The Mountain Fiesta Set for September 30

Mountain Fiesta Logo

Mountain Fiesta File PhotoThe Mountain Fiesta, an annual celebration of Latin American and Appalachian culture, is set for Saturday, September 30, from 11:00 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.

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.


Mountain Fiesta File Photo

“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 (LMU) 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

The J. Frank White Academy is a private, college preparatory day school serving grades K-12, located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University. JFWA is fully accredited and STEM certified by Cognia, which is the first internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) schools and programs, signaling the growing emphasis on STEM education by educators, politicians, and business leaders around the world. For more information contact the JFWA Director of Admissions or apply online at

(The Mountain Fiesta Mini Documentary was produced by The Mountain Fiesta in partnership with Rode Díaz and Emily Rhyne of Iximché Media. Díaz and Rhyne are long-term friends and supporters of The Mountain Fiesta project goals in the region. This mini documentary is a high-quality and long-needed tool for communicating the efforts of The Mountain Fiesta in strengthening the social fabric of our communities. Iximché is a word in Maya Kaqchikel meaning “corn plant”— a plant that unites indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. It is also the name of the sacred site of and ancient capital of the Maya Kaqchikel people. For founder Díaz, Iximché is also a place of ancestors, the origin of generations of family, and his father’s birthplace. Originally from Guatemala, Díaz is an indigenous Maya Kaqchikel independent photojournalist and documentary videographer who has worked in photojournalism and documentary film for fifteen years. He has focused his work primarily on documenting the search for justice after the genocide in Guatemala (1960-1996). Díaz has published in various mediums in Guatemala, the United States, Europe and several countries in Latin America. His work has been exhibited in galleries and universities in Guatemala, and the United States. He has also participated with his documentaries in national and international festivals. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Rhyne has lived and worked throughout Latin America and the U.S. with a focus on human rights. When she is not behind the camera or editing videos, painting or drawing, she works as a freelance interpreter and as a co-director for Witness for Peace Southeast.)



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