The Ely Folk School Mercantile is open

Written by Alexia Springer Some of you may remember a few years back when the Ely Folk School had a mercantile. Unfortunately, I do not but I am pleased to announce that the mercantile is being revived and items are starting to become available for purchase. Slow and steady wins the race due to limited […]

The Magic in Being Creative

Written by Instructor John Kopp Creativity doesn’t come from a piece of us but from the whole of us. I find myself thinking these words as I wonder about the creativity responsible for the class “Writing with Your Child for Your Child”, a class that has as much focus on the joy of being together […]

Celebrating Irish Culture

Written by Nora Rickey Níl an earraigh ach timpeall an chúinne! Or, “spring is just around the corner,” in Irish Gaelic!  As a person with Irish heritage, I am always looking for ways to explore my ancestry. In college, I was an Irish studies minor and completed a BFA in drama. I spent many hours […]

Nobody does winter better!

The Ely Winter Festival is a 10-day celebration of winter, life outdoors, and the people who live here. Events have changed over the years, but the passion people have for this event has never faded.  Dealing with the cold weather is a common complaint for many. If you live in Ely year round, you have […]

Gaining a Connection to Place Through Cleaning

Written by Nora Rickey, Assistant Program Coordinator I met with Ely Folk School’s volunteer cleaning crew right before we closed for the holidays, and had a lovely time interviewing them about their experience. I asked each member what brought them to the folk school, and what they gained from the experience of volunteering. Each person […]

Calling All Volunteers

Written by Nora Rickey I was raised in an Irish Catholic family and attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through the end of high school. In my schools, giving back to the community was a fundamental element to my religious education. For class projects, we were instructed to find an impactful organization where we could donate […]

Leino Forge at the Ely Folk School

Blacksmithing is the art of forging metal using high heat, tools like hammers,  anvils, and vices to make objects like hooks, hammer, nails, and more. Before the Industrial Revolution, most towns had a local blacksmith. Emil A. Leino, born in Finland in around 1877, moved to Ely, Minnesota and was known around town as the […]


Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan (Birch Bark Canoe) In recent years there has been a movement to learn about Anishinaabemowin and traditional skills including how to build a wiigwaasi-jiimaan. The Birch Bark Canoe Project (BBCP), at the Ely Folk School, is a gathering place of valuable knowledge for the Ely area community and those traveling through.  The birch bark canoe is an […]

Betty Firth is a do-it-yourself person; a Jill-of-all-trades.

“I have experienced many different types of work,” she tells me over a cup of coffee at The Front Porch — the very same place where I first met Betty over two years ago.  Indeed, Betty’s professional experience runs the gamut. She taught first grade in a public school. She sold real estate in Chicago […]

The World Needs More Hobbies

By Sue Remes In the summer of 2019 my husband, a serial hobbyist, was packing his binoculars and preparing to head off to a nature reserve to do some birdwatching. “I need a hobby” I said to him as I watched him stuff a field guide into his backpack and walk out the door. Later […]