Hickory – Planning for the Catawba Valley Pottery & Antiques Festival’s 20th anniversary event is well under way. The date is March 24-25, 2017, at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, Hickory, NC, offering a buying opportunity and educational programs about North Carolina’s traditional handmade pottery.
The Festival began 20 years ago to showcase Catawba Valley alkaline-glazed stoneware that was continuing to be made by local potters. Catawba Valley is one of three pottery producing areas in our state. Because our potters were firing predominately in wood-fired kilns, pottery was available for sale in large quantities at odd times. Marketing was by word-of-mouth – not the best approach. The original goal was to provide a place, one day a year, when Catawba Valley pottery could be purchased.
Twenty years ago folk art collectors were seeking Southern pottery face jugs and food preservation vessels. Catawba Valley potters were in the forefront of making face jugs because of the history of their being made by Harvey Reinhardt and the Hilton family, and by Burlon Craig who was still an active potter.
Over the years the CVP&AF grew to include pottery from across the state and into the South: Georgia, South Carolina, and other locations. The Festival became the primary destination for people interested in potters making traditional ware; pots that were used daily in food preparation. Traditional potters had skills passed down in families and communities near areas with workable clay. Today potters, including some from Penland, who have academic training have joined the vendors at the show. All vendors are juried.
Education has always been an important focus of the Festival. Because the two non-profits we support, the Historical Association of Catawba County and the North Carolina Pottery Center, are engaged in teaching history, each Festival has an exhibit on a designated topic and a lecture on an associated topic. This year the exhibit is titled “Twenty Classic Catawba Valley Pots” organized by Dr. Charles Zug. The lecturer is local potter Kim Ellington speaking about his introduction to the local pottery and what it means to be a working potter. The Saturday exhibit and lecture are part of the admission fee of $6 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. The lecture is scheduled for 11:00 AM on Saturday. Opening 9AM – 5PM, demonstrations and videos are also available.
Friday night’s Preview Party, 7-10PM, offers an early buying opportunity, music by the Sigmon Stringers and a full Southern supper. A primary fund raiser for the two non-profit institutions, tickets are on sale for $45.00 each, advance reservations required by March 18th.
Over 110 vendors include working potters and antique dealers bring old pottery, some furniture, textiles, folk art and decorative accessories to give context to the hand-made pottery. Pottery has been made in the Catawba Valley since 1820 and from the Seagrove area since 1750. North Carolina is the only state where the tradition has continued uninterrupted to the present. Pottery production is a very important cottage industry and North Carolina is recognized on a national level as having an outstanding craft community.
The CVP&AF is considered the primary destination for people interested in Southern traditional pottery. If you buy a coffee mug or a work of art, you will have a fun experience. Friday night Preview Party tickets can be used for free Saturday entry. All profits are dispersed to our two non-profit institutions.