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Escaping to Wisconsin's 7 folk schools, where the past meets the present

Woman painting
Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts
Milwaukee Magazine
Photo courtesy of Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts.

Wisconsin has one of the highest number of folk schools in the country and they are bringing timeless skills—like sewing or woodworking—to new generations.

In this month’s issue of Milwaukee Magazine, Kristine Hansen took a look into the lasting legacy of folk schools. Hansen is a contributing writer to Milwaukee Magazine and is an author of several books about Wisconsin. She shares more about what she learned.

"What's interesting about these schools is that they're teaching you skills that years ago, you might have learned from your grandparents or your great grandparents," she says. "As we progress, a lot of these skills are being lost, right? We're in a modern age, a modern society."

READ These Folk Schools Are Bringing Old Skills to New Audiences

Hansen says there are seven folk schools in Wisconsin. And she shares that Wisconsin is tied with Minnesota for having the highest number of folks schools in any state in the country.

Many classes over the summer are in high demand and most are sold out. Folks schools offer a little bit of everything and after the pandemic, she says people want to get away from their screens.

The closest schools to Milwaukee County are only a few hours away. The Clearing in Ellison Bay is four hours away and Folklore Village in Dodgeville is a mere two, she adds.

"These folks achools are really not that far. Very convenient for a weekend trip. All of these schools, they are really great at connecting the students with overnight housing while you're there. There's also Airbnbs. In fact, you might even find a farm to stay on while you're learning how to live on a farm," says Hansen.

Editor's Note: This story was first published July 14, 2022.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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