Our Story

 Shakori Hills: Why It Matters…

Here at Shakori Hills, we support our local music and arts community through cultural events and outreach to our local schools, while teaching environmental awareness and sustainable living practices.

Our most notable events are the twice-yearly Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance in May and October and the Hoppin’ John Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention each September. The GrassRoots Festival presents over 40 bands spanning world-wide traditional styles and genres. Each moment of the festival offers exciting and educational opportunities in which the entire family can  participate! There are special children’s and youth areas with games, crafts, and interactive workshops. Childrens and adult workshops encompass everything from how to play the fiddle, to movement (dance, yoga, etc) or garden classes and seminars on current green issues affecting the world around us. The festival also provides a great venue for education in World Music, volunteerism, and for local food and craft vendors to display and sell their wares. We support our local nonprofit community and organizations by offering space to set up tables and share their mission with thousands of festival attendees and donate festival tickets to local nonprofits to help their mission and fundraising activities.

The Hoppin’ John Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention brings musicians, dancers and music lovers together in celebration of old-time and bluegrass music, North Carolina’s traditional music. Attendees enjoy dance, instrument and band contests, girlbanjosquare dances, instructional workshops and unscheduled magical moments. The convention helps keep traditional music and culture alive and offers opportunities for young people to play on stage, learn and share the music, regardless of experience or skill level.

Now in its 11th year, Hoppin’ John is the only event of its kind in the Piedmont Region. As each part of the land bearing Appalachian traditions has its own nuances and playing styles, the event has played an important role in the preservation of our traditional music and culture.

Our longest running program, Roots in the Schools (formerly Hopes and Dreams) brings musicians and artists into local schools. These sessions range from classroom instructional workshops to entire-school concerts. At a time when public schools are cutting music and art budgets, Roots in the Schools (RiS) makes a real difference in our children’s education. RiS operates in conjunction with the GrassRoots Festival and Hoppin’ John Fiddlers’ Convention three times per year, but with your support we can extend it throughout the school year.

The newest edition to our educational programming is the Shakori Hills chapter of JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians). These classes offer low to no-cost music lessons to children in fiddle, mandolin, guitar and dance. Classes meet on Thursday evenings at Silk Hope Elementary School, and are open to all fourth – seventh grade students.

The Shakori Hills Community Garden is an 8,800 square foot organic garden with three garden4crop rotation areas designed to keep the growing and harvesting on a year-round cycle. Anyone interested in participating can, from sharing in the decisions about what gets planted to taking home the harvest. Garden Coordinator and Central Carolina Community College Sustainable Agriculture Instructor, Cheryl McNeill, leads free weekly workshops open to the public. Excess harvest (1,000 pounds this year) is donated to the CORA Food Pantry.

Shakori Hills also partners with other non-profit groups in hosting their events and fundraisers, such as the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering each April and the Chatham County Girl Scout Summer Camp this June, 2017.

2016 development saw improved landscape engineering which promoted site drainage and  considerably less mud during large events. We saw the fruits of these labors at this past Spring Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. Many inches of rain came down the weekend and days before the festival, yet the festival site was virtually mud-free (excluding the parking lot, which still needs work). Ground has broken on a permanent 10-stall restroom building, and is scheduled to be completed early this summer, 2017.

Fostering and developing our infrastructure allows us to create and host more offerings and events year round. Our 2017 program improvements and developments include expanding Roots in the Schools, offering free voice and instrument lessons for children and adults in conjunction with the Junior Appalachian Musicians and High Strung Instruments of Durham, as well as on-site classes in yoga, dance, gardening, painting and sculpture. Stay tuned for the full workshops and offerings list coming in April!

Shakori Hills Community Arts Center is a place where everyone can enjoy nature, take strolls on beautiful trails, have family afternoons in the sun and enjoy art, music, family, life and all it has to offer. By building on what we are blessed to have at our fingertips, our local culture will continue to strengthen and prosper!

The Festival

Building Infrastructure & Community

Education, Sustainability and Cultural Preservation

Purchasing of the Land Known as Shakori Hills


Shakori Hills only exists because or your support. With help from hundreds of contributors, our down payment goal of $75K was reached in 2013 after a three-year campaign.

As a joint venture Shakori Hills Community Arts Center (local non-profit benefiting NC that hosts the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival) and Fingerlakes GrassRoots Festival (Trumansburg, NY based non-profit that produces the four seasons of GrassRoots Festivals series) organizations completed the purchase on December 10, 2013.

The land purchase is particularly significant in terms of community-building because of how it was funded – a bank was never approached. Since it’s inception as “Shakori Hills,” two different supporters, Anne Winfield and Robert Michener, have owned the land, essentially holding it while the money was raised to pay for it. Once the downpayment was raised, Carol Hewitt, a longtime volunteer and organizer at Shakori Hills, and founder of Slow Money NC assembled a group of more than 30 individual lenders to cover the remaining $620,000. This group of lenders acts as a bank for this “community mortgage,” and will be repaid with a competitive interest rate over ten years.

All donors who contributed to the “Buy-the-Farm” Campaign are commemorated with a functional art installation that was dedicated in May, 2016, during the GrassRoots Festival.

Here are a few articles about the land purchase: News &ObserverThe Indy & The Herald Sun

Looking Ahead…

Building a Folk Arts School at Shakori Hills and expanding our partnerships with local artists’ and crafters’ guilds is one of our great dreams for the future. The arts of woodturning, weaving, carving, pottery, glass blowing, painting and many more sustainable craft forms thrive here already, so this is a natural step in our evolution. The goal in this dream is to provide a venue and forum to share local talent where others can learn, practice, and gain a skill to be passed down to future generations.

We are also looking forward to a JAM summer camp in 2018.

Going forward, Shakori Hills only plans to grow and continue to have a positive impact through music and arts.We hope you have enjoyed reflecting on where we’ve been and where we are; we wanted to paint a picture of what we’ve been working on the last several years and help you to have a realistic understanding of what you, the community, have helped create. Your contributions will help us reach our vision of giving back to our community by making the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center a place for everyone to enjoy now and for decades to come! Click here to make a donation.

Comments are closed.