As much as I love small town life in the mountains, I sometimes lament how incredibly homogenous Southern Appalachia is.
I am always on the lookout for ways to broaden my kids’ understanding of other customs and skin colors, but it is a struggle to convey just how big and diverse the world actually is.
Thankfully, Folkmoot helps fill that void each year.
Few families can afford to take their kids on an international trip. But thanks to Folkmoot, you can get a flavor of global cultures without leaving your home town. While Folkmoot is based in Haywood County, the international extravaganza hosts performances in Jackson, Swain and Macon counties as well.
I’m a big fan of free, so check out the free venues to catch some Folkmoot action, including street shows and kids’ workshops. But I recommend splurging on tickets for an actual performance — to help ensure Folkmoot is around for years to come and because the Folkmoot ticket is actually a “two-fer-one” deal. It includes the bonus offer of two hours of relaxation. My kids are usually so mesmerized by the colorful, lively action on stage that I get a break from the litany of requests and demands that trail after us moms under normal circumstances.
Here are some ideas to make the most out of Folkmoot and spin this unique international smorgasbord into some fun and educational family time.
• Grab the Folkmoot section that came in this week’s paper and look up on a map all the countries that are coming. Compare that to where North Carolina is, and talk about how the performers might have traveled to get here. Some literally take a combo of planes, trains and automobiles on their journey to WNC. But you could get outside the box and talk about all sorts of transportation modes found in other countries, from rickshaws to gondolas to subways.
• Draw the flags of the different countries that are coming, and talk about how each country has its own flag. Let your children design their own flag for your family, street or town and put it on a stick and let them fly it from the porch for a few days.
• Research what foods are eaten by some of the countries that are coming. Talk about how different countries and cultures like different foods, and explain that things we eat here might seem strange to them, just as what they eat might seem strange to us. If your kids are willing, try a popular national recipe from one or two of the visiting Folkmoot countries.
• Stop in at the designated kids area during International Festival Day in downtown Waynesville this Saturday, July 20, put on by the Haywood County Arts Council. Kids can get their “Passport to the Arts” and make arts and crafts indicative of the visiting countries. They are even issued a “passport” to get stamped at each table they visit.
• Dream about what country they would like to visit if they had a chance — and why. It’s a fun dinnertime conversation starter if you can get the whole family to go around the table and share a destination they wish they could visit.