Art in Autumn: Crafts, commerce and community in Weaverville

SPECIAL FINDS: Unique arts and crafts, like these pieces by Tiffany Ownbeyare part of Weaverville's annual Art in Autumn festival. Photo courtesy of the artist

The first brainstorming session for Weaverville’s Art in Autumn festival took place in December, 2006. “We were desperately seeking ways to bring more foot traffic to the downtown area of Main Street,” remembers Sherrye Perry, a Weaverville Business Association member. With Beth Mangum, Perry organized what would become a successful annual event. “It seemed a natural migration to focus on the arts in some form or another, and a one day festival seemed to be a manageable endeavor.”

Now in its eighth year, the festival will take over Main Street on Saturday, Sept. 20. The juried festival has grown from about 70 artists the first year to 114 artists on the 2014 roster. Displayed works include a range of mediums, from glass to ceramics to photography and more, as well as a series of live music performers throughout the day. This year, expect to see more artists from beyond Western North Carolina as a result of listing the event with Zapplication, an online art fair application platform which exposed the event to a wider group of artists.

“The core group of organizers of this festival are artists and craftspeople seasoned in the craft show business,” says Mangum. Because of their familiarity with how much hard work it can be to vend at an art fair, they have some innovative ideas on how to make it an artist-friendly festival. “We have a crew of people in place to help the artists unload their vehicles and set up their booths,” says Mangum. “The artists love this service, and many of them say it is their favorite show because of this.”

Support also comes in the form of food: “Our local businesses and community are extremely supportive, with the local Presbyterian Church providing 250 boxed lunches for all of our artists and their helpers,” says Perry.

During Art in Autumn, seven awards totaling $2,000 will be presented to selected artists for best in show and runners up. This year’s judge, Becky Anderson, was the founding director of HandMade in America after serving as director of economic development for the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

“I believe that our community involvement speaks loudly that we are 100 percent committed to the financial health of a quaintly artistic small town and her townspeople,” says Perry.

WHAT: Art in Autumn
WHERE: Main Street, Weaverville.
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free. visitweaverville.com/art-in-autumn

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