On Sunday, July 15, one hundred and fifty makers will gather at Pack Square Park from 12–7:30 p.m. for the ten-year birthday party of one of Asheville’s most iconic festivals: The Big Crafty. The festival counts the direct economic impact of its decade-long history at more than $2.8 million. “So many of our dearest friends are artists that we’ve met through The Big Crafty, and seeing them evolve as artists and thrive as entrepreneurs has been the most gratifying part of it all,” says Brandy Bourne, co-founder of The Big Crafty with her partner Justin Rabuck.
The popularity of The Big Crafty has allowed many of its vendors to expand their businesses. “After just a few years of participating in The Big Crafty, I have more work opportunities than I can keep up with,” says encaustic artist Chris Rhodes. “My art has become my only income source.” Potter Lisa LaPella, who has participated in The Big Crafty since its beginning, says it has always been her best show of the year. “Numerous galleries have found us via The Big Crafty,” she says, “paving the way for our side business to become our sole source of income.”
In their ten years of hosting the festival, Bourne and Rabuck have not only watched veteran artists grow but they have also seen the children of some of those artists start their own art businesses. “The Big Crafty does feel like a familial community with a life of its own, and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” Bourne says.
Pack Square Park is located at 80 Court Plaza in Asheville. For more information, visit thebigcrafty.com. The Big Crafty is free to attend.