The 14th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival, “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage” will be held on Saturday, Aug. 18,  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. Nestled in Cowee West’s Mill Historic District at 51 Cowee School Drive in Franklin, the Center is a unique showcase for demonstrating the everyday skills, crafts and music of our ancestors.  

Celebrating all things Appalachian, this family-friendly festival features live heritage demonstrations, Appalachian crafts, jammin’ sessions that feature old-time mountain music and bluegrass, Civil War Reenactors/Camp, kids’ activities, food, textiles and more. Artisans inside Cowee Center will exhibit Macon County’s rich heritage by demonstrating and exhibiting pottery, textiles, painting, and local history. By linking the future to the past, the Franklin Area Folk Festival sponsors hands-on activities to allow visitors to experience what mountain life was like way back when. 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, the original World’s Largest Quilt – the village blacksmith, flint napping, woodworking/woodcarving, Border Collies’ demonstrations, farmer’s market, oldtime music and more. Performances of mountain music, gospel and bluegrass tunes exemplify a very important cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. In addition to performance stages inside and outside, the Southeastern Bluegrass Association (SEBA) will provide jammin’ sessions. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their instruments and join in. Inside on the gym stage, children ages 18 and under are encouraged to compete in the Mountain Youth Talent Contest (performances in traditional Appalachian music, storytelling and dance) sponsored by Jackson County 4-H with support from Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (sign-up in advance at FranklinFolkFestival.com.) 

Once known as the Quilting Capital of the World, displays from the Smoky Mountain Quilter’s Guild including kids’ make-it/take-it project and the Cowee Quilters will help showcase this important heritage.

New this year, is an area for lessons/hands-on exposure to various instruments such as the dulcimer, banjo, etc. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., an Antique Car Show will be held downtown at the lower level parking lot of Town Hall. (Contact John Waldroop at (828) 342-2506 for more information or if you have a car you’d like to bring to the show.) A free shuttle will be provided near the car show where people can come check out the antique cars, stroll around downtown and hop on a bus to transport you out to the festival at Cowee School. Or if people prefer to make the scenic drive out to Cowee valley, free parking will be designated offsite with a shuttle to the front door of Cowee School.

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 Cowee Community Development Organization, Rickman’s Store, The Scottish Tartan Museum, Macon County Historical Museum, Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, Blue Ridge Heritage Music Trail/SEBA and others. The festival is made possible by a grant from the Franklin/Nantahala Tourism Development Committee, the Tourism Development Authority of the Town of Franklin and the Macon County Arts Council along with funding from local businesses and individuals. For more information visit: FranklinFolkFestival.com or call (828) 524-6564.

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