Lees-McRae celebrates 6th annual Appalachian Heritage Week and American novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

April 06, 2016

Join Lees-McRae College in celebrating spring’s return to the mountains. During the 6th annual Appalachian Heritage Week, April 7-15, the College will highlight beloved American novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who spent a creative autumn in one of the College’s cottages. Other unique aspects of mountain heritage will enlighten and entertain students and community members. Lees-McRae invites everyone to participate in the activities sponsored by the Stephenson Center for Appalachia.

The Bailey Mountain Cloggers will kick off the celebration in MacDonald Dining Hall on Thursday, April 7, from 5:15-6:15 p.m. This award-winning team returns for the third year at the request of students and faculty who have enjoyed the group’s stirring dances and joined in to celebrate this important part of Appalachian heritage. While the clogging will be free, the cost of the meal for those without a Lees-McRae meal plan will be $9.95 plus tax.

On Monday, April 11, the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) will host an Open House from 1-5 p.m. to celebrate another successful year. Join Director Jennie Harpold, members of the NOSW advisory council, and past graduates to learn more about this program which has changed the lives of more than 90 women within the region. From 3-4 p.m., Professor Kathy Olson will lecture on the important literary accomplishments of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, whose novel The Yearling has remained a favorite of adolescents and adults for many years. Rawlings spent the fall of 1936 in a college cottage beside Hemlock Trail. She began work on her famous novel here and wrote one of her most well-known short stories, “Mother from Mannville.” Olson will present her program in Room 219 of Carson Library. Beginning at 5 p.m., MacDonald Dining Hall will serve a traditional, Appalachian-themed meal while the group Us Fellers, led by Trevor McKenzie, plays old time mountain music. The music will be free, but the cost of the meal for those without a Lees-McRae meal plan will be $9.95 plus tax.

On Tuesday, beginning at 12 p.m the campus will celebrate old and new Appalachian crafts and traditions. Potter Rob Withrow from Brasstown, N.C. will demonstrate his pot-throwing technique in Swank Park behind the Chaffee Administration Building. Students and visitors are invited to get their hands dirty and shape clay on the turning wheel. Withrow will also have a selection of his acclaimed work for sale. At 2 p.m., Dr. Michael Joslin will lead a hike to the site of Rawlings’ cottage on Hemlock Trail.  During the hour and a half walk, Joslin will discuss the author’s time in the mountains and the inspiration she derived from her stay. The hike will begin at the bell tower on campus. Tuesday evening beginning at 7 p.m. in Room 219 of Carson Library, the movie Cross Creek will be presented.  The film recounts Rawlings’ life on her Florida swamp estate and her encounters with the rich environment of the region, highlighting her relationship with the rough but vital rural neighbors and the vibrant wildlife.

Wednesday is the 12th Annual Mountain Service Day during which students, faculty, staff and community members volunteer their time and efforts in projects around campus and in the community. For information or to volunteer, contact Renee Baker in the Student Development Office at bakerr@lmc.edu. 

On Thursday from 3-4 p.m., Florence Turcotte, archivist for the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Archive at the George H. Smathers Libraries of the University of Florida, will present Comparing Rawlings’ Florida Swamp Neighbors with Banner Elk’s Mountain Folks. Her presentation will be in Room 219 of Carson Library. Later that evening, The Yearling, based on Rawlings’ most well-known work, will be shown in Evans Auditorium beginning at 7 p.m. The movie tells the poignant story of the love of a poor farm boy for his pet deer and the problems he faces living with his family in the wild swamplands. 

The week’s festivities conclude on Friday when Greg “Bumble Bee” Miller brings his Percheron team and carriage to campus to take students and visitors for rides the old-fashioned way – by real horsepower. Horse and carriage tours will be available from noon until 3 p.m.

“Once again we invite everyone to join us in Lees-McRae's celebration of our Appalachian heritage, our connections with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her unique voice in American literature,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. “Whether you can contribute to our understanding of the past or hope to learn more about mountain culture, please join us for one or all of our activities. We look forward to a rewarding week.”

Except for meals on Thursday, April 7 and Monday, April 11, all events are free and open to the public. For further information contact Pam Joslin at 828.898.8721 or email Dr. Michael Joslin at joslin@lmc.edu.

Media Contact:

Nina Mastandrea  |  Content Manager
Tel: 828.898.8729  |  Email: mastandrean@lmc.edu
Pottery making demonstration by Rob Withrow
Bailey Mountain Cloggers performance
Us Fellers performance