The Crafts Fair of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild is a wonderful showcase for the best artists in the Appalachians. This weekend will draw over 200 artists and craftspeople to the US Celluar Center right here in Asheville to display their art, give demonstrations and listen to and play live music from Western North Carolina. Twice a year the Southern Highlands Craft Guild sponsors this show and it’s a must see event for anyone who loves traditional and contemporary crafts. Long before we moved to the Asheville area I would schedule my trips here to visit family around these fantastic shows. The Southern Highland Craft Guild has a long and distinguished history and the fairs have been a local tradition since 1948. Acceptance into the Guild is based on a rigorous jury process, so these artists are definitely the cream of the crop.
You will see an incredible mix of traditional works with contemporary interpretations of life and nature in the southern mountains. Crafts like hand hammered ironwork and intricate baskets are displayed side by side with whimsical brightly colored polymer clay creations or quilted and stitched mixed media illustrations that tell stories of the imagination. The guild was chartered in 1930, springing from the dream of Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate and missionary who moved to Buncombe County in 1890. She joined with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement in the 1920s and the birth of the guild can be traced to a meeting of these leaders at the Penland School in 1928. It is now one of the strongest craft organizations in the country, operating the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few miles from Asheville, and conducting educational outreach as well as hosting two major shows a year. They still have close ties to the Penland School of Crafts and the John C Campbell Folk School. If you can’t go to the show, be sure to visit their gallery and shop at the Folk Art Center on your next visit to Asheville!