The Cherokee Indian Fair Is a long-running staple in Western North Carolina. For over a century, this annual festival has brought Tribe of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians together to honor, teach, and celebrate the rich culture of their tribe with tribe members and visitors alike in Cherokee, North Carolina. This family-friendly event is the perfect way to learn the roots of the Cherokee Tribe in Western North Carolina, while you enjoy the sights and sounds that come with a fair and parade! Learn more about the event below in our guide to the Cherokee Indian Fair.
Cherokee Indian Fair Schedule
Tuesday: Parade Day (5:30 pm to 11 pm)
Each year, the parade serves as opening ceremonies for the festival. Starting at 4 pm at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, the parade is full of a caravan of local clubs and organizations, beauty queens, performers, and tribe members, waving and tossing candy to spectators for 2 miles to the Fairgrounds where the event is held. You will not miss the sights and sounds of the parade, teasing all the Cherokee Indian Fair will offer!
Wednesday: Children’s Day (9 am to 11 pm)
Focusing on children, from noon to 11 pm when the gates close, all children 17 years old and lower are admitted for free and given wristbands that allow them to enjoy complimentary rides on children’s day! Enjoy exciting fair games and snacks and pick up a few souvenirs! Make sure to stop by and hear from the tribe Elders as they create authentic Cherokee Crafts!
Thursday: Elder’s Day (9 am to 11 pm)
The Cherokee Nation is a family-centric culture, not only caring for children (as will be evident on Children’s day) but revering the Elders of the Tribe who serve as keepers of the Cherokee culture, connecting them to the past and ways of life that would be lost without them. On Elder’s Day, attendees 59 and a half and older are admitted for free. This is a great way to hear stories and beliefs of the Cherokee people the way they have traditionally been passed on. Enjoy demonstrations of arts and crafts, storytelling, stickball, dances, music, and food.
Friday: Veterans Day (9 am to 11 pm)
Friday is centered around Veterans. Honoring all those who have sacrificed in service, all Veterans are admitted for free to the fairgrounds on Veteran’s Day.
Saturday: Community Day (9 am to Midnight)
Saturday is the final day of the event and is centered around community. Cheer on communities as they compete in traditional Cherokee disciplines including Stickball, archery, wood chopping, blow darts, music, dances, and more. Enjoy late night fireworks and a final concert to close out the festival!
Must-See Features of the Cherokee Indian Fair
- Stickball – Known as the “Little Brother of War”, stickball has been played for centuries and is a huge part of Cherokee culture. See demonstrations of the game at all levels during the festival.
- Performance Stage – Featuring local artists and musicians as well as presentations of traditional Cherokee and Appalachian, music, and dances, as well as performances of Cherokee stories and history, you are sure to be captivated throughout the festival by song, dance, and tale.
- Cherokee Warriors of AniKituhwa – Sponsored by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and designated as cultural ambassadors by the Cherokee Tribal Council, the Cherokee Warriors of AniKituhwa are a must-see during the festival. The group showcases and educates spectators on the significance of the clothing they wear and the dances they perform including, the Bear Dance, Beaver Hunting Dance, Friendship Dance, and most famously the War Dance and Eagle Tail Dance.
- Weapons Demonstration – Watch technically proficient demonstrations on community day of archery, blow darts, hatchet throwing, and wood chopping to name a few, perfected over centuries of Cherokee history.
- Traditional Crafts – Watch certified Cherokee artisans and Elders create authentic Cherokee crafts including basket weaving, beadwork, quillwork, and more.
- Carnival Rides – The Cherokee Indian Fair is a Fair, after all, so you won’t want to miss out on endless fair games and carnival rides including the always popular Ferris Wheel.
- Parade – The Parade is the perfect way to start your time at the Cherokee Indian Fair. Families are sure to love the sights and sounds of the parade as they become a part of the parade heading to the festival.
- Food – One of the best ways to experience Cherokee culture is through the stomach. Fall in love with traditional Cherokee food that is still prepared in restaurants throughout Cherokee, the most popular of which is Frybread. Frybread is a traditional Native American Treat similar to unsweetened funnel cake but fuller and softer. It is versatile, for sweet and savory. Often served with chili spread over the top, or honey if it is for dessert.
- Cherokee Language – Every road and sign in Cherokee not only has the English names but the word in Cherokee beneath as a way to preserve the Cherokee Language. Throughout the festival, you will hear performances and songs or perhaps just chatting between elders in the Cherokee tongue. Both the written and spoken words of this language preserve the culture and spirit as old and beautiful as the mountains of Western North Carolina themselves.
Cherokee Indian Fair Details:
Where: Right across from the Museum of the Cherokee
Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds
545 Tsali Blvd.
Cherokee, NC 28719
When: Every October
Cost: General Admission
$10 for adults
$5 for children ages 6-10
Kids below 6 are admitted for free
Important Note: Most vendors at the event are cash only!
The Cherokee Indian Fair is full of fun games, carnival rides, beautiful art, handmade crafts, mouthwatering food, a parade, and plenty of authentic games, exhibits, and performances you are sure to enjoy and remember for years to come. Cherokee, North Carolina has a little something for everyone. Enjoy a few rounds of golf on the award-winning Sequoyah National Golf Course while you stay at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. Before you pack your bags, make sure to plan your trip to Cherokee, North Carolina today!
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