Craft fair Celebrates 69 years of Appalachia's finest makers

Oct 19, 2016
Photo by: Donated photo

Nestled in the creative engine of Asheville, craftspeople from nine states gather at the biannual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands at the downtown U.S. Cellular Center.

In its 69th year, the showcase presents a rich selection of talent from contemporary and traditional craft. The Fall edition, Oct. 20-23, will exhibit works of fiber, wood, clay, metal, glass, paper, leather, jewelry, natural materials and mixed media. Both floors will be filled with almost two-hundred masters of craft that honor and celebrate the legacy of the Appalachian creatives who established this well-recognized culture.

As the revival of handmade has once again surfaced among society's cultural phenomenons, and also the desire to sustain heritage and tradition, the Craft Fair brings visitors the opportunity to navigate without the questions of quality or source. Exhibitors at the Fair are members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, an 86-year-old non-profit that boast over 850 artists. This membership organization requires applicants to pass a two-step jury process based on originality, craftsmanship and design. Thus, these four days offer an unparalleled experience of a high quality retail market.

In the industry of craft, the Guild celebrates the emergence and rise of artists as they master their skill and execution in a medium. Known for representing quality creatives from Maryland to Alabama, the following is a preview of new talent, that sustains and perpetuates the traditions of such artistic endeavors this October; Brian Brace of Black Mountain, NC uses traditional mortise and tenon joinery to build fine furniture to endure generations, Laura Peery of Asheville, NC is a ceramicist sculpting porcelain through her lens of fiber mimicry, Bridget Fox of Burnsville, NC forms unique biomorphic objects from clay, and Ken Hall of Waynesville, NC forges one-of-a-kind blades with embellishments of raw materials for versatility and character.

The October show features a dynamic variety of demonstrations from members, such as Michael Lalone on his pottery wheel throwing vessels of form and function. Also, Darryl Maleike will be in the Arena building journals and books using age-old techniques with a range of materials, such as leather, paper, and other fiber. Basketry by George McCollum will also be featured, specifically crafting pieces from white oak. Also in collaboration with educational components for the event will be daily features from the Education Program Committee of the Guild. Corn shuck dolls will be on display in their full process at the Fair too.

Beginning on Friday during each Craft Fair, mountain musicians perform live on the arena stage. Since the first Fair, the music of the area has been woven into the fabric of the Craft Fair experience. From old time to bluegrass, this tradition is kept alive today. Visit for a complete list of performances.