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FolkMoot to return to Jonesborough on July 28

Last year, Folkmoot USA dazzled Jonesborough audience members with its colorful combination of international dance and music.
Now the word is out. North Carolina’s favorite festival is coming back to Tennessee. And it should be better than ever.
“Last year was the first year the festival crossed state lines, and we were absolutely blown away by the performances,” said Alicia Phelps, Jonesborough’s director of tourism and marketing. “Just to hear the beating of the drums and special instruments that the performers had made in their own countries was quite an experience.”
Better yet, Folkmoot organizers ­— whose overriding goal each year is to share international cultures with various audiences through dance and music — were so pleased at their 2011 reception in Tennessee’s oldest town, they wanted to return. And that, according to Phelps is making everybody happy.
“It really ties in with our town’s role as ‘Storytelling Capital of the World,’” Phelps said. “These dancers tell a story about themselves and their culture. It is really wonderful to get to see that.”
As part of an event celebrating 29 years this summer, Jonesborough’s Folkmoot performance will be held Saturday, July 28, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Jonesborough Visitors Center and will feature dancers and musicians from two different groups of performers drawn from nearly a dozen countries represented this year.
The countries for 2012 include Belgium, Indonesia, Serbia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Ukraine, New Zealand, France, Hawaii and the United States.
Tickets are available online through for $16 for adults and $8 for seniors and children ages 12 and under. They can also be purchased at the Visitors Center or by calling 753-1010, with an added convenience fee of $17.30 for adults and $9.30 for seniors and children ages 12 and under. Tickets are limited.
Of course, the greatest encouragement may be coming from last year’s audience members, those who went and were surprised and delighted — and can’t wait to bring back their friends.
“It was a spectacular experience, and it was certainly worth the time that I spent there,” said Shirley Lilly, a member of the Jonesborough-based Tuesday Garden Club. “It’s a unique type of event for Jonesborough. And each group was completely different from the other, and each performed its own story.”
Alderman Terry Countermine was also impacted by the performance.
“I had never really heard of Folkmoot before, but because I love music and wanted to support the town, I wanted to attend,” Countermine said. “It was fantastic. It was one of the best shows, and it was more than I thought it would be. You learned about different cultures, and about their music and their dances. Most of us had never seen anything like it.”
Even Phelps, who helped organize last year’s event, was surprised at the intensity of feeling produced by the festival.
“I was absolutely awed by the impact that came from watching these performers,” Phelps said. “You sense their community pride and their closeness to each other. It was an extremely emotional experience for everyone involved.”
It’s an experience she hopes to see again this year, only in greater number.
“Regardless of what groups come, they are going to put on a show. Through their music and dance, they are taking you on a cultural journey with them,” Phelps said. “Trust me. It’s a journey you really want to be a part of.
For more information, call 753-1010 or visit
— Lisa Whaley is a free-lance writer contracted by the Town of Jonesborough to write “Talk of the Town.” Have a suggestion for a topic for the column? Call Town Hall at 753-1031 or e-mail [email protected]