Haywood County Days a tradition at Lake Junaluska
Haywood County Day at the Assembly included sermons, music — and a picnic
By William E. (Bill) King
Haywood County day at Lake Junaluska Assembly was a time when local residents congregated at the center, and were often part of the program.
Early documentation of the events appears spotty, but some date the event back to the Assembly’s opening year in 1913.
From a review of the published summer programs on file in the Lake Junaluska Assembly archives at the Heritage Center, it appears the first listing of local-based programming is a field meet and picnic for the Asheville and Waynesville districts in 1928.
A specifically named Haywood County Day probably begins in 1935 and occurs annually until 1964.
“The assembly program was becoming extremely crowded with a variety of programs in the 1950s and 1960s and perhaps Junaluska Sunday became a substitute although that was a different focus,” said King.
On many occasions Haywood County Day was the first event of the summer, held on a Sunday with an address at 11 a.m. and a sermon at 8 p.m.
From 1935 to 1944, the Hon. Josephus Daniels, one of the founding supporters of the assembly and a homeowner at the lake, gave the address.
He was owner of the Raleigh newspaper, the News and Observer, Democratic Party leader in the state and nation and for part of that time, ambassador to Mexico. In 1941 Gov. Broughton of N.C. gave the address.
The evening sermon was almost always given by a local Methodist preacher or the superintendent of the Waynesville district.
The program began to include a picnic dinner, sometimes called a Community Dinner (at lunchtime, not in the evening). The evening program became a gathering of the Haywood County Youth Fellowship, a district youth rally, and toward the end, a sponsored event of the Student Regional Conference.
In 1949 something called a “Mass Meeting” was held.
At various times, special music was provided by county choirs, the church choirs of First Waynesville and Long’s Chapel, and the Waynesville High School Chorus.
It is unclear but it appears that the program was the responsibility of the Waynesville District Superintendent some of the time.
Unrelated to Haywood County Day, Stuart Auditorium was used for a Miss Haywood County Beauty pageant, a Tuscola Band concert and quite a few Tuscola Baccalaureate services and commencement programs during the time period reviewed.