Folkmoot celebrates Smoky Mountain culture, too!
Along with culture and musical and dance traditions from around the world, Folkmoot takes pride in and likes to also celebrate the unique culture of our own Smoky Mountains, part of the greater Blue Ridge, the land once known to our native people as Shaconage, the land of the blue smoke.
Along with dance troupes representing the Angl0-Appalachian traditions of dance and music, handed down from the 17th and 18th Century immigrants from the British Isles, our own mountain native people, Tsalagi or Cherokee – our region’s First Nation, play a prominent role in each Folkmoot Festival.
Folkmoot 2018 opens Thursday 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.
The entire Folkmoot Festival with travel July 24 to the town of Cherokee to celebrate for a major celebration, which will include the gift of a special dance from one of our visiting dance troupes, which also includes First Nations people, to the leadership of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
And one of the more subtle ways in which Folkmoot honors and celebrates our Cherokee friends is something you’ll find hanging around the necks of Folkmoot staff & volunteer festival credentials: specifically designed and hand-beaded lanyards crafted especially for Folkmoot by the festivals’ Cherokee Coordinator Lisa Wilnoty.
Lisa began making the lanyards for the 2016 festival and something of a “new tradition” appears to have been born. She has continued to make more lanyards each year since.
Her journey into lanyard making began just over four years ago when she decided to pursue her passion for traditional Cherokee crafts. Her husband, Freddy Wilnoty II, showed her the basics and from there she began creating her own designs.
When designing these beautifully beaded lanyards, she incorporates an array of colors, especially watercolors to be used as a representation for how water gives and sustains life.
Many of the guides and staff look at these hand-beaded lanyards as a symbol of Folkmoot, a unique keepsake of all the wonderful memories from the festival. They all recognize the hard work that Lisa puts into making these special gifts. It is humbling to receive one and an honor.
“The lanyard represents a sense of unity,” said Festival Guide Gracie Feichter. “All of the colors blend beautifully together, much like we do in our own world. Even though the pattern of beading on each lanyard is different, it symbolizes how we are able to create something beautiful if we work together.”