Mountain Heritage Day, the annual celebration of Southern Appalachian culture presented by Western Carolina University, has announced scheduled performers and unveiled a new website for the 2018 festival, to be held Saturday, Sept. 29.
Through mountainheritageday.com, visitors can get updated information to plan their day, see videos of past performances and use an interactive map to find locations for art and craft vendor areas, food service and exhibitions. Named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast, the festival on the WCU campus has free admission, free parking and free shuttle service.
The daylong event is known for continuous music, clogging and storytelling on numerous stages, and this year brings an even more extensive lineup. Among the highlights:
Soulful gospel adds a new dimension this year, with Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Choir, an Asheville-based African-American choir that has a storied legacy of generations of voices raised in faith, taking to the stage. Hollerin’ Home will bring bluegrass gospel reminiscent of country church services, and the shape note singing tradition continues, with “Sacred Harp” and “Christian Harmony” singing.
Bluegrass and old-time mountain music will have the stellar representation of talent that’s expected from Mountain Heritage Day. Balsam Range, one of the best-known and most-loved acoustic groups on tour today and a Mountain Heritage Day favorite, returns after a two-year absence while previously engaged garnering numerous International Bluegrass Music Association honors. The world-famous but still hometown Summer Brooke and the Mountain Faith Band will play two sets, and Grand Ole Opry performers Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper join the festival for the first time.
Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Ol’ Dirty Bathtub, the Dietz Family, Frogtown and the Queen Family are among the more than a dozen artists scheduled to appear. Ballad singing ― with audience participation encouraged ― is back for another year with Sarah Elizabeth Burkey, Susan Pepper and William Ritter. The Jackson County Junior Appalachian Musicians, made up of students learning and performing in the local Smoky Mountains music style, will entertain the crowds again thanks to sponsorship from the Jackson County Arts Council. And the Mountain Youth Talent Contest, a collection of winners from a series of regional youth talent shows, will be presented by the Jackson County 4-H and Catch the Spirit of Appalachia.
Rousing, “kick up your heels” clogging and dance performances includes Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Southern Mountain Fire Cloggers and Apple Blossoms Cloggers. The art and craft of storytelling will be shared this year by Freeman Owle, Ashton Woody and Tom Godleski.
The festival goes on, rain or shine. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for comfortable seating. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the grounds. For more information and updates, go to www.mountainheritageday.com.