Crafts festival to draw visitors

Crafts festival to draw visitors

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010 8:55 pm

Crafts festival to draw visitors | Reelfoot Arts & Crafts Festival

Fall has officially arrived — and that means the Reelfoot Arts & Crafts Festival isn’t far behind.
The 39th annual festival will run Oct. 1, 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the shores of Reelfoot Lake in the Blue Bank area, near Tiptonville.
The event has been chosen as one of the top three arts and crafts shows in Tennessee, according to the Reelfoot Arts & Crafts Association Inc., a non-profit corporation that promotes tourism in northwest Tennessee.
There is no admission charge for the public to attend next weekend’s festival, but it is noted that pets will not be allowed. Some free parking will be available in the area.
Artisans and crafters will display their wares inside Ellington Assembly Hall, the National Guard armory and the American Legion building, as well as outdoors along several acres of designated spaces around the buildings. Free entertainment, including old-time string music, will be featured.
Concessions — generally ranging from hamburgers and hot dogs to kettle popcorn, roasted nuts and fried pies — will also be available from several vendors.
While in the area, visitors may wish to feast on the traditional Reelfoot Lake fare of fish, country ham, fried chicken and barbecue offered at many of the local restaurants.
As in years past, the churches of Beulah Baptist Association will minister to the vendors by serving them a light breakfast on the Friday and Saturday of the festival and then by offering breakfast and a worship service Sunday morning beneath a tent near Ellington Assembly Hall and the boardwalk.
Festival history
The Reelfoot Arts & Crafts Festival is always held the first weekend that includes an October date and annually attracts a crowd of 40,000 people or more, according to Anna Crocker, secretary/treasurer of the Reelfoot Arts & Crafts Association.
In 1971, a woman had a vision to promote the beauty and splendor of Reelfoot Lake by having an arts and crafts festival organized. She felt that if she could help set up a board of directors to form a festival, it would bring people into the community and enable others to enjoy the beautiful lake area.
The board of directors consisted of nine men and women. Every member had roots in the community and longed to see others come to know the area as they did. The first year of the festival, though small in number, brought tourists into the community and helped spark interest throughout the state, according to the event’s website, www.reelfootartsandcrafts.com.
Working with the state parks system and local authorities, the festival has since grown to draw thousands of visitors to the area each October. Exhibitors come from many states to show their crafts and sell their wares, with over 300 different vendors in 2008.

Published in The Messenger 9.24.10

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