The Appalachian Artisans Guild will present the annual Cabin Fever Arts Festival Saturday, March 9, and guild president Bill Dreger described it as a mix of handcrafted traditional and unique fine arts and crafts by area artisans.
Dreger told The Times-Gazette that the event, now in its 16th year, will be held at the Southern State Community College Patriot Center in Hillsboro. It is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and began in humble surroundings at the college’s old south campus in Fincastle.
“We had all these people with all this talent and nobody knew about it,” Dreger said. “So I proposed we start a showcase deal in a community setting where we could show the area what we do, and get other artisans together that weren’t guild members.”
The West Union crafter is credited with being the founding father of the festival and has contributed much to its success over the years, bringing his lifelong love of working with wood and creation of rustic items to the festival.
He described himself as hobbyist woodworker, but said that many of the artisans are serious professionals who work the circuit of various arts and crafts shows across the country, offering an array of quilts, jewelry, pottery, clothing, paintings, metal and woodworking items, foods and more.
Visitors can also watch some of the artisans creating their work in their booths, and Dreger said that all of the artists are more than happy to answer questions and discuss details of their particular craft.
Tracy Burske, who repurposes discarded fabric into a line of tote bags and calls herself “The Ohio Bag Lady,” is the chairperson of the festival and described the event as a “very varied show.”
“We make sure that we hit on all the different types of art, from jewelry to pottery to woodworking,” she said, “and new to the show this year is a gentleman who makes handmade fishing lures and another man who makes cigar box guitars.”
She said the Highland County Quilters will make a return appearance as will the Locust Hill Spinners, who will be spinning yarns and wools from the small flock of sheep that guild member Bootsie Robison raises.
Several other local favorites will be at this year’s event including Leesburg’s Brenda Armstrong and her creations made from vintage wallpapers, buttons and old coats; Elaine Balsley, who enjoys painting a wide variety of subjects on various media in her home studio between New Vienna and Highland; and Hillsboro’s Avery Applegate, who handcrafts unique jewelry made from antique typewriter keys.
“There will also be food-related crafting as well,” Burske said. “We have a vendor who sells honey, another who does fresh-baked breads and another vendor who will be bringing homemade Easter candy.”
Dreger said the event is much more than just 65 vendors hawking their wares at a craft show in that since the guild is a non-profit organization that takes some of the profits made from booth rental and gives scholarships to area art students.
“We’re trying to help high school art students who are moving out into the field of the arts,” he said. “Last year we gave out four $500 scholarships to kids who we felt were the most deserving.”
Lunch items can be purchased from Steve’s Ridge Top BBQ food truck, Derger said, and there would be live music with Steve Free.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.