Tell just about anyone around here that you’re headed to Asheville, Boone, Blowing Rock or Cherokee, and they know where you’re going and likely have been there themselves. Tell someone you are going to Waynesville, and just about everyone says “where’s Waynesville?” Tell someone you are going to Waynesville for Folkmoot and they just get confused. “Where for what?”
When I was photographing for Our State and WNC magazines I took photographs to accompany articles about small towns in the western part of NC. Waynesville has become our favorite mountain town for a number of years and we keep returning. We’ve become friends with the couple who owns a small motel there, interestingly the same motel where my family used to stay when we visited from Pennsylvania. Waynesville has several restaurants we really like, a coffee roaster that makes my favorite coffee, and is ideally located for access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Every year in July, Waynesville hosts Folkmoot. Webster defines a ‘folkmoot’ as a general assembly of the people (as of a shire) in early England” Folkmoot in Waynesville has traditionally been a two week festival of international friendship and fellowship, highlighted by dance and musical performances. The Folkmoot organization has recently begun to evolve into a year-round cultural center, with programs and events that celebrate diversity, encourage cultural conversation, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages.
We have been to Waynesville during Folkmoot several times in the past but have limited our participation to the Parade of Nations that is held one Saturday. This year we also purchased tickets and attended the opening ceremony, where all of the performers are featured in an indoor (and air-conditioned!) setting. I didn’t photograph there, but we did attend the parade the following day. I think I would like to eventually participate more, but for now we can be glad that we did something we hadn’t done previously.
Here is a small selection of photos from the parade. It is a lot of fun to attend, and I think I captured some photos that represent what it is all about!