Appalachian lifestyle takes center stageWritten by Colby Dunn
If there’s one thing that runs deep in Appalachia, it’s roots. Whether it’s the roots of its ancient pines or the roots of a unique way of life still celebrated here, the Smokies are steeped in heritage.
And now, with a new festival sprouting up this weekend, Waynesville visitors and residents can celebrate the history and legacy of that singular Appalachian liftestyle.
The Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration is a day-long festival dedicated to the traditions that define the region, like bluegrass music, arts and crafts, and practical crafts like blacksmithing, quilting and wood turning.
Buffy Phillips, executive director of the Downtown Waynesville Association, said a spate of interest in the subject helped spark the idea for the festival.
“There’s a lot of interest in heritage, history and culture. People seem to be really drawn to that throughout the Southeast,” said Phillips.
Festival-goers will have the chance to see live demonstrations of traditional Appalachian handicrafts and practices, such as basket making, blacksmithing, quilting, weaving, wood working, wood carving, pottery, painting and soap making.
Folk toys, old tractors and old tools and other elements of old Appalachia will be on display. Meanwhile, artists and craftspeople still keeping those traditions alive will be on hand to sell their creations.
Even the food, said Phillips, is reminiscent of the old mountain South.
“We’ll have cornbread and beans, corn cakes, iced tea and lemonade,” said Phillips, plus a plethora of other foods that find their roots here.
For mountain music aficionados, however, there will be more than a few acts to choose from.
Headlining the event will be folk musician David Holt. Holt has four Grammys under his belt and a musical resume that spans four decades. He’s played with bluegrass legends like Doc Watson, Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs and spent much of his early career traveling to minuscule mountain communities, learning the finer points of traditional mountain music.
He’ll bring his old-time banjo skills to the stage, where he’ll perform with young acoustic musician Josh Goforth. Goforth is no novice — he’s already garnered a Grammy nomination — and he’s been playing in the Smokies since his childhood in East Tennessee.
In addition to Holt and Goforth, singer-and-storyteller Michael Reno Harrell will give two performances. The Hominy Valley Boys and The Hill Country Band will provide the lively bluegrass background for three local clogging groups.
For those seeking to get in a few rounds on the dance floor themselves, former North Carolina Senator Joe Sam Queen will call a square dance in the afternoon that is open to all ages.
For readers, there will be local authors, traditional storytellers and readers’ theater spinning tales of Appalachia, old and new.
The celebration, said Phillips, has been long in the making and she’s hopeful it will become a regular feature on Waynesville’s downtown summer calendar.
“We talked about this probably at least three years ago, and this is the first year that we’ve been able to pull it off,” said Phillips. “There’s a lot of history and our culture deserving of our interest in this area.”
Main stage (Miller Street)
• 9:45-10:45 — Hominy Valley Boys
• 11-11:45 — David Holt
• Noon-1:15 Hominy Valley Boys (Southern Appalachian Cloggers at 12:30 p.m.)
• 1:30-2:15 — David Holt
• 2:30-3:40 — Michael Reno Harrell
• 3:45-5 — Hominy Valley Boys (Fines Creek Flatfooters Cloggers at 4 p.m. and Smoky Mountain Stompers Cloggers at 4:30 pm.)
• 9:45-10:30 — The Ross Brothers
• 10:30-11:15 — Ginny McAfee
• 11:15-12:30 — Michael Reno Harrell
• 12:30-2:30 — Hill Country Band (Southern Appalachian Cloggers at 1:15 p.m. and Flatfooters Cloggers at 2 p.m.)
• 2:30-3 p.m. — McKenzie Wilson
• 3-4 p.m. — Hill Country Band (Smoky Mountain Stoppers Cloggers at 3:30 pm.)
• 4-5 p.m. — The Ross Brothers
• 11:30-12:15 — McKenzie Wilson
• 12:30-12:50 — HART Readers Theater
• 1-2 — Ginny McAfee
• 2:15-2:35 — HART Readers Theater
• 2:45-3:30 — Ann Lough