Folkmoot searches for gala site

By Vicki Hyatt | Mar 20, 2017
Photo by: Patrick Parton Last year's Folkmoot gala was held at Eaglenest Entertainment, which the organization recently learned won't be available for use this year.

Even though the Folkmoot opening gala is four months away, word that the scheduled venue for the opening event — Eaglenest Entertainment– won’t be available has dialed the planning task up a notch.

Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab said she would like to keep the event in Maggie Valley, but no venue was available.

“Things wouldn’t work out at the Festival Grounds because there was a weekend event scheduled,” Schwab said. “When we left the Stompin’ Grounds, we were told we couldn’t come back, and I’m taking him at his word.”

Since the planned gala venue isn’t available, the organization began brainstorming about other possibilities. The event was held at Haywood Community College one year, but Schwab said the school venue lacked a gala atmosphere. There are already events scheduled at Lake Junaluska, so the place now being strongly considered is the Folkmoot Center.

“We want to bring people to the Folkmoot property because we’re developing a cultural property. We would like all kinds of events on the block, so we’re looking at cost of having the gala on the green space behind the center,” Schwab explained.

The problem is the property behind the organization-owned building was retained by the Haywood County School system.

While the property has been rented on many past occasions such as for the Halloween events or other Folkmoot gatherings, the gala has a tradition of serving alcohol to the couples who pay $150 to attend.

“Most of those attending are over 60 and it is not a big drinking crowd, but we’ve had champagne and wine and it would be breaking tradition to not serve alcohol,” Schwab said.

The problem with a gala in the green space behind the Folkmoot Center is that the school system has a policy prohibiting alcohol use.

Schwab met with School Board Chairman Chuck Francis to ask if an exception could be made. Francis told the board about his meeting with Schwab at the work session last week and the issue was referred to a subcommittee.

Schwab said there could be advantages to holding the gala at the Folkmoot Center.

“It would  create an opportunity to have two other events during the festival in town,” she said. “If we go to expense of setting up a tent and stage, will can get a headliner. We would be willing to make changes and figure things out. We just need to know what the school board is willing to do.”

The best-case scenario would be an option to serve alcohol after securing the necessary permits, Schwab said.

“Our hope is they can make it easy on us to hold the type of gala people have expected for 34 years. We are partners in this property,” Schwab said. “We would be paying rent and we have insurance.”