PEAKS & VALLEYS: Folk School embraces old timey ways
John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown welcomes visitors from across the globe to embrace the old-timey ways and revel in the breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Olive Dame Campbell and Marguerite Butler founded the school in 1925, establishing it as an alternative to higher education. They aimed to cultivate a learning environment that preserves and shares with others the techniques, tools and crafts of mountain people.
The school’s mountainous terrain and architecture was inspired by folk schools inhabiting the Danish countryside. After the death of Campbell’s husband, John, in 1919, Campbell and Butler traveled to various Nordic countries. There they stemmed determination to start a folk school in the Appalachian Mountains.
The co-founders considered a couple of locations for the school before setting in Brasstown. Butler told Fred O. Scroggs, a local storekeeper, that she would return to the town and see if any local residents showed interest in her proposal. When Butler returned, more than 200 people pledged to offer supplies and services to her project.
Beekeeping, basic blacksmithing, jewelry crafting, wood burning and basket weaving are only a few of the unique classes offered. Students can chose from around 860 courses year-round today.
The school maintains a non-competitive spirit by banishing the use of grades and credits, and encouraging students of all ages to attend. For those with busy schedules, the folk school holds classes on weekdays and weekends. Residents of Cherokee and surrounding counties are eligible to receive a 50 percent discount on a space-available, standby basis.
The 372-acre campus provides a History Center, Craft Shop, Festival Barn, and various venues for dance and musical performances. these special events also are on the folk school’s calendar:
* There will be an exciting evening of entertainment, food and, traditional craft and fine art at the June Gala & Benefit Auction. The annual event will be held from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11. All of the gala’s proceeds will benefit craft programs. Tickets can be purchased before then at the craft shop.
* Little Middle Folk School gives kids ages 7-17 classes tailored to their own skill levels. The classes will be held this year from Sunday, June 18, through Saturday, June 24.
* Intergenerational Week will be held Sunday, July 16, through Saturday, July 22. The week presents an opportunity for parents, grandparents and other relatives to pair up with children ages 12-17 to complete a course together.
* The annual Fall Festival, which draws in thousands of visitors every year, will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8. The festival features more than 240 fine craft exhibitors and 40 artisan demonstrations.
Visitors are encouraged to attend the school’s free concerts held most Friday nights. Performances include some of the finest regional and national acts showcasing old-time, bluegrass, folk, gospel and Celtic music.
The folk school’s main office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit the website folkschool.org to register for classes and view updated events.