The Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, held annually during the Fourth of July weekend at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley, began in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s Centennial celebration. Representatives of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Education met with Cedar Lakes personnel to plan the state’s first fair exclusively for the arts and crafts.
Fifty-four artists and craftsmen participated in the first fair. The event had grown to include about 200 by 2004. Sponsoring agencies now include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Division of Tourism, WVU Extension Service, Division of Natural Resources, Tamarack, and the West Virginia Art and Craft Guild. Attendance at the 1963 event was 6,575, with fair-goers growing in numbers in subsequent years. In 2003, the attendance was 23,112 but had fallen to just over 17,000 in 2009.
Artists and craftsmen who exhibit at the fair are selected by a jury of craft experts. The number of out-of-state exhibitors is limited to 25 percent. The fair is open to craftsmen over the age of 18 who work in either traditional or contemporary arts and crafts, and on-site demonstrations are among the event’s main attractions. Categories for exhibits and demonstrations range from baskets to wood furniture. Traditional dance and music are also part of the fair, and foods such as buckwheat pancakes, brown beans and cornbread, and homemade ice cream are available.
The Mountain State Art & Craft Fair is one of the leading arts and crafts fairs in the nation. The event has been named among the top five traditional crafts shows in Sunshine Artist magazine and has been featured in the travel guide Best Festivals Mid-Atlantic.
Last Revised on October 08, 2010