Folkmoot gets grants to grow local, international programs

The Fund for Haywood County partnered with The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to award a Natural and Cultural Resources grant to North Carolina’s International Folk Festival.

Folkmoot was challenged to improve the decades-old festival; create a year-round plan for programming that included a detailed strategy for efficient and sustained use of the Friendship Center; and develop a succession plan for one of its most loyal supporters and founders, 86-year-old Rolf Kaufman.

According to Folkmoot director, Angeline Schwab, there was an opportunity to renew and grow the organization. Finding new sponsors and partners, adding performance venues and reaching a broader audience led to a 2016 festival that was the most successful in recent history.  That festival success carried beyond two weeks in July.

“We have always enjoyed community support of the festival,” said Schwab. “It seemed timely to foster that support, apply new creativity, bring the community into the building and expand programs that contribute to cultural understanding.”

Beginning in 2015, new programming included the first-ever Halloween “Spookmoot” haunted house and December “Falala Sing-Along” events for youth and families from the surrounding communities.

In 2016, Folkmoot doubled the attendance at these events and added a large quilt show, cultural leadership training and an historical lecture held in conjunction with the town of Waynesville.

Funding also supported several international dinner programs that highlighted the food, people and culture of Serbia, the Middle East, Eritrea and Appalachian cultures.

Ultimately, Folkmoot was faced with what was likely its toughest challenge of all — How do you replace the irreplaceable?

In order to prepare for Kaufman’s impending retirement, the board and staff decided to honor him by focusing on goals he championed.

For more information about the Fund for Haywood County, visit

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Photo by: Mountaineer file photo