By Dave Russell
The Mountain State Fair in Arden has a big Jackson County influence in the craft arena, thanks to Dogwood Crafters in Dillsboro.
Brenda Anders, the director of the craft collective, leads a group of local heritage crafters to show their creations and do demonstrations. But year round, she also scours the state to line up the heritage craft portion of the fair.
“About four years ago, a group of us from Dogwood were asked to be in charge of the heritage crafters over at the fair,” Anders said. “What that means is that we find and gather up truly heritage people – blacksmithing, basketry, quilting, things like that. Many of them come back year after year, but I am on a constant search all year to find somebody new who does the traditional heritage things, something you have to do by hand and not buy a machine from China to complete.”
Crafters from Dogwood have participated in the craft area of the fair for 27 years.
The crafters going and demonstrating this year are Susan Rhyne, fabric artist; Bill and Debbie Douglas, basketry and chair caning; Bill Austin, woodworking; Ron Yount, faces from tree bark; Nan Smith, crochet; Ron Smith, guitar and banjo picking.
“Dogwood has a big double booth and the demonstrators come individual days and demonstrate,” Anders said. “They’re not going to all be there on the same day.”
Dogwood is part of about 40 crafters who set up at the Boone Building.
“And then there is the Heritage Circle and it is indeed just a little circle and there are outbuildings out there with lots of people doing blacksmithing and pottery and fly fishing and leather work,” she said.
“Randy Vess will show up with his cornshucker, a peeler,” she said. “You turn a handle, and he lets kids shell off the corn and then go over to the next machine and he shows them how to make it into corn meal. There are lots of good old-fashioned crafts like that.”
The Dogwood gang will be there all 10 days with rotating demonstrators.
The Mountain State Fair dates are Sept. 10-19 at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road in Fletcher, across from the Asheville Airport.
Admission is $6 for seniors and kids 6-12; $10 for adults; kids under 5 are free. Ride ticket sheets (21 tickets) are $20, with each ride taking three or four tickets.
Friday – Gates open at 9 a.m.; rides open at 10 a.m., close at midnight.
Saturdays – Gates open at 9 a.m.; rides open at 10 a.m., close at midnight.
First Sunday – Gates open at 9 a.m.; rides open at 10 a.m., close at 11 p.m.
Second Sunday – Gates open at 9 a.m.; rides, buildings, and all exhibits close at 9 p.m.
Monday –Thursday – Gates open at 3 p.m.; rides open at 4 p.m., close at 11 p.m.
Friday Special – Sept.10 and Sept. 17, unlimited rides all day for $25 after gate admission.