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The Center of the Spooniverse

"It's been around for hundreds—if not thousands—of years," said Ron Porep, Director of the Milan Village Arts School in Milan, Minnesota.

Wooden spoon carving.

A form of greenwood working (carving from fresh wood that's just been cut), wooden spoon carving is the legacy of Scandinavian folk traditions of carving spoons for housewares and gifts. In recent years, it's been gaining popularity as a favorite pastime in the United States and other countries, such as England.

"Why?", you ask.

"Why not?"

There's a Facebook group dedicated to "Spoon Carving, Green Woodworking and Sloyd," with over 17,000 members from various countries. (Note: Sloyd = handicraft-based education.)

"It's an art form people can do anywhere," Porep said.

But if you want to find the epicenter of spoon carving in the United States, look no further than where carvers converge—in Milan, at the annual Spoon Gathering.

Hosted by the Milan Village Arts School—a craft school that celebrates the region's Scandinavian heritage of ethnic folk arts inside a 1915 red country schoolhouse—the Spoon Gathering began as a small congregation of spoon carvers and enthusiasts, and has now grown into a three-day festival of carving, friendship, entertainment and food.

The Spoon Gathering offers demonstrations, workshops and presentations on spoon carving and other folk art forms—such as Norwegian blade making—for anyone. No matter the skill set.

"It's a transfer of knowledge," Porep said. "Everyone is really friendly and helps each other."

While the Spoon Gathering only graces Milan for three days each year, the Milan Village Arts School offers unique classes and other events, where groups could learn about the region's Scandinavian heritage and folk arts—including the humble wooden spoon.

Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today

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