Annual Crafts Fest held

Published 9:37 am Monday, November 6, 2017

Artisans from all across the region gathered at the Middlesboro Mall for a weekend full of crafts and lost arts, as the mall held its 13th annual Festival of Appalachian Arts and Crafts.

The festival was created by Middlesboro Mall Manager Charles Burchfield as a signature event for the mall. Burchfield says he knew numerous people throughout the area were skilled in arts in crafts, and believed that it would be a great idea to provide them with a way to showcase their artistic abilities without having to travel too far, which is exceptionally convenient considering that most craft shows are a long drive from the Tri-State area.

“There are so many talented people in the area, but they hardly ever get a chance to make their talents known, so it goes unnoticed. Events like this give them the opportunity to showcase their work,” said John D. Brock, a wood turner from Pineville who has participated in the event since its beginning.

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This year appeared to be yet another success for the growing show, complete with 17 artisans — six of which chose to take it a step further by demonstrating their artwork for mallgoers to witness first-hand.

Among the artisans were craftsmen of various locations and ages, including Andrea Schnieder of Speedwell, Tennessee, who used the event to display her hand crocheted items.

Despite her young age, Schnieder, 32, took up crocheting from her grandmother as a child and has been participating in craft shows for ten years now. She says she believes many of the once beloved crafts of the area have slowly turned into a lost art, especially among her generation and those following.

“I feel like a lot of these crafts have, in a way, turned into lost art among younger people, which is quite sad because of how wonderful they are,” said Schnieder. “I would absolutely encourage more people my age to give something like this a chance.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the festival also featured Larry Counts of Cleveland, Virginia, who has been a broom maker for over half a century now, as well as several others who have spent many years perfecting their craft.

Along with the crafts, live music was also provided on each day of the event, with several local artists taking the stage, including: Appalachian Drive; Wilson, Gambrel and Goodwin and Orby Hunley.

“Everything went great this year; we had a great crowd and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun,” said Burchfield. “We hope the event continues to grow, and if anyone is interested in signing up for next year feel free to contact the mall.”