WNC Pottery Festival celebrates 10 years

POT STOP: The Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro showcases works from dozens of regional artists. Photo courtesy of the festival

From hand-built to hand-thrown, from raku to wood-fired, clay work covers a wide variety of techniques, finishes and forms. A good bit of that diversity will be on display at the WNC Pottery Festival in Dillsboro on Saturday, Nov. 1, with some 40 artists exhibiting.

“Potters, like painters or sculptors, have developed their own look that easily separates one from another,” says event co-organizer Brant Barnes, who’ll be showing his own work. When curating the show, the jury seeks “fresh and original work in a variety of techniques, firing temperatures and styles to build a unique show each year.”

Now in its 10th year, the festival will showcase potters from across the Eastern U.S. Participating local potters include: Gordon Batten (Dillsboro), Elise Delfield (Bryson City), Laurey Faye Long (Sylva), Kim and Pete McWhirter (Burnsville), Terance Painter (Maggie Valley), Michael Rutkowsky (Burnsville), Joey Sheehan (Marshall), Doc Welty (Leicester) and Rob Withrow (Brasstown). Event co-organizers Joe Frank McKee and Travis Berning, both from Dillsboro, will also be exhibiting.

Usually, the festival spotlights the work of a single artist. But to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the event is featuring two artists this year — Richard Aerni of Rochester, N.Y., and Nick Joerling from Penland.

Various artists will give pottery demonstrations throughout the day. And at midday, a wood-fired kiln will be opened, enabling visitors to discover newly fired pots as they emerge. Check the website for the demonstration schedule.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Oct. 31, master potters will square off in the sixth annual WNC Clay Olympics (see website), competing to produce the largest cylinder, the widest bowl and even working blind folded in a two-minute “throwdown.”

Holding the festival during leaf season provides an additional enticement to attend. But fitting into a crowded calendar was also a consideration. “There were already pottery shows every weekend of November except the first Saturday, so we set our date to not conflict with Shelby, Marion or Seagrove,” says Barnes. “That date has been a great fit for our town and our region.”

WHAT: Western North Carolina Pottery Festival

WHERE: Front Street, Dillsboro, wncpotteryfestival.com

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $5 admission includes entry in hourly raffle drawing; children under 12 free.

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