Around town: The Big Crafty is back

COMMUNITY CRAFT: Justin Rabuck, owner of art shop Horse + Hero, is co-founder of The Big Crafty. Photo courtesy of Justin Rabuck

The Big Crafty will return to Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville on Saturday, July 6, and Sunday, July 7, noon-6 p.m.

The biannual regional arts and crafts fair was founded in 2008 by Brandy Bourne and Justin Rabuck with the idea of creating a family reunion for their creative community. “We extend a warm welcome to a rich pageant of basement and backyard artists, juried prize winners and brand new creative spirits,” the original call to artists read.

The response to the call has been overwhelming, bringing together hundreds of artists every year. “We’ve been part of the creative community here since the ’90s, and we bring our full hearts to creating this event,” says Rabuck. “Our artists reflect that right back, and I think the warmth of our creative community shines through.”

The Big Crafty has been voted Best Arts/Crafts Fair in Best of WNC every year since it began. The upcoming summer event will feature over 180 booths of artists, makers and craftspeople, with over 50 of those artists participating in the craft fair for the first time.

New artists include Allison Daniel, who works with native clay and innovative firing techniques; Dean Denney, who makes Buddhist forms out of naturally fallen native wood; Ester Araujo, a textile designer who supports herself with fine art and corporate design work; Franchesca López Borges, who bridges her Puerto Rican and stateside heritage through “patchwork,” hand-built pottery; Julie Hassett Sutton, a photographer whose clients include the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CBS News, NBC and Delta Airlines; Lindsay West, who fell in love with wood-firing and salt-glazing while working toward her degree at UNC Asheville; Allie Chamberlain, who reclaims vintage textiles en route to the landfill to make art for the body and home; and Chris Garcia, who does screen printing through his California-based business, Remontant Press.

The Big Crafty previously took place in Pack Square Park, but the event moved to the Civic Center last year. Saturday tickets cost $10, and Sunday admissio is free.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information, visit

Wherefore art thou Romeo?

Nemesis Theater Co. will perform an original adaptation of Romeo & Juliet at N.C. Stage Company each weekend from Friday, July 12-Saturday, July 27.

While Nemesis’ interpretation is still 85%-90% Shakespeare, according to director Melon Wedick, he has rewritten the prologue and endings, and at points, the cast is prompted to ad-lib. Jon Stockdale and Dwight Chiles star as the titular lovers to tell a brand-new story of queer awakening, while multiple endings explore possible escapes from the onslaught of tragedy. “During the dramaturgical research for the show, we hit upon Luigi da Porto’s novella La Giulietta, first published in 1539, which tells the story of Romeo and Juliet with a slightly altered (and far more tragic) ending,” says Wedick. “The ending was too good not to include — which brought us to two. But we wanted to honor, also, the queer-awakening story we’ve developed and give Juliet some agency over their story, so our show ends in a series of ‘do-overs’ until we find an ending we can live with.”

In addition to the familiar story of meddlesome parents and clergy, the production will also feature water pistols and a femur fight. Nemesis performers Erin McCarson and Zak Hamrick, last seen together in Nemesis’ most recent play Cymbeline, will return for the performance alongside newcomers Jason Phillips, Paula O’Brien, Elijah York, Elli Murray, Rachel McCrain, Olivia Stuller, Selah Hamilton, Eli Hamilton, Ronnie Nielsen, Katie Alexander, Nora Tramm and Elizabeth DeVault.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 but are half off on Thursdays.

N.C. Stage Company is at 15 Stage Lane. For more information, visit

Local art students help out library

North Buncombe High School art students have designed a new logo for the Friends of the Weaverville Library (FOWL).

Since Weaverville Library first opened in 1955, it has been supported by FOWL, a volunteer community organization that helps the library operate a used bookstore, put on community programming, purchase special materials, make facility improvements and more. The Friends group had used a basic sketch of the library as a de facto logo for many years, but in August 2023, the organization’s board of directors decided it was time for an upgrade. Board Chair Stuart Lamkin reached out to North Buncombe High School art teacher Eamon Aldridge to invite ideas from his students.

The students were excited to apply their skills to a project that extended beyond the classroom. Numerous submissions were received, many involving books and birds (playing off the FOWL acronym). Ultimately, the organization asked the students to incorporate elements of all the designs into a final rendition put together by sophomore Dream Burford. The contributing students were each offered gift certificates to the library’s used bookstore as well as certificates of appreciation.

The new logo now adorns the organization’s communications, newsletters and social media. Thinking back on the process, Lamkin remarks, “I was so pleased with how it turned out, from beginning to end. I truly appreciate Mr. Aldrige’s willingness to take up the project, especially in the midst of so many other things, then the students putting their talents into it. They really did a phenomenal job, and FOWL will be extremely proud to use our new awesome logo everywhere!”

The Weaverville Public Library is at 41 N. Main St., Weaverville. For more information, visit

Conservation photo competition for kids

The George Masa Foundation is inviting submissions for its inaugural George Masa Youth Conservation Photography Prize.

Open to children ages 11-18, the prize is meant to inspire middle and high school students to consider conservation by exploring and capturing the natural world through the categories of Wildlife, Landscape, Water, Climate Change and Sustainable Practices. “We are excited to launch this competition and see the incredible creativity and vision that young people bring to conservation,” says David Huff, founder of the George Masa Foundation, in a press release. “Through their lenses, we hope to gain fresh perspectives on the natural world and inspire a deeper commitment to protecting it.”

Participants can submit their entries through the official contest website. The competition will be judged by a panel of experts in photography and conservation, ensuring that the winners are recognized not only for their artistic talent but also for their ability to communicate important environmental messages. Winners in each category will receive cash prizes and have their work featured on the George Masa Foundation’s website and social media channels.

For more information, visit

Jewish poetry conference

Yetzirah: A Hearth for Jewish Poetry is hosting the second annual Jewish Poetry Conference at UNC Asheville’s Highsmith Student Union this week, continuing through Friday, July 5.

A cohort of 36 poets from around the world will lead writing workshops, panels, readings and a Shabbat service in partnership with UNCA’s Center for Jewish Studies.

On Wednesday, July 3, there will be a discussion titled “Introduction to a Jewish Poet” from 3:15-4:30 p.m. and a reading at 7:30 p.m. featuring poets of the Yetzirah board of directors and staff. On Thursday, July 4, a discussion titled “Poetry as Prayer” from 1:30-2:45 p.m. will be followed by a reading from 3:15-4:30 p.m. Friday features two more readings by multiple poets, including fellows and faculty. Participants are invited to attend a Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday, July 5, from 7-7:45 p.m.

Yetzirah: A Hearth for Jewish Poetry is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a community for Jewish poetry. Resources include workshops, readings, publishing information and a searchable online database to discover Jewish poets.

For a full schedule of events and more information, visit


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