Heritage Center to host reception for ‘Decoration Day’

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center will host a public reception and book signing Thursday, April 29, to celebrate the publication of “Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians.”

The reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the book signing following at 7 p.m. The event is being co-sponsored by the Mountain Heritage Center, the University of North Carolina Press and City Lights Bookstore of Sylva.

jabbourforweb“Decoration Day in the Mountains” is an in-depth exploration of a little-known cultural tradition that involves mountain residents across the South gathering in late spring or summer to clean a community cemetery, decorate it with flowers, hold a religious service, and have dinner on the grounds.

The book was written by Alan Jabbour, former director of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, and is illustrated with more than 100 photographs taken by his wife, Karen Singer Jabbour. It was published by the University of North Carolina Press.

The April 29 event will include a musical performance featuring Alan Jabbour, who is a renowned old-time fiddler; David Brewin, curatorial specialist at the Mountain Heritage Center; and the Porch Music Club, a WCU student organization dedicated to performing and preserving old-time music.

The Jabbours’ book was the basis for a major exhibit, “Decoration Day in the Mountains,” that opened at the Mountain Heritage Center in April 2009. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through May 31.

For more information about the reception and book signing, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.