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“A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage” theme of 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival

The 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival, “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage”, will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2023 from 10 am to 4 pm at Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. Free parking will be designated offsite with a shuttle to drop you off right at the front door of Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. 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. And it is a FREE event!

What can you expect?

Celebrating all things Appalachian, this family-friendly festival features live heritage demonstrations, Appalachian crafts, jammin’ sessions that feature old-time mountain music and bluegrass, kids’ activities, Heritage Village, food, textiles & more! Artisans inside Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center will exhibit Macon County’s rich heritage by teaching us about pottery, textiles, painting, and local history. By linking our future to our past, the Franklin Area Folk Festival sponsors hands-on activities to allow visitors to experience what mountain life was like years ago. These folks learned at their parents’ knee woodcarving, moonshinin’, weaving and spinning, and all the many other heritage skills they’ll be demonstrating.

Some additional highlights include special quilts on display (like the famous Cabarras Quilt, The Celebrate America Autograph Quilt, etc.), woodworking and woodcarving, Border Collies’ demonstrations, old-time music and more. Performances of mountain music, gospel and bluegrass tunes by various groups will exemplify a very important cultural heritage of the Appalachian region and are sure to be crowd-pleasers. On-going entertainment is scheduled throughout the day. On the inside stage, we hope you will take part as Kornbread Kreek hosts Square Dancing Lessons at 11 am and 1:30 pm and we welcome all musicians to come join them in the Jammin’ Session in the auditorium from 3 – 4 pm.

The Carolina Thunder Mugs will host the outside stage as they provide live music  reminiscent of the early days when these mountains were settled. Once known as the Quilting Capital of the World, displays from the Smoky Mountain Quilter’s Guild will help showcase this important heritage. Also, there will be vendors selling Appalachian crafts in addition to demonstrators with their goods available for purchase.

New this year – the Heritage Village will come alive with a “campsite” on the field where the Southeastern Civilian Living Historians will share their stories and skills.

Returning as in previous years, the 25th NC Infantry Civil War Camp will help educate us all about the life of a soldier (firing demonstrations and campfire cooking). They will also have raffle tickets available to purchase a chance to win a reproduction Spiller and Burr black powder revolver made by Pieta.

Kid’s Activities begin at 10:00 am

Beginning at 10:00 am 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, 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.

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.” This FREE event is co-sponsored annually by the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center with support from the community, local area museums, Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, Arts Council of Macon County, NC Arts Council/Cowee School, Macon County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and others. This festival is made possible by grants from the Franklin/Nantahala Tourism Development Committee, the Tourism Development Authority of the Town of Franklin along with funding from local businesses and individuals. For more information visit: or call (828) 369-4080.

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