The tradition of creating handmade work for art and function dates back almost 200 years in this region. The art community is also quite large. In fact, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community is the largest group of independent artisans in North America. So, not only does this group have a tremendous impact on the culture of the area, it also plays a large part in drawing thousands of visitors from across the country to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge every year.
The artisans of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community have established themselves on an historic 8 mile loop designated as a Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail. Since 1937, they have been weaving, painting, sewing, carving and whittling original creations. Along this trail of shops, cafés, galleries and studios, visitors will find pottery, brooms, jewelry, paintings, woodworks, stained glass, photography, baskets, quilts, candy shops, a tea room, a soda fountain, and much more.
There is no excuse not to visit during a trip to Gatlinburg, because the loop is only 3 miles from downtown, on Highway 312 North. Most shops here are open year round, 7 days a week. But for a special treat during the holidays, the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community hosts the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Holiday Show from November 22nd through December 4th. The event is held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, beginning at 10 am daily, and admission is free. With thousands of handmade items for sale, this is certainly a must-stop on anyone’s shopping list. Dozens of local artists and craftsmen will be showcasing their work, and as it is all handcrafted, the same pieces cannot be found anywhere else. Buying a beautiful, unique piece of art from one of these talented craftsmen not only supports the local economy, but also can begin the tradition of passing a family heirloom down through the generations.
For more information about the event or the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, call 800-568-4748, or visit the Gatlinburg Crafts website.