OLD FORT, NC – Traditional Appalachian crafts, food, music, games, and storytelling will be part of Mountain Gateway Museum’s 33nd Annual Pioneer Day festival to be held Saturday, April 29, in Old Fort.

This fun-filled, family-oriented event will kick off at 10:00 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. on the museum’s grounds at the intersection of Catawba Avenue and Water Street, just a quarter-mile off Interstate 40 at Exit 73 in Old Fort. Festival admission is free, and parking will be available in the lot at the end of Water Street.

Begun in 1984 to celebrate and help preserve the history, heritage, and traditional lifestyle of people in western North Carolina’s mountains, Pioneer Day features displays and demonstrations of vintage farm tools and equipment, antique cars, animals, children’s games, exhibits, and much, much more.

Two bluegrass bands—Wingin’ It and Possum Creek—will perform at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., respectively, in the museum’s creek-side amphitheater. Brothers ‘N Christ, an African-American gospel group returning to Pioneer Day this year by popular demand, will take the amphitheater’s stage at 2:00 p.m., and Friendship Dulcimers will play old-time favorites on the museum’s front porch at noon.

Traditional craftspeople—some of whom are long-familiar faces at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh and the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher—will demonstrate their skills throughout the day on April 29. Among the crafts to be seen will be blacksmithing, gunsmithing, woodworking, quilting, needlework, pottery, basket making, spinning, dyeing, gourd art, jewelry making, toy making, and others. Vendors also will have crafts for sale, including English Farmstead Cheese of Marion and Mimi’s Mountain Mixes of Hendersonville, which will be a first-time Pioneer Day vendor.

In the food court area around the museum’s outdoor fountain and river-rock gazebo, food vendors will offer hamburgers, hotdogs, Polish sausages, barbecue, fried-fish sandwiches, gyros and prime rib sandwiches, funnel cakes, kettle corn, doughnuts, fresh-squeezed lemonade, Hawaiian shaved ice, coffee, sodas, and bottled water. 

In addition to music, crafts, and food, various community organizations—including McDowell County Public Library, Keep McDowell Beautiful, McDowell County Historical Society, Old Fort Extension and Community Association, the U.S. Forest Service, and the North Carolina Home Guard—will have booths set up to showcase their services.

A special feature of this year’s Pioneer Day Festival will be the exhibition of the 35th Regiment North Carolina Troops battle flag.On loan from the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, this historic Civil War flag will be on exhibit at Mountain Gateway Museum for the festival weekend only, from Friday, April 28, through Sunday, April 30.

Members of S.C.V. 379 and the 22nd North Carolina will be encamped on Mountain Gateway Museum’s grounds throughout the festival weekend and, on Friday, April 28, will host an estimated 300 area students at a Student Civil War Day, featuring demonstrations of Civil War camp life, including cooking, drilling, and music, as well as demonstrations of civilian life.

For more information about the 2017 Pioneer Day Festival or the exhibition of the 35th Regiment N.C. Troops flag, please contact RoAnn Bishop at Mountain Gateway Museum either by phone at 828-668-9259 or by e-mail at roann.bishop@ncdcr.gov.

For more information about the S.C.V. 379’s encampment and Civil War activities at the museum during Pioneer Day Festival weekend, please contact Jeff Cordell at 828-659-6377 or cordellcsa@yahoo.com.


  • Occurred Saturday, April 29th, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm


Mountain Gateway Museum

24 Water Street
Old Fort, NC 28762