Celebrating Wooden Boats and the Summer Solstice

Celebrating Wooden Boats and the Summer Solstice

Photos by Kim McNeelan and Dan Cary

For the weekend of June 17-19, 2016, I encourage you to take a dreamy drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior. Don’t get lost in the beauty of the millions of blooming Lupine. Don’t stare off into the seemingly endless body of water for too long. Just enjoy your scenic journey past raging water ravines and the millions of acres of trees in the Superior National Forest. The beauty and excitement will continue when you arrive at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. The Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival will be happening!

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The way the light is illuminating Grand Marais, captivates my sentiments on the sleepy little town. I camped in the campground that is next to NHFS, and it is directly behind me in this photo. You can walk to the school (red and blue buildings on the left) and most places in town. The weather changes often, and so be prepared for a range of weather conditions.
The way the light is illuminating Grand Marais, captivates my sentiments on the sleepy little town. I camped in the campground that is next to NHFS, and it is directly behind me in this photo. You can walk to the school (red and blue buildings on the left) and most places in town. The weather changes often, and so be prepared for a range of weather conditions.

Last June, I was able to attend the magical event. It was definitely an adventure, and the weekend was a special treat for anyone that enjoys a creative passionate craft community. There were gorgeously crafted wooden boats of various types, boat building demonstrations, guest speakers, a silent auction, live entertainment, and wonderful meals all taking place in a breath taking environment full of wonderful camaraderie.

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A traditional Norse sailing pram built at North House Folk School.

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The perfect pairing of vintage canoe and hauler.
The perfect pairing of classy vintage canoe and hauler.

The boats ranged in style and age. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats, dinghies, etc. were some of the awesome styles of boats on show. The variety of boats provides a display of different construction techniques and varying types of wood. It is very interesting to hear enthusiasts ‘shop talk’ about boat construction.

Lindy Lind, a traditional birch bark canoe builder, was busy doing demonstrations all day on Saturday. He makes the process look easy, but he said it took about 250 hours to make his first canoe! 
Lindy Lind, a traditional birch bark canoe builder, was busy doing demonstrations all day on Saturday. He makes the process look easy, but he said it took about 250 hours to make his first canoe!
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The beautiful handmade details of Lindy’s birch canoe.
Lindy takes his birch canoe for a paddle.
Lindy takes his birch canoe for a paddle.

If you want to bring someone that might be less enthusiastic about geeking out about wooden boats, don’t hesitate because there is a range in activities. There was a delicious brunch on Saturday morning, baking classes, natural dye making classes, a Summer Solstice Pageant on Saturday night, various dance and music opportunities, and speakers and programming that went Friday night through Sunday.

I met a woman named, Emily Derke, that is a basket maker. She was cutting apart material and preparing it for weaving. She is offering a class at NHFS this summer!
I met a woman named, Emily Derke, that is a basket maker. She was cutting apart material and preparing it for weaving. She is offering a class at NHFS this summer!
As well as the beautiful landscape, keep your eyes peeled for some traditional Norwegian architecture. I believe this is called a “Stabbur”, used for baking and storing food.
As well as the beautiful landscape, keep your eyes peeled for some traditional Norwegian architecture. I believe this is called a “Stabbur”, used for baking and storing food.

The “Solstice Pageant” was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. The huge puppets, live band, and Lake Superior backdrop really kept the crowd’s attention.

 

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The central courtyard at North House was quiet and ready for a new week of classes following the busy festival weekend.

North House Folk School is a special place that is focused on creating community around the preservation of traditional Scandinavian crafts. Check out the website: Northhouse.org for more information and this year’s schedule of events.

 

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Kimberly McNeelan has been a woodworker for about 14 years. She’s been coast to coast and beyond studying different woodworking techniques, learning from various masters, and working on a wide array of projects. Read more of Kimberly’s latest adventures.

Follow Kimberly on Instagram at ksm_woodworker

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  • Kevin Hanes

    Neat article. I will follow the links and search for more pictures. However can I send you a phone with a better camera?