Appalachian Heritage Week tradition returns to Lees-McRae

The John B. Stephenson Center for Appalachia and Comparative Highland Studies is back with a beloved annual tradition, Appalachian Heritage Week. Each year the college sets aside time in the spring to celebrate the place we all call home through programming that highlights Appalachian culture, food, history, natural resources, and more.

This year, the Stephenson Center will host Appalachian Heritage Week Monday, April 15 through Friday, April 19 with fun and educational activities each day. At Lees-McRae we are constantly inspired by the mountains that surround our campus and the rich culture that has been borne from them. Staying in touch with what makes this area unique is one of the goals of the college, and Appalachian Heritage Week helps students, faculty, and staff achieve that goal.

“For far too long, the cultural contributions of Appalachia have been undervalued and ignored. While we are often dismissed and stereotyped by those outside of the region, Appalachians have created and continue to produce diverse and complex forms of music, dance, folklore, food, literature, and art. Appalachian Heritage Week is a celebration of these essential and unique contributions to American history and culture,” Director of the Stephenson Center of Appalachia Catherine Pritchard Childress said. “Our 2024 programming, which spans an entire week, will introduce students and the community to local artisans, musicians, scientists, writers, and historians who practice, preserve, and pass down essential Appalachian folkways.”

The full schedule for Appalachian Heritage Week 2024 is as follows:

Monday, April 15

Try your hand at some traditional Appalachian art forms in Swank Park from 10 a.m.−2 p.m. Join local fiber artists Michelle Dearmin, Angela Wheeler, and the college’s own Dean of the Library Jess Bellemer, along with woodworker Lacy Snapp, and ceramicist PJ Boyajian and get in touch with your creative side.

The artists will display their work, give demonstrations, and sell some of their pieces.

Tuesday, April 16

Indulge in a delicious dinner of Appalachian fare in The Summit from 5−7:30 p.m. Following the meal, head to Miller Commons where local Appalachian storyteller Jane Hicks will deliver the Appalachian Heritage Week 2024 keynote address.

Hicks’ talk, “An Appalachian Writer’s Heritage,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will include a poetry reading. Hicks will be available to sign copies of her book following the event.

Wednesday, April 17

From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. stop by outside The Summit for an heirloom seed planting and pot painting mini workshop. Then, that evening, come out to Evans Auditorium from 6−9 p.m. for a screening of the film “Cold Mountain” at Appalachian Movie Night.

Set in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, the film follows a wounded American Civil War soldier after he deserts his post and decides to embark on a journey back to his home and his true love. Stick around after the film for a discussion with Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of History Scott Huffard.

Thursday, April 18

Thursday is all about exploring the natural and ecological world of the Southern Appalachian region. At 1 p.m. that afternoon join former Appalachian State University faculty member Liz Rose in Evans Auditorium for her talk, “Weaving an Ecology of Food and Medicine with Wild Plants of the Southern Appalachians.”

Following Rose’s talk, embark on a guided campus nature walk with Assistant Dean of Natural and Health Sciences Shinjini Goswami and Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology Alex Glass. The nature walk will depart from the Rock House at 4 p.m.

Friday, April 19

Finish off a week of all things Appalachia with some traditional Appalachian old time and bluegrass music on Tate Lawn from 10 a.m.−2 p.m. Campus Operations Specialist Susie Hepler will play her dulcimer, a traditional Appalachian fretted string instrument, and the regional band John Bills and the Academics will perform.

Soak up the sounds of the mountains and enjoy treats from local food trucks Rocky Top Fried Pies, He Provides Homestead Cookie Cart, and Old Roan Kettle Corn.

By Maya JarrellApril 04, 2024
CommunityCampus Life