WCU’s 41st Mountain Heritage Day set for Saturday, Sept. 26

Balsam Range, winners of the 2014 Entertainer and Vocal Group of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, will return to the stage at Mountain Heritage Day this year.

Balsam Range, winners of the 2014 Entertainer and Vocal Group of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, will return to the stage at Mountain Heritage Day this year.

The sights, sounds, fragrances and flavors of a bygone era will again draw thousands of visitors to Western Carolina University to experience the region’s rich history of southern Appalachian culture at the 41st annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 26.

WCU’s free celebration will feature a full schedule of mountain music, fun activities, more than 80 booths of the region’s finest arts and crafts, and vendors offering ethnic, heritage and festival food.

Balsam and Blue Ridge stages and the Circle Tent will offer continuous mountain music, clogging and storytelling. Musical performers will include Balsam Range, Unspoken Tradition, Phil and Gaye Johnson, Stoney Creek Boys, Trevor and Travis Stuart, Foxfire Boys, Back Creek Bluegrass Boys, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Choir, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Possum on a Whale, the Queen Family, Sheets Family Band, the Deitz Family and others. Some will accompany the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Southern Appalachian Cloggers and Tangled Feet Cloggers.

The Circle Tent will feature “Roots of the Banjo,” a musical session themed “Critter Songs,” and a presentation from the Jackson County Historical Society.

Shape-note singing will move from the Camp Gymnasium to a tent this year.

Shape-note singing will move from the Camp Gymnasium to a tent this year.

Other areas will be active with demonstrations of Cherokee stickball by competitive teams from the area and traditions shared by the Tsalagi Touring Group. “Sacred Harp” and “Christian Harmony” shape-note singing move outside to their own tent this year.

The Children’s Tent will provide entertaining activities for younger visitors throughout the day, ranging from crafts and potato sack races to music and storytelling with Connie Regan-Blake.

Free wagon rides and hayrides and an antique auto show will present visitors with a look back at transportation of former days.

Mountain Heritage Day also offers a variety of contests centered on authentic mountain folk arts and skills, including competitions for best beards and mustaches; period costumes for adults and children; canned, preserved and baked goods; and chainsaw woodcutting. A stroll through other areas will feature demonstrations of black powder shooting, blacksmithing, salt-making, stone carving, banjo-making, corn shuck crafts, Cherokee pottery/crafts and broom-making.

Rain or shine, the festival will bring history to life and fun to thousands. Shuttles will operate throughout the day, with stops at designated free parking and attraction locations.

Though pets are not allowed on festival grounds, service animals are welcome. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring umbrellas, hats and sunblock, as well as lawn chairs and/or blankets for enjoying food, spectator events, and breaks from sensory overload as needed.

Mountain Heritage Day volunteers will welcome visitors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., preceded by the 5-K foot race at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26.

For more information, visit www.mountainheritageday.com or call 828-227-7129.