Sept. 25 festival offers continuous entertainment, new Children’s Tent

Mountain Heritage Day's two main stages will offer bluegrass performed by the region's favorite bands and several other types of traditional music.

Mountain Heritage Day’s two main stages will offer bluegrass performed by the region’s favorite bands and several other types of traditional music.

The talents of Western North Carolina’s top traditional musicians and singers will be showcased during the 36th annual Mountain Heritage Day, coming up Saturday, Sept. 25, on the campus of Western Carolina University.

The festival’s newly named “Mountain” and “Heritage” stages will feature 22 separate musical acts that will provide constant free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said festival coordinator Trina Royar.

“Our schedule of performers for the two stages includes bluegrass, old-time music, bluegrass-gospel, traditional Irish music, traditional and contemporary folk, and traditional country. If you like music in the ‘traditional’ genre, we’ve got you covered,” Royar said.

The entertainment lineup includes regional bluegrass favorites Balsam Range, Whitewater Bluegrass Co., Buncombe Turnpike and the Stoney Creek Boys, as well as the traditional and contemporary folk sounds of Phil and Gaye Johnson, old-time music by Jackson County’s Queen and Deitz families, and the Red Wellies, a traditional Irish band from Asheville.

Also, Mountain Heritage Day will feature four clogging teams, with two teams performing on each stage, Royar said.

Other musical performances are scheduled at the festival’s Circle Tent, a venue designed to provide visitors with a workshop kind of experience, Royar said. The Banjo Circle will feature area banjo pickers Mark Pruett, Junior Queen and Steve Sutton. The Fiddle Circle will highlight the talents of Trevor Stuart, Delbert Queen, Danielle Bishop, Beanie O’Dell and Arvil Freeman, and the Mandolin Circle will feature Adam King, Danny Bishop, Barry Clinton and Darren Nicholson. WCU’s own student group, the Porch Music Club, will lead an open jam at the Circle Tent at 3:30 p.m.

While the music and dancing is going on at the two main stages and in the Circle Tent at Mountain Heritage Day, a new performance area, the Children’s Tent, will offer younger festival visitors a wide range of activities, Royar said.

In addition to heritage activities, the Children’s Tent will provide music programs led by Joe and Bill Deitz, and Phil and Gaye Johnson. Whitewater Bluegrass Co. will present “play party games” and a “Family Dance,” while Bobby McMillon will be the featured storyteller, Royar said.

Plus, as part of the festival’s living history demonstration of horses and mules at work, children can take a ride in a horse- or mule-drawn wagon, and hayrides around the festival site will be available to all visitors, including the young and not-so-young.

Mountain Heritage Day will go on, rain or shine. All the festival’s activity and performance schedules are posted at and information also is available at 828-227-7129.