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Festival canceled, but town still celebrates

Festival canceled, but town still celebrates

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VALDESE — On the second weekend of August in 1689, Waldenses from Peidmonte, Italy rose from three years of peril to return to their homeland and rebuild their lives. The Town of Valdese was founded in 1893 by 29 Waldensian settlers from the Cottian Alps of Northern Italy.

The Waldensian Festival has been a highlight of each Valdese summer for more than 44 years, and in an effort to keep the community safe, the event has been canceled for 2020. In consideration of the current situation with COVID-19, the Town of Valdese Community Affairs Department has partnered with local businesses and attractions to continue the annual tradition and celebrate the "Glorious Return" in different ways.

The week of Aug. 3-9 will feature a variety of events including Name that Native, Valdese Trivia, Where’s Waldo Scavenger Hunt, 33rd Annual Open Art Competition, historic outdoor drama “From This Day Forward," and the Glorious Return Shop Hop.

Virtual Events:

The celebratory week will kick off with Valdese Trivia and Name that Native, which will be hosted virtually on Town of Valdese social media platforms ( | During this week, clues will be posted on these pages at 9 a.m. for Valdese Trivia and 11 a.m. for Name that Native. Followers will be challenged by creative clues featuring historic figures and facts about the Valdese community.

Waldensian Heritage Museum:

The Rev. Kevin Frederick, pastor of Waldensian Presbyterian Church since 2007, will be giving the meaning behind the Glorious Return and what led him to become so knowledgeable in Waldensian history. For more information, contact the Waldensian Heritage Museum, 208 Rodoret St. South, at 828-874-1111.

33rd Annual Open Art Competition:

Rock School Arts Foundation welcomes artists 18 years and older to enter two-dimensional artwork into the 33rd Annual Open Art Competition. This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition will take place online only. The online exhibition opens on Sept. 5. Visit to view.

Where’s WALDO Scavenger Hunt:

For those wanting a safe way to get outside and explore, mark your calendars to go on the scavenger hunt for Waldo, Peter Waldo that is. Waldo, who is regarded as the founder of the Waldenses, will be hidden throughout downtown and at several local attractions. Clues will lead participants to discover not only Waldo, but the many amenities and photo opportunities the Town of Valdese has to offer. Clues are available for download at or for pick up at the Old Rock School.

"From This Day Forward”:

“From This Day Forward” outdoor drama will continue its season on Fridays and Saturdays until Aug. 15. The production begins at 8 p.m. at the Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre located on Church Street in Valdese. Seating is limited due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, so reservations are encouraged. Tickets can be reserved online at or by calling 828-522-1150.

Glorious Return Shop Hop:

Shoppers are invited to visit a minimum of 15 out of 22 participating local Valdese businesses for a stamp. Business stamps will be available Aug. 3-9 during the hours specified on the shop hop form in featured business blocks. Those who receive 15 stamps will be entered to win prizes. Once a minimum of 15 stamps are received, shoppers must submit their completed form to the Old Rock School submission box located at the east side entrance of the building. Shoppers are also encouraged to visit the Burke County Chamber and Visitors Center for a double entry stamp. The drawing will be held on Aug. 11, and winners will be notified via phone. 

“The 45th annual Waldensian Festival is completely different than how we originally planned," said Morrissa Angi, Community Affairs Director for the Town of Valdese. "However, we hope that our community will join us in honoring the town’s Waldensian heritage this summer in a reinvented fashion."

See the full list of events and details online at or find out more by calling Valdese Community Affairs at 828-879-2129.

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