You can already smell the Cherokee fry bread! The 38th annual Mountain Heritage Day festival takes place tomorrow over at Western Carolina University’s campus in Cullowhee, N.C. The festival will offer demonstrations of traditional folk arts such as blacksmithing, basket making and quilting. Meanwhile, fair goers will be entertained by mountain music on three stages. Do keep an ear out for the “Sacred Harp” shape-note sing late in the morning. A writer for Southern Living magazine once referred to Mountain Heritage Day as “an open textbook of Appalachian folk life.”
Local residents are invited to enter their canned, dried or baked goods in “A Gathering In,” the traditional foods competition. “Although home preservation is no longer the necessity it once was, it is still part of the fabric of life for many in our area,” says Suzanne McDowell, curator at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center museum.
Original 1917 caption to photo reads: CONSERVING CABBAGE IN NORTH CAROLINA (More than 1,000 pounds of cabbage were put up by these women in three ways–kraut in light salt; kraut in heavy salt, and cabbage in brine, or pickled cabbage).
Readers especially interested in the finer points of home canning should have a look at Barbara Fisher’s excellent blog “Tigers & Strawberries.” This post in particular goes into quite some depth on the how-to of putting up a fresh crop. Says Fisher: “I grew up helping my grandmother freeze, can and ferment her harvest, and I know what a lot of work it can be. Long hours I spent in the garden, the kitchen and the basement (she had a stove and sink down there, and we often canned there because being underground–it was cooler down there.)”
Festival info at www.mountainheritageday.com
Photo source: “Food Conservation in North Carolina,” American Review of Reviews. Vol. 56 (November 1917). New York: Review of Reviews Co., 1917.