The Folk Art Center in Asheville, a must stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians. It is home to the wonderful Allanstand Craft Shop (shopper's paradise), rotating exhibitions in several galleries, a library and an auditorium. The Guild's Permanent Collection is featured in an exhibition of craft from Appalachia. Located on the scenic Parkway at milepost 382 (near the U.S. 70 intersection, 8 miles southeast of downtown Asheville), the Folk Art Center opened in 1980 as a cooperative effort between the Guild, the National Park Service and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Free admission!
The Folk Art Center is the most popular attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway, welcoming 250,000 visitors each year. From March through December, visitors can observe craftspeople at work in daily craft demonstrations as well as a series of educational events held year round. The Folk Art Center also houses a Parkway Bookstore with National Park souvenirs and Blue Ridge Parkway Information Center. Nearby is the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center.
Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
January - March 9 AM-5 PM
April - December 9 AM- 6 PM
The Folk Art Center offers an unparalled opportunity to experience Appalachian culture and craft through events, exhibitions and shopping.
Don't miss the numerous art and craft exhibitions throughout the year. See our Calendar for Art Exhibitions at the Folk Art Center.
New in 2013! Allanstand Interiors opens upstairs by the gallery with wonderful home furnishings for purchase.
You can access the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the parking area at the Folk Art Center. Also, they have a 1/4-mile trail that is designated as accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
2013 Folk Art Center Special Events (See more Art Events & Festivals)
Daily Craft Demonstrations
April – December, 10 am–4pm daily
Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild share their expertise and inspiration with visitors in the Folk Art Center lobby. From broom-making to wood turning and weaving, there is plenty to see throughout the season. Free.
Saturday, May 11, 10am–4pm
Craftspeople share their inspiration and expertise about textile arts. Educational craft demonstrations on Saturday include natural dyeing, sheep shearing, weaving on a loom, tapestry weaving, knitting, crochet and surface design
Sunday, May 12, 1pm and 3pm
On Sunday, the Folk Art Center’s auditorium will be transformed into a runway for the Fashion Show of Wearable Art. Fiber artist Liz Spear will emcee the event. Styles showcased will range from contemporary to traditional, from funky to classic, made by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and other regional artists. Throughout the fashion show, Liz will explore many fiber art processes, and focus on the various schools and studios in the area which offer classes in textiles to everyone from the beginner to the experienced fiber artist.
Asheville Community Band Concert
Sunday, May 26, 3–5pm. Free
Saturday, June 1, 10am–4pm
Potters and other ceramic artists from the Southern Highland Craft Guild share a variety of techniques such as throwing, sculpture and coil-building. This event features the opportunity to glaze and watch the firing of raku pots. Raku is a ceramic firing process which uses fire and smoke to create unique patterns and designs. Free
Saturday, August 10,
Join Guild woodworkers for an exciting day exploring various forms of woodcraft. The Folk Art Center's auditorium will be filled with lathes, sawhorses, wood tools and the master craftspeople who know how to use them. Featuring the 12th Annual Carve Off Competition from 1–3pm. Participants begin with a simple block of wood. They are challenged to carve that block into a work of art within a two-hour period. When the whistle blows, a panel of esteemed judges determine who has fashioned the finest and most skilled carved wood sculpture.Demonstrations include carving, wood turning, broom making, and furniture design and construction. Southern Highland Craft Guild members Sandra Rowland and Jan Morris will host activities for children.
Saturday, September 21, 10am–4pm &
Sunday, September 22, 12–5pm
Southern Highland Craft Guild’s weekend to celebrate heritage crafts of the Appalachian Mountains with traditional craftspeople showing craft techniques with hand tools, native materials, and lots of ingenuity through demonstrations in the native arts. In addition to crafts, several other traditional aspects of Appalachian life will be featured, such as traditional music and storytelling. Don’t miss the World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition on Saturday, 2-3pm. Free. Read more about the Heritage Weekend.
November 24, 3–5pm
Tellabration is an internationally recognized day of storytelling featuring traditional folk tales and contemporary stories by some of the most recognizable names in storytelling. (Limited seating, admission)
Guild Artists' Holiday Sale
Saturday, December 7, 10am-4pm
Saturday, December 14, 10am-4pm
Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will be on hand in the center’s auditorium on these two Saturdays to sell select work 10-50% off retail. The sale (10 AM until 4 PM) is an excellent opportunity for the artist to liquidate overstocks and 2012 items, try out new techniques, and sell studio seconds. Choose from gift items including ceramics, jewelry, fiber, paper, glass and wood. Buying from artists supports the local economy and promotes the mission of the Guild which is bringing together the crafts and craftspeople of the Southern Highlands for the benefit of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation. Over 70 artists will be participating over the course of the two sales, with a different group of artists each weekend – so plan on coming to both for best selection!
Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands
Huge show of finest artists July 18-21, 2013 and October 17-20, 2013, in downtown Asheville at the Civic Center.
See our Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands Guide.
See the Calendar for Art Exhibitions at the Folk Art Center.
In 1890 when Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate, moved to Buncombe County, NC, to do missionary work for the Presbyterian Church, she could hardly have imagined what would eventually become of her "good work". She found a few women who were still weaving traditional coverlets in wool and cotton, and from these associations Goodrich's idea of a cottage industry that would assist mountain families grew. Allanstand Cottage Industries, which she founded in 1897, in Madison County, NC, would ultimately become Allanstand Craft Shop. Goodrich moved the business to downtown Asheville in 1908 and from her College Street headquarters, she would network with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement.
In 1928, many of them met at Penland School of crafts and the idea of the Southern Highland Craft Guild was formed. Chartered in 1930, it would grow to become one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. Second in age only to the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, the Guild now represents over 900 craftspeople in 293 counties of 9 southeastern states. The Guild has partnered with the National Park Service for more than fifty years.