Crowd braves rainy conditions for WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day

Children line up during the Mountain Heritage Day costume contest.

Children line up during the Mountain Heritage Day costume contest.

Fans of traditional mountain culture from around Western North Carolina and adjacent states gathered at Western Carolina University on Saturday (Sept. 26) to get a taste – make that a “wet” taste – of Southern Appalachian music, dance, food, and arts and crafts.

More than 2 inches of rain fell in Cullowhee as WCU presented its 35th annual Mountain Heritage Day festival. The event was held on a back-up site in the center of WCU’s campus after several weeks of almost constant rain caused the festival’s normal site, an intramural field, to be unusable.

Although the Mountain Heritage Day crowd was periodically doused with heavy rain, there also were periods in which no rain fell and visitors could enjoy the activities without the use of an umbrella, said festival Chairman Scott Philyaw.

“I truly appreciate the good will and kind considerations of everyone who attended this year’s festival,” Philyaw said. “The bad weather truly brought out the best in people. The only people willing to venture out with the forecast were those who are comfortable with rainy weather.

“It is difficult to estimate attendance, given the dispersed nature of this year’s festival, but it appears that our visitation was approximately 50 percent of what it would be in a normal year,” Philyaw said.

Planning will begin soon for the 2010 edition of Mountain Heritage Day, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 25.

To see a photo gallery from this year’s Mountain Heritage Day, click on the Web at Mountain Heritage Day website.