Asheville’s craft fair honors 70 years of creative heritage


As Asheville awaits its most popular season, the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands continues to offer the public opportunities to cultivate craft in their daily life. Presented by Asheville Color and Imaging and Asheville Citizen-Times, this fine craft event will return to the U.S Cellular Center. Doors open at the downtown Asheville venue on Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. and will last until Sunday, Oct. 22 at 5 p.m.

The Fair will feature nearly 180 makers with both contemporary and traditional work in clau, wood, metal glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media, and jewelry. The members will fill both the arena and concourse of the U.S. Cellular Center. Each maker has undergone a two-step jury process as a part of the Guild’s legacy to uphold a set of standards established by their creative peers.

Additionally, there will be a range of craft demonstrations with interactive activities for visitors, such as Brandy Clements of Silver River Chair Caning Center with rush and lace cane on handmade frames, mixed media artist Cindi Lemkau showcasing embroidery and applique, and fiber extraordinaire Cassie Dixon will be demonstrating flax making among other techniques.

Each day provides various experiences in addition to shopping. At 1 p.m., Quilt appraiser Connie Brown will be presenting a fifteen-minute bed turning that will feature a range of southern and vintage quilts. In addition, mountain musicians, from old time to bluegrass, perform live on the arena stage daily. Since the first fair, the music of the area has been woven into the fabric of the Craft Fair experience.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild is also partnering with local service, Slidr, to assist customers and visitors with their transportation to the Fair. With Fall being the most visited time of year for Asheville, the Guild looks to provide ease of access through the electronic shuttle. Slidr will be offering visitors free shuttle rides to and from the North Asheville area near Chestnut Street and the Asheville Chanber straight to the door of the U.S Cellular Center. Slidr’s free mobile app allows the user to request a shuttle anytime throughout the event.

The U.S. Cellular Center was a shift in landscape for this event from its inception under canvas tents in 1948 on the grassy lawns of Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Downtown Asheville provides a robust experience for visitors, as the time honored gathering is representative of the creativity that flows in Western North Carolina. As a venue to provide a regional marketplace for mountain craftspeople, the Guild Fairs have evolved into a popular celebration of craft in the country.

The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands is made possible from the following sponsors: The Laurel of Asheville, Our State Magazine, Smoky Mountain Living, WNC Magazine and WNC Woman.

Cultivating the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing, and conversation.

The Southern Highland Craft Guild, chartered in 1930, is today one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. The Guild currently represents nearly 900 craftspeople in 293 counties of nine southeastern states. During the Depression the Guild cultivated commerce for craftspeople in the Appalachian region. This legacy continues today as the Guild plays a large role in the Southern Highlands craft economy through the operation of four craft shops and two annual craft expositions. Educational programming is another fundamental element of the organization, fulfilled through integrated educational craft demonstrations at retail outlets and expos, free educational community events, and an extensive public library located at its headquarters at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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