To help the town wipe the last bit of winter sleep from its eyes, the local Arts Council is bringing back Skagway’s annual International Folk Festival during a weekend so full of events it’s threatening to overflow.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Folk Festival. The event was started by the Arts Council and Barbara Kalen, who helped give life to the event decades ago by bringing singers up from Juneau following the capitol’s own folk festival.

The festival features around a dozen different acts, each about 20 minutes long.

“We provide an MC and a sound system, and the talent takes over,” Arts Council member Gary Hanson said.

Arts Council member Juan Castaneda-Gonzalez will MC the event, which is free and open to the public. Donations for the Arts Council will be accepted.
Hanson said just prior to the event, the performers usually get together and jam with each other.

“Some of those impromptu jams from musicians from Juneau, Skagway and Whitehorse are the best part,” Hanson said. “You never know what is going to happen. It’s pretty loose.”
Coinciding with the musical styling of the Folk Festival are the artistic endeavors of the Arts Council’s Spring Show of Winter Artwork.

A sample of art from a past Spring Show of Winter Artwork event. PHOTO BY ELISE GIORDANO

This art show is a way to help shake off the winter doldrums and spark some springtime creativity. Hanson said local artists and craftspeople, who have spent the winter painting, making and drawing, will display the work they’ve completed over the chilly months.

Photographers, knitters, quilters, jewelers and more will put on a colorful display for residents, free of charge.

“It’s kind of neat that you can go enjoy an art show, walk through the art show, [then] go up to the Eagles and enjoy music,” Hanson said. “It’s a pretty exciting weekend.”

Hanson said each year he is “blown away” by the artwork put forward by the people and kids in Skagway.

“The talent here is really amazing,” Hanson said.

On Friday, activities begin early in the day, with the Klondike Gold Rush museum opening at 8 a.m. At 5 p.m., the Spring Show of Winter Artwork opens at AB Hall.
Just prior to the Folk Festival, the Elks will host a burger feed fundraiser benefiting Skagway School’s basketball program from 5:30-7 p.m. Then at 7 p.m. in the Eagles Theatre, the main event of the evening begins with the Folk Festival.

On Saturday, April 15, those needing a morning exercise to get their blood pumping can hit a 10 a.m. spinning class at the Recreation Center. Also at 10 a.m., the First Presbyterian Church holds a Sunday school Easter event.

The Spring Show of Winter Artwork reopens from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. From 1-3 p.m., a collection of local businesses are holding a collective open house event. Anyone inspired by the art show at AB Hall can also stretch their own creative legs, with paper crafts for kids at Alaskan Fairytales at 1 p.m., and rock painting for adults at Bites on Broadway at 2 p.m. A performance from Gnat King Kong will finish off the day at 9 p.m. at the Red Onion Saloon.

A full listing of all the events is available on Page 12.