embraces an interdisciplinary campus learning theme of “Cherokee: Community. Culture. Connections.”

Western Carolina University’s 43rd annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 30, was a resounding success, organizers said, with ideal weather and larger-than-expected attendance.

Campus police estimated Mountain Heritage Day attendance as nearing 15,000, the most seen in recent years. The festival of southern Appalachian and Cherokee traditions and culture is renowned as a showcase of mountain music, family activities and the region’s finest arts and crafts. See event photos here and video here.

“Tremendous, simply tremendous,” said Stacy MacGregor, WCU special events director and festival co-chair. “I’m going to sound like a winning NASCAR driver climbing out of his car, but I have to thank all the volunteers and staff, all the vendors, the music and dance acts, all the folks with historical demonstrations and exhibits, and most of all everyone who came out and made it such a special day.”

Members of the Deitz Family, a bluegrass and old-time band ― and one of the longest running acts at the festival ― said the 2017 event was a wonderful showcase for things that harken back to another time in the mountains.

“We enjoy playing, but really this is all about the young folks getting to see and hear what came before,” said band patriarch Joe Dietz. “This is about carrying on traditions and sharing it with the next generation.”

The 44th annual Mountain Heritage Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. To learn more about WCU’s premier festival, visit www.mountainheritageday.com or call 828-227-3039.