Blue Ridge National Heritage Day: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Come to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center and celebrate the rich heritage of our Western NC mountain region with the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and Blue Ridge Parkway! Learn about our traditions by participating in local crafts and hearing the music that echoed across these ridges. Activities start at 10 AM. Live bluegrass music at 12noon through 2 PM.
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is comprised of the 25 westernmost counties of North Carolina and Qualla Boundary. The unique culture and heritage of the Blue Ridge is a tapestry of rich traditions, from the ancient Cherokee ways to the lifestyles of the immigrant Europeans and Africans who came into the mountains after the Revolutionary War.
In the mountains of North Carolina, visitors will find not only stunning scenery around every curve, but will also discover a culture of community among the people of the Blue Ridge—people who care deeply about the mountains, their traditions, and one another.
The birthplace of the Cherokee's advanced early civilization, the region is today home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who continue to preserve many facets of traditional Cherokee culture. Beginning in the eighteenth century, European and African settlers moved into the mountains. The relative isolation of mountain life helped these settlers nourish and preserve many traditions, especially music and handmade crafts. Africans brought with them the banjo, the Scots-Irish their fiddles and traditional tunes. Over time these traditions have melded to create the unique music of Appalachia.
The area has also become the center of handmade art and craft in America, with a rich legacy of both traditional and contemporary craft schools and over 4,000 working craftspeople. And visitors have literally hundreds of places to experience the authentic ways of life that still thrive in the small towns and rural settings of the Western North Carolina mountains.
A land of mountain wilderness, waterfalls, Cherokee tradition, string bands, and craft studios, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is truly a region with a personality like no other.
What is the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area?
A Region of National Significance
This region was designated a National Heritage Area by Congress and the President in November, 2003 in recognition of the unique character, culture, and natural beauty of Western North Carolina and their significance to the history of our nation. The designation lists five heritage themes that have created the unique culture of the Blue Ridge: Agriculture, Cherokee, Craft, Music and Natural heritage.
A Region of Superlatives
• The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are among the oldest mountains on Earth.
• The highest mountain east of the Mississippi is Mount Mitchell.
• The deepest gorge in the eastern United States is Linville Gorge.
• The highest waterfall in the eastern United States is Whitewater Falls.
• The oldest river in North America is the New River.
• The two most visited National Park lands in the country are the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
• The region supports a stunning diversity of plant and animal life; more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.
The mission of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is to protect, preserve, interpret, and develop the unique natural, historical, and cultural resources of Western North Carolina for the benefit of present and future generations, and in so doing to stimulate improved economic opportunity in the region.
For more about what to see and do, stop by the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center or visit the Blue Ridge Heritage Area Web site .