When Dr. Clinton Border traveled with a local square dance team to a folk festival in Sidmouth, England, in 1973, inspiration hit. The Waynesville surgeon became determined to bring an international folk festival to the isolated mountains of Western North Carolina, an area rich in heritage but lacking in diversity.
Eleven years later, with help from international contacts and community leaders, Folkmoot USA was born. Since that time, the organization has hosted over 8,000 performers from 200 countries. And in 2003, it was designated by the N.C. General Assembly as the state’s official international folk festival.
“It’s always been about bringing together people from different cultures to this area where culture and tradition have always been a vital part of identity,” says Folkmoot Executive Director Evan Hatch.
Folkmoot’s Summerfest runs Thursday-Sunday, July 28-31, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center, the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds and downtown Waynesville. This year’s list of performers includes dance troupes and musicians representing the cultures of Ukraine, Venezuela, Africa, Cuba, Ireland and other countries, as well as local Southern Appalachian and Cherokee traditions.
Groups will perform all weekend long, kicking off with a fundraising banquet and gala at the Folkmoot Friendship Center on Thursday, July 28, at 5:30 p.m.
Along with ticketed shows Friday and Saturday, the free annual International Day Street Festival takes place Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with food and dance in downtown Waynesville. The festival will end with a performance and closing ceremony at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Sunday, July 31, 2-7 p.m.
In the continuing aftermath of COVID-19, festival officials had to reduce Folkmoot’s usual duration from two weeks to four days. But Hatch says that has allowed them to hold more small events throughout the year, including FolkmootLive! community concerts at the the Folkmoot Friendship Center’s Queen Auditorium.
The Folkmoot Friendship Center is at 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville, and the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds are at 3374 Soco Road, Maggie Valley. For more information or to buy tickets, go to avl.mx/bri.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will present The Way We See the World: Exploring Indigenous Representation in Film on Friday, July 22, at the Mountainside Theatre.
The event will feature screenings and conversations among leading Native filmmakers and storytellers. Participants include: Sterlin Harjo, executive producer/showrunner of the FX series “Reservation Dogs”; Brit Hensel and Keli Gonzales, director and producer, respectively, of the Sundance-selected short, ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught); Anthony Sneed, writer/director/producer of the short films Swipe and Stripper; and Peshawn Bread, screenwriter and one of the Sundance Institute’s Full Circle Kellogg Fellows.
“We speak often about the importance of self-representation at the museum, and self-representation in film and TV is also vitally important as we tell our story,” Shana Bushyhead Condill, museum executive director, says in a press release.
Films to be screened at the event include ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught), Swipe, Stripper and ᎡᏘᏴ ᏥᎾᎾᏛᏁᎮ ᎠᏰᎵᏐ ᎾᏛᏁᎰ (She Carries On), directed by Isaac Fowler and Tim Morris.
All proceeds will support the museum’s community learning and educational programming initiatives.
Mountainside Theatre is at 688 Drama Road, Cherokee. Ticket prices range $35-$50. To purchase tickets, visit avl.mx/bs7.
About a year ago, Asheville’s Debi Nevel Drecksler joined an online Yiddish group and started sharing stories of her life.
“The large group was comprised of many who grew up in my era with Jewish family, who like mine, emigrated to this country,” she says. “They identified with my stories and encouraged me to keep writing.”
The result is I Saw Bubbi in the Mirror: Life Stories of a Jewish Girl Raised in the 50s, which she recently self-published.
The book is not the first foray into writing for Drecksler, who has penned columns for the Asheville Citizen Times, Rapid River Magazine and SavvyDiscounts.com; she also published an e-book, Alexandra’s Adventure. But her latest publication, she notes, is more personal than any of her previous works.
“So many of my life experiences made me realize the influence my upbringing had on my life and what I learned from those that came before me,” she says. “It motivated me to write my life stories and share those lessons.”
The book has proved a success so far, selling copies as far away as Australia. Drecksler has been invited to do readings across the country.
“It is resonating with people of all religions and backgrounds,” she says. “I hope people will read my book and be inspired to share their own stories.”
For more information or to buy the book, go to avl.mx/brq.
The summer edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands will return to Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville for the first time since 2019, Thursday-Sunday, July 21-24. The show runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
The fair will feature contemporary and traditional artisans working in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media and jewelry. Members of the craft guild will fill the arena and concourse level of the downtown Asheville venue.
There will be a range of craft demonstrations with interactive activities for visitors and mountain musicians performing live on the arena stage.
The fall edition of the craft fair will be Oct. 13-16.
Run by the Southern Highland Craft Guild, its first Southern Highlands craft fair started in Gatlinburg, Tenn., in 1948.
Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or at avl.mx/brt.
Hendersonville Theatre will present The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Friday, July 22-Sunday, Aug. 7.
First produced on Broadway in 2005, the award-winning comedic musical tells the story of an eclectic group of middle schoolers who enter a spelling bee with hopes of winning a trip to the National Spelling Bee.
Hendersonville Theatre is at 229 S. Washington St. Tickets are $21-$30. Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount. For more information or to buy tickets, go to avl.mx/bs1 or call 828-692-1082.
The art gallery at Asheville Regional Airport is showcasing three local artists in its newest exhibit, Revive, which runs through Tuesday, Nov. 1.
The featured art will include copper sculptures by Mark Crossley, mixed media by Mark Flowers and pottery by Akira Satake.
Details about the program and how to apply can be found on the airport’s website at avl.mx/bs4.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a $129,788 block grant to the Asheville Area Arts Council as part of the county’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget. The council, the designated arts agency for Buncombe County, will allocate the money to local nonprofit arts organizations.
For more information, go to avl.mx/brw.
With additional reporting by Justin McGuire