Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Karen Jacobson, Chippewa Valley Museum educator. She talks about the museum’s Fiber Arts and Folk Life Festival that goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
What is the Fiber Arts and Folk Life Festival?
It is a unique gathering of local makers sharing their talents with museum audiences for a vibrant day of teaching, learning and celebration.
Artists, musicians, wood workers, weavers and many other creative individuals come to offer demonstrations, mini-workshops, performances, displays and a range of hands-on activities for attendees to experience.
How did this festival originate?
It’s the museum’s ninth year of hosting this event. It began as a community day in conjunction with a traveling exhibition called “Wrapped in Pride,” which featured the story of traditional and contemporary weavers in Western Africa making kente cloth.
We invited fiber artists from this area to come and show their own work for the occasion and had a great response. Because it was so successful, we decided to continue the event even though the traveling exhibit would have to move on.
That was nearly a decade ago, and the festival has since doubled in size.
What sort of activities will there be for people to do?
There will be nearly 50 different presenters joining us this time, including a variety of groups and guilds. Festivalgoers can enjoy live harp music, acoustic guitar, an oompah concert and sing-alongs.
They can sign up for classes and workshops on rug hooking, inkle weaving, rosemaling, pysanky and Hmong needlework, or do on-the-spot creative projects provided by local groups or vendors, including Blue Boxer Arts, The Paint Shack, and the Eau Claire public library’s Dabble Box.
Why do this event this time of year?
February is an ideal time to schedule this type of event.
It’s after the holidays, so people have had a chance to destress a bit. They are also still looking for opportunities to enjoy the great indoors.
Who is the festival geared toward?
The festival is geared for all ages. There is truly something for everyone. We see families with young children and teens, grandparents and other relatives.
Scouts attend to try out activities that may help them earn badges. We even have groups of friends who will carpool to this as a yearly road trip together.
What do you hope people who attend take away from the event?
We hope people will spend time talking with the presenters and with one another to discover and appreciate all of the talents and skills that exist in our communities.
We also hope to inspire another generation of tradition bearers to pass their knowledge forward. It is so important to preserve and grow these traditions for the future.
What are you looking forward to experiencing?
This is one of my all-time favorite occasions to organize and plan each year.
I love soaking up all of the creativity at this event from our wonderful presenters. From soap-making to fabric dyeing, and even getting to say ‘hello’ to the alpacas and sheep who make appearances when the weather cooperates.
— Katy Macek