Asheville is going to be full of researchers this weekend – the professional kind, as the 42nd annual Appalachian Studies Association conference takes place at UNC Asheville. The conference this year is being called "AppalachA'ville" as a nod to the host city, which organizers believe can be example for other cities in the region on how to grow and innovate.
The ASA describes itself as 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.' Academics from the many universities that lie within the mountains from Alabama to New York will be presenting research on all things Appalachian on Friday and Saturday. Those sessions are closed to the public, but there some public events on Saturday that are free. They include -
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Screening and Discussion of hillbilly, at the Reuter Center on campus. hillbilly is a 2018 award-winning documentary directed by Ashley York and Sally Rubin. A discussion led by best-selling Southern author and commentator Silas House, will follow the screening. Some of the people in the documentary will be available to take questions.
12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Innovation Expo, Highsmith Student Union. The Innovation Expo, supported by the North Carolina Humanities Council, will feature a selection of area organizations and businesses that illustrate how people come together to identify needs, solve problems, build community, and strengthen the local economy. These organizations and businesses have been successful in engaging with communities in an inclusive and supportive way; sustaining our cultural roots, environmental resources, and values; innovating in ways that enhance and improve the life of the region. And they are ready to share ideas with you in the halls of Highsmith on Saturday afternoon.
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Keynote Address in Lipinsky Hall, with overflow seating in the Reuter Center. Western North Carolina in Fact and Fiction: Words from Lee Smith, Ron Rash and Wiley Cash. Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author and UNC Asheville’s Writer-in-Residence moderates this conversation with award-winning writers of Southern Appalachian fiction, Lee Smith—well known story teller and author of 18 books — and Ron Rash, the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University and author of 22 books. The keynote is supported by the North Carolina Humanities Council.
8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Poetry Reading at the YMI Cultural Center in downtown Asheville, Affrilachia y el Caribe with three poets: Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Shauna M. Morgan, and Frank X Walker. Affrilachia and the “AppalachA’ville” Conference will come together on Saturday night in the historic YMI Cultural Center for an evening of poetry reading, storytelling, and fellowship — a celebration of cultural diversity in Asheville and throughout the region.
9:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Old-Time Square Dance at the YMI Cultural Center, downtown Asheville. Everyone is welcome. The host caller will be Phil Jamison, director of Warren Wilson College’s Traditional Music Program, and the host band will be the Warren Wilson College Old-Time Ensemble. The evening will also include a guest performance by the Green Grass Cloggers.
Over the next six months, Blue Ridge Public Radio reporters will produce periodic stories about Southern Appalachian history and culture in a series we're calling 'Southern Appalachia 2019'. The series will conclude in September with the annual summit of the Appalachian Regional Commission in Asheville.
UNC Asheville is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio