Folkmoot: the dream of 1973 lives on in 2018!
With increasing excitement, building day-by-day, we’re all looking forward to July 19 when Folkmoot Festival 2018 opens with music and folk dancing and international cultural exchange and parties and so much fun from around the globe we will barely be able to contain ourselves.
And it’s been this way every year for the past 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.
When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, visited an English folk festival in 1973, he couldn’t let go of the idea that such an event would be a perfect opportunity for Western North Carolina to showcase its own rich cultural heritage while it welcomed the world to its mountains.
Although it took another ten years before the festival became a reality, the idea had taken hold of Border, who soon shared his dream with others.
Here from the beginning: Rolf Kaufman
A neighbor of Border’s, Rolf Kaufman, was invited to a community “chat” to discuss what some thought was a far-fetched idea. Not Rolf. Though Kaufman knew little about folk dance, he knew a lot about the value of people coming together (“Folkmoot”), sharing culture and customs and learning that at the end of the day, we are all more alike than we are different.
An immigrant whose family left Nazi Germany and landed in Waynesville, Kaufman was “sold right away” on Border’s vision.
“I became fascinated by the dance component later on but was more fascinated by the groups who visited,” Kaufman recalls today. “I knew that once we all connected, these people could never be our enemies.”
Kaufman remains an avid supporter (time, treasure, talent) of Folkmoot and remains largely responsible for scouting and selecting many of our visiting dance troupes.
Beyond the festival’s economic impact on the region, Kaufman is most impressed with and proud of Folkmoot’s ability to change lives – most notably – young people’s lives.
“Over the years, we have had hundreds of young people serves as interns, guides, and volunteers,” he explains. “Many have shared that their Folkmoot experience impacted their choice of career, gave them life-long friends, and helped deepen their level of global understanding and compassion.”
Noting that Folkmoot has become a year round source and site of cultural programs, Kaufman supports the organization’s new efforts to do even more to reach youth and families while preserving its reputation overseas as the premier international folk festival in the eastern half of the U.S.
Marty Scott, Appalachian Groups Coordinator
On that 1973 trip Dr. Border took to England was a young Haywood County teen, Marty Scott, who was part of a clogging troupe competing at the overseas event.
That trip was part of a larger clogging journey lasting nearly all of his 57 years. The life-long love of Appalachian dancing doesn’t surprise him but Scott, an eight generation Haywood County resident, could have hardly imagined then that in 2018, he would be charged with the important job of picking, choosing and scheduling all of the American Appalachian dancing troupes participating in Folkmoot 2018. (Scott will be dancing with the Appalachian Mountaineers, a troupe of which he has been a part since 1997).
Beyond the sheer joy of heritage dance – or witnessing it – Scott loves Folkmoot’s ability to “bring so many cultures together, getting to know people and people sharing things about their lives.”
“Over the recent years, I’ve noticed the audiences getting more involved and connected; they’re less closed off to others,” he added. “That’s what makes Folkmoot so special.”
Dr. Border would be smiling, too.