Happy New Year!

Dear Friends of Avon Hills Folk School,

Due to the contributions of many 2019 was a good year. Thank you!

It was a year of important firsts for the Avon Hills Folk School that contributed to continued growth and momentum. 

We began the year with a successful 2018 Year End appeal that raised money to go towards a new evaporator for the Maple Syrup operation – this got us about half-way to our goal. 

In May we received a Central Minnesota Arts Board Project Grant in the amount of $7,000 to assist with our annual Hand Camp to help grow the folk School. Registered attendees for Hand Camp were up from 22 last year to 49 this year! The grant allowed us to add a second weekend where Gaylord Schanilec and John Coy collaborated on a two-day workshop the week after Hand Camp called Adventure in Print Relief and Simplicity in Words. 

Gaylord and John are renowned award winning artists and the two day workshop was a success. Students experienced a highly condensed two-day version of the five-year collaboration between John and Gaylord that resulted in the newly released My Mighty Journey, the story of the 10 mile journey upriver over 12,000 years of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River, St. Anthony Falls. It was also an opportunity to engage the communities of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University – students and professors. 

In October we held our first ever “raising” and erected the Timber Frame Sauna that students created during 2018. It was raised at its permanent home on the shores of Lake Mary, north of Grand Rapids. Several students and our instructor Clark Bremer joined us for the weekend. We also enjoyed our 3rd Annual Avon Hills Community Bouja party the second Saturday of October. The weather was not great – but a good day to enjoy a bowl, or four, of bouja.

On Friday, November 29th of this year we received a gift from Mr. Mark Skare who passed away in the first week of November after a battle with cancer. In his will Mark had named the Avon Hills Folk School as a beneficiary. We are grateful for Mark’s generosity and for thinking of the folk school in his final days. This is a big deal for us and great affirmation that we are working towards a goal that inspires others. 

Thank you to those who have supported us in 2019 and before. We are grateful for your gifts of treasure, time, or talent. Whether you made a financial gift throughout the year, followed our Blog (intheavonhills.com), our Facebook page, took a class, simply spread the word, or offered a word of encouragement. All are meaningful and impactful to the growth and future of the Avon Hills Folk School.

There are many plans for 2020 and we’ll see how much progress can be made. Here is a short and incomplete list of goals for 2020:

  • Complete the Sugar Shack and purchase a new evaporator for the annual Maple Syrup season. 
  • Partner with Centracare, the local health system, to build a timber frame bike shelter near their new clinic in Albany, MN – just down the road from the Folk School. 
  • Hold our 5th Annual Hand Camp 2020
  • Pursue additional grant funds to help grow the Folk School

Timbers for the 130 year old, 1889 Undersander Barn have now been in storage for over three years and it’s time we got serious about re-erecting this historic structure and future anchor for programming at the folk school. Stay tuned for more news on this and we do hope you will help in whatever way possible. We are thinking 2021?

Bringing in outside expertise, passion and experience is something we plan to pursue in 2020 and beyond. This may come in the form of interns or hired individuals who can help us in marketing, communications, grant writing, and other items necessary for an evolving organization like the Avon Hills Folk School.

There never seems to be enough time or money for the pursuit of the many dreams of preservation and mission associated with the Avon Hills Folk School.

Your new, renewed, or continued support will help the Avon Hills Folk School grow capacity,  build upon our successes, and help us on our path for a future where increasing numbers of people are able to experience nature and the arts together in community. 

Thank you for your interest, your support, and your good wishes. We hope to hear from you and see you in 2020 at the Avon Hills Folk School.

Sincerely and with gratitude,

Chris Schellinger

P.S. In the end the Avon Hills Folk School is really about building and strengthening community through a common appreciation for the Art and Craft that we can learn from each other. And having the opportunity to experience it within a special place that is the Avon Hills.

P.P.S. Watch for updates on the 2020 Maple Syrup season at our blog: intheavonhills.com. Plan to join us in the Sugarbush, down by the creek this March and April!

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