Big crowd celebrates traditional culture at Mountain Heritage Day

Festival visitors had an opportunity to see an authentic re-creation of an 18th-century hunters camp.

Mountain Heritage Day 2012 Photo Gallery

After a little mid-morning rain, dry conditions dominated the rest of the day as thousands came from near and far Saturday (Sept. 29) to celebrate Southern Appalachian culture and heritage at Western Carolina University’s 38th annual Mountain Heritage Day festival.

Sun broke through the clouds hanging over Cullowhee Valley by lunchtime, creating spectacular conditions for visitors to enjoy the festival’s smorgasbord of arts and crafts, music, clogging, Cherokee games, folk arts and food, said Scott Philyaw, director of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

Philyaw said the drizzle in the morning “just kept the day nice and cool.” Admission to Mountain Heritage Day is free and no one knows the exact attendance, but Philyaw said the crowd at this year’s festival was the biggest in at least five years. “By all accounts, it was a very successful Mountain Heritage Day with a bunch of happy visitors having lots of fun,” he said.

Philyaw sent congratulations and thanks to all the volunteers and support staff who work long hours each year to make the festival a success, including members of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day Committee, student and community volunteers, the campus police department, and staff members from facilities management, housekeeping and the grounds crew.

“Also, we are grateful for our sponsors who help us keep the festival as a free event, including Frontier Communications, Pepsi, Republic Services, Patrick McGuire Dentistry, Andy Shaw Ford, Wells Fargo, Catamount Travel Center, and the Sylva Herald and Waynesville Mountaineer newspapers. In addition, support was provided by the North Carolina Humanities Council and the Jackson County Arts Council,” Philyaw said.

Young festival visitors compete in the traditional costume contest.