Folkmoot is community.
Folkmoot has long been known as a festival which bridges cultural differences and expands cultural awareness through the celebration of tradition and dance.
Our visiting dance troupes’ often brilliant costumes, always smiling faces and lively dance steps set to music highlight the festival and speak to festival attendees of each represented nation’s rich and treasured heritage.
It is a transcendent experience which has sustained the Folkmoot Festival for 35 years.
Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians.
Though commonly identified as a folk festival, folk dance festival or cultural festival the dance performances are really a means to an end: cultural exchange between people of different nations which helps create peace, respect and understanding among all people.
Folkmoot is really all about community: a community of artists, a community of learners, a community of volunteers, a community of open-minded and curious people, a community of welcoming hosts and a community of guests who travel to our beloved Smoky Mountains to share not only their dance but also their hearts and their hopes.
Folkmoot is about creating a sense of shared community over ideology, politics and issues which often divide us. Folkmoot says “save what separates us for another day;” “let’s celebrate what brings us together today.”
And celebrate we do.
Though many of the performances’ musical beats and tempos may be different from what we daily hear on the radio and the performers’ accents may not be what we are accustomed to when we go to our places of work or worship, it is in the festival’s celebration of the world’s diverse cultural traditions and dances that we become a richer community, a “unified body of diverse individuals all interacting for the greater good in shared environment.”
Instead of a community filled with fear and apprehension, the Folkmoot community brings us together and fosters inclusivity and respect. Dance gives us a common denominator which enables us to see our similarities rather than our differences.
Folkmoot’s Rich History and Exciting Future
When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, returned home after seeing a dance team at an English 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.