1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd., Pittsboro, NC info@shakorihills.org 919-542-1746

Looking Ahead

photo by Madelyn Matthews

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 also envision a covered performance space to allow for year-round programming. A venue that could showcase music talent as comfortably as weddings and community gatherings.

We will continue to offer art and music classes and work with the community to develop a vision for the Arts Center and the land.

Going forward, Shakori Hills only plans to grow and continue to have a positive impact through music and arts.

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 donate via PayPal.

What is a Didgeridoo?

The didgeridoo (/ˌdɪdʒəriːˈduː/) (also known as a didjeridu) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of Northern Australia, potentially within the last 1,500 years, and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe.” Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone.

A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower its pitch or key. However, flared instruments play a higher pitch than unflared instruments of the same length.


There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo’s exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and sheltersfrom this period.[2] A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period[3](that was begun 1500 years ago)[4] shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.

Jeff Dotson & Francisco Plaza, Instructors

Jeff Dotson has a background not only in dome construction, but also in mountaineering, sailing, team development trainings, world travel, mainframe computer programing, and home construction.  Presently, his main skill areas revolve around raising a young daughter and son in a beautiful old Chatham forest.

Francisco Plaza is an artist with decades of experience working with bamboo. He has traveled the world and pursued hair-raising outdoor adventures including child rearing!

Fuz Sanderson, Instructor


Fuz Sanderson is an endangered species biologist,  Earthskills teacher, musician and storyteller. He has over 25 years experience as a wilderness instructor, naturalist, and research biologist for organizations such as 4H, National Wildlife Federation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, US Forest Service, US Park Service, and the Green River Preserve. Fuz coordinated the Earthskills Rendezvous for eight years, and is founder and coordinator of the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering in central North Carolina. He received a 2014 Environmental Leadership Award from Piedmont Wildlife Center.

Fuz has been featured on five professional CD recordings and has performed with the Grammy-nominated band “Sapien,” Rhythmicity, Brothers of the Sun, and Hawk Hurst. He plays Congas, Djembe, Didgeridoo, Native American Rivercane Flute and a host of other percussion instruments. He is currently serving the State of NC in the Biological Services Unit of the Department of Transportation. Fuz lives in Apex, NC with his wife, Sharlene, and their two boys, Caleb and Alden.

Cara O’Connell, Instructor

Cara has been whittling and working with wood for many years, having developed an carainterest in wood working when she was a child. She fondly remembers a “jolly old carpenter named Bobby Carpenter who wore overalls and played the fiddle” as her earliest influence.

Cara was the first woman to become a certified Journeyman Carpenter in Northern Virginia in the 1980’s. She started whittling spoons, animal shapes and canes while in Pennsylvania working with an Amish crew renovating an old farmhouse. After taking a class with Barron at the Piedmont Earth Skills Gathering at Shakori Hills last spring, she picked it back up and has turned her attention to Swedish carving techniques, learning from Peter Folnsbee. See samples of her work @Carabnr on Instagram.

Will Ridenour, Instructor

Will Ridenour is a musician from Greensboro, NC specializing in percussion styles from
willriddenouraround the world. Since 1994, Will has been teaching, performing, and studying in the United States, Mali, Senegal, and Sweden, and has appeared in 40 states and 28 countries worldwide. He has made four trips to study drumming in West Africa, and has been a guest musician with many West African Dance companies in North Carolina. Will currently performs with a variety of groups including Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and SUAH African Dance Theater.

Marie Vanderbeck, Instructor

marietrioMarie Vanderbeck has been singing professionally for many years – Old Country, Blues, Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass, Appalachian – to name a few of her styles. Her voice is her instrument and she fine tunes it to be soft and sensuous or loud and sassy. Her love of music is contagious: she teaches both to learn and to have fun. Marie’s current professional endeavor is jazz band, The Marie Vanderbeck Trio.

John W. Vanderheyden, Instructor

John & Gail Vanderheyden. Photo by Elizabeth Larson
John & Gail Vanderheyden. Photo by Elizabeth Larson

John recently retired from a 35+ year career with Verizon Communications doing internal computer work. He chose to move to North Carolina from Washington D.C. because of the natural beauty of the state, and the Piedmont in particular due to easy access to both the mountains and seashore. As a landscape painter, there is more subject matter than he could ever possibly paint!

John says: “I work in three or four styles and landscapes are my prominent subject matter. Bright color combinations usually dominate my paintings. My scenes are from all over the United States with a lot of the Southwest Desert and Washington, D.C. I’ve done a lot of water studies and floral still-lifes. Why do people love looking at water? I think it has to do with the constant change between patterning and randomness. Where patterns meet chaos is a recurring theme of mine. Examples of this would be changing ripples in a river or light dappled maples in the fall. Click HERE to visit his website.

Art Highlights:

20 paintings exhibited at Richmond State House in Jan.-Feb., 2005. This led to exhibiting at John Tyler Community College, also in Richmond

Represented by Lazy Lane Gallery, Key West, Fla., Jan., 2003- Jan., 2005

Represented by Herndon Old town Gallery, Aug.- Oct., 1994

Annual Juried Labor Day Shows at Glen Echo Park sponsored by the National Park Service. Sold “Canal Scene” to the National Historical Society

Annual Juried Spring shows at Oxen Hill Manor

Capital Hill Art League member for several years. Solo show at Long & Foster Realty on Capital Hill with multiple sales

Member of Great Falls, Fairfax and Vienna Art Leagues. Awarded Best in Show at monthly Fairfax League Show. Awarded Honorable Mention at annual Great Falls League show

Education: B.A. Art History and Studio Art from University of Virginia, 1977

Contact Information: John.W.Vanderheyden@Gmail.com

Jaime Coggins, Class Instructor

Jaime Coggins received her degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in 2002 and has taught on various levels and practiced art for the last 18 years. After graduating, she taught as a Visiting Artist at UNCG and opened a Community Art Gallery and Studio (The Space) to present developing artists’ works. The Space also offered classes and workshops free to the public. Many successful NC artists created and displayed early works here. Jaime’s personal works have been shown around the United States, with a few now having permanent homes in Germany and the UK.

Purchasing Shakori Hills

shakori hills bridge to meadow field

Shakori Hills only exists because of 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, the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center and Fingerlakes GrassRoots Festival organizations completed the purchase on December 10, 2013.

The Shakori Hills Community Arts Center is a local non-profit benefiting  rural North Carolina and which hosts the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. Fingerlakes GrassRoots is a non-profit based in Trumansburg, NY that produces the four GrassRoots Festivals.

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 down payment 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 were commemorated with an art installation at the May, 2016 GrassRoots Festival. The Bridge of Souls commemorative ceremony was held Saturday, May 7th at 1:30pm.

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.

Land Purchase News Coverage

“Shakori Hills pushes to buy its festival lands before the lease expires”

-Indy Weekly, February 10, 2010

“The new landowners in Shakori Hills now look beyond festival season”

-Indy Weekly, April 16, 2014

The News &Observer and the The Herald Sun provided additional coverage.