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Mountain music returns to its roots at Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

Four decades of tradition have built the foundation for the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, which will launch into its 41st year on Sept. 2 and 3 at Stuart Auditorium in Lake Junaluska.

More than 200 dancers and musicians grace the shores of Lake Junaluska to entertain spectators over the Labor Day weekend.

Open tent shows will kick off each evening of entertainment at 5 p.m. Shows on the main stage in the 2,000-seat auditorium will start at 6:30 p.m. and end after 11 p.m.

The festival offers the chance to experience a broad range of musical and dance styles. Masters of traditional bluegrass instruments such as the banjo and fiddle will show of their skills, and more unorthodox and unusual instruments such as the dulcimer, harmonica, Native American flute, bagpipes and even spoons and a carpenter’s saw will provide the weekend’s music.

Buck dancers, square dancers, ballad singers and other traditional performers will round out the thoroughly Appalachian lineup.

The festival finds its history in Festival Director Joe Sam Queen, who teamed up with a local fiddler to celebrate the mountain music and dance of his grandfather, who had recently died.

Those first festivals were held in the gym of what is now Waynesville Middle School.

“My grandfather, Sam Queen, made mountain music and dancing such a big part of this community’s life, we wanted to carry on this family tradition and share it with the community just as he had done,” said Queen.

So he gathered local talents to keep the traditions alive, and they proved popular with local crowds.

The audiences began to grow and eventually outpaced the meager space offered by the gym.

Today, the performances garner more than 1,500 visitors each night.

But though the festival has grown in size, the traditions that inspired its inception still inform the festival today. Each festivalgoer, for example, is still given a free slice of watermelon to munch on while enjoying the show.


Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 in advance. Children under 12 are admitted free. For more information, call 828.452.1688.

Performers List — 2011 Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

Senator Joe Sam Queen- Master of Ceremonies

Friday Sept. 2

5:00 Open Tent Show

Stoney Creek Boys

6:30 — Mountain Tradition

Lee Knight

Honey Hollar

7 p.m. — Cole Mountain Cloggers  

George & Brook Buckner

Roger Howell

Rodney Sutton  

7:30 — UNC A Smooth Dancers

The Trantham Family

Mack Snoderly

8 p.m. —  Dixie Darlin’s

Laura Boosinger

Spirit Fiddle/ Robin Warren

8:35 — Green Valley Cloggers

Phil & Gaye Johnson

Cockman Family

9:15 — Southern Mountain Smoke

Ken Harrison

Joe Pendland

9:45 — Bailey Mountain Cloggers

Ross Brothers

Bryan McDowell

Stony Creek Boys

10:15 — J Creek Cloggers

10:30 — Southern Mountain Smoke

Stoney Creek Boys

Also expected to perform: Don Pedi, Karen “Sugar” Barnes, Bobby Hicks

Hazel Creek, and Mike Lowe        


Saturday, Sept. 3

5 p.m.— Open Tent Show

Whitewater Bluegrass Co.

6:30 — Fines Creek Flatfooters

Helena Hunt & Tracy Best

Ken Harrison

7 p.m. — Southern Mountain Fire-Smooth

Betty Smith

Mack Snoderly

7:30 —  Stoney Creek Cloggers

Phil & Anne Case

Hominy Valley Boys

8 p.m. — Southern Appalachian Cloggers

Trantham Family

The Cockman Family

8:45 — Appalachian Mountaineers

Paul’s Creek

Spirit Fiddle/Robin Warren

9:15 — Smoky Mountain Stompers

Joe Pendland

Whitewater Bluegrass

William Ritter

10 — Southern Mountain Fire Cloggers  

Mike Pilgram

Whitewater Bluegrass Co.

*All performers are volunteer; therefore schedule could change without notice.

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