The Folkmoot Volunteer Spotlight for May falls on a cherished member of the Folkmoot family, Brenda Davidson.
Brenda has been on the stage management team for many years and is the proud mother of lead guide, Heather Davidson, who worked with Russia at the 2017 festival.
In over 16 years of service, Brenda has become familiar with all aspects of Folkmoot. She has worked side-by-side with performers through stage management as well as helped with marketing.
Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Venezuela and Northern Cyprus in addition to our troupe from Thailand as well as Anglo Appalachian and Cherokee dancers and musicians.
You can see them all, featured together and with videos, on our Folkmoot Performers of 2018 page. And see a special YouTube performance of the Lampang Kalaynee troupe below!
Like others, Brenda became a Folkmoot volunteer through a friend.
“Sixteen years ago, I spoke with one of my co-workers, Patsy Rogers at Hometrust Bank who, at the time, was a board member for Folkmoot,” she said. “Talking with Patsy, I fell in love with the idea of this amazing international organization in Waynesville and decided to start volunteering.”
The Lake Junaluska closing, candlelight performance has become Brenda’s favorite event during the festival.
“All the performers come together at the end of the festival to perform one last time for one another and just have fun,” she said. “Being the last performance of the festival, everyone gives it their all and the event feels magical.”
Brenda loves volunteering at Folkmoot for many reasons: new friendships, becoming culturally immersed and the process of presenting the festival is fun, she said.
Through the years she remembers most fondly working with daughter Heather’s groups, especially a dance troupe from Tinidad.
“Not only were the performers great, their show was full of exciting music and dancing,” she recalled.
Brenda encourages more people to join the team at Folkmoot to gain perspective on other cultures.
For more information on volunteering opportunities, contact Catherine MacCallum, Operations and Volunteer Coordinator, 828-452-2997, x105, or fill out this online form.
When Waynesville surgeon, Dr. Clinton Border, returned home after seeing a dance team at an English folk festival, he thought such a festival would be perfect for Western North Carolina, which had its own rich history of preserving its traditional culture. It took from 1973, when Border made his trip, to 1984 before the first Folkmoot USA event took place. That year, symbolic as it was also the year that North Carolina celebrated its 400th birthday, welcomed performers from England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India.
In 2002, the Folkmoot Friendship Center leased the former Hazelwood Elementary School, thus giving it a home to expand its programming and activities. In 2014, the Haywood County school system donated the school to the organization. Now, this multi-faceted space has created an expanded opportunity for Folkmoot to move from a two week festival to a year-round cultural center, focusing on programs and events that celebrate diversity and differences, encourage cultural conversation and inclusion, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages, especially using dance as a tool to achieve world peace.
Since these humble yet visionary beginnings in 1984, more than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have entertained and thrilled residents and guests of Western North Carolina.