Folkmoot USA

Folkmoot USA
Photo: folkmootusa.org
Folkmoot USA is an annual international folk festival held in the town of Waynesville, North Carolina, United States. It was founded in 1984 and declared North Carolina’s official international folk festival by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2003.

The Folkmoot USA festival was founded by Dr. Clinton Border, a local surgeon. In 1973, Dr. Border accompanied a square dance team from Waynesville to a folk festival held in the English city of Sidmouth. He was so impressed by the festival that he decided to organize a similar event in his home town. For the next few years, Border traveled to other folk festivals to gather information and develop contacts. He also enlisted the support of local community leaders. Finally, in 1983 Border presented his vision to Haywood County Government.

The first Folksmoot USA festival was held in 1984, the same year as North Carolina’s 400th birthday celebration. The name of the festival was derived from the Old English word folkmoot (folkmote) that means “a meeting of the people”. It was borrowed from a folk festival that used to be held in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The inaugural festival featured folk groups and performers from all over the United States and abroad. The participating artists represented nine countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, India, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Performers from the United States included Arthell “Doc” Watson, a guitarist, songwriter and singer of folk, bluegrass, country, blues and gospel music known for his flatpicking skills and deep knowledge of traditional American music.

Folksmoot USA has been growing ever since. Over more than 30 years of its history, more than 200 folk groups from 100 different countries have participated in the festival. According to the festival policy, it offers an entirely new line-up of performers every year. The organizers choose 10 to 12 performing groups from hundreds of applicants, focusing on different cultures each year. Countries that have not been represented at the festival get a higher priority in the selection process.

Folksmoot Festival is one of the largest cultural events in North Carolina. It draws over 75,000 attendees from all over the United States and contributes about $4 million to the state’s economy. The Southeast Tourism Society has included Folksmoot USA in its top 20 events list for two decades.

Folkmoot USA

Photo: folkmootusa.org



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