One of a Kind
Late summer is such a special time in West Virginia. Besides the quiet changing of our coloration, the arts and crafts displays are never more prevalent throughout our state. Those who get their livelihood from cottage industries made in their homes and workshops that are totally unique and one of a kind have their wares for sale around every corner. And, quite a few in our population have a craving for these coming weeks and the marvelous sights they will behold.
Of course, some traveling must be done to see them all, but that is not a bad thing because the trips are made so enjoyable with the spectacular colors that will accompany us on every ridge. I am predicting a banner year for beautiful mountain coloration with all the moisture that has been repeatedly absorbed in recent weeks.
The “grandaddy” of all craft shows might be none other than the Mountain State Art and Craft Show at Cedar Lakes near Ripley. Begun in the late 1960s and largely supported by the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Tourism, it was one of the very first gatherings of craft creators set-up booths and has sold merchandise dollars in the hundreds of thousands.
People have traveled from every part of the state to see the wares displayed here and this representation became the model for other state shows, many of which will be offered in the next few weeks. This particular favorite has a new autumn date and can be seen Sept. l5- l7, with more information available at 304-372-3247. The cooler weather promises bigger crowds and an easier time for demonstrations, which go on throughout each day.
If you have a hankering for arts and crafts, this weekend you are certainly in luck because two terrific fairs are going on in Lewis County. The traditional Jackson’s Mill Jubilee near Weston always attracts many craft enthusiasts, as well as the Jane Lew Fireman’s Fair nearby. Both began yesterday and will run through the Labor Day weekend, closing Sunday evening. The craft show combinations will yield more than 300 booths between the two.
More than 175 crafts can be seen at Parkersburg’s Harvest Moon Arts and Crafts Festival Sept. l6 and l7. Harper’s Ferry boasts a very elegant craft fair Sept. 22-24 and Marlinton hosts 70 crafters at their Autumn Harvest Festival Sept. 30 in the downtown area. A very nice indoor show is available at Kingwood on Sept. 28-30 at the 74th Buckwheat Festival, with traditional buckwheat cakes and sausage served next door.
The following week finds Elkins steeped in arts and crafts with the Woman’s Club of Elkins Art and Craft Show at the Davis & Elkins College gym Oct. 5-7, opening at 9 a.m. Thursday morning of the Mountain State Forest Festival Week. Across town at the First Methodist Church, another show will be in full swing beginning Thursday, Oct. 5, at noon. Another nice October show is the one in Morgantown for Mountaineer Week, which will be open Oct. 20-21.
As November rolls around, the 50th annual Capital City Arts and Crafts Show will be offered in Charleston’s Civic Center on Nov. 17-19. Additional shows will occur during the Thanksgiving holidays both at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and the Elkins National Guard Reserve Center near Elkins on Corridor H. Christmas items are especially featured at these two shows.
Fortunately, we have always lived in a culture that is very independent and thrifty. It should be no surprise that our people learned to make things at home that were useful, as well as decorative. Often, arts and crafts trips will be a search for only one special item to take home and be part of a permanent collection. But, how spirits are lifted by admiring the creativity and handiwork of others.
Craft fair followers will tell you, “It just feels good to see what special creations others can produce.” It is being able to share another’s genius, and it makes us aware of how priceless the mind can be. Appreciating the arts gives special meaning to life. It accents individual development and resourcefulness. It is evidence of the results of hard work.
As we travel through the state and examine the homemade creations of others, we cannot help but realize that those who have confidence and determination can achieve outstanding results. It really helps if people recognize that someone believes in them and their talents. Some are fortunate to see this regard from friends and family, and others must feel this spirit from beyond.
Lift your spirits and see a craft fair. Miracles live there. You will be part of the impossible, and you will acquire heart-felt hope — enough that you can share with another who needs an encouraging word.