By Taylor Hill, 2013
It would seem that the town of Lake Lure has its fair share of attractions; of course with the expansive lake itself, which visitors get a mesmerizing view of while traveling Highway 64, the Blue Ridge Mountain range, its regal stature impossible to oversee, or the Town Beach, a man-made body of water that sits at the forefront of the large mountains, littered with floating inflatable platforms and plastic sliding tubes that lead into the depths of the water. These, being the most noted, are understandable reasons why Lake Lure is a recognizable western North Carolina tourist location, however, the town gives you yet another motive for visiting, specifically during the rustic fall months.
Lake Lure’s Arts and Crafts Festival – a title that holds no secrets- is a celebration of everything creative and locally made. From hand-crafted furniture, to intricately pieced jewelry, the Festival has no shortages in merchandise, and the sellers are not shy about informing visitors on the techniques and strategies implemented to produce such fine crafts. A product of the Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach–a charity organization that caters to the needs of residents within the Hickory Nut Gorge vicinity– the Arts and Crafts Festival is an annual event that hosts any artisan (after they have gone through the proper application process) who would like to showcase and/or profit from their talents . In 2013, the festival spanned the weekend of October 19th-20th, lasting from 10am-5pm each respective day, and was stationed, as it is every year, in the lot of the Arcade Commerce Center with a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
With over 60 artisans present, however, it is hard for visitors to even take notice of the majestic mountains along the horizon, between maneuvering through curious and awestruck attendees and meeting the likes of guests who come from all over. The vendors, usually amongst the older crowd, have separate tents for the purpose of housing their setups and are welcoming to any buyers or people who are just intrigued by their artistries. Regardless, there are trades to appease everyone in attendance, some being more abundant than others.
Among these are the artists who bring self-made paintings and drawings to the festival. These range from pastel watercolors, with unbelievably vibrant hues and elaborate detail to penciled and chalk abstract sketchings of intangible figures. The subject of the pieces varies from vendor to vendor, some taking a keen fondness for recreating natural environments in the artwork including animals, bodies of water, landmarks etc., while others had a knack for portraits of others and household objects like coffee mugs, tea kettles and furniture. Along those lines, there are always artisans present who represent the craftsman’s league and display hand-made chairs, ottomans, and benches, all of which exude a brilliant shine from being polished thoroughly. Materials for these pieces cover mahogany, oak, pine, birch walnut and maple and often contain personalized inscriptions from their creators. Another large numbered group of crafts, which is always in attendance, come from proclaimed jewelers whose pieces showcase the mastery of complex beading patterns, glass welding and delicate carving.
As if this bevy of designs was not enough to satiate visitors, vendors supply a variety of food and guests are more than welcome to eat in the picnic area adjacent to the creek. To accommodate festival goers further, entertainment is provided through song and dance from performers who emphasize the Bluegrass ambiance of the area, wielding guitars, fiddles, harmonicas and banjos.
Festival coordinators Yvonne and Kevin Cooley take explicit time and effort in constructing a lineup that accentuates the diversity of craftsmanship and variety of expertise alive in North Carolinians, which is why the Lake Lure Arts and Crafts Festival is always a success. It is a flawless exhibition of the cultural elements that comprise of the interesting and never dull foothills region.
Visit the Arts and Crafts Festival’s site!