The Cole Mountain Cloggers are a team of 16 cloggers between the ages of five and 15, hailing from Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, and Avery counties in western North Carolina. Madison County holds a particularly important place in the history of American clogging: it was the home of Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in the 1920s, the birthplace of team clogging.
The group is led by acclaimed clogger Jeff Atkins, who founded the team in 2001 after realizing that no local clogging teams were available to children. An alumnus of Mars Hill College’s Bailey Mountain Cloggers himself, Atkins teaches traditional clogging, freestyle mountain clogging, and smooth mountain clogging. The Cole Mountain Cloggers are long-running North Carolina State Fair champions and winners of the Ruth Jewell Trophy for best dance performance, but Atkins says the process is more important than the accolades; his greatest goal is to help families play and stay together. Clogging is an opportunity for both fun and teamwork, and a chance to connect with mountain heritage. With a busy schedule and first-rate footwork, the Cole Mountain Cloggers are upholding their motto: “Keep a Mountain Tradition Thriving.”