It was a stellar night of music March 19 as Folkmoot formally recognized its renovated performance venue in the historic Hazelwood School as The Sam Love Queen Auditorium at Folkmoot!
Sam Love Queen was among the most famous and most beloved figures in Haywood County history, known around the world as the premier mountain dance caller and ambassador of mountain culture and heritage. Known as, “Sam Love Queen, the square dance king – the dancin’-est man in the land,” Queen presided over the mainstay of Haywood County social events, the frequent dances at Moody Farm in Maggie Valley beginning in the 1930s.
“You danced in the front yard, in the barn or in the middle of the parlor floor,” said Joe Sam Queen, a grandson of Sam Love and current civic leader and Haywood representative to the North Carolina General Assembly. “It was the genuine folk dance. It was a social institution of the day. It’s where you courted, socialized with your neighbors. It was an art form.”
Sam Love was also among those early supporters and organizers of the Folkmoot Festival of traditional folk dance and was immortalized in song by Buddy Melton, Milan Miller and Mark W. Winchester.
At the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, Sam Love took his Soco Gap Dance Team to Washington in 1939 to display the unique Haywood County style of dance and perform before King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England.
Sara Queen Brown, daughter of Sam Love and herself a revered and venerable Haywood County figure, was part of that 1939 Soco Gap Dance Team and together with her nephew, Joe Sam, made possible the endowment for the restoration of the old Hazelwood School auditorium and its transformation into the Folkmoot performance venue, the Sam Love Queen Auditorium.
“Tonight we take the opportunity to honor a woman and a family who has made a contribution that will have a meaningful, positive impact on Haywood County,” explained Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab at the March 19th event. “Over 90 years of positive influence from this person, Sara Queen Brown, and now she has insured at least 90 more years because she has contributed the money to improve this space in which you are sitting right now.
“Sara Queen Brown has been a teacher in Clyde, has directed Mountain Projects, has been on the board of the Haywood Community College and is the only surviving member of the Soco Gap Dance Team. Clogging is important here. Sara’s father, Sam Love Queen was very passionate about folk dance. He believed, and surely passed on to his children and grandchildren that when you holding hands, in one big circle, there is no reason to fight. Dance contributes to peace and harmony in the world. Sara Queen Brown and the Queen family have helped to define Haywood County and Waynesville as a folk dance hot spot, the center of Appalachian dance in the US. What better way to recognize the Queen family than to dedicate this space as the Queen Auditorium in the name of her father, Sam Love Queen.
“The programs in the space, from here on out will be in his name.”
Folkmoot’s founding director, Jackie Bolden, introduced Sara and Joe Sam to the crowd and here is a video of her presentation and remarks from Joe Sam Queen and Sara Queen Brown:
And with the Queen Family gift the circle will remain unbroken: (video by Patrick Parton)
Other performances from March 19…
The Darren Nicholson Band:
Whitewater Bluegrass Company with special guest, Dr. Marc Pruett: