Beauty, talent, and native music combine to make Folkmoot USA a unique international festival. In fact, it has been named the North Carolina “State International Festival” and annually attracts over 100,000 visitors to the Western end of the state.  It also has the distinction of having been named a “Top Twenty Event in the Southeast.”


The 2013 edition will mark the thirtieth annual celebration of cultures from around the world.  Each year troupes of singers, dancers, and musicians from as many as a dozen countries converge in Waynesville, NC to share their cultural heritage.  In addition to their performances, there are many opportunities for the performers to meet the locals, get acquainted, and learn about their host country.


On Saturday, April 27, 2013, the Huffington Post reported that in 2012, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park led all national parks with over 9.6 million visitors. The most visited area of the National Park System was the Blue Ridge Parkway, with over 15.2 million visitors. Both attractions are easily accessible from the mountain hamlet of Waynesville.


Waynesville (population est. 10,000) is located in the Great Smoky Mountains between Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN.  It is a popular tourist destination year-round, especially for Folkmoot and the changing of the leaves in autumn.  Located near the Cherokee Indian Reservation the Waynesville area features many other nationally popular venues, such as the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley. Stay in or near Waynesville and you’ll be a short ride from Deal’s Gap and the world famous Tail of the Dragon.


The performers from each country participate in an opening parade, numerous public and private performances, workshops, and the closing candlelight ceremony at Lake Junaluska.  This year’s festival features invitees from France (Stilt-Walkers), Martinique, Thailand, Japan, Slovakia, Mexico, Canada (Scottish Highland Dance) and Paraguay.


Art Hoffman, recently named one of Folkmoot’s official videographers for 2013, will be on hand to document the celebration, many of the performances, and some “behind-the-scenes” action. Over the last few seasons, Art’s video clips have documented this unique event and attracted over 11,000 views. One of his best features the Burundi dancers in their 2011 appearance in which they invited audience members to dance with them. If you appear in this video, Art will promise to include you in one of his videos this year at the Saturday International street fair on July 20, 2013.


Art is part of a contingent that comes to Folkmoot each year from Louisville, KY. This year that group will likely number close to 20 (ethnic dancers all) who will be attending the festival; it is estimated these fabulously flush Folkmoot fans, farm  fresh from the Kentucky Derby will pump between one and two billion dollars into the local Waynesville economy.


While details of the performances may fade with time, I enjoy photographing the faces of both performers and audience members.  Whether the charm of a cute smile or the confidence of a regal glance, the Faces of Folkmoot are unforgettable.


Folkmoot 2013  runs from July 17 – 28. More details are available from the Folkmoot website, HERE.