JOHN CHAPPELL: North Notes: Big Weekend on Tap for Local Pottery Lovers
Pottery, pottery, pottery -- follow the Pottery Highway (N.C. 705) as it winds north through Robbins to Seagrove, where once again magicians in clay are spreading their colorful wares at dueling festivals.
Seagrove Elementary School is again the setting for the 28th annual Seagrove Pottery Festival. The old Luck's cannery on the other side of N.C. 705 is, for the second year, home to local potters and their Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival.
A rivalry sprang up between the N.C. Museum of Traditional Pottery and potters who live and work up and down the Pottery Highway. One issue was over protecting "Seagrove" as a brand identification for potters who are actually from the N.C. 705 area and the section of the state around the town. They started their own festival last year and held it at the old cannery building, while other potters stayed at the school.
This year, some will display at both sites.
Early holiday shoppers seem to like the traditional weekend-before-Thanksgiving date. With two big pottery parties to visit, the little town of Seagrove expects big crowds.
Lists of potters at each festival can be found on the Web at www. celebrationofsea-grovepotters.com and www.seagrovepotteryheri-tage. com.
Some of the Moore County potters who helped organize the Celebration festival are subjects of a piece in this month's issue of Southern Living Magazine. An article on Ben Owen III also features Stephanie Martin and Jeffrey Dean of Dean and Martin Pottery, along with Will McCanless of McCanless Pottery.
Owen was profiled in a recent issue of PineStraw magazine as well.
Celebration of Seagrove Potters starts tonight at 6:30 with a gala. Guests will meet the artists and enjoy the opening night festivities of the new festival.
More than 400 had registered before Thursday's cutoff date for this chance to have the first opportunity to browse and purchase from the thousands of pieces of pottery before doors open to the public Saturday morning.
They'll sip a favorite beverage and enjoy hors d'oeuvres while listening to live music. In addition, a select collection of one-of-a-kind collaborative pieces will be on view and auctioned at 8 p.m.
One feature of last year's Celebration festival is a "kids-only" booth where youngsters get exclusive rights to buy pottery at especially low prices. It's the same pottery by the same potters, but priced to fit a child's pocketbook.
There will be a table of donated pieces being sold to raise money for the Potters Relief Fund, which helps potters in emergencies.
Each day will see demonstrations and lectures with a different area potter every 45 minutes.
The big auction is Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Pieces have been donated by many of the Seagrove area's best-known artists, and examples are displayed on the Web site along with a link to a form for absentee bidding. This year, bidders don't have to be present to bid or win.
"The Celebration is unique in that it is a showcase of the artists of Seagrove, an area that covers the three-county corner region of Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties," says an announcement from the festival. "Over 85 of the Seagrove potters that earn their living making pottery in the local Seagrove community will be participating in the annual event.
"Seagrove pottery has long been known for it collectability, and the Seagrove name is recognized worldwide."
The Celebration of Seagrove Potters festival runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 at the door, and food is available on site from a number of vendors.
A Broader Tent
Over at the school, and in the big white tent on the grounds, the admission fee is $6 for the Seagrove Pottery Festival, which runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, with the featured auction at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Bidders won't have to be present as sealed bids are accepted as late as 2 p.m. Sunday, with winners notified.
This festival spreads a broader tent to include traditional crafts, demonstrations by tinsmiths and blacksmiths, and a Civil War encampment showing how pottery and other necessities were part of military life in the 1860s.
A mobile glaze-firing kiln capable of turning out as many as 500 pieces a day will be on hand ready to glaze a piece of bisque-fired pottery after visitors -- in exchange for a donation to the museum -- pick one out. It will be ready for them to take home that day.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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