Mars Hill – After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the annual Mountain Heritage Festival in Mars Hill returns to what organizers hope will be a successful event. The festival has been going on for about 25 years, except for the break because of the pandemic.
This will be the first year the Mars Hill Rotary Club will be running the festival after the festival founder, Rodney Bolling, decided to retire from the event. “He was getting a little tired out and he approached the Madison County Rotary Club to see if they’d be willing to take on the festival and the Rotary Club agreed, having experience with other types of events,” said Phil Reynolds with the club. Reynolds said 2020 would have been the first year the club would have run the event, but with COVID, this will be the first year the Rotary Club will be in charge.
What is the Mountain Heritage Festival? It’s primarily a sale for local artisans and craftspeople; there are probably about 45 or 50 vendors who will display their wares… It’s also being presented in tandem with the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival. Mountain music and dance, along with a mountain bazaar, all rolled into one event.
According to information provided by Mars Hill University, “The Lunsford Festival is an all-day festival celebrating regional music and dance traditions. The event is the second longest-running folk festival in Western North Carolina and was named in honor of Bascom Lamar Lunsford, who was a musician and folklorist who dedicated his life to collecting and promoting the music of the Southern Appalachians.
“So there’s sort of two simultaneous, overlapping, ricocheting events going on the same day. “So there’s some nice sort of synchronicity going on,” said Reynolds.
Asked why the Rotary Club decided to take on the event, Reynolds told the Tribune, “I think it was because it would stimulate commerce between local artists, because it’s a great community event and because the interest of the Town of Mars Hill and the tourism development is to attract people to Madison County.”
Reynolds came to the area from Chicago and decided to join the Rotary Club less than a year ago for social interaction. He had also been involved with Rotary before when he lived in Vermont. He also has a nonprofit called Trillium Arts.
Reynolds said the festival will be located on College Street next to the Lunsford Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 8th. A shuttle service will be available for people who wish to use the Ingles Grocery Store parking lot and not worry about trying to find a parking space or dealing with traffic.