Folk School

Gordon Williams, president of the Folk School board of directors, right, and Michael Bork, director of the city Board of Parks and Recreation, cut the ribbon Saturday at the new Folk School at Pioneer Park. Erin McGroarty/ News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — The Folk School opened at its new location at Pioneer Park on Saturday afternoon with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and an open house. 

The school is a local nonprofit organization focused on traditional education that offers year-round classes in arts, crafts and traditional building. The school was previously located in the Goldstream Valley but the old location lacked the accessibility that the new location offers, said Gordon Williams, president of the Folk School board of directors. 

The most-common complaint the board received about the school was its remote location, he said.

“So this way, we’re going to be way more accessible to the community and we’ll be able to offer more to the community because of it,” he said.

Williams said the move to Pioneer Park — where the Folk School will have two buildings as primary locations — brings to a close 20 months of hard work.  

“There’s a cabin where we’ll have our offices and be holding a lot of our smaller classes, and then we also have a workshop where we’ll be doing the things where people get really dirty, like woodworking and a lot of others,” he said.

Kerry Hamos, program director, said the new location could mean more class offerings.

“I think this new location will broaden our horizons since we’re definitely more centrally located,” Hamos said. “I think we’ll get more instructors willing to teach here instead of feeling like they had to drive all the way out to Goldstream.”

Don Kiely, operations director the Folk School, shared Williams’ views about the Goldstream location, saying it was beautiful but a long drive. 

“The old location was a charming place to be, surrounded by woods, quiet and a wonderful neighborhood, but it just wasn’t very accessible,” he said. “We got a lot of pushback from people saying, ‘Oh, I’d love to take a class but it’s just too far.’ On the other hand, it was great when you were out there.”

Kiely said the new central location will open classes to many more people, who can reach the school by car, bike or on foot. Kiely also said that the school is hoping to cater more to summer tourists “so visitors can learn more about Fairbanks and what we do here.”

The Folk School is in Cabin 66 at Pioneer Park, across from the Aviation Museum. Class offerings and more information can be found at bit.ly/2MWtBGX or by calling 457-1219. 

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMPolitics.