A fall celebration of Cherokee culture in Clay County
The Cherokee Heritage Festival is an event that residents and area visitors look forward to each year. The popular annual festival takes place on the third Saturday every September on the grounds of the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit in Hayesville.
The festival includes a variety of Cherokee crafts and their makers who demonstrate traditional native crafts. Watch as members of the Eastern Band show off their skills in basket and finger weaving, pottery sculpting, bead working, woodcarving, flint knapping, blowgun crafting, and arrow making. Their work is on view and for sale with artists there to discuss their work. The afternoon is a celebration of dancing, storytelling, and music, as well as activities for children. Tribal members cook up authentic Cherokee cuisine, such as the ever-popular fry bread with all the fixings.
The festival is held at the site of the outdoor Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, which features traditional Cherokee homes as they would have appeared in the 17th century. The recreated village site includes a summer house, winter house, food storage crib, and shelter. Adjacent to the exhibit is the Cherokee Botanical Sanctuary with waysides describing plants used traditionally as medicine, food, and supplies to make household items and weaponry. The festival has featured a plant walk-and-talk as well as a native plant scavenger hunt.
Passing through the Sanctuary is the Quanassee Path, a two-mile Cherokee history trail. Follow the path to Spikebuck Mound and Quanassee village, an important stop along a historic trading route from Charleston, South Carolina to eastern Tennessee. The path winds back to Hayesville and the Cherokee Cultural Center, located in Moss Memorial Library.