2020 Folkmoot International Festival cancelled

The 37th annual Folkmoot International Festival, scheduled for July 18-26, has been cancelled, due to uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19.

The Folkmoot Board of Directors made the decision at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 25, after considering the costs, complications and growing consequences of the public health crisis.

“There are a lot of logistics involved in planning and orchestrating a 10-day festival with numerous performances, a variety of venues and artists coming from around the world,” said Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab. “Due to the uncertainty of limitations on public gatherings, travel restrictions and the general health and well being of our community, we have decided to cancel this year’s festival.”

Folkmoot, a year-round arts and cultural center based at the Historic Hazelwood School in Waynesville, has cancelled or postponed over 30 other events in 2020 because of the crisis, ranging from concerts and festivals to lectures and dinners. Folkmoot hopes to reschedule many of the events later in the year, circumstances permitting.

The summer international festival, launched in 1983, is the organization’s signature event. Teams of musicians and dancers from across the globe make their home base in Waynesville and perform at venues from Cherokee to Hickory. More than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have participated through the decades.

COVID-19: A request for contributions from Folkmoot

Everything about this moment is surreal, isn’t it? 

We write this on a gray afternoon at the unusually quiet Folkmoot Center, and, like you, we’re worrying about friends, family and what the next weeks will bring.

Just one month ago at Folkmoot we celebrated the launch of our 2020 program schedule – our broadest ever – and looked forward to a fine-tuned international festival in July. Now, over the last three weeks, since we’ve come to understand the potential impacts of COVID-19, we’ve cancelled 25 events and laid off most of our employees. 

We count ourselves fortunate that our staff and their families are healthy, for now, and hope you and your loved ones are safe, too, but we ache at the distress this crisis will cause within the community we love. We worry also that Folkmoot, founded in Haywood County 40 years ago and located at Historic Hazelwood School for 20 years, is in danger of folding.

Since 2015, we’ve made bold steps in new programming, from concerts to lecture series, and from literary arts to friendship dinners; we’ve even added three new signature festivals, Cherokee World Games, Mootenanny and Folkmalt. We’ve staffed up to do this work and invested almost one million dollars of your community donations into the renovation of the Center. You have supported this transformation through contributions of time, talent and tickets, and now the ticket revenue has disappeared. 

To survive, we’re using our spring newsletter to the Friends of Folkmoot – normally a celebration of the year’s promise – to ask for a lifeline. We know we must make adaptations to navigate this situation, including transforming or perhaps rescheduling the 37th annual summer festival, a mountain tourism staple since 1983.

Fortunately, we know how to operate on a tight budget, and we believe sponsors will re-commit when the virus subsides. But the fact remains that once the crisis passes, the ramp-up and re-staging of events will be costly, and we can’t reasonably operate during intervening months with little or no revenue.

We hope that those of you who appreciate our long history and who want Folkmoot to survive will lend a helping hand. It’s a stressful time for many, but if you’re able to make a contribution, please consider Folkmoot. Now is the time.

We are grateful for your support. 

Angie Schwab
Executive Director

David Francis
Board President

COVID-19 Information from Folkmoot

Folkmoot reschedules events through mid-May amid COVID-19 concerns

After input from local public health officials and with state and federal guidelines and restrictions in mind, the Folkmoot Board of Directors has postponed events planned for the remainder of March, all of April and the first part of May. An event list is included below.

Many of these events will be rescheduled for later in the year, as circumstances allow.

Late May events and all June events remain on schedule, but should be considered “tentative”. 

Folkmoot’s signature international festival, set for July 18-26, remains on schedule, although alternate plans could be developed. We will release more information as it becomes available.

All events through July, including the 37th annual International Festival, have been cancelled or postponed. Click here for more.

“As anyone can well imagine, there are a lot of logistics involved in planning and orchestrating a 10-day festival with numerous performances, a variety of venues and artists coming from around the world. Due to the uncertainty of limitations on public gatherings, travel restrictions and the general health and well being of our community, we have decided to cautiously move forward with planning this event and all events we have through the summer. It’s possible that we will need to transform or reschedule the Folkmoot Festival.”

Angie Schwab, Executive Director

Folkmoot will provide periodic updates on our planning efforts and remain hopeful that the festival will provide all of us with an opportunity to celebrate the importance of cross cultural community gatherings in a safe environment.

As always, Folkmoot strives to make decisions with these factors in mind: community health, the organization’s economic impact on the community and our performers, and the safety and security of our staff and volunteers.

Postponed events:

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series
April 4: Irene Kelley, Scott Miller and Tim Stafford
May 16: Malcolm Holcombe, RB Morris, and Ed Snodderly

Cultural Crash Courses
March 18: Chris Cooper: “Election 2020”
April 15: Ingrid Bego: “Let me hear you say #MeToo: Victories and Challenges”
May 20: Mark Holliday: “Artificial Intelligence, Past, Present and Future”

Friendship Dinners
March 27: Hawaii – Puerto Rican Friendship Dinner
April 9: German Friendship Dinner
May 22: Affrilachian Friendship Dinner

Panel Discussion
April 17: “Hey Ranger!” Protecting Mountain Resources: Safeguarding Natural Beauty, Supporting Regional Tourism

Festivals
May 9,10: Mootenanny: Mountain Heritage and Music at Maggie Valley Fairgrounds (Rescheduled for Oct. 10, 11)

Concerts
April 11: Country Soul Entertainment 
May 3: Katie Deal: Real Deal Country
May 23: Country Soul Entertainment 

Special Events
March 26: Shining Rock Academy School Dance
March 26: Climate Change Coalition Meeting
May 8-10: Carolina Readiness Heritage Life Skills 
May 15-18: International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts

Folkmoot’s expanded programming initiatives have been made possible by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Evergreen Packaging. 

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community.  The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville. Staff can be reached by phone at (828) 452-2997 or by email at info@folkmoot.org.

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Ingrid Bego, “Let me hear you say #MeToo: Victories and Challenges”

Join local experts for Folkmoot’s popular series, Cultural Crash Courses, featuring lectures on a variety of current cultural issues, including global politics, race, immigration, gender, climate change, technology and multiculturalism. Content will be presented as a 45-minute community lecture followed by questions, answers and discussion. Doors open at 5:30pm, lecture begins at 6pm. Participants are welcome to bring a “picnic” dinner. Beverages will be available.
Tickets are $10 in advance.

The #MeToo movement has been hailed as the next wave of global feminism. As stories of abuse and sexual harassment became public starting in October of 2017, a sense of optimism and progress was in the air. More than two years later, we examine the progress and the backlash, as well as the long-term implications of the movement for gender equality.

Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by VisitNCSmokies.comThe MountaineerVicinitus Haywood, and Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Camp Folkmoot 2020 set for July

Camp Folkmoot 2020

The Folkmoot Festival provides communities throughout western North Carolina the opportunity to build a deeper sense of connection and respect with people from around the world while celebrating cultural arts.  

An important aspect of the Festival is its engagement of youth and families in the Folkmoot experience. One such opportunity Camp Folkmoot, is designed to bring regional students, groups, and families together with local and international performance troupes. Camp Folkmoot is a one-day dance camp for kids and teens between 4thand 12th grades. At Camp Folkmoot, participants have opportunities to share their own cultural heritage, learn the history of the traditional dance and what makes each participating culture unique. Further, Camp Folkmoot offers storytelling instruction, “make and take” for students to provide opportunities to create cultural crafts. Students will also make lanterns for the Hazelwood Lantern Parade. 

The camp is open to youth of all abilities who are inspired by folklore and cultural arts. Participants will learn basic concepts and movements, gain an appreciation for the similarities and differences between cultures and hear captivating stories behind the dances of each international cultural group. 

The 2019 Camp Folkmoot takes place on Friday, July 24 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Folkmoot Friendship Center. The cost is $30.00 for students and $10 for any accompanying adult. All camp participants are invited to attend the Queen Auditorium Matinee performance of all festival groups, starting at 2 pm at no additional costs. Families and youth groups are encouraged to register soon to save a space for your child. Snacks, lunch, and drinks will be provided. Discounts are available to groups of four or more if registered together. 

For more information, contact Caroline Brown Williamson at caroline@folkmoot.org. Register at Folkmoot.org or by calling 828-452-2997.

Folkmoot is a 9-day celebration of world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer across the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performances, special events, parades and workshops with over 200 dancers and musicians from 7 countries alongside Cherokee and Appalachian performers. Performers demonstrate cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.

Sponsored by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation

Luck O’ the Irish Party at BearWaters, featuring Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes, Raffle Drawing

Aubrey Eisenman and the Clydes

Join Folkmoot and BearWaters Brewing Company for a Saint Patricks Day-themed party with Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes on Saturday, March 14, at Bearwaters Brewery in Canton! Festivities begin at 7pm, with raffle drawing is at 9. (Ticket holders need not be present to win).

Between now and the event, Folkmoot friends will sell 500 tickets at $20 each for a chance to win $1,000. Proceeds benefit Folkmoot’s year-round programming initiatives including the Southern Storytellers Series, Songwriters in the Round, Friendship Dinners and production of community-wide events at the Folkmoot Center.

Do you have the luck of the Irish? Call Folkmoot, 828-452-2997 to learn more or purchase your Luck O’ the Irish ticket through the link below. Paper tickets can be mailed or picked up at the Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community. The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville.

Chinese Tea Ceremony with Xiaoli

Chinese Tea Ceremony with Xiaoli at the Folkmoot Center, Waynesville, NC
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT, SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 12, WILL TAKE PLACE, BUT IS SOLD OUT
Local expert Xiaoli Youker will give a short presentation about the 2,000-year history of tea in China and discuss the cultural and social dimensions of tea consumption in the Chinese-speaking world today. Following the presentation, Mrs. Youker will demonstrate a traditional tea ceremony using green, black, oolong, and pu’er tea varieties, which will be served to participants in authentic Chinese teacups.

Reservations required, donations accepted at the door

Click here to register: https://www.showclix.com/event/chinese-tea-ceremony-with-xiaoli

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series: Scott Miller, Irene Kelley & Tim Stafford

Irene Kelley, Scott Miller, Tim Stafford at Folkmoot

The Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series begins its 2020 season with Scott Miller, Irene Kelley and Tim Stafford live in the round at Queen Auditorium on the Folkmoot Center campus.

In the Round performances are particularly intimate, and feature musicians in a circle in the middle of the room, with the audience seated all around. The performers trade songs and stories about the songwriting trade. The style was popularized by the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and most of our performers have played that venue many times.

Now almost 25 years old, the Great Balsam series is in its second year at Queen Auditorium, and launches 2020 with a stellar performance featuring Irene Kelley, who has written for Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Loretta Lynn, Scott Miller, formerly of the V-Roys and Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, and Tim Stafford, who was part of Alison Krauss and Union Station and and a founding member of Blue Highway.

The 2020 Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot is sponsored by Suzanne and Alan Klimek.

All music at the Folkmoot Center | Queen Auditorium is sponsored in part by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.


Irene Kelley and her current “Benny’s TV Repair” album on Mountain Fever Records earned 5 nominations in 4 categories at the SPBGMA Awards and was recently featured on the cover of the of The Bluegrass Standard magazine.

Irene’s many songwriting accomplishments include hits like “A Little Bluer Than That,” for Alan Jackson, as well as songs performed and recorded by Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White, Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, the Osborne Brothers and many more. After three decades of work, Irene has assumed her place in a long line of great American songwriters.

She’s been seen and heard at the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival, IBMA, Folk Alliance International, the Americana Music Festival, the Equi Blues Music Fest (France), Avila Beach Music Fest (CA), BayFest (AL) and many other venues.

Syndicated on-air appearances include Acoustic Café, NPR’s Live at Mountain Stage, CMT, and GAC as well as airplay on Country, Bluegrass, Folk and Americanaradio stations worldwide.

She also was a recipient of ASCAP’s Most Performed Songs Award in 1983 for “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This” Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White.


Recently inducted to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, fiery roots-rock singer/songwriter Scott Miller (The Scott Miller) has returned to his native Virginia to tend the family farm while continuing to release and perform new music informed by that rural area, history, and Appalachia.

Miller has recently toured with Patty Griffin, Robbie Fulks, Paul Thorn, Robin & Linda Williams, and American Aquarium.

In 1994, Miller helped form a band called the V-Roys, which was the first act signed on Steve Earle’s label, E-Squared Records.
After the V-Roys split up in ’99, Miller formed a new band, Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, which was briefly the house band on Blue Collar TV. The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote of Miller’s first albums after the V-Roys as “strong, folk-infused songs” in which “the boozy charm of his music was innocuous.”

In addition to solo shows, Miller plays some shows with a full Commonwealth band lineup, but more often plays trio shows with what he has come to call the Commonwealth Ladies Auxiliary (bass player Bryn Davies and fiddler Rayna Gellert).

Miller’s songs reflect his degrees in American History and Russian Studies, with references to his home, family, history, geography, writers and Appalachia.


After developing his skills with several bands through the 1980’s, Tim Stafford joined Alison Krauss’s band Union Station in 1990 and helped record a Grammy-winning CD, Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder, 1992). Tim left to form Blue Highway in 1994 with Wayne Taylor, Shawn Lane, Rob Ickes and Jason Burleson. The band is one of the most decorated and influential in bluegrass history: nominated for three Grammys, winner of a Dove Award, and nearly 30 IBMA Awards. In March 2016, Blue Highway was named the most popular bluegrass artist in history in an online poll by Bluegrass Today.

Tim is a prolific songwriter, with over 250 songs recorded. He co-wrote IBMA’s 2008 Song of the Year, “Through the Window of a Train,” and was named IBMA’s Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and 2017. In addition, he is a sought-after studio musician, having recorded with over 75 artists in addition to Blue Highway, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Jorma Kaukonen and many more. Tim was named SPBGMA Guitar Performer of the Year in 2001 and 2015.

He has produced many award-winning records for various artists, including Kenny Chesney, The Infamous Stringdusters (IBMA 2007 co-album of the Year) , and Knee Deep in Bluegrass, the Acutab Sessions (IBMA 2001 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year).

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Chris Cooper: “Election 2020”

Cultural Crash Course: Election 2020 with Dr. Chris Cooper

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that it’s an election year. And you’re probably aware that voting for the Presidency is part of that election. But what about the other elections on the ballot? And what does all of this tell us about the health of our democracy? In this Crash Course, Dr. Chris Cooper will take us on a tour of what we know (and what we don’t) about American democracy as we approach the 2020 elections. While we’ll certainly talk about the Presidential election (how could we avoid it?), the focus will be on elections in North Carolina—the swingiest of the swing states.


Cooper, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, provides expert commentary on matters involving politics and political science in (and beyond) North Carolina.

Cooper’s research focuses on state politics and policy, political communication, political psychology and southern politics. He publishes that research frequently and is commonly seen and heard on media in Western North Carolina during political seasons.

He was named the 2013 “Professor of the Year” in North Carolina by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. That year, he also was honored as one of the top professors in the University of North Carolina system by its Board of Governors.

Among his innovative teaching techniques has been the publication of student research in Wikipedia and exchanging teaching duties via Skype with a professor at another university in a different state.

Earning his bachelor’s at Winthrop University, Cooper received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee.


Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by VisitNCSmokies.comThe MountaineerVicinitus Haywood, and Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Folkmoot welcomes Viking Stained Glass

Folkmoot Center Viking Stained Glass John Nelson

In the fall, Folkmoot welcomed John Nelson and his company Viking Stained Glass to one of our leased studio spaces at the Folkmoot Center. John, who splits his business between Waynesville and Charlotte, does restoration of historic stained glass and new designs. He’s shown here with a historic window from Hemphill Baptist Church, along with two of his new pieces.

You can contact John at vikingstainedglass (at) gmail.com.

Interested in a space? Reach out to us here at the Folkmoot Center.