Give three good reasons why mountain music and dance lovers should visit Maggie Valley frequently!
Mountain music and dance lovers shouldn’t miss visiting the Stompin’ Ground, the Maggie Valley Opry House, and the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival. All three are located in or near the town of Maggie Valley, which sits off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County. Maggie Valley is featured in the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina.
The Stompin’ Ground is a large professional auditorium with seating for almost a thousand guests, and it is the place to go to get your fill of Appalachian and all-around American group dancing. From April to October, the auditorium fills up each Friday and Saturday night with professional groups, couples, amateurs, and fans come to sit and watch. A house band plays both mountain folk and popular music for the assembled dancers. In between choreographed group performances, everyone is welcome to climb onstage and try their foot on the dance floor.
The highlight of the year at the Stompin’ Ground takes place on the last weekend of October, when hundreds of dancers flock to Maggie Valley to compete in a huge clogging contest. For those who want to witness serious clogging on a professional level, this is the show to attend.
The Maggie Valley Opry House is a smaller venue than the Stompin’ Ground, and it generally draws a crowd of music-lovers rather than dance-lovers. The house was the brainchild of famous banjo player Raymond Fairchild and his wife. Together they run the establishment and put on a nightly show, featuring a comedian or two, music by the house band, and, of course, performances by Fairchild himself. During the breaks, viewers can buy CDs and refreshments and chat with Fairchild.
If the Stompin’ Ground offers dancing, and the Raymond Fairchild Show offers music, then the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival mixes it up and offers a little of both. The festival falls on the Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend and takes place outside of Maggie Valley at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Attendees can hear bluegrass and old-time music and watch clogging inside the large Stuart Auditorium for a fee, or they can watch smaller performances and kids’ shows and join in jam sessions outdoors for free. Smoky Mountain Folk Festival website
Hannah Allen is a contributing writer for the North Carolina Arts Council blog, NCArtsEveryday, and social media pages. A native of North Carolina, Ms. Allen is a 2011 graduate of Meredith College and has worked as a professional dancer, English teacher, and Russian teacher. She has lived abroad in Moscow and St. Petersburg.