Forty-odd days and counting to Folkmoot 2021. Are you ready?

Someone who is supercharged about the challenge he finds himself in and eager to introduce festival die-hards to a new performance philosophy when Folkmoot 2021 takes over Waynesville, July 22-25, is the organization’s new Executive Director Glenn Fields.

New festival philosophy — what do you mean?

“Well, I am interested to see the reaction of longtime Folkmoot fans to the lineup of bands we’ll be bringing in and our ‘get up out of your seats and boogie with us’ (kind of vibe),” Fields said.

There still will be dancers, music and the momentum of previous Folkmoot gatherings, Fields said, however, more than ever, he is hoping that this year fans turn out to share in the spirit of community Folkmoot has fostered over 37 years.

“We need the community’s help right now to be reborn,” Fields said. “This is a very critical time for us. If we can’t make this festival be a success, create the sense of goodwill that Folkmoot enjoyed before COVID then the organization may be in trouble.”

This year, what normally is a 10-day celebration of international cultural heritage has been whittled down to a four-day festival focusing on the diverse artistic expressions rooted across America.

“It’s been said a million times that this county is a melting pot and a country of immigrants and I 100% believe that,” Fields said. “We’re in a unique time right now and I have made the decision to focus on the cultural diversity of the Untied States.”

In that vein, festival-goers can expect performances by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee; the Deeksha School of Performing Arts with an emphasis on Bharatanatyam or Indian classical dance; Suah African dance theater; Trinity Irish Dance Company; Los Texmaniacs; the Bailey Mountain Cloggers; and Fields’ own Grammy-nominated band The Revelers.

“If the community of Western North Carolina wants Folkmoot to survive, it will,” Fields added. “And all I can say is hats off to y’all. You should be proud of what you have created here. I hope people appreciate what a wonderful thing they have in Folkmoot; how unique it is to have this kind of an organization that preserves cultural heritage.”

Building back up

On July 22, Folkmoot will open with an evening fundraiser aimed to build back some of the organization’s reserves.

“The tickets for the opening event will be very limited and a little more expensive,” said Fields, balancing the price tag with the fact that the non-profit has not been able to generate any revenue over the last 18 months due to the pandemic.

In contrast, the next day, on July 23, Lake Junaluska’s Nancy Waldon Pavilion will host seating for over 200 and an open green space where families are encouraged to come and bring blankets to enjoy the picnic-style atmosphere.

Food trucks will be set up for those seeking to enjoy dinner before the show starts at 7 p.m.

Looking forward

Perhaps what Fields hopes to convey most about how he looks upon Folkmoot, the organization and the upcoming festival is to say: “This is not my organization. I do not view Folkmoot as belonging to me. I view it as I am the custodian of Folkmoot right now. The organization and the festival belong to the community of Western North Carolina and the people who are passionate about this organization.”

In addition to the July events, Fields is working on a fall concert series, as well as looking for creative ways to use the space inside the Folkmoot Friendship Center located at 112 Virginia Ave.

“I have stepped into the ginormous shoes of previous director Angie Schwab, and as she was looking at the Friendship Center as a place for artists, so am I,” he said.

“We have event space for rent for craftspeople at the Friendship Center. If you need a home for your pottery or jewelry-making business. If you have a book reading coming up. If you do anything relating to art and culture, we’d love to talk with you to see how we can help make it work.”

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