Thursday, October 16, 2014

Weekend for fine color -- and fine crafts -- in Asheville area

This may be a better weekend than you thought for heading up to the Asheville area.

The color report at says leaf coloration is moving down the mountains, and notes that foliage is getting prime at Biltmore Estate and in such nearby areas as  Cullasaja Gorge, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Cradle of Forestry.

Moreover, this weekend the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands is going on at the U.S. Cellular Center, 87 Haywood St., in downtown Asheville.

The event is staged twice a year -- four days in July, four in mid-October. It is regarded as one of the best craft shows in the country.

You'll see the fine work of members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a nonprofit formed during the Great Depression; the craft fairs started in 1948 as a way for members to show and sell their creations.

Work at the juried show includes jewelry, wood, leather, fiber, clay, metal and more.

The  Southern Highlands Craft Guild photo at the top of this page shows jewelry by metal smith Linda Azar, a guild member working in Asheville.

Any time of the year, you can see the work of guild members at the Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center on the BRP, on Asheville's outskirts; at the Southern Highland Craft Gallery at Asheville's Biltmore Village; the Parkway Craft Center at Moses Cone Manor, on the Parkway near Blowing Rock.

The guild includes more than 900 members in the mountain regions of nine states in the Southeast. You can additionally see work by guild artisans at Cumberland Crafts, at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, near Middleboro, Ky.; and Arrowcraft, in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

What makes the Craft Fair of  the Southern Highlands go-worthy is this: You have the chance to see more than 200 artisans in a juried show that also features craft demonstrations and live regional music.

It's also in a large, indoor venue.

If  you have an affection for Appalachian folk art -- or are doing your holiday shopping early - this is a don't-miss event.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday (Oct. 16-18); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 19).

Admission is $8; free for 11 and younger.