Ripley to host Mountain State Art and Craft Fair
RIPLEY — For a second year, the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair will bringing thousands of people to West Virginia during the crisp autumn days of September after decades in the summer heat of early July.
Now entering its 55th year, the fair, which is known as “An Appalachian Experience,” returns Sept. 15-17 to Cedar Lakes Conference Center, near Ripley.
“The fair’s move to September is proving to be a good decision. Opening day of the fair is now student day. We had hundreds of students from Jackson and Wood County schools attend last year. They were able to learn more about West Virginia’s heritage through the arts,” said event spokesman Mike Ruben.
“The Fourth of July in Ripley has grown into a week-long celebration. Dozens of volunteers are needed in order to facilitate both the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair and the Independence Day celebration. Both events now have access to a greater talent pool,” he said.
“The fair had strong attendance figures a year ago on Friday and Saturday. Attendance typically declines somewhat on Sunday, and that was coupled with a near-constant Sunday rain in 2016,” Ruben said.
The fair originated in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s Centennial observance and is known as the “Granddaddy of Art and Craft Fairs.” It was recently selected among America’s best 100 craft fairs.
Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 15-16 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and military personnel, and $5 for children 4 and older. For those needing assistance, golf cart shuttle service is available to and from the parking area and between villages on the grounds.
For information, see MSACF.com or phone 304-372-FAIR.
The event has always been a celebration of art, food, music and culture. Beginning last year, its format has changed to what is essentially five smaller fairs situated around the lakes of the conference center. American, Celtic, Italian, German and Swiss villages feature cultures that made West Virginia special.
“The village concept was introduced at last year’s fair and proved to be very popular,” said MSACF President Karen Facemyer. “It’s an opportunity to experience the art, food, drink, music and dance of several cultures at one event.”
During this year’s event, about 100 artisans and 20 food/drink vendors will be on-site.
The Celtic Village will focus on the traditions of the Scots-Irish, with music from the Kanawha Valley Pipes and Drums and dance from the Appalachian Lads & Lassies. The village square offers the feel and tastes of an Irish pub.
In the Italian Village, visitors can enjoy a pepperoni roll, the products of West Virginia wineries and listen to the stories of “Josephine Tarantini: An Italian Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The Euro Mutts will provide authentic music.
An Oktoberfest setting greets visitors to the German Village. Kids can circle the maypole, enjoy a puppet show and ornament painting. The village square includes brews of West Virginia craft beers.
The Mountain State was referred to as “Little Switzerland.” That is reflected through the sights, sounds and taste of the Swiss Village. Kids will make their own masks as worn by the Swiss during Fasnacht. Apple cider is among the refreshment offered. Ethnic music is played by Mon Valley Push.
America’s Village is the fair’s largest. It includes the colorful attire of Native America dancers, an ongoing quilt show and bluegrass music, organizers said. Demonstrators such as Carolyn Blakemore will be there. Her famous apple pies have captured national awards.