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Ozark Folk School Provides Personal Growth and Perpetuates Traditional Folk Arts

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  • The Ozark Folk Center & School

Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
MOUNTAIN VIEW – Unique and personal learning experiences and the continuation of traditional crafts and music are the essence of the Ozark Folk School offered annually at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View. This year’s school will be in session March 18-23. It ensures that the mission of the state park is carried on in the lives of people. “Folk School represents the Ozark Folk Center in its finest light, as it very clearly embodies our mission to preserve, perpetuate and interpret our precious traditional folk arts,” according to Terri Van Orman, crafts director. “As well, it is an exhilarating experience for students and instructors alike to be able to escape to the greening spring mountains and enjoy an intensive week of fun, learning and camaraderie.” The Folk School, as well as other workshops and seminars offered throughout the year, provides instruction in traditional folk instruments, in traditional arts and crafts and in growing and using herbs. Music “Mountain Folk Singing” with Sara Grey will be offered for all skill levels. Grey will teach vocal material in both accompanied and unaccompanied styles, emphasizing phrasing, dynamics and decoration of traditional singing elemental style. Students will be introduced to a varied repertoire of music characteristic of the Ozark Mountain region and will explore how those tunes migrated to the area. The beginners “Old Time Banjo” class will introduce students to clawhammer and frailing techniques as well as alternate tunings and rhythms. Participants should have basic playing skills and be able to play several tunes. The intermediate-to-advanced classes on banjo will focus on thumbing techniques, tunings and styling to encourage students to broaden the scope of their skills. “Old Time Fiddle” for beginners will include playing by ear and reading tablature. Emphasis will be placed on bowing patterns, rhythm and tunings used in traditional fiddling. As in beginning banjo, participants should have basic playing skills. The intermediate-to-advanced fiddle class will focus on bowing techniques, fingering and putting all elements together for an authentic performance. Crafts New offerings for this year include David Hyatt returning after a year’s hiatus to offer his class in “Gourd Banjo Making.” Bob Harder will teach a workshop in “The Art of Storytelling.” Arlene Duggan is offering a class in “Mixed Media Techniques.” Sue Coon will teach students to paint springtime in the Ozarks. Aileen Anderson will conduct a class on “Primitive Rug Hooking.” Other arts and crafts classes will include: “Batik on Cloth;” “Beads,” weaving and embellishing; “Blacksmithing,” beginning and intermediate; “Capturing Spring in the Ozarks,” a photography class; “Country Chairmaking,” an introduction to traditional woodworking; “Glass Beadmaking;” “Gourds From A to Z and Beyond;” “Hand-Built Pottery and Sculpture,” beginning; “Jewelry and Silversmithing,” beginning to intermediate design and construction; “Knife Making;” “Old World Santas;” “The Pioneer Road Basket Quilt;” “Quilting,” beginners; “Reed Baskets;” “Frame Loom Twined Rugs;” “Spirit Carving;” “Stained Glass,” quilting in stained glass; “Tinkers Trades,” tinsmithing; “Weaving,” an introduction to 4-harness; “Wheel Thrown Pottery,” beginning; and “White Oak Baskets.” Herbs Author and culinary herbalist Susan Belsinger will lead attendees on a daily adventure of how to use herbs to enrich their lives. Classes will concentrate on cooking with herbs, but will include demonstrations, slide shows, and hands-on workshops showcasing favorite culinary herbs and edible flowers. Students will learn the art of flavor and combining herbs in the kitchen, while preparing herbal recipes to sample and infusions to take home. Belsinger will also discuss aromatherapy, herbal home remedies, home herbal spas, and herb identification and harvesting. Tina Marie Wilcox, head gardener and herbalist at the Ozark Folk Center Heritage Herb Garden since 1984, will teach organic herb gardening. Students will learn about germinating seed, vegetative propagation, soil, soil-less growing medium, plant nutrition, and scouting out pests and diseases. She will discuss everything from greenhouses to cold frame to garden to compost heap. Kids For the first time, the Folk Center is offering the Ozark Folk Kids Pottery and Crafts Week. Children ages 6 to 16 can enjoy a week of fun and interesting crafts while their parents enroll in the Folk School. The first part of the week will be spent making pottery using hand-building techniques and the electric wheel. Beginning potters as well as the more experienced are welcome. While the potters’ creations are drying and being bisqued, students can pick from a variety of other crafts that suit their interests from cartooning to cornshuck dolls. The final day of the week, students will pit fire some of the pottery. Extracurricular Activities At the end of each day’s class activities, there will be options offered for further exploration of Ozark traditions and attractions. Participants can enjoy free time or take a folk dance class, tour the famous courthouse square of Mountain View, tour Blanchard Springs Caverns, take a crafts marketing class, watch an Ozark documentary film, sit in on a jam session, take a gallery walk or listen to a concert. Tuition and Registration Enrollment is limited and advance registration is required. Tuition in the Music School is $150 for beginner classes and $250 for intermediate-to-advanced and should be paid at the time of registration. Tuition for the Craft School is $250 and advance deposit of $75 is required to reserve your space. There are additional materials fees for some of the crafts classes. The Herb School tuition is $250 with an additional materials fee for one of the classes. The Ozark Folk Kids School is $125. These costs do not include meals and lodging. Meal plans at the park’s The Skillet Restaurant and lodging at the park’s Dry Creek Lodge are available at special rates for students. Students must be at least 18 years of age, unless they are enrolled in the Ozark Folk Kids Class. For more information, phone (870) 269-3851 and visit Ozark Folk Center The Ozark Folk Center is open Wednesday-Saturday from April 20-Sept. 29. From Oct. 2-28, the park is open Tuesday-Sunday with music concerts Tuesday-Saturday. Music concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. The Craft Village is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Skillet Restaurant is open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. throughout the season and on special occasions throughout the year. The Dry Creek Lodge is open year-round. The Craft Village presents more than 20 different demonstrations of Ozark mountain pioneer crafts such as basket making, pottery, blacksmithing, quilting and broom making. Craft items are for sale both from the artisans directly and in the Homespun Gift Shop. The Village also contains an herb garden and children’s area. In addition, there are hourly music performances and a daily living history presentation. Folk Center concerts feature a variety of traditional acoustic music from the southern mountains of the United States. Special concerts during the year will feature other forms of music such as contemporary country, gospel, rock and folk. For more information, phone (870) 269-3851 and visit
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
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“Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism”