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North House's 25th Anniversary Celebration Wows Sold-Out Crowds

Sep 27, 2022 08:46AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: An all-star ensemble wowed the sold-out crowds on Thursday and Friday night, performing songs from all of their catalogs and some inspired covers. 

From North House Folk School - September 27, 2022

North House’s campus was transformed during the last full week of September by the return of the big top tent for the 21st Annual Unplugged concerts and gala fundraiser. “It was exhilarating to have three sold-out nights at the center of the event’s success,” shared Greg Wright, North House’s Executive Director, “but having the tent literally overflowing with youth and families during our free family performance with the Grammy-award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers made my heart sing.”  Wright estimated that over 200 families including 350+ kids and 250+ parents were on campus for the Saturday morning get-together. “I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate North House’s 25th Anniversary.” 

 Photo: Over 350 kids and 250 parents were part of Saturday morning’s free family performance with Grammy-award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers during Unplugged 2022.

“The support of the Cook County Community Fund was critical to our family outreach, and the
leadership of Visit Cook County has kept Unplugged strong over the years,” Wright said.
“For all of our events we work hard to gather community, celebrate craft, share inspiration, and forge connections,” said Jessa Frost, North House’s Program Director. “This year we were honored to welcome famed basket maker Steen Madsen from Denmark and author/textile artisan Kerstin
Neumüller from Sweden, both of whom taught courses and were part of our speaker series.

Free youth programs defined Saturday morning and the iconic Folk Artisan Marketplace featured eleven of our skilled craft instructors.” Thursday and Friday’s performance included multiple nationally-recognized performers, including Grammy-award-winning singer/songwriter Justin Vernon, Grammy and Tony-award winning singer/songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, Phil Cook, Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings of the Bad River Band, Joe Rainey Sr. of the Red Lake Band, Grammy-award winning multi-instrumentalist Mike Lewis, Cook County’s Barbara Jean Meyers, plus the incredibly talented Sean Carey, JT Bates, and Jeremy Ylvisaker. Lewis and Meyers played a central role bringing the performers to the Unplugged stage.

 Photo: Grammy and Tony Award-winner Anaïs Mitchell and Barbara Jean Meyers share an inspiring moment during Friday’s Unplugged Concert. 

“The generosity of supporters and the spirited involvement of numerous local businesses has made Unplugged into an integral part of our fundraising efforts,” reported Tom Morse, North House’s Development Director. Key priorities funded during the event included: $15,000 for scholarships in the coming year, $15,000 to finalize funding for a first-phase solar panel installation on campus, $7,500 to advance North House’s growing commitment to youth, and $6,000 for the school’s year-round Work/Study program. “Our Unplugged efforts include multiple ways for people to support our mission and programs. Online, nearly 300 bidders participated in our Points North Auction. Points North has become a great way for us to at once highlight our incredible neighbors while also generating support for our mission,” noted Morse.

 Photo: The skills, stories, and crafts of eleven different North House instructors were front and center during the Folk Artisan Marketplace. This year’s artisans included two visiting International Instructors, basketmaker Steen Madsen from Denmark and weaver Kerstin Neumüller (left) from Sweden.

As part of celebrating North House’s 25th Anniversary, Jon Vezner (who initiated the creation of
Unplugged starting in 2002) and Kevin Kling returned to the Unplugged stage for Saturday night’s Flannel Formal, which paired perfectly with Chef Scott Graden’s meal. Wright said “Having Jon and Kevin on stage was the perfect culmination to this year’s celebration. During the past 25 years many people and partners have stepped forward to help North House move forward. Jon and Kevin are great examples of how people can make a difference in this world.” Dates are already in place for next year: Sept 14-17, 2023. 

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