Apples are the key ingredient in this year’s entries for the annual “Best of the West” award in the Mountain Heritage Day “A Gathering In” Traditional Food Competition.
Each year, “Best of the West” entries must include a key ingredient that has a connection to foods prepared and/or preserved in a historic way. Preserved canned or dried foods as well as baked goods will fill the tables in the other juried food competitions.
Every entry must be prepared from scratch; no mixes or preprepared items are permitted. In the competition’s rules and guidelines booklet (contest page at www.mountainheritageday.com), there are categories for many kinds of preserves, jams, sauces, pickles, relishes, as well as a section for heritage foods conservation that includes bleached (smoked) apples, canned blackberries, sauerkraut and “leather breeches” (dried green or wax beans).
The 39th Mountain Heritage Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, preceded by a 5-K foot race at 8 a.m. Admission and parking are free on the campus. Western Carolina University’s free celebration of Appalachian culture also will feature a full schedule of mountain music, fun activities, about 100 booths of the region’s finest arts and crafts, and 25 vendors offering ethnic, heritage and festival food.
Balsam and Blue Ridge stages and the Circle Tent will offer continuous mountain music, storytelling and clogging. This year, a new platform will join the three performers’ stages, created for audience members to share their dance skills while the bands play on. Other areas will be active with demonstrations of Cherokee stickball and other Cherokee games, shape-note singing and an antique auto show. The Children’s Tent will provide entertaining activities for younger visitors throughout the day, and kids also will enjoy free wagon rides and hayrides.
Mountain Heritage Day also offers a variety of demonstrations and contests centered on authentic mountain folk arts and skills: competitions for best beards and mustaches, period costumes and chainsaw woodcutting. The Mountain Heritage Center’s exhibits of Appalachian culture and history will be open all day.
With almost as many activities as there are varieties of apples – and recipes for enjoying them – the festival will bring history to life and fun to thousands, rain or shine. Though pets are not allowed on festival grounds, service animals are welcome. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for comfortable seating. Shuttles will operate throughout the day, with stops at designated parking and attraction locations.
For more information, go online to www.MountainHeritageDay.com or call (828)227-7129.