The Wooden Boat Show is a long-standing tradition celebrating summer, community, and craft on the Grand Marais harbor. As the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 Pandemic, North House Folk School is bringing back the celebration, planning around best safety practices by hosting the event outdoors, and welcoming the community to campus for a weekend of craft and the traditions of the North Shore.
At the core of this year’s festival is a community boat building project. North House Resident Artisan and boat builder Josh Tolkan will be leading a crew of volunteers to complete a Herring Skiff based on an original boat design that has been selected as a good representation of the skiffs built and used in the area. The Cook County Historical Society partnered with North House Folk School to bring this project to life and help preserve the fishing history and heritage of the area. The volunteer crew will be working on the skiff all weekend. Anyone interested in working on the boat can contact North House for more information.
Alongside the boat builders and a variety of boats on display, there will be a wide array of craftspeople at work. Basketmakers, woodworkers, fiber artists, rosemalers, and more will be on the commons demonstrating their crafts and selling their wares. There will also be drop-in craft activities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. People of all ages, especially kids, can join in the fun and create on the theme of boats, water, and fish.
There will be live music too! On Friday, at 5:30 p.m., Folk musician John C. Van Orman will perform a selection of traditional sea shanties, sailor songs, and nautical ballads while accompanying himself on concertina, guitar and hurdy-gurdy. On Saturday at 7:00 p.m., anyone with a boat is invited to hit the water for a row, paddle or sail on the beautiful Grand Marais harbor, weather permitting. Portage on down to campus and head out from the docks or use the Rec Park boat launch, where ample parking is available. We’ll have live music from on board the Hjordis for paddlers to enjoy! Let’s be social but distanced to celebrate the coming solstice!
Of course, in this year of transition, there are some elements missing from the typical Wooden Boat Show. The speaker program moved online again this year, and many of those programs are viewable at northhouse.org. North House hopes the Lake Superior chowder experience, harborside picnic, contra dance, and the Summer Solstice Pageant with the Good Harbor Hill Players will all return in 2022.
In the meantime, there is much to celebrate, and everyone is invited. The Wooden Boat Show will be hosted on the North House Commons at 500 West Highway 61 in Grand Marais, from Noon-4 Friday; 9-4 Saturday; and 9-Noon, Sunday.