Elk Festival

WINTER GRAZING — Elk search for green shoots of grass as they graze at Cataloochee this month.

A family-friendly event with a focus on conservation of the elk and the elk habitat will be coming to Maggie Valley the weekend of Sept. 13 thanks to the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority and the town of Maggie Valley.

The creation of an event to celebrate the reintroduction of the elk to the Great Smoky Mountains has been discussed for years and now has finally come to be.

The inaugural festival will include activities such as educational hikes, elk tours, creekside demonstrations, kids’ activities, wildlife artists and crafts, cultural performances and plenty of great food and music.

Tom Berry, a commissioner of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, has a keen interest in seeing to the growth and protection of the now increasing elk population.

He noted that with the growth and expansion of the elk herd come interaction issues, such as elk being where they are not wanted. The Elk Fest is an event aimed at raising awareness and funds to help with these issues.

The Smoky Mountain Elk Fest has garnered the support of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The Conservation Fund, the Maggie Valley Sanitary District, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce.

A portion of the net proceeds from the festival will be used to support projects that benefit elk management and habitats within Haywood County and the Qualla Boundary.

For more information on the Smoky Mountain Elk Fest go to www.smokymtnelkfest.com.

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