Sept. 24 festival to showcase regional arts, crafts

Some 90 booths of Western North Carolina’s finest handmade arts and crafts will be on display as Western Carolina University presents its festival of traditional mountain culture, Mountain Heritage Day, on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Festival activities will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the WCU campus in Cullowhee. Admission and parking are free.

The arts and crafts show at the 37th annual Mountain Heritage Day will feature items such as basketry, ceramics, fiber work, glasswork, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, pottery and woodwork. A festival committee reviews the creations of all arts and crafts show applicants to ensure high quality, and those who present the best works are recognized with awards.

Taking his place once again this year in the lineup of arts and crafts vendors will be Maggie Valley native Terance Painter, who received the festival’s “Best in Show” award last year for his ceramics.

Terance Painter works out of his studio in a Maggie Valley log cabin. (Photo courtesy of Terance Painter.)

Terance Painter works out of his studio in a Maggie Valley log cabin. (Photo courtesy of Terance Painter.)

Painter’s roots go deep into Western North Carolina’s crafts tradition. He is the great-great-grandson of Joseph Penland, a potter who worked in the Candler area beginning about 1840.

Painter enrolled as a student at WCU in 1975, and a year later, he sold his works at Mountain Heritage Day for the first time as a member of the Arts Students League from that organization’s festival booth. He manned his own booth in 1979 and has displayed and sold his creations at every Mountain Heritage Day since.

Painter graduated from WCU with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, with a concentration in ceramics and a minor in printmaking. He has been a full-time potter since 1980, and his work now focuses on functional wheel-thrown stoneware and porcelain in a variety of colorful glazes.

In addition to high-quality arts and crafts, visitors at this year’s Mountain Heritage Day will find three stages of continuous mountain music and clogging, 25 booths of tempting festival food, demonstrations of Cherokee stickball and other Cherokee games, shape-note singing and an antique auto show. The festival’s Children’s Tent will provide entertaining activities for younger visitors throughout the day, and kids also will enjoy free wagon rides and hayrides.

Mountain Heritage Day also offers a variety of fun contests, including a woodcutting competition with chain saws and crosscut saws, old-fashioned attire contests for children and adults, and a beard and moustache contest for men.

Demonstrations of authentic mountain folk arts and skills will include corn shuck crafts, spinning, Cherokee beadwork and doll-making, blacksmithing, chair-making and black-powder shooting.

WCU’s museum of Appalachian culture, the Mountain Heritage Center, will be open during Mountain Heritage Day and will feature a free performance by “The Liars Bench” Southern Appalachian variety show.

Mountain Heritage Day goes on, rain or shine. Pets are not allowed on festival grounds, but service animals are welcome. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for comfortable seating. Shuttles operate throughout the day, with stops at designated locations.

For more information, go to on the Web or call 828-227-7129.