Big Weekend Ahead in Pottery Country
The hottest ticket in town - or at least anywhere around - could be the $35 ducat that covers this weekend's Celebration of Seagrove Potters from opening gala to closing bell.
The event last year drew more than 400 to the Friday night gala and more than 5,000 from North Carolina and surrounding states to the two-day sales event. It generated a total measurable financial impact of $485,214 Susan Greene says in an announcement of the potters who will take part this year.
Across town, the venerable 29-year-old Seagrove Pottery Festival sets up its shop as well, making the weekend a bargain-hunter's dream for pottery lovers. The price of admission there has not been fixed, but many go to both the old one and its young rival.
Three years ago, potters up and down N.C. 705 - officially -designated by the state as "The Pottery Highway" - and old N.C. 220 wanted to protect their identity as "Seagrove" area potters. Most are actually in Moore County, but The Pottery Highway rises from the Sandhills section up through the -western part of the county into clay country in the foothills section.
It passes through Robbins and Westmoore and then, like the yellow brick road, reaches its end in the community of Seagrove - home to the N.C. Pottery Center. Along the way are the wheels and kilns of many a master potter.
Now, for the third time, these potters are throwing their annual do. It starts at 6 p.m. Friday with a gala Preview Party. A $35 advance purchase of a ticket to the Gala includes admission to the show on Saturday and Sunday.
"Meet the artists and enjoy the opening-night festivities of this fabulous new festival as you and your friends have the first opportunity to browse and purchase from the thousands of pieces, sip a favorite beverage and enjoy hors d'oeuvres while listening to live music," Greene says. "In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to preview a select collection of one-of-a-kind collaborative pieces."
'Very Popular Venture'
"This is a very popular venture, teaming Seagrove artists to produce highly collectible one-of-a-kind pieces. These pieces will be auctioned at 8 p.m. on Friday evening. Dress is casual."
The festival proper is a two-day affair from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. A second fundraising auction will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday. The final fundraising auction will be held at the final minute, 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets by the day are $5 at the door.
"It's not too late to order your Friday night Gala Preview tickets online," the festival says in a website update. "Your tickets will be waiting for you at the door. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about your ticket order."
As that traditional weekend before Thanksgiving drew near, planning was gearing up for both of Seagrove's rival festivals. "Celebration" is the new kid on the block. It is in the old Luck's Cannery building on the Robbins side. Opposite, in white tents and a school gym, is year 29 of the original Seagrove Pottery Festival at the Seagrove School, 528 Old Plank Road.
There are differences in philosophy and wares between the old and new festivals. One of the reasons the Celebration festival started was the desire of area potters to protect the local identity of their work. Richard Gillson, the late founder of the first festival, worked to expand the Seagrove identity to include places like Sanford in Lee County. He worked to include other crafts besides pottery in the festival.
Last year, more than a quarter of the exhibitors at the school site festival were crafters in nonceramic -materials like leather, iron, glass or tin - things other than the clay from which its 84 potters threw their work. Many of those potters came from Moore, Randolph and Montgomery counties as always, but others came from more distant places. That festival has expanded to include events in Sanford and Greensboro.
Over at the old cannery, the focus is and was entirely on pottery and potters geographically connected to the area surrounding The Pottery Highway.
"It is a showcase of the artists of Seagrove, an area that covers the three county corner region of Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties," Greene says. "Over 90 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 community itself is at the intersection of N.C. 220 (business) and 705, The Pottery Highway. Seagrove potters are located all around these two roads, and all their potteries are easily accessible from them. Potters -display and sell their work at the festivals, but would much rather customers visit their potteries personally where they can watch them work and get to know the artists.
"The shops are diverse and interesting, and all worthy of a visit, and most will be open throughout the weekend," Greene says. "The participating artists are all busily working on special pieces for the Celebration, as well as on collaborative pieces to be auctioned on Friday night. This highly successful venture, teaming Seagrove artists, to produce highly collectable one-of-a-kind pieces was very popular in prior years."
Gala visitors will have the first opportunity to browse and purchase from thousands of pieces, sip a favorite -beverage and enjoy hors d'oeuvres, while listening to the jazz band of Joe Robinson.
Throughout, one of Celebration's features is a special shop for children only with child-sized prices. That shop will raise funds to be donated to local schools' art departments. Also for kids (and grown-ups as well) will be demonstrations and educational opportunities.
Details at both festivals' websites (www.Celebration ofSeagrovePotters.com and http://www.seagrovepotteryheritage.com/se_events_ 003.html) will be updated with upcoming information as festival day in Seagrove approaches.
The following Seagrove potteries and artists will be participating in the Celebration event: Avery Pottery & Tileworks, Ben Owen Pottery, Blue Hen Pottery, Bluestone Pottery, Bulldog Pottery, Caldwell-Hohl Artworks, Chad Brown Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Country Pots, Cross Creek Pottery;
Crystal King Pottery, David Stuempfle Pottery, Dean & Martin Pottery, Dirtworks, Dixieland Pottery, Donna Craven Pottery, Dover Pottery, Fat Beagle Pottery, Fireshadow Pottery, From the Ground Up, Gingerbread House Pottery, Great White Oak Gallery, Hatfield Pottery, Hickory Hill Pottery;
Jeff Brown & Michelle Hastings Pottery, JLK Jewelry at Jugtown, Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery, Jugtown Pottery, King's Pottery, Koepnick Pottery, Kovack Pottery, Lantern Hill Pottery, Latham's Pottery, Luck's Ware, Lufkin Pottery, McCanless Pottery, McKay Pottery, Nelda French Pottery;
Nichols Pottery, Old Gap Pottery, Ole Fish House Pottery, "Original" Owens Pottery, Pebbles Pottery, Pottery by Frank Neef, Potts Pottery, Ray Pottery, Riggs Pottery, Rockhouse Pottery, Seagrove Stoneware, Studio Touya, The Hutch Pottery, Thomas Pottery, Tom Gray Pottery, Triple C Pottery, Turn & Burn, Uwharrie Crystalline, Westmoore Pottery, Whynot Pottery, Windsong Pottery, and Zehmer Pottery.
A list of those taking part in the Seagrove Pottery Festival is online at http://www.seagrovepotteryheritage.com/se_events_003_particip.html.
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