Visual Art History

JUST FOLKS: Heritage and Art Meet at Folk Art Festival

Chippewa Valley Museum hosts 12th annual Folk Arts Festival Feb. 26

Thomas DeLapp |

Chippewa Valley Museum brings in the old with the new at its 12th annual Folk Arts Festival. (Submitted photo)
Chippewa Valley Museum brings in the old with the new at its 12th annual Folk Arts Festival. (Submitted photo)

We can hear you sighing to yourself right now: “Aah, I’ve always wanted to learn about historic barn restoration…”  Or maybe you haven’t said that. But who wouldn’t be intrigued? Well, don’t worry: The Chippewa Valley Museum has got something special for you to show you just that and much more. 

 On Saturday, Feb. 26, from noon to 5pm, the Chippewa Valley Museum will hold its 12th annual Folk Arts Festival, featuring a variety of presentations, demonstrations, workshops, vendors, and performances galore.  

If you can think of it, it will probably be there: barn restorations, weaving, ice sculpting, needlework, harp-music, woodworking (pause to take a breath), sheep raising, knitting, barn quilting, live performances… and oodles more, if you can believe it. 

Museum educator Karen Jacobson and education intern Karen Kilby gave Volume One a tour of the museum and where different tables, demonstrations, and presentations would take place: seamlessly integrated into the existing exhibits, weaving together to create a (barn) quilt of Wisconsin history, heritage, and folk art. 

“The spirit of the event is to feature talent and showcase heritage skills as they meet contemporary ideas,” Jacobson said.

Featuring talent, indeed! There are almost too many events and participants to list. But there are standout, keynote presentations listed on the event website: The Art of Historic Barn Restoration: Along the Barn Quilt Trail with guest speakers Michael & Mary Kolstad and Becky Kiesow, Three Rivers Fibershed Guest Panel Discussion: Raising Heritage Sheep + Wool Dyeing Techniques + Sustainable Agriculture, and local band Naalia. 

Outside the museum, local artist Jason Anhorn will make an appearance to help break the ice – a live ice sculpting demonstration, that is.  

Additionally, there will be a section of the festival devoted to kids, a collaboration between The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, and the Eau Claire K-Kids Club. Jacobson and Kilby noted kids will be provided with interactive, hands-on activities (that adults might enjoy as well). 

Coming back to an in-person event after being virtual last year, Jacobson and Kilby said they’d learned lessons being online, like the value of live-streaming certain presentations, as well as recording them to view in later years. Even in the tradition of folk art, technology is helpful – which might just summarize the goals of the folk arts festival.

“We want to show the balance between heritage, traditional arts, and modern practice,” Jacobson said. “It’s all about learning.”

For more information, visit the Chippewa Valley Museum’s event website,