Mountain Fiesta set for Sept. 30 – Oct. 3 in Cumberland Gap

Published 9:33 am Friday, September 24, 2021

J. Frank White Academy (JFWA) is pleased to announce that the Mountain Fiesta, a community festival celebrating Appalachian and Latin American culture, is set for Thursday, Sept. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 3, in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Saturday’s headline act is Grammy nominee and five-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley.

MacArthur Award Winner Baldemar Velásquez is among the noteworthy guests this year. Velasquez was raised by migrant workers and eventually founded the Farm Labor Organizing Community (FLOC). He has dedicated his heart and soul to helping farmers and migrant farmworkers achieve fairer contracts and increased securities. He formed the Aguila Negra Band (Black Eagle Band) and has used all the earnings produced to fund FLOC. Velásquez will hold workshops and musical performances thanks to funding from a Tennessee Arts Commission ABC grant.

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Saturday’s eight-hour musical lineup includes Velasquez and the Aguila Negra Band, Appalatin, Wayne Graham, Joe Troop (of the Grammy-nominated band Che Apalache), as well as local artists Michael Jones, Daniel Chumley, Caleb Carney, and the charming Danielle Tennessee. The Saturday street festival will also include food vendors, family activities and games, art and cultural exhibits, free professional dance classes, and vendors of all kinds.

The festival kicks off Thursday, Sept. 30, with an all-female songwriter round-robin led by Carla Gover and Paulina Vazquez, followed by the lively sound of the CornMaiz String Band. A bluegrass and gospel “superjam” where many of the festival musicians will come together for a casual, old-fashioned pickin’ is planned for Sunday morning in Berkau Park, Cumberland Gap.

“The Mountain Fiesta strives to harmonize community and celebrate Latin American and Appalachian culture within the Cumberland Gap region,” said JFWA Spanish teacher Zachary Greene. “The logo of The Mountain Fiesta represents the spirit of the event. Corn, being central to both cultures – think tortillas and cornbread – is the centerpiece of the logo. The cornhusks in the logo contain Appalachian quilt patterns and indigenous textile patterns from Latin America.”

Greene has organized this event since its beginning in spring 2016 with many generations of his students assisting. Because of the pandemic postponements, he has dubbed this year’s the 4.5th Mountain Fiesta. This year’s JFWA student organizers include Caleb Carney, Amanda Kotlar, Lilly Stubblefield, Jaymin Huddleston, Tony Collingsworth, Jacob Yeary, Blake Stoner, Micah Harrington, Cameron Tomfohrde, Charley Leach, Ryan Saylor, and Samuel Tompkins.

“Special thanks to recent Academy graduates Tanner Brush, Olivia Nichols, and Patrick Moore, who planned the 2020 Mountain Fiesta that was canceled due to COVID-19,” student organizer Cameron Tomfohrde said. “The current festival organizers express their gratitude for the students who came before them.”

The Mountain Fiesta is made possible by JFWA, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), East Tennessee Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, South Arts Organization, Tennessee Arts Commission, The Olde Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast, Gap Creek Coffee House, Angelo’s, Commercial Bank, JR Hoe, Papa Chum’s, HOLA Lakeway, Arts in the Gap, and Econo Lodge of Middlesboro.

For more information contact Greene at 865.585.1710 or email Follow @TheMountainFiestaCG on Facebook and @mountain_fiesta on Instagram for a complete schedule of events and updates.

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 JFWA Director of Admissions James Melton at or apply online at