By Bellamy Crawford
The very first Mountain Makers Mushroom & Music Festival (4M Festival), hosted by the Jackson Arts Market, will take place in downtown Sylva on Saturday, September 3, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain traditions will be represented with educational lectures, storytelling, demonstrations, Cherokee dance performances, nature tours, music and culinary arts. More than 70 crafters, producers and foragers will be on site to share their knowledge and crafts with visitors.
“There are so many local artists, musicians, makers and foragers in our area who share a passion for educating others about the region’s unique lifestyle, crafts and natural environment,” says Joshua Aaron Murch, founder and curator of the Jackson Arts Market and creator of the 4M Festival.
The event will focus on traditional craft demonstrations including blacksmithing, pottery, glassblowing, lampworking, painting, basket weaving, wood turning, lapidary stone working, jewelry working, crocheting, textile arts, fly tying and Cherokee arts. “The goal of the festival is to connect the community and visitors with an educational experience about local history and unique culture that is still alive in our mountains,” says Murch.
Musicians at the festival will talk about local history in the songs they play, and artist workshops will encourage audience participation. “The Jackson Arts Market has been a great opportunity for artists and musicians for the past two years,” says William Weinert, a blacksmith who will be demonstrating his craft at the 4M Festival. “I’m excited that the festival is going to bring people together who might not normally come together. It will give folks the chance to see things they wouldn’t normally see.”
Nature and culinary demonstrations will focus on sustainable practices like wild food sourcing; preparing, cooking and storing foods for medicinal use and nutrition; mushroom cultivation; kudzu culture; chicken feeding and more. “I’m excited to exhibit the wild mushrooms I’ve harvested and show off some of my tea blends,” says Chloe Burnette-Turner, owner of Blue Ridge Forage and vendor at this year’s festival. “The event is going to give me an opportunity to jumpstart my business, but I’m most excited about the level of knowledge-sharing that will be going on,” she says.
In tribute to local legend and internationally renowned early country and folk music performer Samantha Bumgarner, a mural of the musician depicted as a “fiddler on the roof” will be unveiled during the event.
A viewer’s choice awarded pendant competition will exhibit a variety of unique artists’ styles. Pieces from this competition will be available at the festival as a silent auction, with funds raised supporting the Sylva Skate Park Project. “We will also be hosting a skate competition starting at 6 p.m. in the church’s parking lot,” says Murch. The entire festival will be filmed and documented by Brave Sir Media and posted online by Jackson Arts Market as an educational resource.
Learn more about the 4M Festival at JacksonArtsMarket.com/about-4.