Robbinsville – In spite of threatening skies, the third annual Robbinsville Fall Arts & Crafts Festival was the biggest ever, with more than a dozen booths filling the Courthouse Square on Saturday
However, the future of the festival is still in question.
“Every year, we either don’t have enough vendors or don’t have enough people showing up to buy,” said Alderman Brian “Taco” Johnson. “Everybody hopes we can keep doing this, but we just don’t know if it’s sustainable.”
Vendors sold an array of hand-crafted wares, as students from the Graham County Public Library’s Mountain Music Lesson program played bluegrass classics and community groups raised money for good causes.
Sellers ranged from first-timers just learning their crafts, to seasoned veterans who have attended all three festivals.
Among the newcomers was Joanah’s Creations, which offered jewelry and “tabletop decor” designed and created by owner Joanah Patterson of Bryson City. Her work includes stones, wood, shell, and other natural materials.
“Everything I make has something natural in it,” said Patterson, “and everything I make is one of a kind.” Joanah’s Creations can be found at regional fairs as well as on Facebook.
Teresa Keber of Sweetpea Crafts has sold her creations for more than eight years.
“I started with the crocheted hats, but our biggest seller these days is the baby blankets,” Keber said. Sweetpea Crafts can be found on Facebook. Keber has sold her work at the Robbinsville Fest for three years running and plans to return to the festival next year.
Another experienced vendor was Shondi Johnson of Cherokee, an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians crafter who does beadwork, finger-weaving, and sewing.
“Most of my work is by custom order,” Johnson said. “The most intricate project I ever did was a completely beaded guitar strap. That took a lot of time.” Those interested in custom orders may contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the fest went on around her, Peggy Denton of Denton Wreath Company worked on a new creation of bright blue ribbon, preparing for the rush of orders that comes with every holiday season.
“We are still on Facebook and Etsy,” she said, “but we are about to launch our first website. I’m hoping it’ll make it easier for people to find us and place orders.”
Other vendors, such as Nick Nichols, were less ambitious with their sales.
“This isn’t really a business,” Nichols said, who owns his own sawmill and creates furniture, decor, and entire cabins from the wood of local trees. “I’ve been woodworking forever,” he said. “We sell what we sell, but this is just what I do. I work with wood.”
Other booths sold crafts for causes, such as the Graham County Cancer Support Group. Vicki Walsh, who was also selling her own hand-made baskets, explained that the group is composed of “local people who banded together to help residents struggling with cancer.” The group recently received their 501C3 non-profit status, which will kick fund-raising into high gear.
“Every dime we raise will stay local,” Walsh said. “Anyone affected by cancer, they can just contact us and they’ll get the assistance they need.” Next Saturday’s softball tournament at Phillip and Jordan Field will be a major fundraiser for the group.
Walsh can be reached at 735-0438.
Friends of the Library brought its raffle to the fest, with tickets also on sale at the library until Sept. 30.
Raffle items include items from festival vendors, including donations from several businesses.
All raffle money will support the Graham County Public Library.