July 21-31, 2016
Folkmoot USA, North Carolina's Official International Folklore Festival, is a two-week celebration of the world's cultural heritage through folk music and dance. The festival is headquartered at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville, about 25 miles west of Asheville, but performances can be seen in 12 cities, including Asheville, Hendersonville, Franklin, Burnsville, Maggie Valley and Waynesville.
Some 250 colorfully costumed traditional dancers and musicians from Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Canada and Puerto Rico, along with groups representing Appalachian and Cherokee cultures.
Folkmoot means “Meeting of the People” in old English and they certainly provide opportunities for cultural exchange. Audiences are invited to meet the performers before and after performances and during other Festival events. It is their intent to share cultural traditions with the broadest audiences, partly to ensure these traditions are not lost in our fast-paced modern world.
Performers demonstrate cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and beautiful music. During its 22-year history, over 200 folk groups from more than 100 countries have shared their heritage and culture at Folkmoot USA.
July 22, 2016: Folkmoot USA Parade is in downtown Waynesville on Main Street. Dancers and musicians from around the world parade up Main Street from the Haywood County Courthouse, Friday at 1 PM.
July 30, 2016: Folkmoot International Day, Where the World Meets Main Street, with the Haywood Arts Council, with performing groups and much more in downtown Waynesville! A free event. 10 AM-5 PM.
Tickets go on sale to general public in May. Tickets may be purchased online at www.folkmootusa.org, by calling the Folkmoot ticket office at 828.452.2997 or by contacting the specific venue.
Festivals like Folkmoot do not provide payment to the groups for their performances. Instead, all expenses are covered by the Festival, from the group’s arrival at a nearby international airport to their departure from the same airport two weeks later. Folkmoot staff will prepare 20,000 meals for our guests and the familiar white “Activity Buses” will travel more than 10,000 miles transporting groups to performances.
While there are over 300 international festivals like Folkmoot USA across the globe, Folkmoot is one of only two similar international festivals in the United States. Folkmoot was designated North Carolina’s Official International Festival and has been “One of the Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society for 21 years.
In 1973, Dr. Clinton Border, a Waynesville surgeon, accompanied a local square dance team to a folk festival in Sidmouth, England. There began the dream that would, 11 years later, become Folkmoot USA. Border was convinced that Western North Carolina, which was already steeped in tradition and dedicated to the preservation of its own heritage, was the perfect location for an international folk festival in the United States.
Despite language barriers and the inherent scheduling difficulties involved in getting foreign performers from their homes to Haywood County, Border believed something invaluable occurs when cultures so rich in tradition come together to share their lives. One month after Border's presentation to community leaders, a proposed board of directors met to launch Folkmoot USA, the North Carolina International Folk Festival.
The first festival was held in 1984, a date coinciding with North Carolina's 400th birthday celebration. The first Folkmoot USA festival featured folk groups representing nine countries, including England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India. Now, 26 years later, more than 200 groups from 100 different countries have attended the festival. In keeping with festival policy, an entirely new program of performers is offered each year.