With just days until the 32nd annual Folkmoot USA international dance and music festival is set to kick off, the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Hazelwood is a frenzy of activity. Construction projects are finishing up, fresh paint is drying on the walls, beds are being prepared for the performers and new Executive Director Angie Schwab is squelching fires left and right.
Q&A with new Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab, who took the reins in March from former director Karen Babcock.
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.
When Shirley Finger was younger, she never did too much clogging. Or dancing of any kind, really.
“Back when I was growing up you didn’t go to a dance, that was the Devil’s place,” recalled Finger. “But when I got married my husband was on a dance team and I just fell in love with it.”
Finger fell in love with clogging. She has since enjoyed spreading the gospel of clogging with the Waynesville-based Dixie Darlin’s.
For two weeks every July, the old Hazelwood School in Waynesville becomes a mini United Nations.
Performance groups from around the globe descend on Haywood County and Western North Carolina. They’re dancers, singers and musicians, each proudly representing their faraway native land and culture. And with every group comes a language barrier. Though there are obviously difficulties in not being able to understand someone else, the beauty of sharing cultures comes in finding common ground with that person.
The whirling skirts and clacking heels of Folkmoot USA represent eight different nations spanning the globe, but while the diversity makes for a beautiful spectacle, having all those languages in one place can make verbal communication a little difficult. There’s not much similarity between English, Russian and Chinese, but dance is universal.
“Music is an international language,” said Concord resident Mary Talbert, who traveled to see the Folkmoot dancers with her daughter Misty Mowrey.
With 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.
The 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.