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moot hawaiiFor Joe Ahuna, it’s about one word — “ohana.”

“Ohana means family,” he said. “[We want people] inspired to go home and strengthen their own families.”

moot openhouseStanding in the hallway of the former Hazelwood Elementary School in Waynesville, amid old furniture, dusty windows and walls with paint peeling, Karen Babcock only sees potential.

“It all fits beautifully,” she smiled. “We hope to bring in local, regional, national and international groups and programs to this facility — we see complete, open opportunities.”

moot paradedayThe annual Parade of Nations will showcase international folk troupes along Main Street in Waynesville on Saturday, July 26, as part of the annual Folkmoot USA extravaganza.

The free parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the historic courthouse and travel up Main Street through the center of downtown Waynesville for three blocks. This year’s Folkmoot festival and parade will feature the dance, music and culture of seven countries: Colombia, Turkey, Taiwan, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Romania and Hawaii.

Folkmoot USA had a $9.2 million impact on Western North Carolina in 2013, according to an economic impact study conducted by Tom Tveidt of SYNEVA Economics.

The study included the Western North Carolina region but focused on Haywood County, showing that Folkmoot’s overnight visitors spent $6.6 million during their visit. Outside day-trippers spent an additional $89,000 in Haywood County.

Only overnight and outside day-trip visitors were included in Folkmoot’s study.

moot galaWith a property deed to their headquarters in hand and more than 30 years of cultural performance already in the history books, Folkmoot USA will also be shifting a handful of its signature events around for this year’s festival.

Usually the Folkmoot “Gala Performance & Champagne Reception” private preview event for donors and sponsors was held at the Stompin’ Ground in Maggie Valley on a Thursday kicking off the festival, with the public “Grand Opening” at the same spot on Friday. Though the “Grand Opening” will now officially launch Folkmoot on Friday, July 18, the “Gala Performance & Champagne Reception” has been moved to Monday. July 21.