The ‘glorious chaos’ that is Folkmoot
Q&A with new Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab, who took the reins in March from former director Karen Babcock.
Smoky Mountain News: What do you like most about the job so far?
Angie Schwab: I like being part of the community family. The people who have been involved with Folkmoot for 30-something years brought me right into the fold and have shown a lot of support. They are fun group, very devoted to the organization, and as a new executive director, that’s an ideal situation.
SMN: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Schwab: Probably starting with very little knowledge [about Folkmoot] at all and having to ramp up so quickly. There were lots of things to accomplish before we could even get to the work of the festival. The building has been a major piece of that. We’ve gotten a lot done and I feel proud of that. The other piece is that as the new person, I’ve had a lot of people to get to know while I was months behind. I still need to meet people that do a lot of the work behind the scenes for Folkmoot. I have to build those relationships quickly.
SMN: What has surprised you most about the job?
Schwab: There’s a lot of doing in this job. There’s thousands, maybe a million details that all interlock at some point but they’re in the air for a very long time. Someone who depends on structure and definite outcomes might not be successful in this position.
SMN: What are you most looking forward to during your first Folkmoot?
Schwab: Certainly I’ll have a lot of pride seeing the groups and the community at the Parade of Nations. My kids will be there too and my cousins and aunts and uncles are coming. It will be the first time that they can all participate in my work since I’ve moved back to [Western North Carolina]. I’m one of those people who love when the community comes together. I just love it — seeing people working together and all of the self-expression and joy that the parade creates.
SMN: Describe Folkmoot to someone who has never been or heard of it?
Schwab: It’s like an international peace circus that comes to town. It’s big and loud and colorful and full of life. It’s an event with implications you may not understand at first, but it’s way more than music and dance, and I probably didn’t understand that myself at first. Some people say it’s the most glorious chaos.