Festival Time

Mountain Heritage Day features the region’s best arts and crafts

By RANDALL HOLCOMBE

The Southern Appalachian region’s top-quality arts and crafts will be exhibited and sold as WCU presents its 38th annual fall festival of traditional mountain culture, Mountain Heritage Day, on Saturday, Sept. 29. With about 100 arts and crafts booths spread out on a spacious field behind WCU’s Cordelia Camp Building, the festival presents a perfect opportunity for visitors to get in some early holiday shopping, said Mountain Heritage Day coordinator Trina Royar. “We will have a wonderful arts and crafts show this year, with everything from traditional corn-shuck work to world-class jewelry,” Royar said. “Many of our artists are returning from last year, but we also will have about 20 exciting new crafters, including WCU alumnus John Speier ’06 MAT ’11 doing painting and woodwork.”

All that shopping is bound to make Mountain Heritage Day visitors hungry, and the festival also has that aspect covered, said Royar. Nearly 30 food vendors will provide a huge variety of options, and this year the festival is branching out to offer some new items, including pork rinds with barbecue, hot and spicy, and salt and vinegar flavors; fried grit balls; black and blue chicken wraps; fried pies of the apple, peach and sweet potato variety; and for kids, PBB&N sandwiches (peanut butter, banana and Nutella). Also, the festival will have a vegetarian food vendor for the first time who will offer Thai coconut curry, tempeh tacos and Reubens, Royar said.

Besides being a showcase for arts, crafts and scrumptious festival food, Mountain Heritage Day will present three stages of traditional music and clogging. The local bluegrass band Balsam Range, always a festival favorite, will be featured in two performances and also will present a program for children, Royar said. Other festival highlights will include demonstrations of authentic mountain folk arts, Cherokee stickball and shape-note singing; an antique auto show; a woodcutting contest featuring the area’s chain saw masters; and the opening of the “Journey Stories” Smithsonian exhibit at the Mountain Heritage Center (see story on page 32).

Mountain Heritage Day is held on WCU’s campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. Activities go on, rain or shine. Pets are not allowed on festival grounds, but service animals are welcome. Visitors should bring chairs or blankets for seating at the performance stages. For more information, call 828.227.7129 or visit MountainHeritageDay.com.