Thank You for a Wonderful Gala & Benefit Auction!

Executive Director and Auction Emcee Jerry Jackson welcomes a full house for the live auction.

The 2018 Gala & Benefit Auction brought close to 200 Folk School friends together for a lively evening of bidding, mingling, and entertainment. The event, an annual highlight in our community, featured offerings by artists and donors as near as Brasstown and as far away as Belgium.

Chef Jarrett Palmer fills the Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall with delicious treats from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook.

Musicians Annie Fain Barralon and Jonah Graves welcomed guests to the first part of the evening with traditional mountain music on the porch of Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall. Through the screened porch door, folks were treated to their first glimpse of a stunning display of over 100 silent auction pieces in a variety of mediums, from jewelry and paintings to baskets and pottery. Attendees also dined on featured dishes from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook, including “Mushroom Turnovers” and “Cheese Pennies and Stars with Green Tomato Marmalade.”

During the second portion of the evening, guests were invited to the historic Keith House to view and bid on nearly 50 unique pieces from artists and other Folk School supporters. Throughout the live auction, solo auctioneer and longtime Folk School friend Tim Ryan kept the crowd engaged and entertained with his signature wit and charm. Continue reading Thank You for a Wonderful Gala & Benefit Auction!

Life Lessons from a Week in Bread Class

Everyone will agree that a week at the Folk School passes too quickly. One minute, it’s Sunday night; you’re getting to know your teacher and studio and looking forward to the week ahead. The next minute, it’s Thursday afternoon, and you’re scrambling to finish work and facing the inevitable: that last meal in the dining hall, the absence of friends who’ve departed early, turning in your nametag, and forcing yourself into the car to drive off campus, leaving only the barn swallows swooping over the fields and the chickens pecking in the now-silent garden.

It’s therefore important to get started right away. In The Science of Bread last week, we spent Monday making French baguettes all together, and talking about how long to knead, how to properly shape dough, how to prepare the oven for baking, and much more. But on Tuesday, it was time for the students to get busy, whether by making the class “regulars” like sourdough and ciabatta or by making the recipes they’d brought to class.

And get busy they did: We saw the creation of a diabetic-friendly nut-and-seed loaf, multiple versions of yeast rolls, the experimental Frankenloaf (which garnered the most praise at the student show), New-York-style bagels, and the ever-popular challahs. By Friday, the students had made dozens of loaves, learning both from successes and failures, and meeting many of the goals they’d brought to class.

It occurred to me that, being June, it’s a good time to think about your goals for the year. In the same way that a week at the Folk School flies by, 2017 is flying by. Have you accomplished any of the things you meant to? If not, there is still time to get busy. For me, 2017 has been a year to practice my writing and grow my editing business. While I’ve been diligently arising early each morning to work, I see room for improvement in the bravery arena: leaving my comfort zone to find new opportunities.

What are your goals for the year? There’s still time to make them happen!




EmilyBuehlerEmily Buehler is the author of this blog and a frequent bread instructor at the Folk School. She became a bread baker in 2001, intending to take a break after finishing a degree in chemistry. Six months later she began teaching bread classes. Emily has written two books: one on bread making called Bread Science, and one about her bicycle trip across America called Somewhere and Nowhere. Visit Emily’s website for more information.

Emily will be teaching her popular bread making class again in 2018.





This Year Give A Gift That Is Handmade

Handwoven ornaments by JoEl Levy LoGiudice


If you could make all your holiday gifts in one week wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity. Well this is your lucky day because John C Campbell Folk School is offering a class “Handwoven for the Holidays” on December 6-12, 2015 during their special weeklong event “Holidays in the Mountains“. This class is designed for all level students from Beginning to Advanced. It will feature working on 4 types of looms. Everyone will begin by creating simple ornaments and coin purses on cardboard looms. From there students will move on to creating small stuffed animals such as sheep, birds and mice on pin looms.  

Handmade ornaments by JoEl Levy LoGiudice

Then they will advance to weaving on an inkle loom. This is a great loom for making everything from belts to guitar straps to a variety of tree.  The weeklong create-a-thon ends with weaving purses, trivets and small table runners on a four-harness floor loom. So as you can see we have your entire gift list covered in one week:  stuffed toys for the youngsters, belts or woven key rings for the men on your list, purses or woven jewelry for the ladies and tree ornaments for all your friends and co-workers. I have had a great time designing the projects for this class and I know everyone with have fun getting into the holiday spirit.

It’s not to late to register for Handwoven for the Holidays, December 6 – 12, 2015.

Handwoven by JoEl Levy LoGiudice

JoEl Levy LoGiudice, Artist/Gardener/Chef/Traveler


3540 Sweethome Road

Ashland City, TN 37015


We Still Play Things at Dance Musicians’ Week

DMW Week instructors and students play on the porch for the hungry Dining Hall lunch line.
DMW Week instructors and students play on the porch for the hungry Dining Hall lunch line.

I don’t know about you, but I am awash in changing technology and the new world where I shop, make reservations, and bank–all through apps. I read the newspaper online and can communicate instantly anywhere with my phone. I rarely use cash anymore – and who even understands bitcoins? Anything I could possibly want is readily available – including prepared food, ready to eat.  Most of the music I hear comes out of an electronic device, but not always…

Sheryl and Sue Songer
Sheryl and Sue Songer

There is a red button on my fiddle case with a bright yellow graphic of the palm of a hand. Above it, it reads: We Still Make Things. In a world of unrelenting change, the John C. Campbell Folk School still sits nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. People go there to live a little slower and make things.

I am a music maker and have been for a long time – just not like this. Dance Musicians’ Week (DMW) has transformed me. I was (and still am) a music-stand-toting, note-reading player: “paper-trained,” as they say. I fell in love with contra dancing and the fabulous jigs, reels, and waltzes played live at dances – and made it my goal to be a dance fiddler. With the help of DMW, now I am! As a result of this class, I can learn a tune by ear, improvise a little harmony and back up, and join in a jam.

Dance Musicians’ Week is a special week at the Folk School. Students specifically sign up for other classes that week so they can be around all the music and dancing that the DMW class brings to the campus. There are music makers all over the place – on the porch at lunchtime, every evening at dances, and jamming at night. All kinds of folks, all playing levels, all instruments. (I just registered for the 2015 class!)

Dance Musicians' Week class circle
Dance Musicians’ Week class circle

A typical day starts with pre-breakfast (optional) Morning Song and a brief presentation of some sort in the Keith House. After breakfast, the musicians’ class gathers in a big circle for a slow warm-up session on a new tune, by ear – little pieces at a time. Non-intimidating. Non-judgmental. Then we have an hour of dancing. Every move gets taught slowly before each dance. Non-intimidating. Non-judgmental. Community folks in the area stop by to dance with us because we have so much fun!  The instructors play and later we discuss what kinds of tunes worked well with different dance moves… and which didn’t. Then we break into specialized classes like fiddle classes for melody players, and harmony and accompaniment classes for “pickers” and keyboard types. Continue reading We Still Play Things at Dance Musicians’ Week

Gala & Benefit Auction 2015

Gala & Benefit Auction 2015

Well, we had an excellent auction this weekend—the diverse array of food was scrumptious, the band was hopping, and the art was impressive.

Live music

Our Gala is more than a simple auction, it is a time where folks can come together and celebrate our unique community and our talented artists. This year’s Gala also marked a special milestone in our history —the School’s 90th birthday. We sang happy birthday and cut a huge chocolate, vanilla, and spice birthday cake to celebrate the occasion.

90th Year Celebration Cake

After we ate and sang we got down to the serious work of auctioning off art and we had some beautiful work to sell—from Howard Malovany’s short scale mountain dulcimer to Julie Fisher’s large ceramic lantern to Chuck Jackson’s enameled steel flowers in a hand-turned walnut vase.The auctioneers, Tim Ryan and Bob Grove, both said that this auction was one of the most spirited auctions we have hosted in the past decade.

This auction helped raise approximately $20,000 to support our programming, improve our studios and further our mission. We thank all of the generous donors and volunteers. Without their talent and energy this auction would not have been possible.