On Saturday, Sept. 29,Western Carolina University hosted its 38th annual Mountain Heritage Day.
This all-day event was home to various artists and venues. It showcased music, art, pottery, dance, animals and food. The festival was a day for people of all ages and even the family dog.
Trey Nichols, a student at WCU, stated, “I love Mountain Heritage Day because it is one of the times where you can get a real sense of community in Cullowhee.”
One of the fascinating aspects of Mountain Heritage Day is the involvement of the entire family in the activities. The music that was played throughout the day added to the familial atmosphere that permeated the festival. There were families of all shapes and sizes scattered around. No matter where you looked there were people socializing and having fun.
Even the artists, such as the potters and craftsmen, appealed to children with their wares. Some of the potters had child-sized tea sets, and other artists had various child-sized merchandise. Children were drawn to the Children’s Tent where there were games and other activities to entertain. There were also several different “hay” rides that the children could go on. Young children were even a part of the performances staged throughout the day. For example, the Cole Mountain Cloggers are a troupe composed of children who enjoy the traditional dance form of clogging.
The sounds of the festival were particularly fascinating. The music could be heard throughout the festival and also reached to other parts of campus. Each group that performed, such as the Cole Mountain Cloggers and the Queen family, represented a part of the history of this area and our country. The people who attended the festival could sit and listen to the different sets of the musicians, but often people were singing or humming along as they browsed the different booths.
Kelsey Fender of Fairview said, “I thought it was very homey. It reminds me of music that I would hear back home. It is wonderful to get to spend a day like this with my Pawpaw.”
Mountain Heritage Day possesses the wonderful skill of being able to bring the past to present so that people can appreciate the history of this region while meeting new people and broadening their horizons. The festival also proffers an opportunity for aspiring and established artists and craftsmen to get their work in the public eye. Many people left the festival having purchased a small memento or two from one of the booths.
Another wonderful aspect of this festival is the openness that the artists have about their craft. Students and others were able to walk up to the artists and ask specific questions.
Mountain Heritage Day promotes the history of this region and cultivates the relationships within the community. The memories and friendships made at the festival are ones that last lifetimes.