Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands To Open in Asheville - TribPapers

Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands To Open in Asheville

Robert Milnes focuses on sculptures that are based on combinations of a positive and negative volumetric shapes. Photo courtesy of Robert Milnes.

Asheville – High-quality craftsmanship is the hallmark of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which holds a large fair twice each year at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville. This, the 76th Annual Craft Fair, will be held July 20–23. These dedicated artists will be selling their own works of art. You can ask about the material used and the process involved in making it. These artists are some of the finest found in the South. Many of their pieces will amaze and surprise you with their originality. There will be contemporary to traditional pieces in works of clay, wood, metal, glass, fiber, paper, letter, mixed media, natural materials, and jewelry—all beautifully constructed by top-notch artisans.

A Celebration of Appalachian Craft

At this fair, more than two hundred member craftspeople will fill two floors of the Civic Center. It is an opportunity to see some incredibly beautiful handcrafted pieces, put together painstakingly by a fine craftsman. In an age of mass production and global imports, the connection between fine American craft and the individual maker is often lost, making it more significant than ever.

Bees are a favorite theme in the ceramic pieces made by artist Julie Calhoun-Roepnack. Photo courtesy of Julie Calhoun-Roepnack
Bees are a favorite theme in the ceramic pieces made by artist Julie Calhoun-Roepnack. Photo courtesy of Julie Calhoun-Roepnack

Artisan Demonstrations and Hands-On Projects

In addition to the artisans booths, demonstrations and hands-on projects will be shown. The fiber artist Mary Nichols will be demonstrating all four days—perhaps spinning or weaving—at the bottom of the arena ramp. The widely collected potter Rodney Leftwich and jewelry designer Priscilla Frake will be demonstrating their craft near the entrance on the Concourse Level. Outside visitors will find Odyssey clay works on Thursday, Carla and Greg Filipelli (basketry) on Friday, and Sandra Rowland (sunprinting) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Lynne Fiorenza Jewelry.

A Showcase of Talented Artists and Craftsmen

There are hundreds of artists and craftsmen whose works are on display in booths at the Center. The talented ceramic artist Robert Milnes will be there. He creates sculptures and vessels out of clay and other materials, notably copper. Martha Mitchell, an amazing stained glass artist and longtime teacher, will be showing some of her pieces. Julie Calhoun-Roepnack designs lead-free, fully functional stoneware inspired by nature. Honey bees are frequently found on her items, as she likes to promote the public’s awareness of their importance. She volunteers for “Bee City USA” to protect the environment and pollinators. Some fascinating wood forms that have been turned on a lathe by Michael Sorge will be shown. Amy Brandenburg will be displaying her handcrafted jewelry; miniature houses, birdhouses, and castles have been created in tiny and wearable sizes, as well as some lovely stained glass silver pieces. These are only a few names to mention of the artists and craftsmen who will be at this four-day event in downtown Asheville.

Preserving Craft and Impacting the Local Creative Economy

The Southern Highland Craft Guild has been shaping the creative economy for nearly 90 years. They educate the region and arts community on the importance of craft and its ability to impact the local creative economy. Through retail locations, demonstrations, craft fairs, and special events, they promote the purpose and appreciation of the makers and their craft. In addition to the bi-annual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, there are now also four shops—the Southern Highland Craft Guild in Biltmore Village, the Southern Highland Craft Guild at the Folk Art Center, the Southern Highland Craft Guild on Tunnel Road, and the Southern Highland Craft Guild at Moses Cone Manor—with a range of handmade originals from Guild members. Today, the Guild is second in age only to the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts.

Event Details

This extraordinary Fair is open July 20 – 23 from 10:00 am- 5:00 pm with a ticket price of $10. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door at 87 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC. You will undoubtedly find something to bring home to treasure.