The 42nd annual Mountain Heritage Day will be a combination old-fashioned mountain fair and showcase for Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and song, with the atmosphere of a big family reunion. Visitors to will find three stages of traditional old-time, gospel, and bluegrass music and dance, with plenty of fiddles, banjos, and clogging. Festival-goers are invited to join in workshops at the Circle Tent and participate in shape-note singing, one of the mountains’ sacred traditions. Admission and parking are free so bring your family and experience all that our rich heritage has to offer.
Our main stages are packed with noteworthy performances this year. Appalachian and Bluegrass music in abundance, Cherokee history and culture as told by a revered storyteller, and a group preschoolers working to preserve their culture's tradition of dance all combine into an unforgettable experience.
Back Creek Bluegrass Boys, Bailey Mountain Cloggers, Balsam Range, Deitz Family, Queen Family, Connie Regan-Blake, Sheets Family Band, Southern Appalachian Cloggers, Foxfire Boys, Stoney Creek Band, Heritage Alive! Talent Show Winners, Trevor and Travis Stuart, Jackson County Junior Appalachian Musicians, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Choir, Phil and Gaye Johnson, Tsalagi Touring Program, Possum on a Whale, Whitewater Bluegrass Company
A special venue for our young festival-goers that offers heritage crafts, music, and games throughout the day. They'll have a great time and learn something that they can carry with them for years to come.
The Circle Tent offers in-depth workshops and discussions about heritage music and crafts. Join in as local artists discuss the history and future of mountain culture and learn the skills needed to preserve our heritage.
10:00 am: The 1940 Flood in Jackson County with the Jackson County Historical Society
11:00 am: Roots of the Banjo with Crystal Deitz and the Deitz Family, Steve Sutton, and Travis Stuart
1:00 pm: Songs from Over the Sea with Dean English and Tom Nixon, Jeanette Queen, and Phil and Gaye Johnson
3:00 pm: Critter Songs with Arvil Freeman and Lawrence Dillingham, The Sheets Family Band, and Trevor Stuart
The Mountain Heritage Day Arts and Crafts area offers juried, handmade items ranging from woodwork and pottery to paintings, jewelry, and quilts. Throughout the event there will also be a wide array of regional craftspeople demonstrating skills that have been important to mountain people over the years. Be sure to check out our list of featured artisans and look below for our list of demonstrators.
Chuck Anderson, broom making
Lori Anderson, corn shuck crafts
Jim Bordwine, saltmaking
Lloyd Owle, stonecarving
William Rogers, blacksmithing
Matthew Shirey, banjo making
Tsalagi Touring Program, Cherokee crafts
R. O. Wilson, logging skills
Food booths at the festival feature classic mountain fare like ham biscuits, churned ice cream, lemonade, barbecue, Cherokee frybread, fried green tomatoes, kettle corn, beans, and cornbread.
Visit our vendor page for a complete list of our culinary partners.
If you're in the competitive mood Mountain Heritage Day is exactly where you want to be. You can participate in contests that will test your skills in the kitchen,with chainsaw in hand or even your artistic mastery of facial hair.
*Beard and Mustache Contest
Do you have a beard that would make the ZZ Top guys tip their cowboy hats? Do you have a mustache that would make Ron Swanson proud? If you think you have some Grade A whiskers then Mountain Heritage Day is your opportunity to show the world your mighty mane.
• 2:00 PM on the Balsam Stage
• Categories: Best Natural Whiskers, “Freestyle,” and Best Student Whiskers
• A panel of local facial hair experts will judge
• No Entrance Fee!
• Prizes will be awarded to first place from each category. A grand-prize winner will receive a cash prize!
For all ages, dress like the old-timers did back in the day!
2:00 PM on the Balsam Stage
Price Ribbons will be awarded to first place.
Head over to our Schedule page to find list of competitions.
One of the most important elements of Mountain Heritage Day is the Cherokee presence, including the annual stickball demonstration.
Cherokee Stickball was a highly ritualized and emotionally charged contest. The object of the game was to move a small, tightly wrapped animal-skin ball from the center of the field to the other team's goal line. Handmade hickory sticks with pouches were used to carry or throw the ball. The stickball tradition continues to this day on the Qualla Boundary.
This year, the Hummingbird Stick Ball Team and the Big Cove Youth Stickball Team will provide the demonstrations.
Owners of vintage automobiles are invited to participate in the Classic Car Show sponsored by Andy Shaw Ford. The show takes place at the entrance to the festival. Visitors can stroll amongst the colorful antique cars and cast votes for their favorites.
Registration takes place from 9:00 am - 11:00 am. Come early for the best locations.
Voting ends at 11:30 am.
Plaques will be awarded at 12:00 pm to the Top Eleven cars including the winner, "The People's Choice."
The MHD 5K Race & Fun Run is organized and run by the students at Western Carolina University in the Sport Event Management and Sponsorship class. The money that is raised in the 5K will go to help fund the Sports Management Association Scholarship. To find more information or to register for the event please visit our link or call Dr. Charles Parrish at (828) 227-8442.
The Mountain Heritage Center celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of the southern Appalachian region. You'll discover the rich traditions of the mountains, see the Appalachian region from new perspectives, and come away with an enhanced understanding of its land, culture, and people.
Galleries: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Thursdays until 7:00 pm
Offices: Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
The Mountain Heritage Center follows the university holiday calendar.Mountain Heritage Center 176 Central Drive #240 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC 28723
Address: 176 Central Drive, #240, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723
Phone: (828) 227-3039
Mountain Heritage Day is organized and hosted by Western Carolina University as its annual gift to the community. Enter the campus off of NC 107 and follow signs to on-campus parking options. The university CatTran will be running to provide shuttle service from parking areas to the Intramural Field, where the event is held.