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Folk school expects late summer re-opening

folk school2

     It’s little overgrown because of inactivity due to the pandemic, but the Southern Appalachian Folk School hopes to resume classes and programs in a few months.


The Southern Appalachian Folk School in Jasper intends to resume classes and other activities in late summer.

Heather Poole, president of the board of directors at the folk school on D.B. Carroll Street, said she wants people to know, “we’re not dead, we’re still clipping along.”

Poole said the SAFS went dormant with the pandemic and it takes time to re-connect with instructors, arrange classes and promote the offerings but they fully intend to get the school, which both offers classes and hosts occasional shows and events, back into action.

“We definitely want to get it going,” she said. The board president said they had been further hampered when her own pottery studio was flooded in a spring storm, leaving it significantly damaged. She said getting her studio going again is requiring a good bit of time and, like all non-profits, volunteers are few and far between at the folk school.

“We had been planning a community ice cream social, where people could walk through our garden and watch different instructors [demonstrate their crafts] and ask them questions about the classes [when COVID shut everything down],” she said. “We’ll probably start back with something like that to give people a dose of folk art.”

Poole said the idea behind the folk arts is really more of crafts that were essential to early Appalachian settlers, such as carving, furniture building, herb gathering, quilt making. “It’s not necessarily art classes,” she said. “It’s more about a cultural lifestyle.”

In the three years the school was open pre-pandemic, they were attracting a growing amount of interest for classes involving all the basics like carving and quilt-making, though most of it came from outside this area. “We’ve not had a tremendous amount of local support,” she said. “It’s mostly people from Canton and Marietta and other places.”

Poole said at the SAFS, they set out to create classes that were briefer and more affordable than regional folk schools like John C. Campbell where students spend a full week and pay considerably more.

“We try to structure it where it’s not as intensive,” she said. “We offer skillsets that can be learned in a weekend and let working people attend and keep costs lower so people can get the basic instructions.”

Watch for more information about the reopening in later issues of the Progress.