Blue Ridge Craft Trails Bring Listening Session to Cherokee

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will play host to the second in a series of listening sessions to help create a new craft trail across our mountains.

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area seeks ideas and suggestions to develop the Blue Ridge Craft Trails over the next few years. People interested in Western North Carolina’s rich craft heritage are invited to attend the session 2-4 p.m. July 13 at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, 159 Chestnut St., Blowing Rock.

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s latest trail initiative will encourage cultural tourism and strengthen rural economies by promoting the region’s many craft artists, craft schools, local arts businesses and venues. The online project promises to link traditional and contemporary artisans with more visitors to studios and galleries.

Seven listening sessions have been scheduled across the region. Craft artists, gallery owners, arts groups, businesses and anyone interested are invited to attend and offer their comments. Other meetings will be held 2-4 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
•July 18 – Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee
•August 1 – Tryon Arts & Crafts, Tryon
•August 3 – Yadkin Valley Cultural Arts Center, Yadkinville
•August 8 – John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown
•August 24 – Penland School of Crafts, Penland
•August 31 – Southern Highland Craft Guild, Folk Art Center, Asheville

“We envision the Blue Ridge Craft Trails of Western North Carolina as an online roadmap to guide visitors through our rich craft heritage and connect personally with artisans in our mountain communities,” said Angie Chandler, executive director of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

“We’re building on the pioneering work of HandMade In America in the 1990s, which started the original Craft Heritage Trails of WNC. We want to update that guide for the Internet age and provide new opportunities for the next generation of crafters, collectors and visitors,” Chandler said.

The professional craft industry generates more than $206 million in annual business across 25 Western North Carolina counties, according to a 2008 economic study.