Smoky Mountain elk fest
September 13–14, 2019
Mark your calendars for the first annual Smoky Mountain Elk Festival, happening this fall at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds! Why have an Elk Fest, you ask? Well, reintroducing the elk to the area was a lot of hard work. Elk used to be abundant throughout the western North Carolina mountains, but by the mid-1800s, the population was wiped out due to overhunting and habitat loss.
After extensive research by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Service and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, wild elk were reintroduced into the Cataloochee Valley in 2001. The original herd consisted of 52 elk, and over the years their numbers have grown to more than 150.
As the elk population continues to grow, though, there are some interaction issues when the elk end up in places they aren’t supposed to be—for instance, in our local farmer’s fields. Proceeds from the Elk Fest will help us raise funds for habitat maintenance and create other ways to keep our elk protected and happy.