Think about a skill you’d like to sharpen. Maybe you want to learn to knit or plant your own garden, or master some simple dance steps. The Workshop Experience in Hillsdale will provide a plethora of opportunities to better yourself and your craft on May 7-8. The weekend-long festival brings together over 35 hands-on classes hosted by the Hillsdale Workshop Alliance and taught by various professionals.
Matthew White, alliance member and owner of Hillsdale General Store, describes the organization as a group of neighbors coming together to educate, with each member tapping into their own network to find teachers for the workshops. “It’s a lot of cross pollination,” White says. “We all bring in our contacts from past professional lives and what we’re doing now.”
Instructors range from locals to nationally known professionals. One noted instructor is Aubrey Lynch, original cast member and former associate producer of The Lion King on broadway. Lynch will be teaching a simple movement class for non-dancers. “We’re obviously not going to have an advanced ballet class,” says White. “But we’re making a very high level professional like Lynch accessible to people with less skill.”
Other workshops include a mini creative writing retreat, podcasting 101, mushroom foraging, and blacksmithing. You can learn how to raise chickens in your backyard or how to make a mini woodland terrarium. A whole segment on fiber arts includes classes on shibori, bundle dying, wool processing, and weaving. There are culinary arts courses and gardening classes, even a talk entitled What the !@#$% is the Metaverse?
Creatives Coming Together
The workshop experience started out informally with White, gardener extraordinaire Margaret Roach, and Jenny Elliot and Luke Franco, owners of Tiny Hearts Farm. For years the group taught cooking, gardening, and floristry classes, building up a reputation for quality education.
The alliance grew to include seven more professionals, each with a different area of expertise. Last year, the alliance held their first organized festival. This year will follow the same model, with each member curating their own classes. Classes will be held amidst the scenery of Hillsdale in full spring bloom, in open gardens, farms, and at alliance members' businesses. The cooking classes will take place in the kitchens at HGS Home Chef, White’s store. White believes the location is central to the experience.
“Usually if you sign up for a workshop, it’s in some Marriott,” he says. “Our area is so magical. It’s such a beautiful setting. We’ve found that it’s the perfect space for experiential learning.”
Participants can choose what they want to learn and order tickets a la carte.