17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival
"A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage" in Franklin, North Carolina
Saturday, August 19, 2023 • Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center
Returning this year on August 19, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County will partner with Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center to bring a fun filled, historic day as we step into the past and embrace life as it was years ago! The 17th Annual Franklin Area Festival, “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage” is a vehicle to provide living history experiences that make our heritage come alive through demonstrations and hands-on activities. Three new elements added to this year’s event that will help teach us more about our culture and folkways of the region: the “Heritage Village”, Blue Ridge Public Radio/Foxfire Mountain Heritage Museum’s Women in Appalachia project and beginning Square-Dancing Lessons.
Sponsored by Suminski Family Books, the “Heritage Village” will house a campsite on the field where the Southeastern Civilian Living Historians will share their skills of how our ancestors lived: flax to fibers demonstration, spinning/weaving, cooking/food preservation, dye pots, carpenter, log splitting, wood carving, agriculture, medicinal herbs, planting by the signs, home making, mattress ticking, broom making, gourd carving, & more!
The Southeastern Civilian Living Historians (SCLH) is a non-profit organization founded in March 2020 that is located in Salisbury, NC. Its members are dedicated to research and education of colonial life. SCLH provides living demonstrations of civilian life skills, folkways, and clothing for different historical periods in the southeastern states of the United States of America (beginning with the year 1600 through the end of World War II) for the purpose of preserving and sharing such historical knowledge.
Also, a new event at this year’s festival, if you are a woman, you can take part in preserving stories about how women lived in the early days when our communities were settled. The sharing of our oral histories continues to help define and capture our past. In an effort to record this important history before it is lost, Blue Ridge Public Radio (BPR) is partnering with the Foxfire Mountain Heritage Museum to launch a campaign to collect stories about women in Appalachia.
You are invited to stop by and share your personal narrative or give voice to a recollection of a woman you know who lives/lived in the Appalachia region (Western North Carolina, Northern Georgia, Eastern South Carolina, Northern Alabama, Eastern Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and Southern Virginia). This effort coincides with the release of a new book, The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women: Stories of Landscape and Community in the Mountain South. You can find out more information about this project at bpr.org/womeninappalachia.
Another new activity at this year’s event will encourage toe-tapping not only for those involved but also those just sitting back and taking a moment to relax. As we learn more about the lives of early Macon County residents, we get glimpses of their varied ancestry in the music, dance and traditions that remain today. After working long hours from sun-up to sun-down, communities frequently gathered in the evenings to unwind through music and dance.
This year’s festival will give everyone an opportunity to learn one of the most popular Appalachian dances, the square dance, which is “an American hybrid that incorporates elements of dance traditions from a variety of cultures,” according to Phil Jamison in the book, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance. Jamison stated the square dance “is built on a foundation of Scots-Irish reels, and it includes elements of English, French, African American, and Native American dance.”
For the novice to the accomplished, beginning Square Dance Lessons will be held inside the gym at 11:00 am and 1:30 pm. Old-time music will be provided by Kornbread Kreek and caller Sarah Burkey will lead the group dancing where individuals of all ages and dancing abilities are invited to participate! We encourage you to jump right in and embrace this centuries old favorite past-time in a hands-on way!
Come join us for a full day of activities at the Franklin Area Folk Festival where you can engage in many other additional living history experiences - heritage demonstrations, NC 25th Infantry Civil War Re-Enactors Camp, border collie demonstrations, kids’ games and activities, and so much more! With our location nestled in the Cowee West’s Mill Historic District (51 Cowee School Drive), the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center “creates a unique backdrop for festival demonstrators to exhibit the everyday skills, crafts and music of our ancestors, which has become a trademark of the Franklin Area Folk Festival.”
This FREE event is co-sponsored annually by the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center and is made possible by grants from the Franklin/Nantahala Tourism Development Committee, the Tourism Development Authority of the Town of Franklin, Arts Council of Macon County and the NC Arts Council along with funding from local businesses and individuals. For more information call (828) 369-4080.
At the conclusion of the festival, we invite you to continue your journey and head back to downtown Franklin Gazebo on the Square for TRUCKS & TUNES (4:00 pm – 9:00 pm) featuring free live music and a great variety of tasty foods for sale. More information can be found at townoffranklinnc.com.
“Heritage is the living part of us; more than just reading or learning, it is a part of who we are.” The Franklin Area Folk Festival is a vehicle to provide living history experiences that make our heritage come alive through demonstrations and hands-on activities.
Kids Activities begin at 10:00 am
» KIDS' ACTIVITY TENT (PDF)
At the Kids’ Activity Tent located mid-field, kids of all ages are encouraged to play old-fashioned lawn games such as egg races, sack races, and tug-o-war. At designated times under the tent, kids can try their hand at various heritage skills like milking the “cow”, corn shellin’ and making heritage crafts. Plus, additional kid focused activities will be scattered around the grounds with lots of opportunities for hands-on interaction. Plans include: the Smoky Mtn. Quilter’s Guild Make-it/Take-it sewing item, Border Collie demonstrations, homemade craft projects, exhibits of traditional toys, close encounters with friendly goats, pottery projects in the pottery room, weaving in the hall by Cowee Textiles, clothes washing station and much more.
Kids young and old are sure to enjoy this fun filled, historic day as we embrace life as it was in the early days. Nestled in Cowee West’s Mill Historic District at 51 Cowee School Drive in Franklin, NC, the Center is a unique showcase for demonstrating the everyday skills, crafts and music of our ancestors.
For more information call (828) 369-4080.
Come learn about the culture and folkways of our Southern Appalachian Mountains by engaging in one of the many living history experiences, a trademark of the Franklin Area Folk Festival, “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage.”
2023 Franklin Area Folk Festival More Details Added Often!
» 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival Program (PDF) See all the details of the 2023 Franklin Area Folk Festival
» 2023 Entertainment Schedule (PDF) Full schedule of all entertainment activities at the Franklin Area Folk Festival
» Learn to Square Dance at the 2023 Franklin Area Folk Festival (PDF) 11:00am to 1:30pm Cowee School Auditorium. Live music by Kornbread Kreek. Caller Sarah Burkey
» 2023 Franklin Area Folk Festival Jammin' Sessions (PDF) Led by Kornbread Kreek. Inside Auditorium from 3:00 to 4:00pm. Bring your instruments and join us!
» 2023 ALL Kids Activities on Campus (PDF) An overview of everything for your children to enjoy at the 2023 Franklin Area Folk Festival.
» 2023 Kids' Activity Tent (PDF) Your children will enjoy the many activities planned for the day including free games and opportunities to try their had at various heritage skills!
Thank You to Our Sponsors
The 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival is co-presented by The Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center with grateful appreciation to the many volunteers who made it happen!
Thank you to these businesses and organizations for their support:
Southeastern Civilians Living Historians, Cowee Baptist Church, Cowee Volunteer Fire Dept, Macon County Sheriff’s Dept, Macon County EMS, Snowhill UMC, Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, Windy Gap Baptist Church, Shuler’s Mulch Yard, Macon County Transit, Tony Angel Media, New Century Scholars (Pam Collins), 1st Presbyterian Church – Franklin, Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Center (Keith Bowers), Mitchell Farms, Franklin H. S. FFA, Macon County 4-H & Goat Club, Junaluskee Masonic Lodge & Smoky Mountain Shrine Club, Town of Franklin, Lewis Penland, Macon County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and NC DOT.
A very special thank you to the heritage demonstrators who are the heart and soul of this festival!