Folkmoot’s Rich History and Exciting Future

When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, returned home after seeing a dance team at an England folk festival, he thought such a festival would be perfect for Western North Carolina, which had its own rich history of preserving its traditional culture.  It took from 1973, when Border made his trip, to 1984 before the first Folkmoot USA event took place.  That year, symbolic as it was also the year that North Carolina celebrated its 400th birthday, welcomed performers from England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India.  

In 2002, the Folkmoot Friendship Center leased the former Hazelwood Elementary School, thus giving it a home to expand its programming and activities.  In 2014, the Haywood County school system donated the school to the organization.  Now, this multi-faceted space has created an expanded opportunity for Folkmoot to move from a two week festival to a year-round cultural center, focusing on programs and events that celebrate diversity and differences, encourage cultural conversation and inclusion, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages, especially using dance as a tool to achieve world peace.

Since these humble yet visionary beginnings in 1984, more than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have entertained and thrilled residents and guests of Western North Carolina.

Cultural Activities, Live Music, Dance Instruction & Performances

Since the 2015 festival, Folkmoot has worked to diversify festival activities and shift from an entertainment “audience” model to an educational, “engagement” framework for the festival. What does this mean for our ticket buyers? We will continue to host festival favorites at concert halls and auditoriums across western North Carolina, but we will also offer more activities that allow for your participation.  From community members playing in the international band, dance lessons on Main Street, Camp Folkmoot for kiddos, Cultural Conversations panel discussions, community dinners at local churches, educational partnerships with Rotary International, Western Carolina University faculty and Haywood County Schools music programs, Folkmoot is building new opportunities for our communities and international guests to experience and celebrate culture.