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. Workshops for children and adults 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, square 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 crop 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.
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 the 2017 GrassRoots Festival when many inches of rain fell in the days leading up to the festival, yet the site was virtually mud-free (excluding the parking lot, which still needs work).
A men’s and women’s permanent 10-stall restroom building was completed in 2017.
Fostering and developing our infrastructure allows us to create and host more offerings and events year round.
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!
Read our blog for more on the history of Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, our infrastructure and community work, and our commitment to education, sustainability and cultural preservation.