Mountain Heritage Day draws crowds celebrating the mountains and its diverse culture

Members of the Cherokee Snowbird stickball team, students and children play a game of "Fish" during Mountain Heritage day. Photo by Kayla Godfrey

The annual Mountain Heritage Day festival is always an event that many members of the community look forward to.

Located on the WCU intramural fields,  in just a few hours community members came together to celebrate the culture and history of the mountains. It has a special place in the hearts of those who return every year as it seems to remind guests of the traditions formed over the years and turn strangers into family.

The festival also has a business side, it gives local establishments the opportunity to gain new customers with hundreds of vendors who were selling everything from jewelry and honey to soap and furniture. There were also  multiple food vendors that sold a wide variety of  southern food such as fried pies, BBQ, funnel cakes, and turkey legs.

The entertainment options were endless as there were three different music stages with artists old and young performing folk songs and reading poetry; a children’s tent with crafts; music and games; and even tractor hay ride and horse and mule carriage rides.

“I enjoyed the grand display of culture that roots itself in these hills and flows through the Smokies. I think the festival was a beautiful display of how the past is mixing with the present and a great tool to allow students to look back and use it to direct our future”, said Tessa Byrd, a WCU student.

But the most popular events stem from the ones that the Eastern band of the Cherokee provides. They brought tradition to Cullowhee with the Cherokee Youth Traditional Dance Group, Cherokee fry bread and live demonstrations  that involved the crowds like the traditional stick ball game which was originally played by men to solve disagreements and make decisions; blow gun’s that were used to hunt small game;  and a courtship game called “Fish”  a crowd favorite along with the original stick ball game.

“I enjoyed watching a traditional Cherokee dating game, it was interesting to see how a man would have impressed a woman and vice versa”, said WCU student Tyana Johnson.

To learn more about “Fish” watch the video below.