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Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day, a free family oriented festival that celebrates Southern Appalachian culture through concerts, living-history demonstrations, competitions and awards programs, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, on the WCU campus in Cullowhee.

Named one of the top 20 festivals in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, this year’s event will include additional musical acts, vendors and an expectation of more visitors, organizers said.

What defines bluegrass music would have to be the banjo played “The Earl Scruggs Way” with the three-finger roll. If it’s played clawhammer style, it would have to be classified “Old Time.” Now, bluegrass music, as a genre, grew out of this. As to musicianship, the chief — Bill Monroe — said if you could play bluegrass music right you could play anything else. What I’ve found is that bluegrass music, like jazz, is built around tight timing. It’s not loose. If you understand that, you can apply it to other types of music.

Celebrating Southern Appalachian culture through concerts, living-history demonstrations, competitions and awards programs, Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, on the campus in Cullowhee.

The traditional folk ways of the Southern Appalachian Mountains will take center stage as Western Carolina University presents the 37th annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The fall festival will feature a variety of arts and crafts, music, clogging, folk arts, contests and activities that is hard to find in a one-day event, said festival coordinator Trina Royar of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

All Mountain Heritage Day activities, including stage performances, will take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., except registration for the woodcutting contest, which starts at 9 a.m. This year’s festival will be held on fields behind the Cordelia Camp Building, in parking lots and grassy areas around the building and in the nearby Mountain Heritage Center, which is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building.

Visitors will find nearly 100 booths of juried arts and crafts. Items for sale will include basketry, ceramics, fiber work, glasswork, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, pottery and woodwork.

About 25 food vendors also are signed up to participate in the festival, offering products ranging from barbecue, hamburgers and chicken-on-a-stick to fried pickles, chocolate-dipped cheesecake and Cherokee frybread.

The traditional Cherokee game of stickball has been a favorite attraction for festival visitors in recent years, and the Snowbird Stickball Team from Graham County will make its second appearance at Mountain Heritage Day to demonstrate that ancient sport at 11 a.m.

Another Native American tradition will be featured at 1 p.m., when team members will join with their female associates in playing the courtship game of “Fish.” The team also will demonstrate the use of Cherokee blowguns at 3 p.m.

Fans of traditional music and clogging should head to the two main stages, which will offer continuous free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Balsam and Blue Ridge stages will present many types of traditional music — traditional and contemporary bluegrass to old-time, gospel and folk music.

Clogging fans will want to check out performances by the Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers, Fines Creek Flatfooters and Dixie Darlins, plus this year’s festival will present an audience participation clogging demonstration led by well-known clogging instructor Bill Nichols and his daughter, Simone Nichols Pace, at 2:45 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Stage.

Festival music won’t be limited to the two stages. Visitors will have an opportunity to see some rapid-fire picking up close and personal at the Circle Tent, which will provide a music workshop experience. An 11 a.m. fiddle circle will feature John Duncan and Summer McMahan, and a 1:30 p.m. banjo circle will show off the picking talents of Annie Fain Liden, Steve Sutton and Charles Wood.

Singers from around the region will also gather to demonstrate the sacred mountain tradition of shaped-note singing.

WCU’s museum of Appalachian culture, the Mountain Heritage Center, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the museum also will host a free performance of The Liars Bench, a Southern Appalachian variety show, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

For younger festival goers, the children’s tent will provide fun and educational sessions all day.

Youngsters can learn to make old-fashioned toys and take part in other heritage activities beginning at 10 a.m.

Folk art demonstrations ranging from Cherokee doll-making to sorghum molasses-making will be showcased throughout the festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and area residents who own vintage automobiles will be driving them to Mountain Heritage Day to show them off in the festival auto show.

Admission and parking are free, though pets are not allowed on festival grounds. Shuttles operate throughout the day, with stops at designated locations.

For more information, call 828.227.7129 or visit mountainheritageday.com.

 

GENERAL EVENTS

9 a.m. – Registration begins for woodcutting contest

10 a.m. – Woodcutting contest begins; festival booths open, offering arts, crafts and food; antique auto show begins; demonstrations of folk arts and skills begin; Mountain Heritage Center opens

10:30 a.m. – Exhibition of black-powder shooting and “Sacred Harp” shaped-note sing begin

11 a.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee stickball begins

11:30 a.m. – Recognition of arts and crafts awards, and food contest winners, at Balsam Stage

12:10 p.m. – Presentation of Mountain Heritage Awards, traditional attire contests for children and adults, and beard and moustache contest, all on Blue Ridge Stage

1 p.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee courtship game “Fish” begins

1:30 p.m. – “Christian Harmony” shaped-note sing begins; presentation of “The Liars Bench” show begins in the Mountain Heritage Center

2:30 p.m. – Exhibition of black-powder shooting

3 p.m. – Exhibition of Cherokee blowguns begins

4 p.m. – Mountain Heritage Center closes

5 p.m. – Festival closes

 

BALSAM STAGE

(Rodney Sutton, master of ceremonies)

10 a.m. – Hawk Tawodi Brown

10:30 a.m. – Cherokee Traditional Dance Group

10:40 a.m. – Hominy Valley Boys

11:10 a.m. – Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers (clogging)

11:30 a.m. – Recognition of arts and crafts awards, and food contest winners

11:40 a.m. – Deitz Family

12:15 p.m. – Jerry and Paul Wilson

12:55 p.m. – Spring Chickens

1:15 p.m. – Fines Creek Flatfooters (clogging)

1:40 p.m. – Queen Family

2:20 p.m. – Woolly Jumpers

3 p.m. – Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent winners

3:45 p.m. – Blue Eyed Girl

4:20 p.m. – Sweet Tater Band

 

MOUNTAIN HERITAGE CENTER EXHIBITS

(10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

“Migration of the Scotch-Irish People” – Permanent exhibit focusing on some of the first settlers to the mountains. A new exhibit update explores the tension between religion and lawbreaking as expressed by the temperance movement and moonshining.

“Qualla Arts and Crafts” – Celebrates the 65th anniversary of this craft co-op in Cherokee. This exhibit features the skill and craftsmanship of Cherokee artisans.

“The Carolina Mountains: Photography of Margaret Morley” – Sixty compelling images reveal glimpses of life in western North Carolina in the early 1900s.

“Progress of an Idea” – Permanent exhibit on the development of Western Carolina University, its local origins and evolving mission, with a special focus on music at WCU.

“Jesse Stalcup: Craftsman and Builder” – Exhibit of handcrafted furniture from the early 1900s.

 

BLUE RIDGE STAGE

(Bill Nichols, master of ceremonies)

10 a.m. – Mountain Faith

10:30 a.m. – Stoney Creek Boys

10:45 a.m. – Dixie Darlins (clogging)

11 a.m. – Whitewater Bluegrass Co.

11:45 a.m. – Anne Lough

12:10 p.m. - Presentation of Mountain Heritage Awards, traditional attire contests for children and adults, and beard and moustache contest

12:30 p.m. – Phil and Gaye Johnson

1 p.m. – Buncombe Turnpike

1:45 p.m. – Tried Stone Gospel Choir

2:15 p.m. – Stoney Creek Boys

2:30 p.m. – Blue Ridge Hi-Steppers (clogging)

2:45 p.m. – Clogging demonstration with Bill Nichols and Simone Nichols Pace

3 p.m. – Wild Hog Band

3:30 p.m. – Five O’Clock Shadows

4 p.m. – Paul’s Creek

 

FOLK ARTS AND SKILLS DEMONSTRATIONS

(10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Curtis Allison and Dwayne Franks – horses and mules

Lori and Chuck Anderson – corn shuck crafts and broom-making

Cassie Dickson – spinning and flax culture

Nancy, John Henry and Johnnie Ruth Maney – Cherokee pottery, beadwork and doll-making

William Rogers – blacksmithing

Larry Stout – sorghum molasses-making

R.O. Wilson – logging skills

Max Woody – chair-making

 

CIRCLE TENT

(Phil Jamison, moderator for musical circles)

10 a.m. – Presentation on “Jackson County People and Places” by the Jackson County Historical Society

11 a.m. – Fiddle Circle with John Duncan and Summer McMahan

12:30 p.m. – Poetry Circle with Thomas Rain Crowe, Barbara Duncan and Brent Martin

1:30 p.m. – Banjo Circle with Annie Fain Liden, Steve Sutton and Charles Wood

3 p.m. – Ballad Circle with the Deitz Family, Gaye Johnson and Jeanette Queen Schrock

 

CHILDREN’S TENT

10 a.m. – Heritage toys and activities

11:40 a.m. – Jean Hayes with an introduction to bagpipes and parade

12:30 p.m. – Whitewater Bluegrass Co. presents play party games

1 p.m. – Deitz Family

1:30 p.m. – Phil and Gaye Johnson

2 p.m. – Ellie Grace

2:30 p.m. – Carol Rifkin

3 p.m. – Heritage toys and activities

The talents of Western North Carolina’s top traditional musicians and singers will be showcased during the 36th annual Mountain Heritage Day, coming up Saturday, Sept. 25, on the campus of Western Carolina University.

The festival’s newly named “Mountain” and “Heritage” stages will feature 22 separate musical acts that will provide constant free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said festival coordinator Trina Royar.

“Our schedule of performers for the two stages includes bluegrass, old-time music, bluegrass-gospel, traditional Irish music, traditional and contemporary folk, and traditional country. If you like music in the ‘traditional’ genre, we’ve got you covered,” Royar said.

The entertainment lineup includes regional bluegrass favorites Balsam Range, Whitewater Bluegrass Co., Buncombe Turnpike and the Stoney Creek Boys, as well as the traditional and contemporary folk sounds of Phil and Gaye Johnson, old-time music by Jackson County’s Queen and Deitz families, and the Red Wellies, a traditional Irish band from Asheville.

Also, Mountain Heritage Day will feature four clogging teams, with two teams performing on each stage, Royar said.

Other musical performances are scheduled at the festival’s Circle Tent, a venue designed to provide visitors with a workshop kind of experience, Royar said. The Banjo Circle will feature area banjo pickers Mark Pruett, Junior Queen and Steve Sutton. The Fiddle Circle will highlight the talents of Trevor Stuart, Delbert Queen, Danielle Bishop, Beanie O’Dell and Arvil Freeman, and the Mandolin Circle will feature Adam King, Danny Bishop, Barry Clinton and Darren Nicholson. WCU’s own student group, the Porch Music Club, will lead an open jam at the Circle Tent at 3:30 p.m.

While the music and dancing is going on at the two main stages and in the Circle Tent at Mountain Heritage Day, a new performance area, the Children’s Tent, will offer younger festival visitors a wide range of activities, Royar said.

The traditional folkways of the Southern Appalachian Mountains will once again take center stage as the Western Carolina University community presents the 36th annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 25.

WCU’s annual festival offers a smorgasbord of traditional mountain culture, with a variety of music, dance, crafts, folk arts, contests and activities that is hard to find in a one-day event, said festival coordinator Trina Royar of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

All Mountain Heritage Day activities, including stage performances, will take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the exception of the 5-K footrace, which begins at 8 a.m., and registration for the woodcutting contest, which starts at 9 a.m. This year’s festival will be held on fields behind the Cordelia Camp Building, in parking lots and grassy areas around the Camp Building, and in the nearby Mountain Heritage Center, which is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building.

Each year’s Mountain Heritage Day is the result of months of planning and work by a host of volunteers representing WCU’s student body, faculty and staff, and all that activity culminates with a busy festival day on the last Saturday in September, Royar said. “In particular, the event requires a big commitment by the university’s police force and facilities management department, but the payoff comes for everyone involved with the festival when they see the big crowds and smiling faces at WCU’s largest one-day event,” she said.

See also: Mountain Heritage Day to offer continuous entertainment, new Children’s Tent

 

Arts, crafts and food

Visitors at this year’s Mountain Heritage Day will find 80 booths of juried arts and crafts, providing a perfect opportunity for local residents to get in some early holiday shopping, Royar said. Items for sale will include everything from ceramics and wood carvings to basketry, jewelry and metalwork. Beginning this year, the layout of the arts and crafts vendor area has been redesigned to provide for a more pleasant shopping experience, with each vendor having a “corner” booth with two open sides. Fifty-nine percent of the arts and crafts vendors at this year’s festival are from Buncombe and other N.C. counties to the west, Royar said.

About 20 food vendors also are scheduled to participate in the festival, offering festival-goers tempting options such as Cherokee frybread, gyros, angus beef burgers, kettlecorn and ice cream.

 

Stickball and blowguns

The traditional Cherokee game of stickball has been a favorite attraction for festival visitors in recent years, and the Snowbird Stickball Team from Graham County will make its first appearance at Mountain Heritage Day to demonstrate that ancient sport. Before the two dozen members of the team begin play at 11 a.m., they will “take to the waters” of nearby Cullowhee Creek as an act of purification, said team leader Charles “Shorty” Kirkland.

Another Native American tradition will be demonstrated at 1 p.m. when team members join with their female associates in playing the courtship game of “Fish.” Male players use sticks to throw a ball up to hit a wooden fish that sits atop a 24-foot pole, while the female players are allowed to use their hands to throw the ball. Also, the females are allowed to physically harass the male players, “but the man has to be a perfect gentleman,” Kirkland said.

The Snowbird team also will demonstrate the use of traditional Cherokee blowguns at 3 p.m.

 

Music & clogging

For fans of traditional music and clogging, life doesn’t get much better than the two main stages of Mountain Heritage Day, which will offer continuous free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Royar said.

The newly renamed “Mountain Stage” (formerly Norton Stage) and “Heritage Stage” (formerly Traditional Stage) will present many types of traditional music ranging from traditional and contemporary bluegrass to old-time and folk music. A new act at this year’s festival will be the Red Wellies, an Asheville-based traditional Irish band. Visitors can expect to hear many local favorites, such as the bluegrass band Balsam Range, which includes three WCU alumni.

Clogging fans will want to check out performances by the Blue Ridge Highsteppers, the Rough Creek Cloggers, the Cole Mountain Cloggers and the Dixie Darlings, Royar said.

Festival music won’t be limited to the two stages. Visitors will have an opportunity to see some rapid-fire picking up close and personal at the Circle Tent, which will provide a “workshop” sort of musical experience, Royar said. The 11 a.m. “Banjo Circle” will feature Mark Pruett, Steve Sutton and Junior Queen, while a 12:30 p.m. “Fiddle Circle” will showcase the talents of Trevor Stuart, Delbert Queen, Danielle Bishop, Beanie O’Dell and Arvil Freeman. A “Mandolin Circle” at 2 p.m. will include Adam King, Danny Bishop, Barry Clinton and Darren Nicholson.

Other Circle Tent activities will include a 10 a.m. presentation on “The Building of the Glenville Dam and Lake: An Engineering Feat” by the Jackson County Historical Society, and a 3:30 p.m. open jam session of traditional music led by the Porch Music Club, a WCU student group.

Other musical performances that have been a part of every Mountain Heritage Day will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., when singers from around the region will gather to demonstrate the sacred mountain tradition of shape-note singing. The singing will take place in the gymnasium adjacent to the Camp Building, with participants singing from the “Sacred Harp” and “Christian Harmony” hymnals.

 

Children’s Tent

Mountain Heritage Day organizers this year are putting more emphasis on providing activities for children, and a new Children’s Tent has been added that will provide fun and educational sessions all day, Royar said.

Heritage activities will be offered from 10 to 11 a.m., and during the afternoon hours musical programs geared toward children will be presented by Joe and Bill Deitz, Phil and Gaye Johnson, and the Whitewater Bluegrass Co., with the bluegrass band leading “play party games” and a “family dance.” Storyteller Bobby McMillon will entertain the kids beginning at 2 p.m., and more heritage activities will be offered from 3 until 5 p.m.

 

Plenty more

Other important parts of Mountain Heritage Day include the folk arts and living history demonstrations, an auto show, contests and the annual Mountain Heritage Awards for 2010.

These awards are given to one individual and one organization in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the preservation or interpretation of the history and culture of Southern Appalachia. That presentation will take place at 12:15 p.m. on the Heritage Stage.

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