Franklin Area Folk Festival

Celebrating Our Appalachian Heritage

"The Franklin Area Folk Festival was started as a vehicle to accomplish the task of providing living history experiences and even though the last festival was held in 2023, we will continue providing new projects that celebrate our Appalachian heritage."

After much discussion, the FHAMC Board of Directors agreed that their efforts to remain more steadfastly focused on their goals to provide living history experiences and programs through hands-on demonstrations ultimately outweighed the demanding logistics and time involved in planning a large-scale event (i.e., a festival).  Consequently, this year’s 17th Annual Franklin Area Folk Festival, “A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage” held on August 19, 2023, will be the last one organized by co-sponsors FHAMC and Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. 

For the remainder of this year, FHAMC will continue collaborating with like-minded groups, like Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center, for heritage events such as 4th Grade Heritage Day in November and Cowee Christmas in December.  As we look to the future, a committee has been formed to determine new heritage activities to consider implementing, i.e., NC state concepts like the flower, dog, tree, as well as other areas important to our region like gym mining, quilting, oral traditions, etc.  FHAMC plans to host/co-host these “mini” events throughout the year to focus on specific themes centered around heritage demonstrations and music (especially education elements), continue our sponsorship and involvement with the Women’s History Trail projects and connect with other similar organizations’ events to provide living history experiences and hands-on activities to promote our heritage.  By providing opportunities to demonstrate traditional skills from our past, it will help keep our heritage alive, especially if we pass these skills on to our children.

As FHAMC embraces opportunities to use their efforts for heritage preservation activities, this non-profit is also involved in heritage education. In 2016, they adopted the Women’s History Trail (WHT) “Walk in Her Steps” project, adesignated path in downtown Franklin identified by bronze plaques that share stories about women who helped shape Macon County’s history.  Also, in late 2018, WHT commissioned nationally renowned figurative sculptor Wesley Wofford to begin work on creating a 7-foot-high, 1,500-pound bronze sculpture grouping of three women and two children whose lives and cultures intersected in the early days of Macon County.  This monumental bronze sculpture, “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” symbolizes each group of women and their cultural contributions.  Although the sculpture itself has been funded through generous donors and fundraising efforts, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County is still seeking donations to cover final site installation/landscaping costs to achieve a good, comfortable finish line for this important project.  A Groundbreaking Shovel Event was held at the site on October 27, 2023 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the WHT Trail Opening and to kick off the start of site renovations for the sculpture installation.  A Women’s History Trail Community Sculpture Celebration is planned for March 23, 2024. 

Click here to learn more about our story - the beginning of FHAMC and the Franklin Area Folk Festival ...


FHAMC Artwork

Women's History Trail


Women's History Trail Franklin NC

Women’s History Trail (WHT). A project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County, WHT is dedicated to discovering and sharing the stories of the county’s remarkable women through public art and a marked trail.

The Women's History Trail grand opening was held on Saturday, October 27, 2018 with 9 historic sites marked in the downtown Franklin NC Area. On July 4, 2019 the second phase of the trail opened adding 5 more sites around Franklin. Free trail guides and maps can be picked up at the Macon County Historical Museum Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am until 3pm or at the Franklin Chamber of Commerce weekdays 9am - 5pm. You may also download these resources in pdf format below.


WHT has commissioned nationally renowned figurative sculptor Wesley Wofford to produce a 7-foot-high bronze sculpture of three women whose lives and cultures intersected in the early days of Macon County.


Na-ha Ka-ta-di-he was a member of an illustrious Cherokee family that included her better-known brother, Junaluska, and uncle, Yonaguska. In the early 1900s, she married Gideon Morris, a Baptist minister, and became known by her English name, Rebecca. The Morrises were granted rights to Cherokee land under the Treaty of 1819, but were displaced, resorting to legal proceedings to win compensation. During the proceedings, they sold an enslaved woman, Salley, to the locally prominent Siler family. Salley had a role in raising Timoxena, Jesse’s daughter, born in 1835. Timoxena, though well-educated and from a wealthy family, shouldered the burdens typical of settler women of the period. These women - Rebecca, Salley and Timoxena – came from different cultures, but all were strong, resilient, and caring. Their stories illustrate the triumphs and tragedies that gave rise to our country.


The sculpture will be located near Nikwasi Mound in Franklin. The site is important historically and each of the women had connections to it. The reserve granted to Rebecca and Gideon Morris bordered the Mound tract, consistent with efforts by the Tribe to secure their most sacred places. Later, Jesse Siler owned this property, and the family protected the mound during their ownership. Recently, the Town of Franklin trans- ferred the Mound to the nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative. Together with its partners, Nikwasi is working to enhance and beautify surrounding property as a public plaza that will serve as an inviting gateway to downtown Franklin.

WHT Franklin North Carolina

Above the FHAMC Board of Directors presents check for Women's History Trail



The sculpture, as an outstanding piece of public art, will draw attention on its own. More-over, as a centerpiece for the Mound Plaza, it will vividly amplify the human story tied to the Mound. Other interpretive information at the site will describe the story behind the sculpture, relate additional history of the period, and direct visitors to nearby historical sites. The sculpture and its site will thus serve as a draw for resi- dents desiring to know their town on a deeper level, and as an invitation to visitors to immerse themselves in the region’s rich history. The Sculptor. Wesley Wofford is a nationally recognized artist who lives in nearby Cashiers and is deeply engaged in his community and the region. The details in his work capture the emotions and essence of his figures and place his subjects in historical context. He strives to understand his subjects, and he relates that understand- ing through his art and through compelling explanations of his art.


Although the sculpture itself has been funded through generous donors and fundraising efforts, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County is still seeking donations to cover final site installation / landscaping costs.

» Download a "Sowing the Seeds of the Future" Donation Form (PDF)



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4th Grade Heritage Days at Cowee School, Arts & Heritage Center

4th Grade Heritage Days Cowee School Donation

Do Si Do, Swing Your Partner, Sashay, and Shuck the Corn are just a few of the favorite steps that students from East Franklin Elementary School learned during Fourth Grade Heritage Day on November 9, 2023 which was held at Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center. This educational program for fourth graders began in 2015 when the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC) coordinated the event as a way to offer a hands-on learning approach to Appalachian history and bring pioneer days to life.” According to Claire Suminski, event coordinator, “these heritage activities are intended to compliment the NC history curriculum and topics students are studying.” For several years, Iotla Elementary School’s fourth graders also participated along with the East Franklin students. With the 9th Fourth Grade Heritage Day just offered, it keeps getting better every year. Many of the students headed to the buses at the end of the day proudly showing off their sewing squares and felted creations while eagerly awaiting their fired pottery pieces.

As FHAMC continues to supply volunteers and sponsorship of events, involvement from Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center artisans and tenants have made this special day even more engaging for the students. By adding elements such as crafting a pottery item, practicing quilting techniques, making a felting craft, experiencing Cherokee heritage through storytelling, and touring the adjacent Rickman Store, students can truly immerse themselves in these opportunities while learning a bit of history about the area. Some additional past activities have included a visit to a one-room school to experience reading and writing the old-fashioned way, butter churning, playing the dulcimer, loom weaving, observing a blacksmith at work, studying beekeeping, and especially learning how sorghum is made and getting a sweet taste on their biscuits.

One new area added this year was learning square dance steps which was sponsored by FHAMC and made possible by a donation from the Macon County Farm Bureau Board of Directors who are great supporters of heritage education. In the words of Claire Suminski, “This is a tremendous hands-on experience that they will carry in their hearts for years to come.”

Folk Heritage Association of Macon County Artwork

Nursing Home Project

Recognition for Residential Senior Care Facilities and Healthcare Workers


FHAMC Honors Residential Care Facilities and Healthcare Workers


As we struggled during the pandemic with the vast challenges people uniquely faced, many of us felt the loss, not only in the workplace, but also in a broader sense – the loss of connection to our loved ones. The Women’s History Trail (WHT), a project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), wanted to do “something” for the community and our thoughts turned to the elderly living in senior care facilities in Franklin and the many dedicated healthcare workers taking care of these wonderful residents.

Here’s how it all began…Barbara McRae, one of the WHT Co-Chairs who is also the Town of Franklin’s Vice Mayor, sent out a personal email encouraging a response to this question, “What can we strong, energetic, intelligent women do to help our community now? Most of us are stuck at home … if you’re like me, you may feel straightjacketed by the restrictions. I welcome all your suggestions. If you have an idea for how the town can help its struggling citizens, please let me know. If you have an idea for how we of the Women’s History Trail, as a group (socially distant!) can help, I’d love to hear it...We are all in this together and we can rise together, holding each other up (virtually!).” WHT members began brainstorming on a plan of action. Member Claire Suminski suggested as a group we do “something that might help support the oldest members of our community.” As FHAMC’s main purpose is to provide living history experiences and preserve our heritage, and with the WHT’s goal to recognize distinguished women who have helped shape a better future for Macon County, it was only fitting that we chose to show appreciation to honor our older generation.

On Mother’s Day – a time when families typically come together to show love and gratitude to the wonderful women in their lives – in-person contact with loved ones at senior care facilities wasn’t possible due to the Governor’s mandate restricting visitors and Covid-19’s high risk to this vulnerable population. Additionally, recreational large group gatherings have been temporarily suspended to comply with social distancing guidelines, thereby limiting even further, outside community-led activities typically planned for the residents. While the need to protect our loved ones was certainly necessary and understandable, it was still disheartening for all involved.

In order to connect in a meaningful way with these older residents to celebrate Mother’s Day and the arrival of springtime, the WHT committee started working on ways to give recognition. Marty Greeble, another of the WHT co-chairs along with Mary Polanski, took on the role of producing cards, signs and posters and reached out to committee members and WHT supporters for monetary donations to personally cover the cost for this project. Various volunteers came together (via email and phone calls) to organize gifts of flowers and cards for all residents at Macon Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation, Grandview Manor Care Center and The Franklin House. We wanted residents to know that they are being fondly remembered during this time when outside visitors are limited due to health concerns. In addition, according to Anne Hyder, FHAMC Chair/WHT member, “The committee is working out final details to develop a “pen pal” program for residents who would benefit from cards, letters, kid’s drawings, etc. at the above-mentioned facilities.”

Wishing to continue recognition to show appreciation to healthcare staff at the three residential senior care locations in Franklin, the WHT also showered workers with thank you cards, inspirational signs and special goodies! According to Susan Ervin, “I particularly liked the idea of doing something nice for nursing care workers…I think that they’re some of the ones having to do the most extra during this crisis.” As May 10 – 16 was designated National Skilled Nursing Care Week, we wanted to thank the dedicated staff serving at these residential senior care facilities in Franklin (skilled nursing and assisted living/memory centers). We deeply appreciate the compassionate commitment of ALL dedicated healthcare workers! And we extended special heartfelt thanks to those who continue to provide loving care to senior residents all year long, especially during these trying times. As our donations for the project exceeded expectations, the WHT decided to donate remaining funds to CareNet to help those in need in our community.


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"Quilting Capital of the World"

In 1980, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt signed a proclamation declaring Franklin, NC as the "Quilting Capital of the World." Maco Crafts, a non-profit cooperative that operated from 1969-200l, produced many quilts, but these three unique creations have continued to draw admirers and to promote Macon County.

The Original "World's Largest Quilt"


Original World's Largest Quilt Franklin NC

The Original World's Largest Quilt was created in 1980, and has been a "roving ambassador" for Franklin since that time. Measuring 18' X 21', it was displayed on the "World's Largest Bed" at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN. In addition to appearing at many fairs and festivals, the quilt hung in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC for one month. Some other major appearances of the Big Quilt were at the Master's Golf Tournament, the Southern Living Show in Charlotte, and in New York City. It served as the backdrop for Maggie Valley's "Fire on the Mountain," a weekly old time and bluegrass music performance. Although now privately owned, the quilt is on loan to the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County to display at various events.

(Pictured: The Original World's Largest Quilt hanging from the old tower on Wayah Bald. Left to right: Jean Gregory Evans, Michelle Norris, Betty Gideon Merrill, "Gus" Helton, Margaret Ramsey. Photo by Bob Scott).


The Celebrate America Autograph Quilt


Celebrate America Quilt Franklin North Carolina

This quilt was created as a fundraiser for KIDS Place, a center providing services for abused and neglected children. Original planning was for a Celebrity Autograph quilt. The tragedy of 9/ 11/01 made it apparent that the true heroes in our country are not necessarily those with the greatest name recognition, so the quilt theme was changed. In addition to the well-known names, the quilt celebrates the unity and diversity chat makes us strong. Autographs were also collected honoring emergency workers, law enforcement, and various nations, even Head Start children. In 2010, Linda Tyler, the winner of the quilt, donated it to the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County.


Cabarrus Quilt

Cabarrus Quilt Franklin NC FHAMC

Philip Morris Corporation, in 1980, began assembling the "North Carolina Collection" of North Carolina crafts at their cigarette manufacturing plant in Concord, NC (Cabarrus County). The design firm of Chermayeff and Geismar, Inc. in New York contracted with Maco Crafts to produce a giant wall hanging for this collection with local artist Jean Gregory Evans serving as the production manager. Made up of 333 different traditional patchwork patterns, it is 10' high and 38' wide, with the colors blending from one to the next in a rainbow-like effect. When the Philip Morris plant closed in 2009, they chose to return the big wall hanging to the place of its creation, donating it to the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County.

(Pictured with the Cabarrus Quilt - Left to right: Jean Evans, Margaret Ramsey, and "Gus" Helton).


"Roots That Run Deep"

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