The Mountain Youth Talent Contests aim to discover, develop and encourage youth in traditional Appalachian heritage activities and provide an opportunity for young people to perform on stage before an audience.

The contests are produced by Jackson County 4-H and are held at Greening Up the Mountains in Sylva, and the Swain County Agricultural Fair in Bryson City. Winners perform at Mountain Heritage Day on the campus of Western Carolina University in September.

Entry forms are now available for the Mountain Youth Talent Contest at the Swain County Agricultural Fair. The contest is Saturday, Aug. 17 in Bryson City. An online entry form and details are available at jackson4-H.blogspot.com. The entry deadline is Aug. 9.

Participants in these contests must exhibit a talent that will reflect Appalachian heritage and adhere to the guidelines set up by the organizers of the talent contest and the fair organizers. Youth can showcase their talents in a variety of individual and group instrumental categories:

• Poetry/Storytelling (writings about heritage, items of historical significance, old timey ways).

• Vocal Performance – Individual or Group (old timey songs, old gospel songs, bluegrass, heritage tunes).

• Instrumentalists – Individual or Group (feature instruments such as banjo, fiddle, guitar, dulcimer, mandolin playing old timey songs, old gospel songs, bluegrass, heritage tunes).

• Dance – Individual or Group (clogging, square dance, Irish folk dance, Native American dance).

Prize money is awarded for first place winners by age as well as first and second place Best of Show winners. First and Second Place Best of Show winners will participate in the final contest of the season on the Heritage Stage at Mountain Heritage Day.

Information, guidelines and entry forms are available at the Jackson County 4-H blog: jackson4-h.blogspot.com. For more information contact Heather Gordon, Jackson County 4-H Agent, at 586-4009 or heather_gordon@ncsu.edu.