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Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk to Celebrate the 4th Annual Appalachian Heritage Week April 7-11

April 1, 2014. Since Old Man Winter refuses to accept its exit, Lees-McRae College will usher him off the stage with its celebration of the Fourth Annual Appalachian Heritage Week April 7-11. Each day the College will celebrate a particular aspect of mountain heritage and invite everyone to participate in activities sponsored by the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. 

To begin the celebration of Appalachian heritage, the New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) which is in its 10th year of service at Lees-McRae, will welcome its founder, Jane Stephenson, at a meet and greet reception on Monday, April 7 from 12-3 p.m. NOSW’s cornerstone is providing the opportunity for participants to embrace their Appalachian heritage. Join Jane, members of the NOSW advisory council and past graduates to learn more about this program which has changed the lives of more than 80 women in our region and more than 700 women in the 26 years since it was founded in Berea, Ky. 

Also on Monday, April 7, students will demonstrate their love for Appalachia’s natural history and exciting outdoor activities. From 2-3 p.m., Nina Fischesser and the wildlife rehabilitation students will introduce their program and the variety of mountain denizens that find their home in the Daniel and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, home of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute. At the Center, students will describe their vital work with mountain fauna and exhibit some of their favorite ambassador animals. 

From 3-5 p.m., students from Lees-McRae College Outdoor Programs, led by Dee Thomas, will present different features of outdoor Appalachia on Tate Lawn. Students from the Backpacking Club will display both a contemporary campsite and one typical of a century ago. Similarly demonstrating how new technology has revolutionized outdoor activities, the Rock Climbing Club will model belaying, rappelling and climbing techniques of the past and today, while the Search and Rescue Team will show how first-aid techniques have changed over time.

That evening, beginning at 5 p.m., MacDonald Dining Hall will serve traditional Appalachian fare while the group Us Fellers led by Trevor McKenzie will play old time mountain music. While the music will be free, the cost of the meal for those without a Lees-McRae meal plan will be $10.38.

On Tuesday, the campus will celebrate old and new Appalachian crafts and traditions. Beginning at noon, Lee Rankin will bring animals from Apple Hill Farm to Tate Lawn. From adorable alpacas to feisty goats and pretty pigs, the domestic livestock that are the stars of her farm’s agri-tourism enterprise will be on display. She will have socks, scarves and other products created from the fine alpaca fiber available for purchase.

Also starting around noon, potter Rob Withrow from Brasstown, N.C., will demonstrate his pot-throwing technique in Swank Park behind Chaffee Administration Building. Students and visitors are invited to get their hands wet and shape clay on the turning wheel. Withrow will also have a selection of his acclaimed work for sale.

On Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. in MacDonald Dining Hall, the celebrated Bailey Mountain Cloggers will perform during dinner.  Clogging holds a special place in the history and culture of our area, and no group dances better than this team. While the clogging will be free, the cost of the meal for those without a Lees-McRae meal plan will be $9.39.

On Wednesday, the Stephenson Center for Appalachia will honor novelist John Ehle with the Center’s Lifetime Service to Appalachia Award to be presented at an invitation-only luncheon.  That night everyone is invited to come to Evans Auditorium for a screening of The Winter People, the film adapted from Ehle’s novel of the same name which was filmed in Avery County. Many local folks participated in the making of the movie, and we hope they will come to see once more the stirring production.

Thursday is the annual Lees-McRae Mountain Day of Service during which students, faculty, staff and community members volunteer their time and efforts in projects around campus and in the community.  For information or to volunteer, contact the Student Development Office at 828.898.3368.  

Concluding the festivities on Friday, the New Opportunity School for Women will hold an open house, a video screening and a panel discussion with graduates of the program.  Beginning at 1 p.m. in the Stephenson Center, a video about the school produced by John Stephenson, son of NOSW founder Jane Stephenson, will be shown, followed by the panel discussion. The event is open to the public.

“Once again we invite everyone to join us in Lees-McRae’s celebration of our Appalachian Heritage. Whether you can contribute to our understanding of the past, or hope to learn more about mountain culture, please join us for one or all of our activities,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. “We look forward to a rewarding week.”

Except for dinner on Monday and Tuesday, all events are free and open to the public. For further information contact Megan Hall, director of communications, at 828.898.8729 or email Dr. Michael Joslin at joslin@lmc.edu.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. With 900 students hailing from 35 states and more than 10 countries, Lees-McRae’s broad core curriculum is enhanced by field-specific career preparation and experiential learning with an emphasis in leadership and service. For more information, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828.898.5241.