In 1957, the Folk Festival Belles became a part of the Festival and have been a tradition ever since. Ten Belles attended that first year, and stayed at the home of Fern Rollyson.
The Belles are selected in each county by local groups, such as the Extension CEOS (Community Educational Outreach Services), Senior Citizens groups, or a Chamber of Commerce.
Each Belle must be 70 years of age or older in the year she is chosen and she should represent the true pioneer mountain spirit. They are the honored guests of the Festival and are housed during the Festival in Pioneer Village, a group of student housing on the GSC campus. Pioneer Village is located on Mineral Road across from the stadium.
Many Gilmer County groups are involved in hosting meals and receptions for these marvelous ladies. Their stay in Glenville includes a visit to the Arbuckle/GSC Alumni House, the Gilmer County Senior Citizens, and the First Baptist Church. On Sunday morning, the Belles can be found at the Festival closing – a service held at Job’s Temple. Job’s Temple is a Civil War era log church on Rt. 5, 10 miles west of the traffic light.
The Folk Festival Belles come away from this weekend retreat having established many new friendships while renewing old acquaintances.