This October, the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands will be returning to the U.S. Cellular Center for its 70th consecutive year. Doors open at 10 a.m. from Friday, October 20, through Sunday, October 22. The fair ends at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for general admission or $12 for a weekend pass. Children ages 12 and under can attend for free. Throughout the weekend, musicians will be performing bluegrass and other mountain music on the arena stage.
This bi-annual fair is hosted by the Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG), which currently represents nearly 900 craftspeople in 293 counties in nine southeastern states. “Most up-and-coming artists that I know want to be a member of the SHCG,” says jewelry artist Roberto Vengoechea, who is participating in the October craft fair. “The SHCG name speaks volumes about the quality and character of the art they showcase and allow into their family of artists.”
More than 180 makers will be present at the fair, presenting both contemporary and traditional works in clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, natural materials, paper, leather, mixed media and jewelry. Artist booths will occupy both floors of the U.S. Cellular Center. All makers represented at the fair have undergone a rigorous, two-step jury process to earn their spot.
In addition to perusing artists’ wares, attendees can enjoy interactive demonstrations throughout the weekend. At 1 p.m. on each day of the fair, quilt appraiser Connie Brown will host a 20-minute Southern Quilt Review, discussing the history and design of 15 antique quilts. “Quilts are a tangible piece of history,” Brown says. “The fabrics and materials used in them reflect the history of the era and the community in which they were made.” Other demonstrations will include chair caning with Brandy Clements of Silver River Chair Caning Center, embroidery and appliqué with mixed media artist Cindi Lemkau and flax spinning and weaving with Cassie Dixon.
Ann Hord-Heatherley, who participated in her first Southern Highland Craft Fair in July, says the fair also has an educational element. “I hope that visitors leave the fair with a greater appreciation of the Appalachian region and its people,” she says. “Too often our area is portrayed as backward and our people unsophisticated. I want the world to know that our region is home to a wonderfully rich culture that has nourished creativity and ingenuity for generations.”
The U.S. Cellular Center is located at 87 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. For more information about the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands or the Southern Highland Craft Guild, visit craftguild.org or call 828.298.7928.