Bringing Folks Together
Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
95Trip End Dec 25, 1998
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If you haven't been to the famous and beloved John C Campbell Folk School yet, you'll be hooked after your first visit. This weekend's festival serves up music, food and crafts in a two-day splurge of bluegrass and barbecue and booths filled with the work of basketweavers, blacksmithies, and beadmakers.
But there is always something going on. Almost every Friday evening there is a free concert in the Community Room. Tonight it's Chattanooga's own bluegrass/western band, In Cahoots. And every other Saturday night there are community dances. This Saturday the music is provided by Dog Branch Cats, with Bob Thompson as caller.
Still, it's the classes that are the draw. The school was founded in 1925 and is patterened after the "folkehojskole" of Denmark. Today's 372-acre campus has 27 buildings, which include a saw mill, craft studios, a craft shop, meeting rooms, rustic lodgings, a covered dance pavilion, and the Community Room, with one of the best dance floors in the country.
Instruction at the Folk School is non-competitive, emphasizing discussion, conversation and hands-on learning rather than reading and writing. There are no credits and no grades. Students must be 18 to attend, though there is a summer program for youngsters. Many courses are available through Elderhostel.
Subjects range from Basketry to Woodworking, including Blacksmithing, Calligraphy, Dance, Drawing, Knitting, Music, Painting, Photography, Quilting, Weaving and more.
The Craft Shop is open daily in the lower level of the dining hall, and features the juried works of over 300 regional artists, including the famous Brasstown Carvers.
Nolan Beaver was one of the original Carvers - he paid six cents for his first pocket-knife and carved seven squirrels he sold for 35 cents a piece. That was in the mid-30's. Materials and tools have changed over the years, but the satisfaction of developing skills remains the same.
So while you're browsing the festival, pick up the 97-98 schedule of weekend and week-long classes. I'll see you there.