HERITAGE HOOPLA

Visitors make history at Mountain Heritage Day

By KEITH BRENTON

It’s horse-drawn haywagons and antique automobiles. It’s shape-note singing and chainsaw challenges. It’s a fair in a field and a path to the past. The sights, sounds, fragrances and flavors of a bygone era draw thousands of visitors to Western Carolina University each year on the last Saturday in September to experience the region’s rich history of mountain culture at Mountain Heritage Day.

Last year marked the festival’s 40th anniversary and the 125th year of the university hosting it; the second 40 years begin Saturday, Sept. 26. The festival will feature Eddie Rose and Highway Forty opening for bluegrass supergroup Balsam Range – plus many more local and regional favorites performing bluegrass, country, gospel and mountain music on two stages.

More than 100 booths offering handmade arts and crafts will be in friendly, juried competition side-by-side with living history and craft demonstrations, cooking/canning/baking contests, beard-and-mustache and chainsaw rivalries, and wagon rides – plus a tent featuring children’s activities all day.

MHD

The tradition of free admission and free parking will continue in 2015. Visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair, and an umbrella to shed unwanted sunshine or rain. Service animals are welcome, but guests are asked to leave pets at home.

To learn more about the Sept. 26 festival, visit www.mountainheritageday.com.