Heritage Weekend Returns to Folk Art Center for 38th Year

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The 38th Annual Heritage Weekend will be held September 15-16 at the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Folk Art Center. This free celebration of mountain heritage features traditional crafts accompanied by music and dancing.

A highlight of the weekend is the annual World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition on Saturday, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. A whimmy diddle is an Appalachian mountain toy traditionally made from two sticks of rhododendron. Notches are carved into one stick and a propeller is attached to the end. Rubbing the notches with the second stick makes the propeller spin. Can you get it to gee (spin to the right) and haw (spin to the left)?

During the World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition, contestants are judged on the number of rotations between gee and haw they can complete during a given time. They may be asked to switch hands or whimmy diddle behind their back. All ages may compete with trophies given for best child, adult, and professional. Winners receive a Moon Pie, a t-shirt, and bragging rights.

Ongoing demonstrations will include traditional woodworking with traditional tools, weaving, spinning, dyeing, broom making, stone carving, and print making. Visitors will have the opportunity to try their own hand at some of the crafts, and an activity table will encourage young people to create.

On Saturday, Anthony Cole will be on hand to shear sheep throughout the day, and on Sunday, Joe Parham will bring animals to demonstrate how he trains dogs to work sheep at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. A music stage will provide further entertainment with bluegrass and gospel music. Local cloggers will display the energy and fancy footwork that goes into the mountain dance tradition. A quality lunch will be available from J. Lee’s Chicken Shack, selling delicious Southern eats.

The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Folk Art Center is the ideal place for Heritage Weekend! There is free parking and a grassy area for picnics and relaxation. Spend an early autumn weekend in WNC honoring and learning about the crafts of yesteryear. Tour the Folk Art Center and maybe take a walk through the woods. For more information, including a list of participating craftspeople and musicians, call 828-298-7928 or visit www.craftguild.org.