Skip to main content

Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival

Fri, Jun 21, 2019 - Sun, Jun 23, 2019
Image of Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival
Image of Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival
Image of Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival
Image of Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival


Rows of hand-made and unique watercraft, a boat parade, craft demonstrations, an evening square dance, boat and tool auction, chowder and brats...there’s a bit of everything during our Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival. Try your hand at a workshop or course; be inspired by the stories of boat builders, sailors and travelers and plan your next adventure. Join us as we welcome the summer season in the best way possible: talking boats, celebrating community and hanging out on the shores of Lake Superior.

This year’s Featured Speaker on Sunday, June 23 will be Douglas Brooks, returning by popular demand with fresh stories from his time in Japan studying with traditional boat builders. His talk, Ways of Learning: An Apprentice Boat Builder in Japan will be at 12:30 on Sunday, and he will teach and demonstrate throughout the weekend.

Image for Boat Show & Parade

Boat Show & Parade

Explore a wide variety of interesting and custom boats on display. Past boats have included cedar strip canoes, Greenland Inuit skin-on-frame kayaks, skifs, prams, drift boats, and more. Have a boat to show off? Plan on bringing it along!


Image for Speaker Series

Speaker Series

Watch, listen, be inspired. The adventurous and spirited journeys of boat builders and historians converge for two days of inspirational presentations.


Image for Featured Speaker: Douglas Brooks

Featured Speaker: Douglas Brooks

Douglas Brooks, back by popular demand, will share fresh stories from his time in Japan studying with traditional boat builders in his talk, Ways of Learning: An Apprentice Boat Builder in Japan.

Sunday, 12pm (following member meeting)


Image for Boats-to-Tools Auction

Boats-to-Tools Auction

The Boats to Tools Auction features hundreds of items, from trusty canoes to woodworking tools. Help support North House's mission by donating your own items for auction! Online item submission is now open.

Sat, 10am-4pm


Image for Contra Dance

Contra Dance

What better way to wrap up the day than a community contra dance with all our friends? Grab a partner and listen for the sound of the fiddle. The first hour will be geared towards families with easier kid-friendly dances.

Fri, 7-10pm


Image for Lake Superior Chowder Experience

Lake Superior Chowder Experience

Get your bowl for the 21st annual Lake Superior Chowder Experience – a festival highlight that brings chowders of North Shore restaurants for you to taste.

Sat, 12-1pm


Image for Crafting on the Commons

Crafting on the Commons

Witness skilled traditional craft artisans as they join as a community over the weekend to celebrate the process of craft. Observe, engage, and ask questions!

Fri - Sat


Image for Fika and Friends

Fika and Friends

Join us for coffee and and a light fare on Sunday morning as we thank our members and friends for their involvement in North House.

Sun, 10:30am

Details & RSVP

Image for Volunteer Opportunties

Volunteer Opportunties

Join the vibrant and hard-working group of volunteers that help make Wooden Boat Show a success — a variety of volunteer roles are available!


Image for Summer Solstice Pageant

Summer Solstice Pageant

Presented by the Good Hill Harbor Players, the pageant is a spectacular presentation including hand-made paper mache puppets, live musical accompaniment, and more. It is truly a show you're unlikely to forget.

Sat, 8pm

Event Details


Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Wooden boat builders and enthusiasts from across the Midwest are invited to display their crafts on campus throughout the weekend. Admire the work of others, get your questions answered and perhaps feel inspired to build one of your own.

Register to display your boat here.

Friday, 6pm: Boat Parade

Perhaps a Wooden Boat Flash Mob on the Grand Marais harbor would be a more appropriate title; let’s get on the water. Bring your boat down to campus and enjoy a paddle or a row about with other boat enthusiasts. Or, show up a bit early and hop in one of ours. North House is home to an abundance of boats & helpful people. Put on a life jacket and get on board! At 6pm, we’ll parade by an appreciative audience gathered on the North House dock, and then gather in the harbor to enjoy one of the longest evenings of the year with other boat enthusiasts.



Watch, listen, be inspired. The adventurous and spirited journeys of boat builders and historians converge for two days of inspirational presentations. North House members receive Special Event Pass, for free admission to presentations and workshops.

$5/presentation for non-members. Become a member today for as little as $25 and Get The Pass!

Fri, Noon Becoming the Community's Boat Builder with Josh Tolkan, Resident Artisan & Boatbuilder
Fri, 1pm Building a Timber Frame to Showcase Historic Watercraft: from Grand Marais to the end of the Gunflint Trail with Bill Douglas of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society
Fri, 2pm How To Rebuild A Pattern Boat (and why!) with Paul von Goertz, classic & antique boat restorer/rebuilder
Fri, 3pm Nóatún Community Wood Boat Works with John Finkle
Fri, 4pm In the Beginning there was Gichi Bitobig, not Grand Marais: Imagining the Harbor in 1823 with Tim Cochrane
Sat, 2pm Nordic Sløyd History: From the Age of Enlightenment to Creative Freedom with Trond Oalaan, Featured International Guest Instructor
Sat, 3pm Building a Norwegian Pram and Weaving a Wool Sail with Martha Brummitt
Sun, 12pm

Featured Presentation: Ways of Learning: An Apprentice Boatbuilding in Japan with Douglas Brooks (immediately following our Annual Membership Gathering and Year in Review)

When people think about Japan, they usually have in their minds images of manga and anime, busy urban centers, and an economy based on innovations in electronics. Most people do not know that there is also a “second Japan” wherein lies a rich history of traditional arts and crafts, many of which are fast disappearing. Douglas Brooks has apprenticed with seven boatbuilders in Japan since 1996, building over a dozen types of traditional boats. In this slide talk he will share his experiences with traditional crafts drawn from twenty-two trips to Japan since 1990.



Friday, June 21, Noon - 5pm & Saturday, June 22, 9am - 4pm

Witness skilled traditional craft artisans as they join as a community over the weekend to celebrate the process of craft.  Demonstrators will be on hand Friday-Saturday, welcoming your curiosity, questions and interest.

Featured Demonstrators

Douglas Brooks: Japanese Boat Building Techniques | Friday, 2-4pm

There are two major differences between boatbuilding in the west and in Japan. The first is the use of a series of saws to fit the seams between planks, which are fastened without any caulking. The second is the use of edge-nailing to fasten planks together into wide strakes. Japanese boat nails are hand-made of flat steel stock. In this demonstration Douglas Brooks will fit two planks in the Japanese fashion, working on the shop floor. Then he will use a special set of chisels to cut pilot holes for the nails and edge-nail the planks together. Brooks will discuss the tools and techniques specific to boatbuilding in Japan as well as answer questions.

Trond Oalaan: Norwegian Traditional Woodworking | Saturday, 10am-12pm

More Demonstrators


Northwoods Fiber Guild Fiber Arts
Cheryl Larson Natural Dyes
Laura Ricketts Traditional Quilting Bee
Martha Brummitt Oar-Making
Jack Sneve Birch Bark Weaving


Robert Schulz Blacksmithing
Harley Refsal Scandinavian-Style Flat Plane Woodcarving
Karen Rognsvoog Natural Dyes
Elise Kyllo Felting
Noatun Community Boatworks Wooden Boat Building
Louise Young Weaving on the Warp Weighted Loom, Saami-Style
Laura Ricketts Quilting Bee
Martha Brummitt Oar Making
Dick Enstad Traditional Rope Walk
Jack Sneve Birch Bark Weaving


Additional demonstrators TBA



Harborside Campfire Picnic and S’mores

Friday, 5-7 pm | $5 - $10 or BYO picnic

Brats anyone? Kick-off your Wooden Boat Show weekend with the taste of summer on the harbor. Brought to you by the Cook County Lions, the BBQ features traditional summer fare. We’ll have a campfire going and provide s’mores fixings and accoutrements. Pull up a seat at the picnic table for boats parading by, a sweet taste of summer and good company.

Boats-to-Tools Auction Sneak Peek

Friday, 7-8 pm | Limited to North House Members & Event Pass Holders

See what goes on behind the scenes and start planning your bids for the morning!

Community Contra Dance with Northern Aire

Friday, 7-8pm (Family Dance) & 8-10pm (Community Dance) | $5 at the door; free to Event Pass Holders.

North House’s boat building workshop converts into a traditional community contra dance on Friday night, welcoming families for the first hour to learn traditional dances geared towards families with children and the next two hours all are welcome for the community dance. All are welcome - no experience necessary!

Live Music on Campus

Sat, 9am-3pm | Free

Keep things moving and grooving with live music on campus.

9am-11am: Bob Walser & Friends
11am-1pm: Andrew Deyette
1pm-3pm: Carrie Dlutkowski & Olya Wright
3pm-5pm: TBA

Boats-to-Tools Auction

Sat, 10am-4pm

Wooden boats for sale! Find sailboats, canoes, kayaks, powerboats, and more for sale at our annual auction. Not looking to take home a boat? Browse shelves of unique tools, books, and other treasures.

Get involved by donating items and by bidding on your favorites — submit your items for auction here!

Family Crafts

Sat, 10am-4pm | Free

Bring the whole family down to the Boat Show and drop by the Family Area. We’ll have craft supplies for all ages to join in the fun as we get creative on the theme of boats, water, and fish! Perfect for imaginative folks ages 2-102.

Lake Superior Chowder Experience

Sat, 12-1pm | $12 adults, $10 kids 12 and under                                                                                              

Get your bowl for the 21st annual Lake Superior Chowder Experience – a festival highlight that brings chowders of North Shore restaurants for you to taste. Smoky steelhead, salsa corn, walleye and clam, and even a take on watermelon were just a few of the interpretations area restaurants took last year. Combined with freshly baked breads from North House’s wood-fired oven, this is a North Shore culinary event not to be missed.

Fika and Friends

Sun, 10:30am | Free | Blue Building

Wooden Boat Show's joyous celebration of craft and community continues on Sunday morning! Join North House for a mid-morning fika as we thank our circle of members and friends. Coffee and light refreshments will be served, including locally baked bread, smoked fish, and other treats!

Please RSVP here if you plan to attend.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers have always been a critical and vibrant part of Wooden Boat Show, and volunteer sign up is now open! See a description of all volunteer roles here, and sign up here! Some roles earn work-study credits, as noted in the role descriptions.


North House members receive a special event pass, allowing free admission to the speakers, demonstrations and the contra dance throughout the weekend. $5/presentation or workshop for non-members. Become a North House Folk School member today, Get The Pass! $25 individual; $50 family.

Wooden Boat Show Pass Holder Benefits

  • Speaker Series: free entry
  • Sneak Peek: Boats to Tools Auction 7pm, Friday
  • Discount on Saturday mini-course registration
  • Free Entry to the Community Contra Dance: 7pm, Friday
  • Featured Speaker: Ways of Learning: An Apprentice Boat Builder in Japan with Douglas Brooks: Sunday, Noon

Year-Long Benefits

  • Membership at North House Folk School, an educational non-profit organization
  • Event Passes for Unplugged & Winterers’ Gathering
  • Members Day Registration: sign up for new courses one day early!
  • Receive the quarterly newsletter and annual report and a discount on one item in the School Store

Become a Member!

Interested in boat building? We offer a number of boat building-related classes throughout the year. See them below!

Course Offerings

Teaser image for Cedar-Strip Boat Construction: Techniques & Fundamentals

Cedar-Strip Boat Construction: Techniques & Fundamentals

Join Wait List
Mon, Jun 24th, 2019  –  Sun, Jun 30th, 2019
Instructor: Ken Koscik
Teaser image for Lofting for Boat Builders

Lofting for Boat Builders

Almost Full
Mon, Jun 17th, 2019  –  Wed, Jun 19th, 2019
Instructor: Douglas Brooks
Teaser image for West Greenland Skin-on-Frame Kayak: Build Your Own

West Greenland Skin-on-Frame Kayak: Build Your Own

Join Wait List
Mon, Jun 24th, 2019  –  Sun, Jun 30th, 2019
Teaser image for Leather Handbag Design & Sewing

Leather Handbag Design & Sewing

Space Available
Mon, Jun 17th, 2019  –  Thu, Jun 20th, 2019
Instructor: Molly Grant
Teaser image for Hand-Forged 'Using' Knife

Hand-Forged 'Using' Knife

Join Wait List
Wed, Jun 19th, 2019  –  Fri, Jun 21st, 2019
Instructor: Robert Schulz
Teaser image for Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Carving: Continuation

Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Carving: Continuation

Join Wait List
Mon, Jun 24th, 2019  –  Wed, Jun 26th, 2019
Instructor: Harley Refsal