Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mountain State Art & Craft Fair Brings Back Memories

This past weekend I had an incredible experience. I was walking among the tents at the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair. People will milling about, eating roasted corn, plates of pinto beans, and homemade ice cream. The cry of a lone fiddle mingled in the air with the scent of freshly popped kettle corn.  An elderly man to my left was concentrating on weaving a large basket, across the pond a woman in period costume was stirring a pot of lye soap, and another was teaching a young child to carve wood.  And I was overcome with a sense of pride and honor to call myself a West Virginian. 

Forty-six years ago, this event was the first in the state to showcase Appalachian heritage, and each year it provides our artists and craftspeople an opportunity to not only share their handmade creations, but also to teach and remind us of our past.  It is almost like a crossroads of sorts--where the past meets the future.  I found corn cob dolls and sock monkeys, elaborately turned wooden bowls and pottery, but I also found interesting contemporary jewelry, cool yard art, giant gourds transformed into mushrooms, and intriguing digital photography collages. Along with these great finds, I also learned some incredible stories.  There is something about fairs and festivals, and this one in particular, that bring us closer to our roots.  Maybe it's the childhood memories of candy apples and kettle corn or of a grandparent playing a banjo on the porch.  Maybe it's the gathering of like-minded people who want to honor and support traditional arts and crafts. Or maybe it's simply the need to step out of the hustle and bustle of daily life to just breathe....

I'm ashamed to admit that more than 20 years had passed since I had attended the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair. But now I am determined to make it an annual Fourth of July tradition for my family! Go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year -- you'll be glad you did!


Jennifer said...

How funny is it that I bought two of the metal yard sculptures and a batch of those gourd mushrooms for my garden and you happened to feature both here on the blog. :-)

I so enjoyed my first foray back to this event after 16 years away. It was everything I remembered it to be.

Jen said...

Where in WV is the fair held?