Heritage and Crafts of the North House Folk School

By Aliya Marxen

When you live up in the snowiest reaches of Minnesota, it starts to become expected that once that first chill hits, the small towns scattered in between lakes and deep forests roll up their sidewalks and fall into a cozy hibernation lasting until the long awaited spring thaw. But if you’re lucky enough to live on the North Shore, or have the opportunity to visit,  you discover that the North House Folk School provides a fantastic alternative to winter hibernation. In fact, the North House is a local favorite four seasons of the year.

Preserving and Teaching Traditional Northern Crafts

Located in Grand Marais,  the North House Folk School  is an excellent resource for quality of life. Dedicated to preserving and teaching traditional northern crafts, the North House is busy all year round bringing the community together to celebrate the heritage that makes Northern Minnesota so unique. 

Classes at the folk school started in 1995, when the concept of a place the community could gather to learn and grow together was born. It wasn’t until 1997, however, that the North Shore Folk School was officially founded in Grand Marais. Soon it became clear that with the vast support and interest with the school, they’d need a proper place to teach. Today they still rest in the original place, prevailing despite fire, devastating crashes, and winter storms that pound the beautiful shoreline the school sits on. 

Experts On Folk, Great Entertainment and Good Food

Through it all, however, the Folk School has pushed through, eagerly offering new and old classes all year round. Experts come from all over to teach and talk, some classes lasting a few hours, others the day, and still others the entire weekend. Easy to get to and located right downtown near many great restaurants and other sights, the North Shore Folk School has become a hub for beginners and advanced learners alike. What everyone  really enjoys are the winter and summer solstice celebrations, and perhaps most excited to see arriving soon is the Winterer’s Gathering and Arctic Film Festival. 

Starting on November 20th and lasting the weekend through November 23rd, the Gathering has something for everyone. Foodies will enjoy the ‘Open Fire Dinner on a Stick’, or perhaps the ‘Deep Freeze Chili Feed’. Adventurers will be delighted to hear talks from a number of well known guests including Eric McNair-Landry, Katherine Breen, and Erik Boomer, one of National Geographic Adventures of the Year from 2012. If you’d rather do something hands on, try out the Drop-In Skill Share Demos, and for the brave souls out there, a collection of winter campers set up tents to celebrate and discuss together. You could learn to darn a sock, make your own mittens, and even trap small game! 

And of course, there are the films. Ranging from just under half an hour to full length features, educational to magical, the movies truly encompass everything there is to love about our snowy north shore – and even beyond!

The best part is it’s easy to enjoy. Many of the attractions are free, but at the low price of $25 for an individual, or $50 for a family, why wouldn’t you buy an event pass that can let you see it all? The event passes are even good for other festivities the North House Folk School puts on – the Wooden Boat Show that takes place each July, and the Unplugged Music Festival that takes place in September. 

Whether you’re making the beautiful drive up from Duluth or crossing the border to visit from Canada, the North Shore Folk School should assuredly be a stop. As days grow shorter and the air gets colder, Grand Marais is always thankful for the cozy Folk School dedicated to supplying an inspiring environment to learn about the heritage and crafts we’ve all come to love so much. 


And, just in case you prefer not to pitch a tent to visit the North House Folk School, winter visitors and vacationers will discover very comfortable accommodations in their choice of an affordable vacation home or condo. Let our family business help you visit and stay in comfort. 

Additional Resources

North House Folk School – Schedule of Classes
Winterer’s Gathering at North House Folk School
North House Folk School