The Meadowlark Smoky Mountain Heritage Center had another unforgettable weekend with our Traditional Skills and Naturalist event, August 27-29.

You can’t talk about Smoky Mountain history and heritage without also addressing the natural history of these mountains and the importance of being a good steward of the resources we’ve been entrusted with. From plant identification to the vast and varied ecological communities – and everything in between – this past weekend was a celebration of natural study, naturalist skills, and sharing it with anyone who’s interested.

“The event was a success with multiple stellar experts offering their expertise on a variety of topics,” says Program Heritage Center General Manager, Bob Plott. “We addressed everything pertaining to naturalist skills, including ginseng, wild food foraging and cooking, heirloom seeds, Cherokee botany and culture, as well as Appalachian wildflowers and medicinal herbs.”

Tour guide and naturalist, Adam Bigelow, shared his expertise on the wildflowers and native plants of Southern Appalachia. Novelist and naturalist, Jim Hamilton, discussed the healing powers and history of ginseng, and acclaimed Cherokee naturalist, historian, and lecturer, Tyson Sampson presented an engaging session.

Attendees spent an afternoon wandering through the woods and learning about plants with renowned naturalist, tour guide, lecturer, and author, Abby Artemisia. And the final lecture was a discussion about heirloom seeds with acclaimed naturalist, historian, farmer, and musician, William Ritter.

After the heirloom seed program, our attendees were treated to a Song to Seed concert by Ritter and friends – including one of our motel guests. This was a toe-tapping night of traditional southern Appalachian string music and ballads. Plott shares, “These were original poignant songs written and sung by William Ritter on guitar – all pertaining to the loss of homeland and culture in the southern highlands.”

Another musical highlight was an acapella song performed in Cherokee by Ms. Amy Walker, an 80-year-old Cherokee scholar. Mike Ogletree performed traditional Scottish music, and the weekend wrapped up with traditional mountain gospel music on Sunday morning.

Don’t miss out on inspirational events like this one! Follow us on the Meadowlark Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Facebook page and on Instagram to stay up to date on more upcoming events that you can only find in Maggie Valley. And make it a weekend getaway when you book your stay at the Meadowlark Motel.