COVID-19 Information from Folkmoot

Folkmoot reschedules events through mid-May amid COVID-19 concerns

After input from local public health officials and with state and federal guidelines and restrictions in mind, the Folkmoot Board of Directors has postponed events planned for the remainder of March, all of April and the first part of May. An event list is included below.

Many of these events will be rescheduled for later in the year, as circumstances allow.

Late May events and all June events remain on schedule, but should be considered “tentative”. 

Folkmoot’s signature international festival, set for July 18-26, remains on schedule, although alternate plans could be developed. We will release more information as it becomes available.

All events through July, including the 37th annual International Festival, have been cancelled or postponed. Click here for more.

“As anyone can well imagine, there are a lot of logistics involved in planning and orchestrating a 10-day festival with numerous performances, a variety of venues and artists coming from around the world. Due to the uncertainty of limitations on public gatherings, travel restrictions and the general health and well being of our community, we have decided to cautiously move forward with planning this event and all events we have through the summer. It’s possible that we will need to transform or reschedule the Folkmoot Festival.”

Angie Schwab, Executive Director

Folkmoot will provide periodic updates on our planning efforts and remain hopeful that the festival will provide all of us with an opportunity to celebrate the importance of cross cultural community gatherings in a safe environment.

As always, Folkmoot strives to make decisions with these factors in mind: community health, the organization’s economic impact on the community and our performers, and the safety and security of our staff and volunteers.

Postponed events:

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series
April 4: Irene Kelley, Scott Miller and Tim Stafford
May 16: Malcolm Holcombe, RB Morris, and Ed Snodderly

Cultural Crash Courses
March 18: Chris Cooper: “Election 2020”
April 15: Ingrid Bego: “Let me hear you say #MeToo: Victories and Challenges”
May 20: Mark Holliday: “Artificial Intelligence, Past, Present and Future”

Friendship Dinners
March 27: Hawaii – Puerto Rican Friendship Dinner
April 9: German Friendship Dinner
May 22: Affrilachian Friendship Dinner

Panel Discussion
April 17: “Hey Ranger!” Protecting Mountain Resources: Safeguarding Natural Beauty, Supporting Regional Tourism

May 9,10: Mootenanny: Mountain Heritage and Music at Maggie Valley Fairgrounds (Rescheduled for Oct. 10, 11)

April 11: Country Soul Entertainment 
May 3: Katie Deal: Real Deal Country
May 23: Country Soul Entertainment 

Special Events
March 26: Shining Rock Academy School Dance
March 26: Climate Change Coalition Meeting
May 8-10: Carolina Readiness Heritage Life Skills 
May 15-18: International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts

Folkmoot’s expanded programming initiatives have been made possible by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Evergreen Packaging. 

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community.  The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville. Staff can be reached by phone at (828) 452-2997 or by email at

Camp Folkmoot 2020 set for July (Postponed)

Camp Folkmoot 2020

The Folkmoot Festival provides communities throughout western North Carolina the opportunity to build a deeper sense of connection and respect with people from around the world while celebrating cultural arts.  

An important aspect of the Festival is its engagement of youth and families in the Folkmoot experience. One such opportunity Camp Folkmoot, is designed to bring regional students, groups, and families together with local and international performance troupes. Camp Folkmoot is a one-day dance camp for kids and teens between 4thand 12th grades. At Camp Folkmoot, participants have opportunities to share their own cultural heritage, learn the history of the traditional dance and what makes each participating culture unique. Further, Camp Folkmoot offers storytelling instruction, “make and take” for students to provide opportunities to create cultural crafts. Students will also make lanterns for the Hazelwood Lantern Parade. 

The camp is open to youth of all abilities who are inspired by folklore and cultural arts. Participants will learn basic concepts and movements, gain an appreciation for the similarities and differences between cultures and hear captivating stories behind the dances of each international cultural group. 

The 2019 Camp Folkmoot takes place on Friday, July 24 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Folkmoot Friendship Center. The cost is $30.00 for students and $10 for any accompanying adult. All camp participants are invited to attend the Queen Auditorium Matinee performance of all festival groups, starting at 2 pm at no additional costs. Families and youth groups are encouraged to register soon to save a space for your child. Snacks, lunch, and drinks will be provided. Discounts are available to groups of four or more if registered together. 

For more information, contact Caroline Brown Williamson at Register at or by calling 828-452-2997.

Folkmoot is a 9-day celebration of world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer across the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performances, special events, parades and workshops with over 200 dancers and musicians from 7 countries alongside Cherokee and Appalachian performers. Performers demonstrate cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.

Sponsored by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation

Luck O’ the Irish Party at BearWaters, featuring Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes, Raffle Drawing

Aubrey Eisenman and the Clydes

Join Folkmoot and BearWaters Brewing Company for a Saint Patricks Day-themed party with Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes on Saturday, March 14, at Bearwaters Brewery in Canton! Festivities begin at 7pm, with raffle drawing is at 9. (Ticket holders need not be present to win).

Between now and the event, Folkmoot friends will sell 500 tickets at $20 each for a chance to win $1,000. Proceeds benefit Folkmoot’s year-round programming initiatives including the Southern Storytellers Series, Songwriters in the Round, Friendship Dinners and production of community-wide events at the Folkmoot Center.

Do you have the luck of the Irish? Call Folkmoot, 828-452-2997 to learn more or purchase your Luck O’ the Irish ticket through the link below. Paper tickets can be mailed or picked up at the Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community. The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville.

Chinese Tea Ceremony with Xiaoli

Chinese Tea Ceremony with Xiaoli at the Folkmoot Center, Waynesville, NC
Local expert Xiaoli Youker will give a short presentation about the 2,000-year history of tea in China and discuss the cultural and social dimensions of tea consumption in the Chinese-speaking world today. Following the presentation, Mrs. Youker will demonstrate a traditional tea ceremony using green, black, oolong, and pu’er tea varieties, which will be served to participants in authentic Chinese teacups.

Reservations required, donations accepted at the door

Click here to register:

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series: Scott Miller, Irene Kelley & Tim Stafford

Irene Kelley, Scott Miller, Tim Stafford at Folkmoot

The Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series begins its 2020 season with Scott Miller, Irene Kelley and Tim Stafford live in the round at Queen Auditorium on the Folkmoot Center campus.

In the Round performances are particularly intimate, and feature musicians in a circle in the middle of the room, with the audience seated all around. The performers trade songs and stories about the songwriting trade. The style was popularized by the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and most of our performers have played that venue many times.

Now almost 25 years old, the Great Balsam series is in its second year at Queen Auditorium, and launches 2020 with a stellar performance featuring Irene Kelley, who has written for Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Loretta Lynn, Scott Miller, formerly of the V-Roys and Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, and Tim Stafford, who was part of Alison Krauss and Union Station and and a founding member of Blue Highway.

The 2020 Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot is sponsored by Suzanne and Alan Klimek.

All music at the Folkmoot Center | Queen Auditorium is sponsored in part by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

Irene Kelley and her current “Benny’s TV Repair” album on Mountain Fever Records earned 5 nominations in 4 categories at the SPBGMA Awards and was recently featured on the cover of the of The Bluegrass Standard magazine.

Irene’s many songwriting accomplishments include hits like “A Little Bluer Than That,” for Alan Jackson, as well as songs performed and recorded by Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White, Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, the Osborne Brothers and many more. After three decades of work, Irene has assumed her place in a long line of great American songwriters.

She’s been seen and heard at the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival, IBMA, Folk Alliance International, the Americana Music Festival, the Equi Blues Music Fest (France), Avila Beach Music Fest (CA), BayFest (AL) and many other venues.

Syndicated on-air appearances include Acoustic Café, NPR’s Live at Mountain Stage, CMT, and GAC as well as airplay on Country, Bluegrass, Folk and Americanaradio stations worldwide.

She also was a recipient of ASCAP’s Most Performed Songs Award in 1983 for “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This” Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White.

Recently inducted to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, fiery roots-rock singer/songwriter Scott Miller (The Scott Miller) has returned to his native Virginia to tend the family farm while continuing to release and perform new music informed by that rural area, history, and Appalachia.

Miller has recently toured with Patty Griffin, Robbie Fulks, Paul Thorn, Robin & Linda Williams, and American Aquarium.

In 1994, Miller helped form a band called the V-Roys, which was the first act signed on Steve Earle’s label, E-Squared Records.
After the V-Roys split up in ’99, Miller formed a new band, Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, which was briefly the house band on Blue Collar TV. The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote of Miller’s first albums after the V-Roys as “strong, folk-infused songs” in which “the boozy charm of his music was innocuous.”

In addition to solo shows, Miller plays some shows with a full Commonwealth band lineup, but more often plays trio shows with what he has come to call the Commonwealth Ladies Auxiliary (bass player Bryn Davies and fiddler Rayna Gellert).

Miller’s songs reflect his degrees in American History and Russian Studies, with references to his home, family, history, geography, writers and Appalachia.

After developing his skills with several bands through the 1980’s, Tim Stafford joined Alison Krauss’s band Union Station in 1990 and helped record a Grammy-winning CD, Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder, 1992). Tim left to form Blue Highway in 1994 with Wayne Taylor, Shawn Lane, Rob Ickes and Jason Burleson. The band is one of the most decorated and influential in bluegrass history: nominated for three Grammys, winner of a Dove Award, and nearly 30 IBMA Awards. In March 2016, Blue Highway was named the most popular bluegrass artist in history in an online poll by Bluegrass Today.

Tim is a prolific songwriter, with over 250 songs recorded. He co-wrote IBMA’s 2008 Song of the Year, “Through the Window of a Train,” and was named IBMA’s Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and 2017. In addition, he is a sought-after studio musician, having recorded with over 75 artists in addition to Blue Highway, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Jorma Kaukonen and many more. Tim was named SPBGMA Guitar Performer of the Year in 2001 and 2015.

He has produced many award-winning records for various artists, including Kenny Chesney, The Infamous Stringdusters (IBMA 2007 co-album of the Year) , and Knee Deep in Bluegrass, the Acutab Sessions (IBMA 2001 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year).

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Chris Cooper: “Election 2020”

Cultural Crash Course: Election 2020 with Dr. Chris Cooper

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that it’s an election year. And you’re probably aware that voting for the Presidency is part of that election. But what about the other elections on the ballot? And what does all of this tell us about the health of our democracy? In this Crash Course, Dr. Chris Cooper will take us on a tour of what we know (and what we don’t) about American democracy as we approach the 2020 elections. While we’ll certainly talk about the Presidential election (how could we avoid it?), the focus will be on elections in North Carolina—the swingiest of the swing states.

Cooper, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, provides expert commentary on matters involving politics and political science in (and beyond) North Carolina.

Cooper’s research focuses on state politics and policy, political communication, political psychology and southern politics. He publishes that research frequently and is commonly seen and heard on media in Western North Carolina during political seasons.

He was named the 2013 “Professor of the Year” in North Carolina by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. That year, he also was honored as one of the top professors in the University of North Carolina system by its Board of Governors.

Among his innovative teaching techniques has been the publication of student research in Wikipedia and exchanging teaching duties via Skype with a professor at another university in a different state.

Earning his bachelor’s at Winthrop University, Cooper received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee.

Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by VisitNCSmokies.comThe MountaineerVicinitus Haywood, and Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Folkmoot welcomes Viking Stained Glass

Folkmoot Center Viking Stained Glass John Nelson

In the fall, Folkmoot welcomed John Nelson and his company Viking Stained Glass to one of our leased studio spaces at the Folkmoot Center. John, who splits his business between Waynesville and Charlotte, does restoration of historic stained glass and new designs. He’s shown here with a historic window from Hemphill Baptist Church, along with two of his new pieces.

You can contact John at vikingstainedglass (at)

Interested in a space? Reach out to us here at the Folkmoot Center.


Apply Now to be a 2020 Festival Guide or Intern

Folkmoot is in Search of Friendly, Culturally Inquisitive Festival Guides and Interns for Folkmoot 2020

Folkmoot is seeking approximately 20 guides and five interns for our Folkmoot 2020 festival scheduled for July 18 – 26, 2020. 

Guides are cultural ambassadors for Folkmoot’s visiting international performance groups. Guides will assist throughout the festival by helping with language challenges, daily schedules, navigation of American culture while also ensuring a positive experience for Folkmoot festival performers. Additionally, guides assist with festival operations by supporting seamless performances, transportation transitions, and meal coordination while also ensuring our guests’ compliance with Folkmoot guidelines and NC laws.  

Students interested in international studies, language, music, political science, folk arts, communications, and world travel are encouraged to apply. Full guides must be 18 – 25 years of age and reside at the Folkmoot Friendship Center during the festival, accompanying their groups 24-hours a day. Guides are provided with lodging and transportation, four meals each day, and are paid a stipend. Extensive training precedes guide duty beginning Tuesday, July 14; the festival begins on July 18 and services are completed on July 26. 

Folkmoot internships are also available for graduating seniors and regional college students in festival operations, event, sound and stage production, and marketing. Interns are stipended positions and students 18 years and over have the opportunity to reside at the Folkmoot Friendship Center beginning July 1, 2020, through the end of the festival. Interested students should email their resume, a professional recommendation and cover letter to

All Folkmoot Festival workers are required to attend training on cultural sensitivity, cross-cultural communications, leadership, teamwork and festival operations. 

Applications are available at and are due by February 28, 2020. For more information please contact Austin Helms, by phone, 828-452-2997 or by email, 

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community.  The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville. 

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Yiqing Yang speaks on Elder Abuse from a Multicultural Perspective

Join local experts for Folkmoot’s popular new series, Cultural Crash Courses, featuring lectures on a variety of current cultural issues, including global politics, race, immigration, gender, climate change, technology and multiculturalism. Content is presented as a 45-minute community lecture followed by questions, answers and discussion. Crash Courses began in 2019 and continue on a monthly basis, with a full schedule of topics and speakers available online at 

On Wednesday, February 12, Dr. Yiqing Yang from Western Carolina University speaks on the topic “Elder Abuse from a Multicultural Perspective.”

In the United States, older adults from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds define, experience, and seek to remedy elder abuse differently. Internationally, we see similar variations across countries. Dr. Yang will discuss these issues from a multicultural perspective.

Dr. Yang is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Western, where she’s taught since 2017. Prior to WCU, she Associate Professor at the University of Utah, where she earned her Ph.D. She earned an M.B.A. from the University of Liverpool and a Bachelor’s Degree from Nanjing University.

Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by, The Mountaineer, Vicinitus Haywood, Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10 ($3 for students). Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Folkmoot is a year-round cultural organization located in the historic Hazelwood School, 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville, NC. Parking is available along Virginia Ave., in front of the Center, or by circling to the rear of the building.

Meet Austin Helms, Folkmoot’s newest staff member

Austin Helms

Austin Helms, of Lenoir, is Folkmoot’s newest staff member, joining us as Marketing and Programs Assistant.

A senior at Western Carolina University, Austin studies Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration. She’s Treasurer for Western’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and will graduate in May. 

Previously, Austin completed an internship with the City of Lenoir, NC, where she worked with the Public Relations Information Officer and provided updates to the citizens of Lenoir about upcoming events and new business openings. 

One of Austin’s passions has been to work for a non-profit organization, and she’ll work with our Folkmoot team, volunteers, and guides we prepare for our annual Folkmoot festival this summer! 

Detail-oriented and outgoing, Austin enjoys spending time with her labrador, family, and friends, being outdoors, and traveling. 

Join Austin for a trip to Harrah’s Cherokee bowling alley on January 31, 2020 at 6:30p.m. 

Send all RSVP’s to