Growing up in a rural city in Georgia, I distinctly remember my favorite event held every spring and fall in my town: the craft fair. From beeswax candles to hypnotic sculptures, this fair was a rare cheap day of fun for my whole family (there were 7 of us!), and we would always return from it with one-of-a-kind art, a feeling of community from supporting the artists’ talents, and inspired to create on our own. And while we have all grown up, we still schedule our lives around attending this awesome fair and others like it. During a family get-together in Pigeon Forge, we discovered that they host a national version of my small town’s craft fair!
Twice a year, the Gatlinburg Convention Center, 150,000-square feet, houses over 200 of the top artisans in the Smokies from 14+ states. And after 44 years, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair has grown to be voted by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the most popular events in the Southeast! Under one roof, visitors can peruse one-of-a-kind pottery, stunning jewelry, intricate wood carvings, captivating paintings, alluring leather goods, and dozens of other artisan items. While you are sipping coffee at the cabin, enjoying your views of the breathtaking autumn hues spread across the Smoky Mountains, make your way to the Gatlinburg Convention Center during this unique event.
The Best of the Best
The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair prides itself on hosting the top craftsmen in their field. Through what the organization states as a “rigorous jury process,” guests to the event are ensured the highest quality and exceptional uniqueness in every booth, hailing from a broad range of trades. Many of the craftsmen are from the Smoky Mountain area while the invitation to the artists is national.
One of my favorite reasons to attend an event like this is the opportunity to meet the smiling faces that poured themselves into the art and souvenirs I am bringing home with me from my trip to the mountains. Each gift, whether it’s for someone else or for myself, the necklace, stylish print, coffee cup, or birdhouse (my dad is obsessed), takes on meaning that goes much deeper than a gift I pick up at the more touristy shops. Not only that, but you can also watch the artisans demonstrate their processes! It’s like watching real magic as animals become recognizable in what was a simple log of wood or being hypnotized by the clay spinning and the potter’s hands carefully encouraging the structure of the vase.
In addition to the hundreds of artisans, you’ll also be entertained by live music from country and bluegrass bands from noon to 3 p.m. daily during the fair! If your tummy starts rumbling there will be food vendors as well, because it’s easy to lose track of time while you are constantly stumbling into awe at each booth.
Time, Dates, & Tickets
The fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is host for 2 whole weeks in October! So, whether you are planning a romantic weekend getaway or a tour of the Smoky Mountain fall foliage, you can catch the fair from October 10, 2019 – October 27, 2019.
Located in the heart of downtown, you really can’t miss the Gatlinburg Convention Center, but just in case: it’s near Light #8!
You can spend the entire day exploring the booths and talking to the artists or purchase next day tickets and break up your visit. The fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so we like to grab a small lunch at the event or in the downtown and then enjoy a nice dinner back at the cabin.
An entire day of fun for $7; you can’t beat the experience and price. And for kids 12 years and younger: it’s FREE!
If you want any more information or want to give them a call for specific questions, visit their website here.
Other Smoky Mountain Events in October
Chalkfest at The Island
Saturday October 5, 2019
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
You won’t believe what these artists are able to do with a box of chalk and a slab of sidewalk! Hosted by The Island, enjoy the crisp autumn air, the magical Show Fountains, and watch the chalk artists compete and create sidewalk masterpieces!
107th Annual Cherokee Indian Festival and Parade
Tuesday October 8, 2019- Sunday October 12, 2019
Tribal dances by the fire, native archery demonstrations, delicious authentic foods, and more encompass this cultural event that has celebrated the Native Cherokee Indians for over a century!
21st Annual Fall Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament
Saturday October 5, 2019 – Sunday October 6, 2019
Right after the rivers have been stocked with trout, Rocky Top Outfitters hosts its biannual Trout Tournament for a fun weekend of fishing that includes cash prizes up to $10,000!