Appalachian clogging lives onFines Creek Flatfooters offer top-notch entertainment
Even though they aren't yet in high school, Cade Parkins, 13, and Lauren Singleton, 12, have already mastered more than many twice their age.
As veteran cloggers with the Fines Creek Flatfooters, both are comfortable performing before large crowds,have made great strides toward mastering a key component of Appalachian culture and are adept at serving as leaders for the younger children in the group.
The youngest member of the clogging group is 4, and Parkins is the oldest, though he can continue on until age 18, which the participants transfer to an adult group.
As the cloggers gathered before it was time to perform at a recent event, Parkins helped round them up and made sure they were in the proper places before taking the stage.
Both Parkins and Singleton are self-taught in the Appalachian mountain dancing tradition.
"When I was little, my grandmother would take me to the Fines Creek dances," Parkins said. "When I would see them clogging, I wanted to try it, so I just went out there with them."
Likewise, Singleton had no formal training in clogging.
Her grandmother took her to the Stompin' Grounds in Maggie Valley where bluegrass music and clogging are weekend attractions.
"I just picked it up," she said.
The group practices regularly at Pisgah Tire in Canton — a business owned by Singleton's parents. The weekend performances also provide plenty of opportunity to hone skills.
Sometimes the groups perform at benefit functions, but most of the time they collect a fee which helps offset expenses for travel and the various outfits they wear. The group has traveled to events out of state, but mostly performs in Western North Carolina.
Singleton's grandmother sews the skirts — all seven styles — for those in the group, and other parents pitch in to make sure the group gets to events.
"It's like a big family," Parkins said of the Fines Creek Flatfooters.
"It like it a lot," Singleton said of her time spent with the group. "It's a lot of fun to be with everyone."
The Fines Creek Flatfooters will perform at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, on the main stage in Stuart Auditorium during the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival at Lake Junaluska.