The Folkmoot Friendship Center on Virginia Avenue in Hazelwood is central to the festival’s operation.

At the heart of Asheville is a funky soul. And providing the soundtrack to that carefree and self-less attitude of the city and greater Western North Carolina is Empire Strikes Brass.

Cultural bias and conflict aren’t new to Western North Carolina; chattel slavery and Cherokee removal still leave a deep and painful legacy for many in the region — something Folkmoot’s Cultural Conversations program seeks to remedy. 

Hundreds, if not thousands of “civic ambassador” programs begin each month in cities and counties across the nation, including in Haywood County, where the Chamber of Commerce’s eight-session Leadership Haywood program yearly produces a dozen or more “civic ambassadors” armed with firsthand knowledge of how all sectors of the community might work together in harmony.

Arriving in Waynesville shortly before last year’s Folkmoot Friendship Festival, I like many who’d come before me had no idea what it was.

Folkmoot USA has finalized its capital improvements and business plan for the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Hazelwood. 

Since taking over ownership of the building from the county last year, Folkmoot has been working on plans to renovate the building to accommodate year-round programming for the organization.

fr babcockAfter being at the helm of Folkmoot USA for six years, Karen Babcock has resigned as executive director and is in the process of training her successor to take over by March 1.

After oscillating on how much money to give Folkmoot USA during annual budget machinations last month, Waynesville town leaders have revisited the issue and upwardly revised their contribution.

Folkmoot historically got $10,000 to help with its general operating costs. But town leaders initially decided to cut that funding — in exchange for a $25,000 grant toward Folkmoot’s goal of transforming its headquarters at the old Hazelwood Elementary School to a year-round community center.

Folkmoot USA International Dance Festival once again saw its grant funding cut by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

The  event that brings in international folk dance and music troupes from eight to 10 countries for a 10-day extravaganza has been a signature festival in Haywood County for 30 years. But some on the county tourism authority have grown weary of continued financial support for Folkmoot year after year.

coverBringing together world culture and Southern Appalachia traditions, Folkmoot USA transcends any and all barriers.

Whether it’s language, physical boundaries or appearance, the art of live performance found at this international dance and music festival erases any differences by creating an ambiance that’s as embracing as it is unique. Entering its 30th year, the festival has solidified itself in the landscape of Western North Carolina.  

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