North Carolina State Parks Signature Centennial Celebration planned for Aug. 27-28 at Mount Mitchell State Park
North Carolina State Parks will hold its second Signature Centennial Celebration Aug. 27-28 at Mount Mitchell State Park, the site where the 100-year history of the state’s system of protected lands for recreation and conservation began in 1916.
Visitors are invited to a daylong celebration Aug. 27 with traditional and bluegrass music, clogging, demonstrations of traditional mountain skills, such as blacksmithing, quilting, chair caning and spinning, traditional crafts for sale, storytelling and games for children and adults, and displays from area museums. Sunday will be dedicated to recreation and education with guided hikes by rangers and volunteers.
“We’ve been staging exciting special events at every state park during our 2016 Centennial year, but a celebration atop Mount Mitchell is certainly a special and historic occasion,” said Mike Murphy, State Parks director. “The highest mountain in the eastern U.S. inspired North Carolinians to create the first state park in the Southeast and one of the first in the nation.”
North Carolina legislators, at the urging of Gov. Locke Craig, launched an effort in 1915 to protect the mountain’s summit from intensive logging, and by the end of 1916, 795 acres had been acquired to create what would become Mount Mitchell State Park. North Carolina now has 41 state park units open to the public as well as a network of protected state natural areas, state lakes, rivers and trails that encompass 230,591 acres. During 2015, the parks system served a record 17.3 million visitors.
The Aug. 27-28 celebration will include a display of the watch belonging to Elisha Mitchell, the mountain’s namesake who died in a fall while exploring the summit and validating his measurements of Mount Mitchell’s elevation. The celebration performers include the Mountain Laurel Band, Nitro Grass, Ron and Minnie Powell, Pete and Kim McWhirter and the Bailey Mountain Cloggers.
There will be interpretive talks by historians and visits by descendants of figures prominent in Mount Mitchell history.
The park will limit access by private vehicles during the event, except for registered carpooling vehicles such as expanded passenger vans and activity buses. Free Saturday shuttle service will be available from nearby locations in Asheville, Burnsville, Marion and Black Mountain. Details about the shuttle service are on the state parks website (www.ncparks.gov) at: https://www.ncparks.gov/mount-mitchell-state-park/events-and-programs/centennial-celebration.