Mountain Heritage Day to include foods contest, other fun competitions

Area residents are invited to enter their canned, dried or baked goods in “A Gathering In,” the traditional foods competition that is just one of the contests held in conjunction with Mountain Heritage Day, Western Carolina University’s annual celebration of traditional mountain culture.

“Although home food preservation is no longer the necessity it once was, it is still part of the fabric of life for many in our area,” said Peter Koch, education associate at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

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 three divisions of canned goods, baked goods and heritage foods conservation.

Regarding the canned goods division, Koch said contest judges have noted in previous years that headspace requirements and altitude adjustments are not always followed with those entries. Individuals who plan to enter that division should refer to current canning manuals for information or call Cheryl Beck at the Jackson County Center at (828) 586-4009.

Another contest category this year will recognize winners in both adult and youth divisions for the “Best in the West Corn Meal Recipe.” The recipe does not have to be original, but the entry must be made from scratch and must include corn meal, Koch said.

Mountain Heritage Day will be held on WCU’s campus on Saturday, Sept. 26, with food entries accepted at the Mountain Heritage Center at specified times during the week leading up to the festival. Entries in the canned goods and heritage foods conservation divisions can be delivered to the museum between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, while baked goods and entries for the “Best in the West” category will be accepted from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25.

For more information about the foods contest or to obtain a contest guideline booklet, call the Jackson County Center at (828) 586-4009 or the Mountain Heritage Center at (828) 227-7129, or visit for a downloadable booklet and entry form.

Other just-for-fun competitions scheduled for Mountain Heritage Day 2009 include a woodcutting contest, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and competition starting at 9:30 a.m.; a 5-K foot race at 9 a.m. and 1-mile children’s Fun Run at 8:30 a.m., with registration for both beginning at 8 a.m.; an antique car and truck show at 9:30 a.m.; and costume contests for children and adults, and a beard and moustache contest for men, at the Norton Music Stage around 12:10 p.m.

For more information about those contests, contact the Mountain Heritage Day office at (828) 227-3193.