Mountain Fiesta set for Saturday

Published 3:39 pm Monday, September 25, 2023

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The Mountain Fiesta, an annual celebration of Latin American and Appalachian culture, is set for Saturday, Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Cumberland Gap.

The event, now in its sixth year, will feature live music from Appalachia, Latin America, and fusions between the two. The packed lineup will include performances from Fred Keams, White’s Fiddlers String Band, Berea College’s Bluegrass Ensemble, Matt Heckler, Sarah Kate Morgan, New Earth Holler, Appalatin, Florencia & The Feeling, Violet Bell and Rica Chicha.

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Guests will also enjoy food vendors, activities and artisans from all over the region and from Latin America including the traditional Mountain Fiesta piñatas, free professional dance lessons (Salsa I, Salsa II, Bachata, Flatfooting, Clogging, and Baile Folklórico), a folk dance from Michoacan, Mexico, called the Danza de los Viejitos, as well as a vibrant demonstration of Aztec culture from the group Danza Azteca Acitlalmichitli. Crystal Good, a poet and regional organizer, will offer a creative writing workshop using family recipes to explore family histories and the act of passing things down.

“The Mountain Fiesta is about strengthening our communities through the universal languages of music, dance, and food, and about seeing common threads,” said Zach Greene, event organizer. “The goal is always to maximize participation from every demographic possible while providing high-quality artistic, musical and cultural programming.”

Greene, a Lincoln Memorial University employee, has made a tradition of enlisting students from J. Frank White Academy (JFWA) to organize and produce this event. The 2023 JFWA student organizers are: Avery Thompson, Ella Wynn, Trinity Boger, Evy Owens, Hope Hargis, Georgia Robards, Steven Ray, Mac Robards, Shashi Verma, Michael Begley, Sam Wright, and Grayson DeBusk.

The Mountain Fiesta is made possible by partnerships with Lincoln Memorial University, the Tennessee Arts Commission, The Olde Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast, Gap Creek Coffee House, Commercial Bank, J.R. Hoe, LMU Arts in the Gap, Papa Chum’s Music & Rarities, HOLA Lakeway, Cumberland Gap Artists’ Co-op, Commercial Bank, Claiborne Utilities District, The Olde Church Events Center, Berea College, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, and Econo Lodge of Middlesboro.

In 2022, The Mountain Fiesta saw more participation and attendance than any previous year, with an estimated 3,900 people directly engaged by the programming. The Mountain Fiesta team presented two international bands, one from Czech Republic and another from Veracruz, Mexico, as well as two Grammy-nominated musicians. The day before the 2022 event, organizers scheduled six workshops for local elementary students at Ellen Myers Elementary School and Middlesboro Elementary School. Those workshops were led by participating musicians, all of whom are masters of their craft and culture-bearers. The workshops were interactive, bilingual, and taught students about musical folkways from both Appalachia and Latin America. Students were engaged, excited, and many came to the festival the following day because of their workshop experiences.

For more information about The Mountain Fiesta, email