Find Beauty, Function, and Fun at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair
By Bennie McCann © 2010, All Rights Reserved

When it comes to traditional arts and crafts, eastern Tennessee is home to some of the most skilled artisans in the country. But twice each year talented craftsmen from all over the United States gather in Gatlinburg to show off their skills, demonstrate their techniques, and give you the opportunity to own a piece of artwork you simply can't find anywhere else.

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair features more than 200 artists in a juried show that encompasses nearly every handicraft imaginable. Stained glass designers, painters, sculptors and more will all be on hand to delight you with their one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

Artwork to Wear or Display

Jewelry makers will wow you with their sophisticated and charming pieces that would be an asset to any collection. Bits of silver wire and semi-precious stones are transformed into beautiful bracelets, necklaces, and earrings while you watch. Even better, you'll have an opportunity to purchase these one-of-a-kind treasures as a reminder of your fantastic vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains.

If home décor is more your style, check out the fabulous quilts on display. These artists are able to turn scraps of colorful fabric into gorgeous quilts, wall hangings, and table runners. Whether you need a new bedspread for the master bedroom, a tiny blanket for a new baby, or a whimsical holiday decoration, you'll find it here.

Beauty with a Purpose

Beauty and style are both important, but any craftsman will tell you that art is secondary to function. The early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains were artisans out of necessity, and their talents have been passed on through the generations. Today, wood carvers, potters, and broom makers continue to practice the traditional arts that were an essential part of life in the back woods.

You'll find handmade brooms with carved handles that seem too pretty to be used for mere housework – but which will make short work of a dirty floor. In the kitchen, a hand-carved dough bowl is the perfect addition to any baker's cupboard, and homemade bread is even tastier when served on earthenware plates decorated in traditional Appalachian motifs. And don't forget to grab a butter crock while you're browsing!

Perhaps even better than seeing (and buying) all the beautiful artwork on display is learning a few of the techniques yourself. Many of the artists will gladly share their secrets with interested onlookers, giving tips and advice to amateur quilters, hobbyist jewelry makers, and those new to glass cutting. You'll be able to see what's possible, gather a few tricks, and return home inspired to try a new method or even a whole new medium.

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair also features live country and bluegrass music and plenty of southern hospitality. Three daily shows will set your toes tapping and your fingers snapping. So head to Gatlinburg in October and get an early start on your Christmas shopping, or just pick up a few nice things for yourself.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in cabins near Gatlinburg, TN. Visit the main website to book a cabin for your next weekend in Gatlinburg.