A very special guest graces Folkmoot 2018!
One of the world’s leading experts on folk dance festivals, folk art festivals and citizen of the world, Dr. Udomsak Sakmunwong, can be found among working his way through nearly all Folkmoot 2018 events, often encouraging his hometown dance troupe, the Lampang Kalayanee School, one of our visiting dance troupes.
But Dr. Sakmunwong is not just a world authority on folk festivals he is past-president – for eight years – of CIOFF, the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts. CIOFF is the world-wide governing body of folk festivals, a world partner of UNESCO, and each year certifies Folkmoot Festival as worthy of the world’s attention.
“Folkmoot is one of our best and biggest festivals,” he explained in a quiet moment just as our hectic 10-day festivals was getting underway. “It is your volunteers who give it what it takes to land it among our best and the way the entire community embraces the festival each year.”
Folkmoot 2018 runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailand, Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians.
Dr. Sakmunwong’s visit to the 2018 festival in not his first. He has been to Waynesville and Folkmoot a few times before, not only as president of CIOFF but also as the good and dear friend of Rolf Kaufman, Folkmoot’s most important and senior volunteer and director.
“Rolf and I have been dear friends for many years,” he explained. “From the time Rolf came to CIOFF as the American representative, representative of Folkmoot and to help us with our committee on finances.”
Although Dr. Sakmunwong retired as CIOFF president in 2005 he has remained active in the organization as senior advisor, East Asian representative and representative of the Thailand’s National Cultural Council, which he currently chairs and through it helps support cultural arts and cultural exchange in Thailand’s 77 provinces.
“It’s a labor of love,” he says with a smile.
He also beams with pride at the Lampang Kalayanee School, based in his home town of Amphoe Muang, in the Lampang Province.
“It is one of our biggest and best secondary schools,” he boasts.
It’s dance troupe has certainly been a hit in Folkmoot 2018.
Dr. Sakmunwong was a university professor, teaching political science in Thailand and at Northeastern Illinois University in the U.S.. He was schooled in Japan, London and the University of Chicago.
He is also quite certain his 2018 visit to Waynesville and the Smoky Mountains will not be his last.
“Your’s is a very special region,” he said. “In all the world it’s a very special place.”