Dirty Dancing Festival back under new, local management

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Asheville Ballet performs dances from the film at the annual Dirty Dancing Festival.

The Asheville Ballet performs dances from the film at the annual Dirty Dancing Festival.

While the iconic film “Dirty Dancing” is undergoing a greatly anticipated remake, the annual Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure, N.C. is also experiencing an exciting reinvention as it enters its seventh year this August 19-20. Several scenes from the original movie were filmed in Lake Lure including the staff and Johnny’s cabins, dance scenes, and the famous “lift,” which is a highly popular competition in the festival.

Earlier this month, the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge announced ownership of the Dirty Dancing Festival. The event was co-founded by Jo Beyersdorfer of JNB Events in Los Angeles, Calif. and Michelle McConnell Yelton of McConnell Group PR in Lake Lure. The McConnell Group is joining the chamber team to help with this year’s event.

As a result, the renowned festival will now be a homegrown event, being completely produced and managed by the chamber and its team of local volunteers. The Chamber of HNG is looking forward to continuing the festival’s legacy to the movie filmed in its backyard.

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“Building on the tremendous successes of past partners who first envisioned this event and grew it to its current popularity, the chamber is thrilled to have the opportunity to produce this great festival,” said Kevin Cooley, chamber president.

The Dirty Dancing Festival started in 2010 and has steadily grown into a signature event in Lake Lure, drawing thousands of “Dirty Dancing” fans to the two-day celebration. In 2013, the festival became an official event of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN).

A portion of event funds are donated to help find a cure for pancreatic cancer. The festival’s dedication to this cause remains a standing tribute to the film’s late star, Patrick Swayze, who died from the disease in 2009.

This year’s event will take place August 19-20, kicking off on Friday with a screening of “Dirty Dancing” in Morse Park Meadows at sunset, but attendees are encouraged to come as early as 6 p.m. to get a good seat and enjoy music and vendors. The festival continues on Saturday from 9 – 5 p.m., with dance lessons and performances by the Asheville Ballet, live beach and soul music bands, watermelon games hosted by PANCAN, and several restaurant and retail vendors.

At the end of the day, attendees can test their skills in the famous “lake lift” or shag dance contests. As tradition holds, multiple sites around town will get in on the fun with event after-parties.

Tickets are available online at www.dirtydancingfestival.com. Admission to the Friday night film screening is free. There is a fee for the Saturday Dance and Music Festival. For all the latest updates and news on the Dirty Dancing Festival, like it on Facebook.

For additional questions, please email info@dirtydancingfestival.com.

– article submitted
by Michelle Yelton