John C. Campbell Fall Festival

John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival

The cool crisp air of the autumn morn’ is set ablaze by the ever rising sun.  Light illuminates through the mist of fog expanding from the ground, as waves of heat mingle with the cool air, dancing along the open fields of the mountain valley floor.   Performers and Exhibitors ready themselves as they prepare for two days of creativity and entertainment in that good ole' mountain style.  

As the morning fog dissipates under the rising sun, the broad open fields surrounding John C. Campbell Folk School begin to disappear with the arrival of visitors…the Fall Festival is back and well worth the journey.   Brief History of John C. Campbell Folk School.

Mountains and Fields at John C. Campbell Folk School

The early autumn colors covering these mountains make this picturesque farm valley a wonderful sight to behold.  It's an ideal location to harvest the creative spirit into a fall festival.   As you cross the field and enter the grove of trees, you are greeted by the enticing music.  Live entertainment, music, folk dancing, craft-making demonstrations, children’s activities and delectable treats, can be found throughout the folk school's campus grounds.  Droves of arts, crafts and creative products line the trails, walkways and gathering areas throughout the campus, making this outdoor and indoor event one big mountain party.   The open fields provide ample parking even with the growing popularity of this special event.

Entering the festival you’ll find yourself in a maze of outdoor shops along rustic trails and paved walkways. The Fall Festival draws talented and renowned artists with a diverse collection of arts and craft works. Over 200 juried and non-juried creative folks will be on hand selling handcrafted items, paintings, jewelry, pottery, weaving, rugs, woodcarvings, woodturning, furniture, baskets, ironworks, photography and more.

These quaint little shops continue throughout the many trails and along the folk school's historic campus buildings. 

Witness a carver as he reveals the mystery locked away in a raw piece of wood or watch the blacksmith toil over hot coals, shaping red-hot iron against an anvil.  Have you ever wanted to know how to throw a clay pot, turn a wood bowl, spin wool into yarn, build a dulcimer or construct a Windsor chair?  These are just a few of the many demonstrations you can experience during the festival.  There will be over 40 traditional and contemporary craft making demonstrations on hand, capturing your imagination and giving you a small glimpse into the wealth of classes offered by the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Hey…what about the Kids? How about Pony Rides, Wagon Rides, Llamas, Drum Circles, Face Painting, Live Music, Dancing and a Sing-Along for those knowing the words.   You will also find plenty of fresh mountain air and kid friendly goodies to make the day complete.  Don’t forget to bring the kids by the Humane Society’s Pet Adoption Booth, there’s sure to be a warm nose looking for love and attention.

Arts and Crafts are not the only creativity found at the Fall Festival.  Blue Grass, Folk, Celtic and that Good Ole’ Gospel music fill the air throughout the festival, while costumed dancers perform traditional clogging of the Scottish, Morris, and Garland cultures as well as other folk dancers performing on the stage in the Big Barn. There’s plenty of seating available under the big barn roof with additional art and craft vendors scattered throughout the huge barn.

Plan a full day of fun the first Saturday and Sunday in October at John C. Campbell Folk School’s “Fall Festival” and take some of that “good ole’ mountain feeling" back home with you.

The Highlander


Children under 12 years of age admitted free, with a modest fee of $3 for ages 12 thru 17 and $5 for Adults.

For more information and a list of the performers at the Fall Festival go to John C. Campbell's web site at

John C. Campbell Folk School is located in Brasstown North Carolina, between the towns of Murphy in Cherokee County North Carolina and Hayesville in Clay County North Carolina.

Directions: Take Old 64 to Brasstown Road and turn south, the Folk School is on both sides of the road. You can use Highway 64 from either Murphy or Hayesville to access Old 64.



Brief History and Overview…

John Campbell Folk SchoolJohn C. Campbell would marvel at the growth and popularity of his namesake. Born 1867 in Indiana and raised in Wisconsin, John went on to study theology and education in New England.  

John married Olive Dame of Massachusetts, and the couple set out at the turn of the 20th century to answer a calling towards research and humanitarian work. They traveled by wagon from West Virginia to Northern Georgia on a fact-finding mission as they surveyed the social conditions of mountain life in the southeastern United States.

It was the Campbell’s desire to create an alternative folk school in this mountain region, similar to the Danish folk schools they had studied. They wanted to offer an educational system that would help local young folks get a practical education without having to leave the family farm. The folk school would not only educate, it would serve to preserve the disappearing ways of mountain life that was so rich in crafts, skills and arts.

After John’s death in 1919 Olive and her friend Marguerite Butler traveled to Denmark Sweden to study and observe the countryside folk schools that had been a force in the rural life of that area.

Upon their return, with the help of local people pledging their support, building materials and labor, the Folk School began in 1925 in Brasstown North Carolina. The rustic campus resides along the Brasstown Creek in both Cherokee and Clay County North Carolina.   Today,the Folk School looks more like a prestigious mountain settlement than a school campus.

John C. Campbell History CenterScattered about the campus and mostly shaded by groves of trees are historic outbuildings, barns, farmhouses, a millhouse, blacksmith shops, a great hall, and dining building. Together these facilities act as classrooms for the many students who visit and/or stay at the John C. Campbell Folk School. You'll also find a History Center next door to the Keith House with displays and photos on the history of the Folk School and the local farm community.

The Folk School has well-maintained trails leading through the woods, across open fields, into the garden John Campbell Garden Gazeboareas and along the creek banks throughout the campus setting.

The trails will lead you to clusters of buildings that house classes in woodcarving, woodworking, blacksmithing, milling, fiber arts, pottery, enameling, jewelry-making, weaving, gardening, quilting, writing, photography and so much more.

Though most visiting students take their personally crafted assignments home with them as an achievement and treasured memory, you can find an excellent variety of hand-made crafts available for purchase at the Craft Shop on the ground level of the Olive D. Campbell Dining Hall building.

You can visit John C. Campbell Folk School to enjoy the environment, shop for crafts, walk the trails and experience the creative atmosphere, but don’t stop there.... the Highlander encourages our readers to find a class that strikes your interest.   If you are looking for a unique revitalizing experience, John C. Campbell Folk School offers a complete creative getaway to a truly peaceful environment.

John Campbell Folk School Blacksmith Shops

For more information on John C. Campbell Folk School classes available and events throughout the year, go to their web site at or call 1-800-folksch (365-5724).

The Highlander

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