March 8, 2019
Engage, sustain, and innovate. Words that often are associated with Asheville, but which sometimes run counter to stereotypes of the wider Appalachian region. Organizers of the Appalachian Studies Association Conference, happening next weekend in and around Asheville, plan to show how the city’s and surrounding region’s success in pushing back against those stereotypes can be a model to follow. The 42nd annual iteration of the conference is titled “AppalachA’ville: Engage. Sustain. Innovate.”
Mars Hill University and UNC Asheville are hosting the four-day conference March 14-17, 2019, on the UNC Asheville campus. It’s the first time in 27 years the conference has been staged in Asheville.
“It’s hard to say who is more excited – the people who are coming or all of us who are hosting them,” said Carol Boggess, 2019 conference chair and retired Mars Hill University professor. “The ASA is held in a different location every year but always provides a welcoming forum where people can share experiences, discoveries, ideas, creative expression, and genuine hopes related to the Appalachian region.”
Regional music and dance will take center stage following the association’s awards banquet Friday night at the Crowne Plaza. Mars Hill University’s Bailey Mountain Cloggers, the Warren Wilson College Old-Time Ensemble, traditional musician and storyteller Josh Goforth, and “Southern Gothic Folk Singer/Songwriter” Amythyst Kiah will be featured in the Traditional Music and Dance Showcase.
“Full participation requires paid registration,” said Boggess, “but thanks to generous supporters, some events are open to the public. Throughout the conference, anyone can visit the Silent Auction, the Exhibit Hall, and the special collections exhibit in the library.”
In addition, several events on Saturday, March 16, are free and open to the general public, with no registration required:
Paid registration is available online at appalachianstudies.org/annualconference.
In addition to Boggess as conference chair, MHU English Professor Kim Reigle is this year’s program chair, and several other MHU faculty and staff are serving on planning committees or as presentation reviewers. Among the presenters are MHU student Lindsey McIntosh; alumnus Ian Kirkpatrick; professors Ryan Bell, Brandon Johnson, and Ethan Mannon; Rural Heritage Museum director Les Reker; and retired professor Tom Plaut.
The Appalachian Studies Association was formed in 1977 by a group of scholars, teachers, and regional activists who believed that shared community has been and will continue to be important to those writing, researching, and teaching about Appalachia. The ASA is headquartered at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.