Friends of Folkmoot gather for open house
The Folkmoot Friendship Center was buzzing with excitement on Thursday evening as dozens of local volunteers, supporters and leaders gathered to celebrate Haywood County’s donation of the historic Hazelwood School to Folkmoot USA.
On June 16, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners approved the donation of the school facilities to Folkmoot. Tax records show that the facility is worth approximately $1.3 million. This marks the first time that Folkmoot USA has had a permanent home in its 31-year history of offering its annual summer festival and other events celebrating international culture.
“Now that they have the building, it will give them more ownership,” said Commissioner Mike Sorrells, who attended the open house with his wife Susan. “I know they’ve been wanting to do that for years. I’m excited for the future of Folkmoot. They have a lot of energy and a lot of good ideas — I’m interested to see where we go.”
Renovation plans for the building include fixing the roof, installing new windows and insulation, upgrading electrical and plumbing systems, cleaning and painting 20 dorm rooms, the cafeteria, bathrooms and hallways, renovating the auditorium space, installing a new fire door, renovating four storage areas, and repairing and painting the gymnasium. Taking into account the architectural fees and the contingency fund, the total cost for repairs is estimated at $375,000.
Volunteer Tom Ezell has only been working with Folkmoot USA for a couple of months, but he’s already made an impression. His success while working with PlottFest has other leaders excited about what he can bring to the table.
“When the news broke that the county was going to give the building to Folkmoot, (my friend) brought me over here to a meeting to help fundraise,” Ezell said. “I like the idea of starting from scratch and making things happen.”
Folkmoot USA eventually hopes to offer events year-round and operate a center that brings the local, regional and international communities together. Some of the possibilities include hosting guests and creating venues for community and international events and performances.
Carol James, the president of the Haywood Historic Farmers Market, and farmer’s market manager Elizabeth Ure were both in attendance at the open house. James and Ure said they were hoping Folkmoot would allow them to use its building as a location for its winter market.
“We’ve been out there in the parking lot and it’s cold out there,” Ure said, referencing its current winter location at the parking lot of HART Theater.
“This building really opens things up for the community, and we’d love to be a part of that,” James added.
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