By Carolyn Schweitz
Against the colorful backdrop of autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the John C. Campbell Folk School celebrates Appalachian heritage with its annual fall festival. On Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, artisans, musicians, and dancers will gather in Brasstown to mark the festival’s 45th year. “The Folk School Fall Festival is a vibrant community celebration of our rich Appalachian heritage,” says Keather Gougler, marketing and communications director for the Folk School.
The festival will take place on the Folk School’s 300-acre campus. Attendees can learn more about the school, see inside the studios and visit the school’s History Center. There will be craft demos, along with bluegrass, old-time, country and gospel music, as well as clogging and Morris dancing. There will be pony rides, and alpacas will be present for petting. The Valley River Humane Society of Murphy will be at the festival with adoptable pets, but family pets should stay at home for the event. The Cherokee County Arts Council will also have art activities for kids in its tent.
Festival-goers can snack on food and dessert items with concession proceeds going to several nonprofits. Additionally, the Folk School’s Craft Shop will be open featuring the work of 600 local artists. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash, though some vendors do accept cards. Tickets to attend are $5 for adults, $3 for ages 12-17 and free for children under 12.
Those who cannot attend the festival can donate directly to the Folk School, which is a nonprofit. The food booths and all vendors raise money for community groups and local nonprofits. Almost 200 local volunteers and staff work to organize and staff the event. The musicians and performers, demonstrators, parking attendants and ticket booth staff are all volunteers. “The festival has a long tradition of community support,” says Gougler.