Festival announces main ingredient for ‘Best in the West’ recipe contest

Named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast, Mountain Heritage Day features music, food, crafts and other activities that reflect regional culture.

Apples will be the featured food for the popular “Best in the West” recipe competition this year at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 28.

The free, family oriented festival celebrates Southern Appalachian music, folk arts, dance and culture. The 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. event includes music and dance performances, living history demonstrations, vendors and awards programs.

Any made-from-scratch dish with apples as the essential ingredient will be eligible for the contest, including apple pie, apple sauce, apple cobbler, apple fritters, candied apples, apple crumb cake and apple dumplings.

“The recipe does not have to be an original,” said Lois Stiles, office manager with WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center and an event organizer. “A family favorite passed down through the generations is great, but so is something shared on the web or torn from a magazine, as long as the entry is made from scratch.”

Plenty of good food is a big part of each and every Mountain Heritage Day.

In addition to the “Best in the West” recipe contest, the festival’s traditional food competition includes categories for canned goods, baked goods and heritage foods conservation. Competition is divided into adult and youth (16 and younger) divisions. Ribbons will be awarded to the top three entrants in each age division, plus a grand champion will be selected in each division.

Canned goods and heritage foods entries should be brought to WCU’s Cordelia Camp Building Room 134 on Tuesday, Sept. 24, between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Baked goods and “Best in the West” apple recipe entries should be dropped off there between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, with judging taking place that afternoon.

For more information or to request a copy of “A Gathering in Traditional Food Competition” booklet, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129 or lstiles@wcu.edu.

The recipe and food contests are just a portion of the numerous competitions held during Mountain Heritage Day. Chainsaw and crosscut saw competition in several categories are a spectator favorite, as is a viewers’ choice car and truck show. There also is a juried selection for best arts and crafts vendors.

A popular 5K road race and fun run is held on campus the morning of the festival. It is organized and hosted by students in WCU’s sports management program, with proceeds going toward the Sports Management Association Scholarship. The course features a combination of pavement and gravel paths, and is appropriate for both beginner and accomplished runners.

The festival goes on, rain or shine. 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.