Valdese, NC – On the second weekend of August, 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 twenty-nine Waldensian settlers from the Cottian Alps of Northern Italy. The Waldensian Festival has been a highlight of each Valdese summer for over 44 years and in an effort to keep our community safe, the event has been cancelled 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 our annual tradition and celebrate the Glorious Return. The week of August 3rd through 9th 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 9am for Valdese Trivia and 11am for Name that Native. Followers will be challenged by creative clues featuring historic figures and facts about the Valdese community.

Waldensian Heritage Museum:
The Glorious Return of the Waldenses is the very reason for celebrating in Valdese each year on the second weekend of August. With the COVID-19 restrictions for 2020 we are honoring this event in new ways. The Rev. Dr. Kevin Frederick, pastor of Waldensian Presbyterian Church since 2007, will be giving the meaning behind this historical event and what led him to become so knowledgeable in Waldensian History that resulted in two historically based sermons each year and the development of a historic book “With Their Backs Against the Mountains”, 850 Years of Waldensian Witness. For more information on Waldensian History please contact the Waldensian Heritage Museum, 208 Rodoret Street South, 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. Judging this year’s entries is Allan Butt, an award-winning artist working in Charlotte, North Carolina. He will select 1st Place ($500), 2nd Place ($200), and 3rd Place ($100) awards. From September 5 – September 11, the public will be able to vote online for the People’s Choice Award ($50). The online exhibition opens on Saturday, September 5, 2020. Please visit RSAF’s website ( 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. With over 25 clever clues, the scavenger hunt will be fun for all ages.  Clues are available for download at or for pick up at the Old Rock School.

Historic Outdoor Drama “From This Day Forward”:
“From This Day Forward” the 4th longest running outdoor drama in North Carolina will continue its season on Fridays and Saturdays until August 15th, 2020. The production begins at 8pm at the Fred B. Cranford Amphitheatre located on Church Street in Valdese. This production has been artfully performed annually for more than fifty years in honor of the heroic tale of the Waldenses and the founding of the Town of Valdese. Seating is limited due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic so reservations are strongly encouraged. Tickets can be reserved online at or by calling 828-522-1150.

Glorious Return Shop Hop:
For those who are interested in downtown shopping and for a chance to big, the Glorious Return Shop Hop is a must. Shoppers are invited to visit a minimum of 15 out of 22 participating local Valdese businesses for a stamp. Business stamps will be available August 3rd through 9th during the hours specified on the shop hop form in featured business blocks. Those who receive 15 stamps will be entered to win prizes as follows: 1st place $250, 2nd place $100, 3rd place $50, and 4th place $25. 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 Tuesday, August 11th and winners will be notified via phone. Please be mindful of all businesses’ requests for COVID-19 safety measures.

Special thank you to our participating businesses: The Valdese Stitchery, The Levee Brewery & Pub, Blessed Mama Plus Sized Boutique, Grace Jewelry, Brinkley Insurance Agency, Thurston Springer Financial, WSVM Radio, Sam’s Recycled Art, The Picnic Basket, Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant, Salon on Main, Tranquility Day Spa, Mega Bite Baits, Junk in the Trunk Thrift Store, Farris Insurance, Bark Side Pet Grooming, Trail of Faith, My Cute Kid Boutique & Consignment, Settlemyre Nursery, Mimosa Beauty Salon, Bargain House Appliance, Myra’s Antiques/Self’s Treasures, Burke County Chamber & Visitor Center.

The Town of Valdese would like to encourage our community to rally around our local businesses. “We have an amazing variety of businesses downtown and we commend them for reinventing their business operations during this difficult time” states Morrissa Angi, Community Affairs Director for the Town of Valdese. The Glorious Return Shop Hop will give shoppers even more incentive to support our local merchants. See the full list of Valdese merchants at

“The 45th annual Waldensian Festival is completely different than how we originally planned. However; we hope that our community will join us in honoring the Town’s Waldensian Heritage this summer in a reinvented fashion”, Angi stated. “Our Valdese summers are typically full of music, fireworks and gatherings with friends and neighbors and while COVID-19 caused our annual event calendar to be drastically altered we are preparing for a tremendous comeback in 2021”, she continues.

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