Tennessee Craft • Centennial Park • September 26 to 28
by Stephanie Stewart-Howard
Everyone who’s ever attended one of the sprawling, gorgeous art and craft fairs in Centennial Park looks forward to its annual September iteration, with scores of artisans, food and beverage vendors, and a host of entertainment and hands-on activities. We’ve all walked the rows, talked with the artisans from all over the country, and walked back to our cars clutching bags filled with everything from ironwork to pottery to hand-woven shawls. If you haven’t, it’s time you did.
Tennessee Craft takes place September 26 to 28 in Centennial Park. Anna-Claire Gibson, member services and marketing manager for Tennessee Craft, says the name change came about in winter 2014. “There were a couple of reasons for it,” she says. “In some cases, people didn’t understand the ‘TACA’ acronym, and, more important, the ‘Tennessee Craft’ label can connect all six groups across the state that work together. Tennessee Craft conveys what we are and speaks for itself.”
The fall show is entirely juried, and it’s a tradition at this point, after more than 36 years. People return annually to see favorite artists with whom they’ve developed a bond and purchase from both familiar and new.Potter Tom Turnbull has shown at the first booth to the right off West End Avenue for 15 years. “It’s a great opportunity for me to actually meet my clients, customers, and the public. As an artist I’m always doing new work, and it’s good to see the reaction to it. So much of what I do is given as gifts, and I love knowing I’m participating in birthdays, graduations, weddings, Christmas. I love Christmas, knowing people are opening boxes filled with my work.” Plenty of that will be purchased here in September.
Gibson says visitors should look for the Emerging Makers tent, where artisans at differing stages of their careers, often new and fresh in the craft circuit, have a chance to showcase works. The kids’ tent is also full of craft and performance magic for families.
“When you come, plan to make a day of it,” she says. “Get there early; take time to talk to the artists and learn their stories. Wear sensible shoes. Carpool—parking is limited close by. Take time to enjoy the live demonstrations.”
Tennessee Craft may have been around for decades, but there’s always some new aspect even the most experienced veterans can take delight in finding.
For more information, visit www.tennesseecraft.org.