Catch the Spirit of Appalachia
                      "Keeping Appalachian Heritage Alive"

Welcome to the Love of Story

"Stories...Grandpa told me stories.  High on the mountain, I'd sit on the floor at Grandpa's feet. The warmth of fire crackling in the fireplace, the flickering shadows of the lamplight on the wall, the swish of the wind on the tin roof...all this intertwined with the sound of his voice as it echoed in the quiet of the room. He told stories of stalking panthers, of front porch music, of people born and people dying. And all his stories brought real-life drama to a little girl searching for heroes...heroes she could just reach out and touch." —Amy Ammons Garza

This site is home to a Blue Ridge National Heritage juried Traditional Artist Association. To view go to:

Check out guide to the traditional music of the
North Carolina mountains and foothills

Catch the Spirit of Appalachia is a group of dedicated Western North Carolina individuals who are holding local memory in place by saving, by sharing, by passing on the remnants of local memory and local human community by the ancient rule of neighborliness, by the love of precious family, by the passing down of family stories, and by the wish to have a sense of place...a sense of "home." The group received the organizational 2013 Mountain Heritage Award, presented by the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.


“Stories of Mountain Folk”
is broadcast on WRGC Jackson County radio, 540 AM.  The hour-long show is composed of interviews with neighbors, friends and family--those who work together, play together, and go to church together, telling stories about old time ways, talents, professions and community—about "planting by the signs," "cakewalks," "Decoration Day," and the interesting lives of people whose families have lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina for generations, and those who got here as soon as they could. Once aired on the radio, the show is then placed online each week on Saturday to be accessed daily until the next Saturday. Then the show is archived at Western Carolina University, saved for all time in a voice collection by Hunter Library, tagged and cataloged by categories for easy access. New:  Our State Magazine published an article about "Stories of Mountain Folk" in their February 2013 issue!

This website also contains our CURRENT EVENTS:
Storytelling Performances, Mountain youth talent shows, workshops &  residences, community festivals, community plays, performance schedule and other events where dates or additions/cancellations may be made.

To Download our most current newsletter, simply click on this link:
Newsletter -2nd qtr 2015 email.pdf
2.5 MB

The Purpose of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia
Established in 1989, incorporated as a A 501(c)3 nonprofit heritage organization in 1991, the vision of Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA) is to "Encourage youth to cherish their heritage & creativity and inspire connections with all cultures." Situated in Jackson County in Western North Carolina, CSA's mission is “Planting the Seeds of Heritage through the Arts.”

The People

CSA Cofounders Amy Ammons Garza, Mountain Storyteller, and Doreyl Ammons Cain, Visual Artist, a team known as The Ammons Sisters, are dedicated to reaching every child they can with the message that they are creative, can achieve success and have the heritage background that will sustain them throughout their lives.   The sisters are actively promoting literacy and awareness of self-worth in all children and adults.

      Performing stories of mountain heritage, Amy and Doreyl travel around the South entertaining as storytellers. Through the art of storytelling, the sisters want their audiences to experience tales of real adventures in the
fertile forests of North Carolina. As Amy tells the stories, Doreyl captures them with her strokes of pastel art—bringing the story alive! While interlacing humorous family stories and rich local legends, Amy’s tales and Doreyl’s art lighten and speak to the heart. Also within the one hour performance will be dance, music, song & the entertaining Canhouse Band. 

      The CSA board of Directors is a group of   local people who believe in the mission of the organization and extend themselves, involving the goals of CSA into their private lives. Many members of the board have been with the organization since it's inception 25 years ago:   Irene Hooper; followed closely by long time members Gail Stillwell Cooper, Gail A. Nolen, Etheree Chancellor, Pam Dengler, Mary Jo Hooper Cobb,  Dot Conner, Norma Medford, Judy Rhodes, Victoria A. Casey McDonald, Neal Hearn, Harold Sims, Krista Robb, Heather Gordon, Terry Michelsen, Betty Brown, Nicole Jarosinski,Kendra Coker, Nikki Henke and Karen Branscome. 
      Regional advisors to CSA have been Jenny Johnson, Director of the Swain County Center for the Arts and Leesa D. Sutton, a development office for the area's Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development, with help from these past board members: Vera Holland Guise, Cathy Stillwell Gibson, Becky Nelson-Yandell, Dr. David Teague, Amanda Dills Stewart, Carl Hooper,  Nelma Jean Bryson, Michele D. Smih, and Annie Harlow.

Some of our Board of Directors

July, 2015—Board meeting

Mountain Heritage Award, September 28, 2013:  (l-r) Etheree Chancellor, Nicole Jarosinski, Kendra Coker, Gail Stillwell Cooper; Chancellor David Belcher; Gail Nolen (behind Amy); Amy Ammons Garza; Terry Michelsen (between Amy & Doreyl); Doreyl Ammons Cain, David Ammons, Judy Rhodes, Norma Clayton, Nicki Hinkke, Heather Gordon, Mary Jo Hooper Cobb.

Now Scheduling Performances, Residencies & Workshops
For the 2015-2016 School Year

Mountain Storytelling with The Ammons Sisters:
Doreyl Ammons Cain, visual artist and Amy Ammons Garza, storyteller.

For Storytelling Performances & Workshops

Contact: Amy Ammons Garza at (828) 631-4587
29 Regal Ave., Sylva, NC 28779
Click here to email Amy

Contact: Doreyl Ammons Cain at (828) 293-2239
P.O. Box 339, Tuckasegee, NC 28783
Click here to email Doreyl


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